Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

The End

Posted by Zach on December 10, 2008

Sorry to inform our readers that Northwestern Wins is closing up shop after five or so months on the job covering college basketball.

I started this with my friends Pat and Tommy in hopes of attracting a loyal readership and molding the blog into a daily source for college hoops news and articles. I’m perfectly willing to sustain this committment, but I did not begin the blog with the idea of running it fully by myself. My two partners just do not have the time or are not prepared to put in the effort for the bare minimum, and I’ve found myself writing around 9/10 of the articles on this site, something I was not aiming to do.

Along with not consistently running articles like the ACC Report and not getting any material out of Patrick even after what I thought was enthusiasm about starting NW Wins during the summer, both of my partners effectively stopping the picks contest showed to me they’re not interested in contributing fully in the long run to keep this blog one that can continue to gain an audience.

Again, I did not think I’d be running this site by myself and that’s truly what it has turned into.

Enjoy the rest of the season,

Zach

UPDATE: I’m in intense negotiations with Rush the Court (www.rushthecourt.wordpress.com) on a contract to become their resident bracketologist. They’re offering 4 years and $80 million but I’m holding out for a guaranteed fifth year. Stay tuned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

Tuesday’s Selections

Posted by Zach on December 9, 2008

Season Record: 123-97-4

Virginia Tech (-3.5) over GEORGIA- LOSS
Northern Iowa (+7) over IOWA- LOSS
Davidson (-1.5) over West Virginia- WIN
IOWA STATE (-2.5) over Drake- LOSS
Texas (-3) over Villanova- WIN

Posted in Daily Selections | Leave a Comment »

Big East Report, Edition II

Posted by Zach on December 9, 2008

Power Rankings

1. Pittsburgh (9-0)
12/13 vs. UMBC (W), 12/17 vs. Siena (W), 12/21 @ Florida State (W)
2. Connecticut (8-0)
12/15 vs. Stony Brook (W), 12/20 vs. Gonzaga (W), 12/26 vs. Fairfield (W)
3. Louisville (5-1)
12/13 vs. Austin Peay (W), 12/18 vs. Mississippi (W), 12/20 vs. Minnesota (W)
4. Notre Dame (6-2)
12/13 vs. Boston University (W), 12/20 vs. Delaware State (W), 12/22 vs. Savannah State (W)
5. Syracuse (8-0)
12/13 vs. Long Beach State (W), 12/15 vs. Cleveland State (W), 12/17 vs. Canisius (W)
6. Villanova (8-0)
12/9 vs. Texas (L), 12/11 vs. St. Joseph’s (W), 12/14 @ La Salle (W)
7. Georgetown (6-1)
12/13 vs. Memphis (W), 12/20 vs. Mount St. Mary’s (W), 12/23 vs. Florida International (W)
8. Marquette (7-1)
12/13 vs. IPFW (W), 12/16 @ Tennessee (L), 12/19 vs. Western Carolina (W)
9. West Virginia (6-1)
12/9 vs. Davidson (L), 12/13 @ Duquesne (W), 12/20 vs. Miami (OH) (L)
10. Seton Hall (6-1)
12/9 vs. Cal Baptist (W), 12/13 @ St. Peter’s (W), 12/20 vs. IUPUI (W)
11. Cincinnati (6-1)
12/13 vs. Xavier (W), 12/15 vs. Charleston Southern (W), 12/18 vs. Mississippi State (W)
12. Providence (6-3)
12/17 vs. Jackson State (W), 12/20 @ Boston College (L), 12/22 vs. Bryant University (W)
13. St. John’s (7-1)
12/14 vs. Bethune Cookman (W), 12/20 vs. Marist (W), 12/27 vs. Miami (FL) (L)
14. South Florida (3-3)
12/14 vs. Niagara (W), 12/16 vs. Vanderbilt (W), 12/20 vs. Murray State (W)
15. DePaul (4-2)
12/10 vs. Morgan State (W), 12/13 @ UCLA (L), 12/17 vs. Liberty (W)
16. Rutgers (5-3)
12/10 @ Princeton (W), 12/14 vs. Delaware State (W), 12/20 vs. Bryant (W)

