Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday's Pregame Beat: The Jimmy V, and a Memphis upset?

Game of the night: Jimmy V Classic - No. 10 Missouri vs. Villanova; No. 11 Marquette vs. Washington

I will be in attendance at Madison Square Garden as, once again, we get a pair of terrific matchups for the Jimmy V Classic. The opener pits Missouri, the program currently thriving using a four guard offense, and Villanova, whose head coach used a four guard system to build Villanova into the program it is today.

Missouri has been one of the most surprising teams in the country, as they have dominated their early season competition despite losing power forward Laurence Bowers to a torn acl in the preseason. They are playing with more confidence and togetherness than they have in a long time, and it shows, on both ends of the floor. The x-factor for this group is Kim English, who is averaging 16.9 ppg and shooting the ball at well over 50% from beyond the arc. His ability to spread the floor offensively and bang around in the paint defensively is what makes the Tigers so dangerous.

Villanova, in the other hand, has struggled figuring out their roles early in the year. One of their biggest issues is with Maalik Wayns, who hasn't quite developed into the player we all expected. He has to be able to protect the ball against Mizzou's defensive pressure if Nova wants to have a chance.

In the nightcap, a disappointing Washington team takes on Marquette. The Golden Eagles have been as good as anyone in the country early in the year and are coming off of an impressive win at Wisconsin. Marquette's strength has been their defense, as they have a number of big, physical perimeter players that can hawk the ball.

Washington has plenty of talent on their roster as well, but guys like Terrence Ross, Abdul Gaddy and CJ Wilcox haven't exactly lived up to expectations this season. They have now lost at St. Louis and at Nevada, and it won't be any easier trying to get those guys on track against defends like Vander Blue, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder.

Of note: Junior Cadougan, Marquette's starting point guard that was suspended against Wisconsin, should be back in the lineup.

Who's getting upset?: 7:00 pm: No. 20 Memphis Tigers @ Miami

Since a season opening win against Belmont, the Tigers have done anything but inspire confidence. They struggled out in Maui, barely hanging on to beat Tennessee while losing to both Georgetown and Michigan. Miami has some talent on their roster, particularly in their back court, and could give Memphis issues with a three guard front. Don't forget, the Canes were a trendy pick to finish third in the ACC before Reggie Johnson was injured, and that was prior to Shane Larkin being in the mix.

Mid-major matchup of the night: 7:00 pm: Kent State @ James Madison

These are two teams that you are going to want to keep an eye on all season long. Kent State already proved that with a win at West Virginia to open the season. But JMU has some talent as well, as AJ Davis, Julius Wells and Humpty Hitchens have led this group to a 4-2 start. And the Dukes are only going to get better when Devon Moore returns from academic suspension.

Be sure to keep an eye on:

7:00 pm: Marshall @ No. 3 Syracuse: This game has the potential for an upset. Marshall is a good basketball team. They did lose to Ohio at home, but they also own a road win over Cincinnati. The Thundering Herd aren't exactly overloaded with shooters, but they have a couple of talented back court creators in Damier Pitts and Deandre Kane as well as a solid front line. They will have some trouble with the 2-3 zone, but they should be able to hang with Syracuse on the defensive end.

7:00 pm: George Mason @ Virginia: This matchup may end up being for the right to claim the top spot in the state. UVA is coming off of an impressive win over Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and is getting some great play out of Mike Scott. Scott will be going up Mason's talented forward Ryan Pearson, who has been terrific this season in his own right for the Patriots, who have played better of late after a slow start.

9:00 pm: Long Beach State @ No. 13 Kansas: LBSU is no longer a secret, but they are also no longer as highly regarded as they were after beating Pitt. As good as Casper Ware is, this team has not played the same since that win, and they will have their hands full tonight with Kansas, who has arguably the best front line they have faced this season in Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson.

7:00 pm: Tulane @ Wofford: Tulane is still undefeated. How long does that last?

The rest of the top 25:

7:00 pm: Evansville @ No. 6 North Calfornia: The Purple Aces hung with UNC for a while in Indiana last season.

7:00 pm: VMI @ No. 14 Pitt: Pitt's defense better show up in this one, because VMI loves to run and jack up threes.

Other notable games:

- 7:00 pm: Bucknell @ Binghamton
- 7:00 pm: Robert Morris @ Duquense
- 8:00 pm: Prairie View @ Iowa State
- 8:00 pm: Appalachian State @Minnesota
- 8:00 pm: Tennessee State @ Belmont
- 8:00 pm: Iowa @ Northern Iowa

No comments: