Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday's Pregame Beat: Three GREAT games on the docket

I think this may end up being the best night of college hoops we have this season, as their are three legitimately GREAT games on.

7:00 pm: No. 11 Georgetown @ No. 2 Syracuse: This has been the single best rivalry in the Big East, a hatred that was created by two of the Big East's pioneers -- John Thompson, Jr, and Jim Boeheim -- back in the 1980's. But, like what is happening with the Border War, this rivalry may be on its last legs. Syracuse is heading to the ACC, which means that the future of this game may be in doubt. Whether or not these two teams end up playing each other in the future is a different post for a different time. The key to tonight's game -- which may actually be between the two best teams in the Big East -- is going to be Henry Sims. The 6'11" senior center for the Hoyas has matured quite a bit this season, becoming a key component to the Hoya offense. His ability to knock down jumpers and pass out of the high post, the area in the Syracuse zone that has to be exploited, will be a key.

7:00 pm: No. 10 Kansas @ No. 6 Baylor: Here's why you should never pay attention to the polls: Kansas is ranked four spots below Baylor, but Kansas beat Baylor by 18 the last time these two got together. How? The Bears had no answer for Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey inside. Its not that the Bears don't have the bodies, however. They are as big up front as any team in the country. Baylor has also had an issue defensively against some of the better teams in the Big 12 -- they have given up an average of 90.5 ppg in their two games against Missouri and Kansas. Are they going to be able to get stops? More importantly, are they going to win a game that makes us believe, once again, that they are a true title contender?

9:00 pm: No. 9 Duke @ No. 5 UNC: Obviously this is must-see TV. Anytime these two teams get together it is. That's what happens when you have one of the best rivalries in all of sports. This year's matchup will be a bit of a statement for the Blue Devils. Duke has some serious issues this season. They don't defend well on the perimeter and they don't have the kind of playmakers in their back court that we usually expect out of a Coach K team. That said, UNC's strength isn't their perimeter defense or their dynamic playmaking in the back court. In other words, you don't need to be a great on-ball defender to stay in front of Kendall Marshall. It will be fun to see the Plumlees go up against the two-headed monster of Tyler Zeller and John Henson, although I think, in the end, the x-factor is going to be Harrison Barnes. Who on Duke is going to be able to guard him?

7:00 pm: Pitt @ South Florida: The Bulls were exposed over the weekend at Georgetown. Can they bounce back from that loss and pick off a streaking Pitt team at home? The Panthers, with Tray Woodall back in the lineup, look like an NCAA Tournament team.

8:00 pm: Northern Iowa @ Wichita State: With a win, Wichita State moves a full game into first place in the MVC after Creighton lost at Evansville last night.

9:00 pm: Notre Dame @ West Virginia: The Fighting Irish have been as impressive as any team in the country over the last two weeks. Can they continue that trend playing a tough road game?

The rest of the top 25:

- 6:30 pm: Penn State @ No. 12 Michigan State
- 7:00 pm: No. 17 Florida State @ Boston College
- 7:30 pm: Wake Forest @ No. 20 Virginia
- 8:30 pm: No. 25 Michigan @ Nebraska

Other notable games:
- 7:00 pm: Marshall @ UCF
- 7:00 pm: Memphis @ East Carolina
- 7:00 pm: George Washington @ Temple
- 7:30 pm: St. Bonaventure @ UMass
- 8:00 pm: St. Louis @ St. Joe's
- 9:00 pm: LSU @ Vanderbilt

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