National Title Contenders

Pittsburgh Panthers: I moved Pitt past Connecticut into #2 in my national Top 25 for taking care of business unlike any other team in the nation. They’ve simply dismantled their opposition in the early going without showing any signs of slipping up. They defeated tournament-bound Miami (OH) by 29, a decent Akron team by 19, destroyed Vermont by 29 and their two closest wins were at the Legends Classic over Texas Tech (13) and Washington State (14). Looking at their next few games, it’s entirely possible Pitt enters a showdown @ Louisville on January 17 with a perfect 16-0 record if they can win @ Florida State on December 21. Like any Pitt team, this version features a proficient offense, tantalizing defense and total control of the boards.  Levance Fields has turned into an outstanding point guard at 7.0 APG, Sam Young one of the best all-around players in the conference at 20.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG, DeJuan Blair is an automatic double-double if he can stay out of foul trouble (15 and 13 thus far), and Jermaine Dixon is the perfect freshman to finish off this balanced Pitt squad with his tremendous defense. Whether Pitt has the pure talent to outlast Connecticut, Notre Dame or Louisville is another question, but for now they’re the best team in the strongest conference in America.

Star Player: Sam Young- 20.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 53% FG, 37% 3pt

Connecticut Huskies: I still feel Connecticut will be playing North Carolina in Detroit for all the marbles in April, but I had to move them behind Pitt for the way the Huskies dodged La Salle and Buffalo while the Panthers have wiped out everyone on their schedule. Connecticut’s story this season is balanced scoring- they have five different players averaging double-figure scoring, including two question marks heading into this season in Craig Austrie and Jerome Dyson, and that list does not include preseason all-Big East A.J. Price, who will surely be at 10+ PPG once he’s 100% healthy and playing with more confidence. Not many freshmen have transitioned comfortably to the college game like we witnessed a season ago with Durant, Love, Mayo, etc. but one that has contributed positively is Kemba Walker. Walker is averaging 12.0 PPG with 3.0 APG off the bench, showing the quickness, scoring ability and court vision that made him such a dynamic force out of New York. The big test for Connecticut will come on December 20 when they face Gonzaga in Seattle. They’ll need Price playing at a higher level to win that game.

Star Player: Hasheem Thabeet- 14.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 4.1 BPG, 67% FG

Final Four Contenders

Louisville Cardinals:
I wouldn’t have wanted to be a participant in Rick Pitino’s practices the days following the Cardinals shocking upset at the hands of Western Kentucky. Louisville completely melted down in that game- Samuels wasn’t a factor due to a constant double team, the team shot 27% as a whole, and point guards Terrence McGee and Edgar Sosa were atrocious. Louisville shouldn’t be planning any trips to Detroit in March unless they can find a reliable point guard, because without one Terrence Williams, Earl Clark and Samuels all are lost in the offense. McGee has been terrible both shooting (25%) and distributing (1.44 A/T) while Sosa continues to regress from what could be his peak during his freshman year in that second round game vs. Texas A&M. This team certainly has talent and Samuels has been their best player, but can guys like Clark and Williams have huge scoring games when it matters? From what I’ve seen, this could be another regional semifinal/final flameout.

Star Player: Samardo Samuels- 16.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 65% FG, 74% FT

Notre Dame Fighting Irish:
The 102-87 defeat at the hands of powerhouse North Carolina is certainly excusable, but losing to Ohio State in Indianapolis with Harangody in the lineup? Even though the Buckeyes appear to be breaking out behind Evan Turner, Mike Brey will tell you his team should not have lost that game. They faltered primarily because Kyle McAlarney finally had a poor shooting performance- 3/11 FG, 0/6 3pt, 0/0 FT- and guys like Jackson, Hillesland and Ayers didn’t provide enough scoring support for Harangody. That’s what worries me about this team- anyone with a true post presence on offense and defense like Thabeet, Samuels, Tyler Smith, Blake Griffin, or, as we saw, Tyler Hansbrough, can limit Harangody and force Notre Dame to shoot threes until they go out of style. Notre Dame is an excellent outside shooting team, but even the best can hit a cold streak and see their season end abruptly.

Star Player: Luke Harangody- 23.0 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 51% FG in 6 games

Elite Eight Contenders


Syracuse Orange:
Typical of this Syracuse team to look like a true Final Four contender in Kansas City with wins over Florida and Kansas, then nearly collapse at the Carrier Dome in two tilts with ACC-bottom feeder Virginia and Ivy League threat Cornell. In both games Syracuse trailed at halftime before going on a second half run and ultimately winning, meaning coach Jim Boeheim likely reminded them (in yelling fashion) of their losses against the entire Atlantic 10 conference in non-conference last year that ultimately left them on the outside looking in. Jonny Flynn has been sensational, leading Syracuse to their win over Kansas with 25 points and the game-tying three and willing them to victory over Cornell with 24 points and 6 assists on 10/16 FG. Paul Harris is starting to really turn on the engines with two straight 20+ point outings and Eric Devendorf is becoming more and more comfortable. Andy Rautins could still improve on his 32% from deep.

