Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday's Pregame Beat: ACC/Big Ten Challenge highlights a great night of hoops

We already previewed the games from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge back on Tuesday, so we're not going to dive back into it again today. I will give you my picks for the challenge's second day, however. For what its worth, I went 6-0 yesterday. No big deal:

Indiana @ NC State: Indiana. I've been impressed with how the Hoosiers have played early in the season. No one on the Wolfpack is strong enough to take advantage of Cody Zeller inside.
Penn State @ Boston College: No one. I think Penn State will outscore Boston College, but no one is a winner in this game.
Florida State @ Michigan State: Florida State. The Spartans should be able to matchup inside, but the Seminoles are the toughest defensive team in the country and Michigan State can't score.
Virginia Tech @ Minnesota: Virginia Tech. The Hokies are underrated and the Gophers are without Trevor Mbakwe.
Wake Forest @ Nebraska: Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are tough defensively and Bo Spencer has the ability to go off for 20+.
Wisconsin @ North Carolina: North Carolina. The Badgers matchup so well -- talented point guard, control tempo -- with UNC, but I think that the Heels will come out pissed after losing to UNLV.

Game of the night: No. 22 Creighton @ San Diego State

Creighton has started off the season on fire, scoring at least 95 points in three of their first five games. Doug McDermott is averaging 23.2 ppg, five more players are averaging between 7.2 ppg and 10.4 ppg and the Bluejays are shooting the heck out of the ball, knocking down a crisp 45.1% from beyond the arc while hitting 11 threes a game. And you're wondering why this team is 12th in the nation in offensive efficiency. The issue, however, is that the Bluejays haven't played anyone -- the wins over UAB and Iowa look less impressive by the day -- but they are still sitting all the way down at 161st in the country defensively.

And while San Diego State doesn't have the front court horses that they did last season, this is a team that has put together a couple of impressive performances this season. They knocked off Arizona on the road and have overtime wins over Long Beach State and UC-Santa Barbara. The Aztecs may not have a player that can match up with McDermott, but it will be interesting to see if Creighton is able to defend the talented perimeter attack that Steve Fisher employs this year -- Chase Tapley, Jamaal Franklin, James Rahon and Xavier Thames are all averaging double-figures.

Who's getting upset?: No. 20 UNLV

The Rebels are primed for an upset. They are coming off of a massive win over the No. 1 team in the country at home and have caught the eye of every college hoops fan and writer. Tonight, they play their first game of the year on the road against a better-than-you-think UC-Santa Barbara team at 10:00 pm. The Gauchos have quite possibly the best 1-2 punch in the country in Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally. Its the epitome of a letdown game.

Mid-major matchup of the night: 7:00 pm: Drexel @ St. Joe's:

I've been trying to tell people -- St. Joe's is better than you think. They are young, but they are talented. And they one of the most talented back courts in the country in Carl Jones and Langston Galloway. Drexel, on the other hand, is arguably the most physical team in the country with guys like Samme Givens. Bruiser Flint's team also has one of the most improved guards in the country in Franz Massenat. Throw in the added bonus of this being a matchup of Philly teams -- one that includes a Big 5 member and a non-Big 5 member -- and this could be some fun.

Be sure to keep an eye on:

- 7:00 pm: Ohio @ Marshall: Ohio has one of the most entertaining guards in the country to watch in DJ Cooper. You should recognize the name; he was the freshman that lit up Georgetown when the Bobcats upset the No. 3 seed Hoyas two years ago. But Marshall is legit. They have their own loaded back court of Damier Pitts and DeAndre Kane and are coming off of an overtime win at Cincinnati.

- 7:00 pm: Bucknell @ George Mason: The Bison are the Patriot League favorite and an experienced team coming off of a conference title. George Mason is the same. But the Patriots have had a rough start to the season, losing to both Florida Atlantic and Florida International. This will be a good test for GMU. Were their early season losses just struggles with a new coach, or are the Patriots issues bigger than that.

- 8:00 pm: Tulsa @ Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have the talent to be a sleeper in the Big 12, but they haven't played like it yet this season. They are coming off of an 0-2 trip to the Garden during the Preseason NIT and have yet to get LeBryan Nash to play up to his potential. Tulsa, on the other hand, has a real chance to win Conference USA if the Memphis struggles are legit. Jordan Clarkson is the name to know, but keep an eye on Kodi Maduka.

- 8:05 pm: Missouri State @ Oral Roberts: Missouri State has been impressive early in the season. How impressive? They are 4-0 despite Kyle Weems failing to play like the Kyle Weems we saw last season. Oral Roberts, on the other hand, is one of the best mid-major teams in the country. West Virginia learned that the hard way. Justin Greene against Weems should be fun.

- 9:00 pm: Denver @ Utah State: The Pioneers are 4-1 on the season, and while they lost by 21 at Cal, Denver also handled St. Mary's pretty easily at home. Utah State is a bit down this season, but the Spectrum is one of the most difficult places to play. Its unclear whether Brady Jardine will be in the lineup. He's a significant piece -- the Aggies lost to Texas A&M-CC without him but beat BYU with him in the lineup.

The rest of the top 25:

8:00 pm: Florida Atlantic @ No. 14 Kansas: FAU is not a pushover. They have a couple of talented guards and already own a win over George Mason. The Jayhawks need to be ready to play.

7:00 pm: No. 17 Pitt @ Duquesne: The Panthers have started to look like the Pitt team we've expected of late, but there are still major question marks about their defense. The Dukes will test that defense, specifically TJ McConnell.

11:15 pm: Notre Dame @ No. 18 Gonzaga: The Irish are playing without Tim Abromaitis, who tore his acl over the Thanksgiving holiday. That means that other guys on their roster -- Scott Martin, Eric Atkins -- are going to have to step up and become leaders for this group. That should mean that Gonzaga rolls over Notre Dame playing at home, but the Zags have yet to be tested this season. It will be fun to see how Mike Brey's team matches up Gonzaga's big front line.

Other notable games:

- 7:30 pm: South Florida @ VCU
- 7:30 pm: Richmond @ William & Mary
- 8:00 pm: UNI @ Iowa State
- 8:00 pm: Colorado @ Colorado State
- 8:00 pm: Alcorn State @ Texas A&M
- 8:30 pm: Grambling @ Washington State
- 9:00 pm: BYU @ Northern Arizona
- 9:00 pm: Idaho State @ New Mexico


Anonymous said...

I think Kenpom has FSU as the 4th most effecient defense in the country, MSU is #6. Get ready for a lot of bricks from both teams as they play with carnival hoop rims.

Rob Dauster said...

The final score might be lower than the final score is those two played in football.