Saturday, December 15, 2007

What to Watch

One of the classic photos of the year. This is why it pays to be a college basketball player at UCLA. You can be as ugs as Lorenzo Mata-Real and still have hot chicks fawn all over you. Last Saturday provided us with some great games (Pittsburgh/Washington), upsets (Dayton over Louisville), and statement games (Kansas blowing out Depaul). With Finals week upon us, the schedule has been extremely light, but there are some intriguing matchups you will want to peep.

Oklahoma State (5-3) at #9 Pittsburgh (9-0), Noon EST, ESPN - After weeks of playing cupcakes, Pitt's second straight tough game, welcoming Sean Sutton's Cowboys. The talk of the Panthers has been the play of Frosh big man Dajuan Blair. Losing Aaron Gray may be addition by subtraction. Pitt is a much more athletic team without him. Ok State in the meantime has little to nothing in the front court. Watch out for Freshman James Anderson. Pittsburgh 70 Oklahoma State 58

#16 Oregon (8-1) vs. Nebraska (7-2) in Omaha, 2 PM EST - The Ducks are taking their show on the road for the first time since their loss to St. Mary's. Leading scorer Malik Hairston may or may not be available for the game. They will need him against Doc Sadler's improving club. The key matchup in this game will be Oregon's Joevan Catron (an MTAC fave) and Nebraska's Aleks Maric. Maric leads the Huskers in both scoring and rebounding and is a load to handle on the block. I smell an upset. Nebraska 81 Oregon 79

#13 Marquette (6-1) vs. Sacramento State (2-7), 2 PM EST - Why even bother talking about this game? Marquette in a blowout. Over/Under on how many points Dominic James, Jerell McNeil, and Wesley Matthews is 62. I like the over. Marquette 85 Sacramento State 61

#20 Louisville (5-2) vs. Purdue (5-2) in Indianapolis, 3:30 PM EST, CBS - What has happened to Rick Pitino's Cardinals? A chic Final Four pick to start the season, the injury bug has taken its toll. David Padgett is out for the season and Juan Palacios is still out. PG Edgar Sosa is struggling big time and seemingly has lost the confidence of Pitino. Purdue in the meantime is coming off a 10 point loss to Missouri. They don't have a marquee win and this would go a long way towards their tournament resume. No way they get it. Louisville is a desperate team. Louisville 60 Purdue 52

#17 Xavier (8-1) at Arizona State (4-2), 4 PM EST, FSN - This actually should be the most intriguing game of the day. ASU gets a real test at home to prove they can play with the big boys, and Xavier is coming off an emotional win against rival Cincinnati. Its the perfect recipe for an upset. ASU Freshman James Hardin is one the best Freshman nobody is talking about, but he is the biggest recruit to hit Tempe since Mario Bennett. Xavier could potentially be without its best big man Josh Duncan. No Duncan, no win. Arizona State 67 Xavier 64

#3 Kansas (9-0) vs. Ohio (6-2) in Kansas City, 5 PM EST, ESPN2 - This could be a trap game for the Jayhawks who, according to coach Bill Self had their worst week of practice all year. Ohio is coming off a huge road win at Maryland. PF Leon Williams is a double double waiting to happen. But Brandon Rush is close to 100% and moving back into the starting lineup and Sherron Collins should benefit from the extra week off. Kansas 81 Ohio 74

#5 Texas (9-0) vs. Texas State (5-3) 6 PM EST

#10 Michigan State ( 8-1) vs. IPFW (4-4) 5:30 PM EST

#2 Memphis (7-0) at Middle Tennessee State (3-5) 7 PM EST

#4 Georgetown (7-0) vs. Radford (4-6) 7:30 PM EST

#8 UCLA (8-1) vs. Idaho State (2-6), 8 PM EST

#14 Indiana (8-1) vs. Western Carolina (3-5), 8 PM EST

All of the above...if you don't blow your opponent away, there is a serious problem with your squad. None of these teams should win by less than 20.

#19 Butler (8-1) vs. Florida State (9-2) 8:30 PM EST- On paper, this looks like an inters ting matchup. But how can you take FSU seriously when you see that they lost to South Florida and Cleveland State in back to back games. Shockingly enough, they did go into Gainesville and knock off Florida. Meanwhile, Butler will be fired up after losing their last game by one point to Horizon League rival Wright State. At issue for the Bulldogs is they still will be without 14 PPG scorer Pete Campbell. Without him, they struggled against tough defensive clubs Detroit and Wright State. They get this done, even without Campbell. Butler 55 Florida State 48

#11 Tennessee (8-1) vs. Western Kentucky (7-2) in Nashville 9:30 PM EST - Talk about trap city. The Hilltoppers can play, led by Sun Belt Player of the year Courtney Lee. Like Bruce Pearl's Vols, they like to run and have already played quality competition. Tennessee still is looking to play its best basketball and now is without PF Duke Crews who has been diagnosed with an unspecified heart condition. I know I sound like captain obvious, but the team who shoots better from deep, wins this game. Will Chris Lofton finally wake up? Yes. Tennessee 101 Western Kentucky 87

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