Star Player: Jonny Flynn- 19.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 55% FG, 44% 3pt

Sweet 16 Contenders

Villanova Wildcats: Villanova has skyrocketed to #12 in the latest coaches poll because of their flawless 8-0 record, but I say let’s hold off on judgment of the Wildcats until we see how they fare against Texas tonight at the Jimmy V Classic. Their two best wins this season are against Rhode Island and a victory at Pennsylvania, and I have to question Jay Wright scheduling possibly the weakest team in Division 1- Houston Baptist- directly prior to facing Abrams, Mason, James and the Longhorns. Villanova appears to be guard-oriented yet again this season led by double-digit scorers Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. Stokes has transferred his hot finish to his freshman campaign to this season, hitting a remarkable 51% from deep in the early going. Why Villanova could be a true contender is the post presence of Dante Cunningham down low.

Star Player: Dante Cunningham- 17.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 57% FG

Georgetown Hoyas:
The Hoyas are a difficult team to figure out in the early going. We hear about their phenomenal defense, yet when they faced a truly elite and athletic team (Tennessee) they surrendered 90 points and collapsed down the stretch. They also looked like another porous jump shooting team in the contest prior vs. Wichita State. Then they throttle Maryland and destroy American and you’re back to thinking John Thompson has his team contending for another Elite Eight. They certainly have excellent players like DaJuan Summers and Austin Freeman, but both can disappear at any time. Greg Monroe has been impressive. Chris Wright (3.9 APG) needs to step up his point guard play to provide the Hoyas with a distributor opening up good looks for Summers and Freeman outside.

Star Player: Greg Monroe- 13.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 64% FG

Marquette Golden Eagles:
They really needed that home win over rival Wisconsin, while only giving up 58 points, to quiet some major question marks following a stunning loss to Dayton in Chicago. Marquette has already surrendered 88 points to Chicago State, 80 to Milwaukee, 89 in the loss to Dayton and 81 to Central Michigan. We know this team can score with anyone in the nation- Jerel McNeal is a phenomenal scorer who has improved his jump shot mightily, Wes Matthews is averaging 20+ PPG and Lazar Hayward is a 6’6 forward with a great three-point shot that’s nearly averaging a double-double- and that should carry them deeper into the tournament. The defense is the wild card and clearly needs to improve under Buzz Williams. They face Tennessee on the 16th in a huge contest for both teams.

Star Player: Jerel McNeal- 18.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.8 APG

NCAA Tournament Contenders

West Virginia Mountaineers:
A win over Davidson tonight at the Jimmy V would be huge for Bob Huggins and his Mountaineer team, especially because I’m questioning whether they have the ingredients to return to the NCAA Tournament this season. The wins over Iowa and Mississippi are alright, but neither appear to be headed into March play, and the collapse against Kentucky clearly didn‘t impress. Of course, they probably only need to finish 9-9 in this Big East to sneak into the field. Devin Ebanks (6.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG) has been quite the disappointment in the early going.

Seton Hall Pirates: Barring a major slipup which is possible with this team, Seton Hall should cruise through the rest of their non-conference schedule. Unfortunately, their wins in Puerto Rico against USC and Virginia Tech don’t look quite as impressive. Much like West Virginia, Seton Hall likely needs to finish 9-9 with a win in the BET to make the field. Jeremy Hazell is averaging 23.3 PPG and is one of the best outside shooters in the nation.

Cincinnati Bearcats:
Cincinnati, Seton Hall and West Virginia are basically tied here, but I had to move Cincy down a bit due to their 47-point performance against Florida State in Vegas. Otherwise, they’ve taken down UNLV by 2 in an essential road game and outplayed UAB 87-80 on their home floor this past Saturday. If Cincy can continue to go 9-deep and receive production from secondary players other than Vaughn and Williams, they could also sneak in.

Bottom Feeders

Providence Friars: A one-point victory over Rhode Island at home and a Charlotte collapse in Anaheim saved what could have been a 4-5 non-conference slate for new coach Keno Davis. Sharaud Curry is still trying to get completely healthy.

