Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday's Pregame Beat: Xavier vs. Vandy, Louisville on upset watch?

Game of the night: 7:00 pm: No. 11 Xavier @ No. 19 Vanderbilt

It may be late November, but there is a surprising amount of good hoops on tonight. It starts with the Musketeers and the Commodores tonight. Vanderbilt will be playing the host, but Xavier has been more impressive this season.

It is going to be interesting to see how Xavier matches up with Vanderbilt defensively. Dez Wells is the best athletes on the team and, generally speaking, will be the best defensive weapon on the perimeter. But he is going to have to matchup with Jeff Taylor because neither Mark Lyons or Tu Holloway have the size to battle with Taylor. That is going to put the pressure on Chris Mack's two best scorers on the defensive end as they take turns trying to slow down Vandy's John Jenkins. Kevin Stallings loves to run Jenkins off of screens and defending that takes away the legs of an opponent. Jared Cunningham had just nine points when he was tasked with chasing Jenkins around for 40 minutes.

For Vanderbilt, it will be interesting to see if-- not how -- they are able to slow down Xavier's back court. Tu Holloway is one of the best point guards in the country, but his scoring load has been diminished this season as Lyons has become a more dangerous and consistent scorer. Jenkins and Brand Tinsley are not known for their defensive prowess.

Who's getting upset?: No. 6 Louisville

I'm a big fan of the Cardinals, I really am. But I think that Long Beach State -- who they tip off against at 7:00 tonight -- is a very good matchup. For those that have trouble following these things -- like me -- Louisville will have Peyton Siva tonight, but they will be without Rakeem Buckles and Stephen Van Treese, who are both dealing with knee injuries. What intrigues me about LBSU is their ability to play in the full court, the talent they have on their perimeter and the number of threats they have from three point range. The 49ers matchup very well against Louisville's press and zone. Ask Pitt what happens when this team gets rolling.

Mid-major matchup of the night: 10:30 pm: Weber State @ St. Mary's

In an event titled the "Shamrock Office Solutions Classic" -- umm, ok -- we'll get a matchup of two of the best teams out west. If you like guard play, you'll want to tune in for this. Weber State is lead by Damian Lillard -- a dynamic, 6'2" scoring guard -- and his sharp-shooting counterpart Scott Bamforth. The Gaels back court is anchored by Matthew Dellavedova, Stephen Holt and Jorden Page. This will be a big game for St. Mary's, as they just lost to Denver on the road. That's not a good look for a team that will be fighting for an at-large berth come March.

For what its worth, this game is a return for the game that Weber State scheduled against St. Mary's late last season.

Be sure to keep an eye on:

- 7:00 pm: Akron @ West Virginia: Akron is a quality team out of the MAC. West Virginia already lost to a quality team out of the MAC in Kent State. The Zips have also already notched a quality, non-conference win by beating Mississippi State. If you are into the NBA, keep an eye on Akron center Zeke Marshall.

- 9:00 pm: Oakland @ Tennessee: This will be a good gauge for Tennessee. They competed out in Maui in their first two tests of the season, but they lost to both Duke and Memphis. Oakland is not quite as good as they were last season, but this is still a quality mid-major team.

- 11:00 pm: Pepperdine @ UCLA: Can UCLA finally get their first Division I win of the season?

The rest of the top 25:

7:00 pm: Stetson @ No. 9 Florida: We'll get another look at Florida without Erik Murphy. They'll need all the work they can get without him.

8:00 pm: Jacksonville @ No. 16 Marquette: Marquette looked terrific in their first four games of the season, but they struggled against Norfolk State. Which Marquette team shows up tonight?

8:00 pm: Jackson State @ No. 21 Memphis: After struggling through Maui, the Tigers need to make a statement.

10:30 pm: McNeese State @ No. 23 Cal: We are still waiting to see the real Cal Bears. Was it the team that lost by 39 to Missouri or the one that beat a good Denver team by 21?

Other notables games:

- 7:00 pm: IUPUI @ Georgetown
- 7:00 pm: Long Island @ Iona
- 10:00 pm: Pacific @ Stanford

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