Previewing your college hoops weekend

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UPSET SPECIAL

Sat. 12:00 pm: Utah State @ No. 14 Georgetown: While Kenpom may be telling you that Washington State over Kansas State is the upset to watch out for, I’m going with the Utah State. Stew Morrill runs one of the most consistently underrated programs in the country. Generally, he avoids playing road games against power conference teams without a return game, but after living on the bubble for much of his tenure, Morrill made the decision to schedule the Hoyas. They are an experienced group with some good perimeter defenders. Tai Wesley is a better post player than Ricardo Ratliffe of Missouri, who had 22 points against the Hoyas. And Nate Bendall is back in the lineup, although he is still battling the foot injury that has plagued him this year. Throw in a potential hangover from Georgetown’s thrilling win over Mizzou, and the Aggies seemed primed for an upset.

UPSET ALERT

Sat. 12:30 pm: No. 11 Kentucky @ North Carolina: You have to figure that Harrison Barnes and North Carolina turn things around at some point, right? Kentucky is a young team, they don’t really have a low post presence, and Brandon Knight has had some struggles at the point. Throw in the fact that this is the first true road game for this Kentucky team, and the Wildcats could be in trouble if Terrence Jones is the only one that shows up.

Sat. 8:00 pm: Western Kentucky @ No. 15 Memphis
: The Tigers haven’t shown up a few times this season. Miami FL took them to the final possession, LSU stayed way too close for comfort, and Arkansas State took the Tigers to overtime after being down 18 points. Memphis better be ready against the Hilltoppers, because this is a team with some talent.

BEST MATCHUPS:

Sat. 4:00 pm: West Virginia @ Miami FL: This is a sneakily good game. The Mountaineers look like they are once again headed to the NCAA Tournament. While the size and toughness is still there, its the emergence of Casey Mitchell as a scorer that has made this team appear dangerous. The ‘Canes look to be much improved, as they have a couple of very good guards and a bruiser in the paint in Reggie Johnson.

Sat. 5:15 pm: No. 21 Illinois @ No. 24 Gonzaga
: Last year when these two got together, it was a dandy, as Gonzaga blew a 21 point lead, but then rallied in overtime to win it. The game was Elias Harris’ coming out party, and hopefully it will be again. Harris was cleared yesterday to play, as he is still dealing with an injury to his achilles. Steven Gray and Demetri McCamey going head to head is alone worth the price of admission.

Sat. 6:30 pm: Boston College @ UMass: Another sneaky good game. The Minutemen are still undefeated on the season, while BC is playing much better after an early season loss to Yale. Reggie Jackson is playing as well as anyone in the ACC that doesn’t live in Durham.

Sat. 8:00 pm: Murray State @ Morehead State: The two best teams in the OVC square off. They are also two of the best mid-major teams in the country. One of these two will be playing in March. Morehead has the star in Kenneth Faried, a 6’9″ center that is a rebounding machine and will be drafted. Murray State is more balanced and defensive-minded. Seriously, this is required watching for the weekend. Consider it your homework.

Sat. 10:05 pm: Wichita State @ No. 19 San Diego State: The headliner of the MWC-MVC Challenge is shaping up to be a dandy. SDSU has already knocked off St. Mary’s and Gonzaga this season using their big, athletic front line. The Shockers, however, have some talented big men of their own. They also desperately need this win if they want to have any chance of being an at-large team. Keep an eye on WSU junior David Kyles, who has come out of nowhere to be the team’s leading scorer and an absolute sniper from three.

Sun. 2:00 pm: Richmond @ Arizona State: The Sun Devils could really use a win over a relevant team after losing to New Mexico, St. John’s, and Baylor. But the Spiders need to shore up their resume as well. The Purdue win doesn’t look like it will be a marquee victory come March, and the loss to Iona is a serious blemish. Both of these teams run a Princeton-style (well, Richmond’s isn’t exactly the Princeton, but similar principles) offense and like to shoot threes.

Sun. 8:00 pm: Temple vs. Maryland at the Verizon Center: In the nightcap of the BB&T Classic, the Owls take on the Terps in what could turn into an intriguing matchup and an important result in March. Neither team has done much with their schedule thus far. Lavoy Allen and Jordan Williams will be a fun matchup to watch, but the key is going to be whether or not Maryland’s turnover prone point guards can handle the Owl defensive pressure.

BEST STORYLINES:

Saturday

  • 3:15 pm: Butler vs. No. 1 Duke in New Jersey: The title game rematch got a bit less interesting with Butler’s struggles and Ronald Nored’s injury.
  • 4:00 pm: Texas Tech @ No. 22 Washington: These two played a classic last year. And there was a false court-storming. Just watch the video.
  • 5:15 pm: NC State @ No. 7 Syracuse: The Wolfpack, like most ACC teams, are getting into the danger zone when it comes to their non-conference resume. Will NC State’s freshmen be able to handle the Cuse zone and get a win?
  • 8:00 pm: Cornell @ No. 13 Minnesota: Can the Gophers right the ship after losing in to Virginia?
  • 8:00 pm: Southern Miss @ Ole Miss: USM could very well be the best team in Mississippi. They can prove it here.
  • 8:00 pm: Miami OH @ Dayton: Miami OH just beat Xavier. Dayton’s had two ugly losses in a row. Can Charlie Coles make it two straight against the A-10?
  • 9:00 pm: New Mexico @ New Mexico State: Its a shame that both teams are down a potential all-conference forward (Drew Gordon and Wendell McKines).
  • 11:00 pm: No. 23 UNLV @ Nevada: Will the Wolfpack still be relelvant when Olek Czyz gets eligible.

Sunday

  • 2:45 pm: No. 16 Florida vs. American in DC: This is like a road game, I guess, and Florida just lost to UCF on the road.
  • 4:00 pm: Clemson @ South Carolina: Bruce Ellington vs. Demontez Stitt should be fun. In-state, high major matchups are always worth watching.
  • 6:00 pm: Virginia @ Virginia Tech: See?