St. John’s Red Storm: A loss in Boston College in a game they played pretty well is the lone blemish for the Johnnies, but their schedule has been a joke. Losing Anthony Mason for the season pretty much quells any hope for postseason play.

South Florida Bulls:
USF has faltered in two heartbreakers at Virginia and at UAB in overtime while also falling to Central Florida. Their non-conference slate the rest of the way is fairly easy (lone threat is Vanderbilt), so they’ll have some confidence heading into conference play.

DePaul Blue Demons: DePaul barely escaped Illinois-Chicago and winless Indiana State before falling to California by 10 and putting up 36 points in 40 minutes @ Northwestern. Jerry Wainwright should watch for that pink slip soon, and it won’t be because of the economy.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Bottom line: Rutgers beat Marist by 2, Robert Morris by 4, lost to St. Bonaventure by 1 in OT, lost to Lehigh by 5, beat Rider by 4 and lost to Binghamton by 10. Best of all, their best player-Mike Rosario- appears to have not quite the most positive attitude about the situation.

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Big Ten Poll

Posted by Zach on December 8, 2008

First poll of the year!

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Brandon Johnson Out For The Season With Torn ACL

Posted by Zach on December 8, 2008

This was supposed to be a huge year for Bill Grier and the San Diego Toreros.

We all know what his team did last season, marching into Rupp Arena and knocking off Kentucky as a prelude to their stunning upset of Connecticut in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. With all five starters returning, most believed San Diego could contend with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s for the WCC title.

Grier received news today that his leading scorer and four year starter, guard Brandon Johnson, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Couple that with a disappointing beginning to the season and various other team injuries and suspensions, and you have a San Diego squad that went from contender to middle-of-the-pack WCC team in a matter of weeks. Johnson was averaging 13.5 PPG and 3.9 APG for San Diego, including 19 vs. Wisconsin in the Virgin Islands. He averaged 16.9 PPG a season ago.

Already Grier has dealt with distractions in the early going. He suspended three players for their opening loss at UNLV, Clinton Houston missed six games, Gyno Pomare missed one and emerging sophomore guard Trumaine Johnson remains suspended, although he could return for San Diego’s next game. De’Jon Jackson, a solid contributor and top defender, also has a knee injury and has been out as of late.

San Diego is off to a disappointing 4-4 start with wins over Nevada and Valparaiso but losses to Miami, Wisconsin, UNLV and San Diego State. Their primary chances for impressive resume-building wins are gone, although they do play Mississippi State, Oregon and New Mexico in December. Those teams will likely not be NCAA Tournament bound, meaning the Toreros will have to win the WCC regular season or tournament, quite a daunting task without Brandon Johnson.

A promising year for San Diego is looking like a real struggle.

Posted in Injuries | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Weekend Roundup: 12/6 & 12/7

Posted by Tommy on December 8, 2008

Saturday, 12/6: Saturday’s slate was highlighted by a couple Top 10 teams getting toppled by unranked opponents. The first upset came from the Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines avenged their loss to Duke in the 2K Sports Classic. Michigan picked up their second win against a Top 5 team behind a career-high 28 points from DeShawn Sims. The Blue Devils shot 7-33 from deep, which wasn’t enough to shoot the Wolverines out of their 1-3-1 zone. Outside of Sims’ 28, Manny Harris provided 17 and Zack Novak had 14 off the bench. For the Dukies, this loss shows that they can’t rely on the three as much as they have been if they want to make it to the Final Four. Singler was 1-9 from deep and Paulus and Elliot Williams were a combined 0-7 from the field.

The second upset came from another Big 10 team. Ohio State’s Evan Turner led the 5-0 Buckeyes in five categories with 28 of OSU’s 67 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 40 minutes. Despite the return of Harangody’s presence in the paint, Turner drove to the hoop time and time again, testing the big men of Notre Dame and scoring at will. Harangody had a great first game back on the offensive end with 25 points to go along with 16 boards. Kyle McAlarney came back down to earth after going 3-11 from the field and 0-6 from deep. B.J. Mullens cracked the double digit mark with 11 points in 18 minutes of play. Thad Matta had his team playing great defense and shutdown everybody but Harangody and Tory Jackson. The Irish shot 38.1% from the field and 53.8% from the stripe, not encouraging stats for a team that usually doesn’t shoot itself in the foot.

