Who’s Getting Upset?: Memphis (Fri. 8:00 p.m.: Oral Roberts at Memphis and Sun. 8:00 p.m.: Loyola (MD) at Memphis)
The Tigers have a pair of tough games this week, as they host both Oral Roberts and Loyola (MD). ORU has already knocked off Oklahoma this season and has one of the stronger mid-major programs in the country. The Greyhounds, on the other hand, are led by one of the nation’s most entertaining coaches in Jimmy Patsos who also just so happens to be leading a team that returned quite a bit of talent from last year’s NCAA tournament squad.
But the bigger issue here isn’t simply who Memphis is playing. It’s Memphis. It’s whether or not this team is actually built to compete at the national level. Because every time it seems like the Tigers have figured out how to play together, they take another step back. They played great down the stretch of last season only to revert to their old issues at the beginning of this year. They seemingly turned things around with the addition of Geron Johnson and a couple of big wins, but then Memphis blew a 16 point lead against Louisville and struggled to knock off a Lipscomb team that lost to Belmont by 34.
Who else is on upset alert?
- Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Santa Clara at No. 1 Duke (ESPN2): Duke is the best team in the country, but Santa Clara is actually pretty good this season. Marc Trasolini is healthy, Kevin Foster is eligible and Evan Roquemore is back again. That’s as good of a 1-2-3 punch as you are going to find at the mid-major level. If the Broncs are shooting well, they have a chance. Maybe they should have scheduled this game for Christmas Day.
- Sat. 4:30 p.m.: Air Force at No. 14 Florida (FSN): Is Florida for real? That’s the question that everyone is going to be asking after the Gators lost to Kansas State and Arizona. And that answer is probably a ‘yes’, but only when Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton aren’t playing terribly. Boynton’s made just 4-32 from three in the last six games. Air Force is a good team. If the Gators don’t come to play, the Falcons can win.
- Sat. 8:00 p.m: Harvard at Cal (Pac-12): When Harvard lost Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, many thought that their season would be all but over. And while the Crimson clearly aren’t the same team that they would have been, the play of Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers have been impressive. If Harvard can slow down Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, they’ll have a chance to win.
- Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Ohio at Oklahoma: Ohio made the Sweet 16 last season and came within an overtime against North Carolina of the Elite 8. The Bobcats have lost four of their last six games, however. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has been a bit of a disappointment this season as well. Can this be the game that DJ Cooper and company turn their season around.
- Sat. 8:00 p.m.: No. 19 Butler at Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt is a young team that has had their fair share of struggles early on this season, but the Commodores went into Cincinnati and knocked off Xavier in overtime earlier this month. Butler proved a lot with their win over Indiana, but the Bulldogs also can struggle when the threes aren’t dropping. Can Vandy capitalize?
No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.
Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.
Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.
On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.
Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.