Weekend Preview: LA’s Hall Of Fame Classic, a Kansas bounceback and some rivalry action

AP Photo/Ralph Freso
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THE WEEKEND SHOWDOWNS

*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)

No. 16 ARIZONA STATE at No. 2 KANSAS (-13), Sun. 2:00 p.m.

After a disastrous performance against Washington in Kansas City, the Jayhawks will look to get back on track against an Arizona State team that will be coming off of a Friday night game against St. John’s. What’s intriguing about this matchup is the number of talented guards that are going to be on the floor at the same time. Both the Sun Devils and the Jayhawks play small. Both of them spread the floor. Both shoot plenty of threes, run the floor and look to create mismatches. If you like uptempo basketball with shooters galore, guards allowed to show off their full arsenal and teams that don’t mind jacking up threes, this is a game for you.

  • PREDICTION: 13 points is a lot of points. I do think the Jayhawks win this game, but I’m not sure they get to 13. Arizona State (+13)

No. 5 FLORIDA vs. No. 17 CINCINNATI (-3), Sat. 6:00 p.m.

This matchup was a whole lot more exciting before Florida lost three straight games and Cincinnati got smacked around by Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout. The Bearcats are going to have a decided advantage in the paint, and I do think that their front court pieces – Gary Clark, Jacob Evans – are athletic enough that they should be fine chasing the likes of Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson off the three-point line. And if we learned anything this week, it’s that Florida is not a good basketball team when they don’t shoot the ball well.

That said, they can also beat anyone if they have one of those 17-for-35 nights from three.

  • PREDICTION: Like I said, I think Cincinnati’s bigs will be able to run around the perimeter with Florida’s wings. I don’t think Florida’s wings will have a shot against Clark and Evans on the other end of the floor. PICK: Cincinnati (-3)

ST. JOHN’S (-1) at No. 16 ARIZONA STATE, Fri. 8:00 p.m.
OKLAHOMA vs. No. 25 USC (-2), Fri. 10:30 p.m.
No. 22 NEVADA vs. No. 20 TCU (-2), Fri. 1:00 a.m.

In what feels like the 27th Hall Of Fame Classic that has been held in the first month of the season, there will be a triple-header on Friday night featuring six teams that all have a shot at getting to the NCAA tournament.

And believe it or not, the best game of the night might end up being the nightcap with Nevada taking on TCU. The Wolf Pack could really use a non-conference win like this, particularly after they blew a game at Texas Tech during the week, but despite how good the Martin twins (I’m not going to pretend to know the difference) and Jordan Caroline have been, TCU is a disciplined, well-coached and good team that will not beat themselves.

Oklahoma and USC will be a terrific gauge game for the Sooners, who have looked pretty good through the early part of the season but have been totally reliant on the insane play of Trae Young. USC has top ten talent but happens to be coming off of a pair of double-digit losses to Texas A&M and SMU, respectively.

St. John’s taking on Arizona State will be another matchup of terrific back courts. Keep an eye on the status of Marcus Lovett. If he’s out, that changes things.

  • PREDICTION: If Lovett does not play, Arizona State (+1) is a lock. I think I like USC (-2), but I love the over in that game. And in the nightcap, I’ll be on TCU (-2), as Jamie Dixon gets the job done against Eric Musselman.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?

  • ALABAMA at ARIZONA (-7), Sat. 10:00 p.m.: Arizona gets a shot at beating their third-straight potential NCAA tournament team at home against Alabama and Collin Sexton. I think Alabama spreads Arizona out, and if we’ve learned anything about Arizona, it’s that they struggle vs. small-ball. PICK: Arizona (-7)
  • No. 12 GONZAGA (-10) at WASHINGTON, Sun. 8:00 p.m.: Washington’s win at Syracuse felt fluky and Gonzaga got embarrassed by Villanova flying to the other side of the country. This feels like a game where things return to the norm. PICK: Gonzaga (-10)
  • No. 14 Minnesota at Arkansas (-2), Sat. 6:45 p.m.: The Razorbacks are favored in this one, but Minnesota should have an advantage in the paint and are coming off of a loss on Wednesday at Nebraska. We’ll see if Minnesota can shake off this slow start.

THE REST OF THE WEEKEND’S ACTION

UCLA at Michigan, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Marquette at Wisconsin, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Indiana at Louisville, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Creighton, Sat. 2:30 p.m.
VCU at No. 19 Seton Hall, Sat. 3:00 p.m.
No. 6 Wichita State at Oklahoma State, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
Colorado at No. 13 Xavier, Sat. 5:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Middle Tennessee State, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
No. 18 West Virginia at Pitt, Sat. 8:00 p.m.
Illinois at UNLV, Sat. 12:00 a.m.