Staying in the midwest, Wisconsin was also looking for a resume quality win against Marquette. The Badgers pulled out to a 6 point halftime lead, but saw it vanish in the last 6 minutes of the game. Jerel McNeal carried the Golden Eagles with 19 of his 26 points in the second half. McNeal was 10-18 from the field and 4-7 from deep, including the go-ahead three with 5:26 to go.  Both teams struggled shooting the ball from deep and from the free throw line. The win over Wisconsin was a huge one for Marquette, who needed a pick up after their loss to Dayton.

Other Notes:

  • Stephen Curry does it again. His 44 points lifted Davidson over NC State.
  • Big East darkhorse Cincinati, led by Mike Williams, picked up a nice win over UAB.
  • Boston College took down UMass despite 35 from Ricky Harris
  • Baylor continues to impress as they took down Washington St despite the difference in style of play.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #3 Pittsburgh’s Sam Young stays hot with his 28 point performance in Pitt’s 80-51 rout of Vermont.
  • #5 Gonzaga took care of Indiana 70-54 in Indianapolis, Heyvelt led the Zags with 17.
  • #10 Purdue forced 35 turnovers in their 90-42 win over winless Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
  • #11 Louisville jumped out to a 50-17 halftime lead in their win over Indiana State.
  • #17 Wake Forest stays undefeated after crushing Buknell 81-52, Teague had 26.
  • #18 Georgetown dismantled American 73-49. Wright led all scorers with 22.
  • #22 Miami withstands a late comeback vs. Kentucky and holds on to win 73-67.
  • #24 Davidson beat NC State 72-67 thanks to Curry’s second 44 point performance of the year.
  • #25 Kansas scored 50 points in the second half of their 86-62 win over Jackson State.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: DeShawn Sims, Michigan

Sunday, 12/7: Sunday had nowhere near the action Saturday provided, but another Top 25 team went down. Florida State took down the #21 Florida Gators at home despite shooting just 31% from the field. The Seminoles’ leading scorer Toney Douglas was limited to just two points and was 1-9 from the field. It’s tough to win games when your leading scorer was completely shut down and your team shoots 31 percent, but Leonard Hamilton had his squad playing great defense. The ‘Noles forced Florida into 16 turnovers. Role players like Ryan Reid, Solomon Alabai and Jordan DeMercy stepped up for FSU in Toney Douglas’ absence from the scoring column. This is a big win for Leonard Hamilton, who’s been on the hot seat for some time now.

In the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Classic, Oregon improved their record to 4-4 with a 75-70 win over Kansas State. Tajuan Porter was locked in, shooting 8-13 from the field and 6-9 from deep. The Ducks, who shot 48% from the field, got nice contributions from guards LeKendric Longmire and Garrett Sim. Kansas State outscored Oregon 39-10 from the bench and out-rebounded the Ducks 34-24 but allowed Oregon to shoot 31 free throws, 22 of which were made.

Liberty gave the Clemson Tigers all they could handle at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Flames, led by Seth Curry’s 24 points, had a 7 point halftime lead on the road but K.C. Rivers proved to be too much for Liberty to handle. Rivers had 32 points, 11 boards and a pair of steals. His nine points in the final 2 and a half minutes put the Tigers over the top after trailing a large portion of the game. Both teams shot right around 50% from the field and were 80% from the line, but Clemson had five more rebounds, eight more assists and 6 less turnovers than the Flames, crucial stats in a close game like this. I know people like to say there isn’t such thing a good loss, but this game shows that Liberty is a contender to win the Big South.

Other Notes:

  • Indiana State picked up their first win against Lamar, who was 6-1 going into the matchup.
  • Virginia Tech overcomes a six point halftime deficit to Navy in their 79-70 win in the BB&T Classic.
  • Maryland’s Landon Milbourne scored a career-high 20 points in the Terps’ 76-53 win over George Washington.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #6 Oklahoma rolls over Tulsa 69-44 thanks to a 43-19 halftime lead.
  • #9 UCLA shot 58% from the field in their 85-67 win of Cal State Northridge.
  • #11 Louisville’s Earl Clark had 17/14/8 in their 91-56 win over Ohio.
  • #12 Michigan State was 9-19 from deep in their 75-59 win against Bradley.
  • #19 Arizona State handled Nebraska 64-44, Harden had 20/9/6.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: K.C. Rivers, Clemson

