Saturday, January 26, 2008

What to Watch

Remember Chris Jackson at LSU. We are talking before he went off the deep end and turned into Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, turned his back to the national anthem, and then disappeared. I'm talking about the guy who was an absolute scoring machine with Tourette's syndrome. My man could ball. He's probably someone calling for coach John Brady's head with the rest of the LSU alum. As you know, normally we give you the rundown on Saturday's slate every Saturday morning. Instead, we are going to give you a guide for the week ahead and the biggest games you will want to make sure you watch.

Gonzaga (15-4) at #1 Memphis (18-0), Saturday Noon, ESPN - Finally, some real competition for the Tigers. Gonzaga comes in winners of six straight. They just don't have the talent to run with Calipari's bunch. I just don't know how Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin can guard Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Connecticut (13-5) at #8 Indiana (17-1), Saturday 1 PM, CBS - Jim Calhoun suspended second leading scorer Jerome Dyson and sixth man Doug Wiggins indefinitely Friday night for a violation of team rules. Great timing. The Hoosiers better not overlook the young, athletic Huskies who desperately need a quality out of conference win. Great big man matchup of IU's D.J. White and UConn's Hasheem Thabeet.

#15 Mississippi (15-2) at Mississippi State (13-5), Saturday 5 PM, Full Court - Bet you didn't know Mississippi State was 4-0 in the SEC with the best player in the conference nobody knows about in Jamont Gordon.

#6 Washington State (16-2) at Arizona State (14-4), Saturday 7 PM - Washington State doesn't want to come out of Arizona 0-2 and ASU doesn't want to lose it's third straight. The problem for ASU is star frosh James Hardin is still hobbled and playing at about 70%. They need all of him to beat a tough Cougars team.

#13 Vanderbilt (17-2) at Florida (17-3) - Sunday 1 PM, Full Court - This is a great opportunity for the Gators to garner some national respect and for Vandy to show they can win a big game away from Nashville. Great matchup of wings in Vandy's Shan Foster and Florida's Nick Calathas.

#3 Duke (16-1) at Maryland (12-7) - Sunday 6:30 PM - Can Gary Williams' club do it again a week later? We are guessing not. Duke actually defends people, unlike North Carolina. However, the clear advantage in the post goes to Maryland with Bambale Osby and James Gist. It's back to reality for the Terps.

#13 Vanderbilt (17-2) at Mississippi (15-2) - Wednesday 8 PM - What a brutal week for these two teams. If Vandy wins both games on the road, color us impressed. Not that it's going to happen.

#1 Memphis (18-0) at Houston (14-3) - Wednesday 8 PM - If Memphis is going to lose a game in conference, this is their best shot. Houston blew out Kentucky earlier this season. Wait, so did San Diego and Gardner-Webb. The Cougars have some talent, in Rob McKiver and Dion Dowell, but this game shouldn't be close.

#2 Kansas (19-0) at Kansas State (13-4) - Wednesday 8 PM, Full Court - This is the game Kansas State finally exercises the Bramlage Coliseum demons. Since the building's inception in 1988, K-State hasn't beaten its in state rival. That's why Jayhawk fans call it Allen Fieldhouse West. Michael Beasley has said all off-season that the streak ends this year. We will see if he can back it up.

#12 Texas (15-3) at #16 Texas A&M (15-4) - Wednesday 9 PM, ESPN2 - A big game for both clubs. A&M doesn't want to fall to 1-4 in conference and Texas needs this win to stay close to Kansas, K-State, and Baylor atop the Big 12. No team needs a win more than the Aggies who have los three in a row. Time for much-hyped Freshman DeAndre Jordan to wake up.

#8 Indiana (17-1) at #11 Wisconsin (16-2) - Thursday 9 PM, ESPN - Game one of the IU/UW/MSU round robin that will determine the Big Ten title. Can't wait to see how Eric Gordon plays in his first enormous road test. You can bet he will be guarded tightly by Michael Flowers and Joe Krabbenhoft.

Arizona (13-6) at USC (12-6) - Thursday 10:30, FSN - You just get no nights off in the Pac-10. Jerryd Bayless vs. OJ Mayo. The real difference for USC has been the play of Davon Jefferson on the wing. The Cats must stay out of foul trouble in this one, they have Texas-like depth, i'm talking about the Longhorns, not the state itself.

Arizona State (14-4) at #7 UCLA - Thursday 10:30 - If ASU loses to Washington State on Saturday, they could be headed to UCLA on a three game losing streak. Can you say four in a row? It's most likely going to happen. UCLA plays the style the Sun Devils play, only at a much higher level.

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