GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Sat., 1:00 p.m.: No. 14 Syracuse at Georgetown
The rivalry renewed.
For the first time since Syracuse left for the ACC and forced the old Big East to become the American while the new Big East split off, the Orange and the Hoyas — the fiercest rivalry from what was once college basketball’s best conference — will square off on a college basketball court. This year’s edition will take place at The Phone Booth in Washington, D.C., but the shame of it all is that Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim will not be allowed to coach. He’s not even allowed to communicate with his team, as he “won” an appeal and will begin serving his nine-game suspension on Saturday.
Which kind of sucks, right? John Thompson Jr. is going to be there, and it was Big John and Boeheim that started this whole deal back in the late 70’s. Big John is still a larger-than-life presence around the Georgetown program — his son is the coach — and missing out on the chance to get those two legends of the game together is a blow.
Everyone is ripping the NCAA for this decision. I’ll get in on that as well. YOU COULDN’T HAVE WAITED UNTIL MONDAY????
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Sat., 3:15 p.m.: No. 19 Arizona at No. 13 Gonzaga
This game doesn’t have quite as much intrigue as it did last season, but there is still plenty at stake here. Arizona is going to be looking to bounce back from a performance in the Wooden Legacy that left people seriously doubting whether or not they are going to be able to contend for the Pac-12 title. Winning at Gonzaga? That’s a good way to win back those doubters. For the Zags, they’re looking to notch a second win over a ranked team, having beaten UConn in the Battle 4 Atlantis last week.
SIX MORE GAMES TO WATCH
- Sun., 8:00 p.m.: No. 16 Vanderbilt at No. 25 Baylor: One of the most underrated games of the weekend. The Commodores looks like a team that can contend for the SEC title given the way Kentucky played at UCLA, but Baylor has a front line that can push around Damian Jones. Will Rico Gathers’ muscle get the best of that battle?
- Fri., 11:00 p.m.: No. 15 Oregon vs. UNLV (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas): UNLV is extremely talented, but given that they’ve had a couple of underwhelming seasons in a row, they won’t be taken seriously nationally until they do something like … win at Oregon. The Ben Carter revenge game?
- Sun., 6:00 p.m.: Davidson at No. 9 North Carolina: Jack Gibbs popped off for 41 points the last time he took the floor, hitting 14 straight shots. Steph Curry won’t be in the building this weekend, but Marcus Paige will.
- Sat., 4:00 p.m.: Mississippi at Umass: The Rebels head up to Amherst to take on UMass in a game that will give the nation a chance to see Stefan Moody — a 5-foot-8 guard with a 45 inch vertical and range to 30 feet — play on NBCSN and the Live Extra App.
- Sat., 2:00 p.m., William & Mary at No. 10 Virginia: Virginia should win this game handily, but Bill & Mary is pretty good this year. They already won by 17 at N.C. State this season.
- Sat., 7:00 p.m.: No. 23 Providence at Rhode Island: Rivalry game! Providence and Kris Dunn will head to URI to determine who is the king of our nation’s smallest state. The shame here? E.C. Matthews is injured so we won’t get to see those two go head-to-head.
- Sat., 2:15 p.m.: New Mexico at No. 11 Purdue: The Boilermakers should be a test from UNM, but I’m not sure the Lobos have the size inside to handle Purdue.