Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11/16 Wednesday's Pregame Beat: The calm after the marathon

Game of the night: 9:00 pm: Long Beach State @ No. 9 Pitt

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, its a slow night. Don't let events like the Champion's Classic and Marathon Madness spoil you to the fact that college basketball in November and December is usually fairly slow. This game will be better than you think, however. Long Beach State is talented and experienced. They start four seniors, all of whom were named to some form of all-conference team last season. Casper Ware is one of the best point guards in the country and may be the best player you've never seen play. Larry Anderson is dangerous on the wing and TJ Robinson is a double-double machine on the block. The issue is depth for LBSU, but that depth is less of an issue when you consider that the four seniors are all going to be playing 33-36 mpg on a nightly basis as it is.

The key for 49ers is going to be on the offensive end of the floor. Pitt is not a great defensive team from an efficiency standpoint because they don't force a lot of turnovers. They play tough, physical defense without gambling for steals, forcing their opponents into tough shots and cleaning up their misses. In other words, you can score on Pitt, especially if you are hitting from long range. The Panthers were almost knocked off by a Rider team that shot 53.6% from the floor and 10-23 from three. LBSU is going to get beat on the offensive glass. That's a given when you play Pitt. But if they can hit their jumpers, and slow down Ashton Gibbs and Tray Woodall (who is averaging 21.0 ppg, 10.0 apg and 6.5 rpg), they'll have a shot at the upset.

Who's getting upset?: Arkansas

It sounds weird saying that Arkansas is an upset possibility, but given the lack of ranked teams playing tonight -- and seeing as I already wrote about Pitt -- the Razorbacks will have to do. They are taking on a good Oakland (at 8:00 pm) led by an even-better point guard in Reggie Hamilton. Hamilton is joined in the back court by former Michigan and Arizona guard Laval Lucas-Perry, a big-time shooter and scorer on the wing. Arkansas is a young team being led by a new coach. If Hamilton and Lucas-Perry get hot, we could have another SEC casualty.

Mid-major matchup of the night: 8:00 pm: Creighton @ UAB

Creighton, in my opinion, is the best mid-major team in the country. They have a potential all-american in Doug McDermott, they have a size in the middle with Gregory Echinique, they have a talented and defensive-minded point guard in Antoine Young, and they have a slew of shooter and scorers to surround those three. The Blazers will be young this year, having lost Aaron Johnson (who won C-USA player of the year last season) and Jamarr Sanders. But with Cameron Moore back and a couple of talented young guards, UAB could give the Bluejays trouble at home.

Be sure to keep an eye on...:

- 7:00 pm: South Dakota State @ Georgia: SDSU is one of the better teams in the Summit this season, led by a very good point guard in Nate Wolters. It should be fun to see him go up against Gerald Robinson of Georgia.

- 8:00 pm: Indiana @ Evansville: Evansville just knocked off Butler at home over the weekend, and now they are hosting the Hoosiers. While Purple Aces have a couple of talented perimeter players -- led by Colt Ryan -- they don't have anyone with the size of Cody Zeller or Christian Watford.

- 8:00 pm: North Texas @ Texas Tech: The Mean Green are one of the most talented mid-majors teams in the country, but they are not yet full strength as they wait for Tony Mitchell to finally get eligible.

The rest of the Top 25:

7:00 pm: Colgate @ No. 13 Wisconsin: Wisconsin had one of the most dominating performances on both ends of the floor their first time out, going up 41-8 at the half and hitting 15 threes in an 85-31 win over Kennesaw State.

7:00 pm: Stetson @ No. 24 Florida State: There is a legitimate possibility that Stetson does not score against the Seminoles. OK, that's not true, but FSU has been terrific defensively and is getting 15.5 ppg out of Michael Snaer this year.

Other notable games:

- 7:00 pm: Princeton @ NC State
- 7:00 pm: Louisiana-Monroe @ Tennessee
- 7:30 pm: Sam Houston State @ Notre Dame
- 8:00 pm: UT-San Antonio @ Oklahoma State
- 10:00 pm: New Mexico State @ New Mexico
- 10:00 pm: Hofstra @ Oregon State

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