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Zach’s Weekly Top 25

Posted by Zach on December 8, 2008

Week of December 8

1. North Carolina (1)
2. Pittsburgh (3)
3. Connecticut (2)
4. Gonzaga (4)
5. Oklahoma (6)
6. Texas (8)
7. Duke (5)
8. Tennessee (9)
9. Wake Forest (11)
10. Louisville (12)
11. Notre Dame (7)
12. Xavier (18)
13. Arizona State (15)
14. Georgetown (16)
15. Purdue (10)
16. UCLA (13)
17. Ohio State (NR)
18. Syracuse (19)
19. Baylor (20)
20. Villanova (22)
21. Marquette (21)
22. Michigan State (14)
23. Clemson (23)
24. Wisconsin (24)
25. Kansas (25)

New Additions: #17 Ohio State
Dropped Out: #17 Miami (FL)
Just missed: Davidson, Miami (FL), Memphis, Dayton, Missouri, BYU.

Posted in Top 25 | 1 Comment »

Top Ten Games Of The Week (12/8-12/14)

Posted by Zach on December 7, 2008

The November tournaments are complete. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is complete. We’re starting to become more and more familiar with the contenders and pretenders as we inch closer and closer to conference season in college basketball. Even though exams are nearing and a bit of a lull in quality games may be upon us, there’s still ample opportunity for some teams to notch resume-building victories. Here’s my top ten intriguing matchups for this week:

1. #8 Texas vs. #17 Villanova- Jimmy V Classic, Tuesday (ESPNHD)- We’ve seen what the Texas Longhorns are capable of this season. They’ve already played two very difficult games- losing to Notre Dame by 1 in Maui and inching UCLA at home last week. We know A.J. Abrams is an impressive shooting when he’s hot, Damion James is an NBA scout’s dream with his rebounding and scoring skills, and players like Justin Mason and Dexter Pittman are fine secondary players. We know this team is capable of finishing their season in Detroit. But what do we know about Villanova? Not much considering their two best wins are on a neutral floor against Rhode Island and at Pennsylvania. I don’t necessarily blame Jay Wright for cooking up a cupcake schedule early for his young Villanova squad. The question remains: Does beating up on Houston Baptist really prepare you for physical and battle-tested Texas? We’ll find out Tuesday night. Dante Cunningham has been phenomenal for Villanova- 17.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG- and will need to play a huge role in a Wildcats victory at the Jimmy V. Prediction: Texas 77, Villanova 69

2. #18 Memphis at #20 Georgetown- Saturday (CBSHD)-
Speaking of being unable to properly evaluate contending teams, how about Memphis? They’ve played only one game since the Puerto Rico loss to Xavier, a thrashing of Marshall featuring the coming out party of Tyreke Evans, and will not play before this showdown in D.C. on Saturday afternoon. Memphis has five players scoring in double figures; we certainly know they can use their superior athleticism and penetration abilities to overwhelm the less-athletic Georgetown bunch. But, will this type of game come down to toughness? Free throws? Home court advantage? Inexperience at the point guard position with Wesley Witherspoon the new ball carrier for John Calipari? I expect the excellent Georgetown defense to confuse the Memphis offense in this basketball game and leave with a quality victory. Memphis’ Shawn Taggart is averaging a double-double thus far at 11 and 10. We’ll see if he can keep it up on Saturday. Prediction: Georgetown 68, Memphis 64

3. #14 Xavier at Cincinnati- Saturday (ESPN2)
- One of my favorite rivalries in college basketball has meaning this time around. The Xavier Musketeers will march into their inner-city rival’s home turf Saturday night 8-0 (assuming they beat Ohio at home) and likely ranked near the top ten in the nation. Cincinnati, with their rich heritage basketball tradition dating back to Oscar Robertson, has all of a sudden transformed into a football school with their Orange Bowl berth. It would be a monumental win for coach Mike Cronin if he can dethrone the hated Musketeers at home behind stars Deonta Vaughn and Mike Williams. Beating UNLV in Vegas and UAB on their home floor is a good start, but the Bearcats only scored 47 points against Florida State. Which Cincinnati squad will show up Saturday? Expect the fired up one. Prediction: Cincinnati 70, Xavier 68

4. #5 Gonzaga at Washington State- Wednesday- Pullman, Washington is not an easy place to win. The home crowd is always rowdy, the stifling Washington State defense is terrifying and the Cougars may desperately need a quality win for their NCAA Tournament resume before delving into a weakened Pac-10 schedule. They had an opportunity in New Jersey against Pittsburgh and lost. They had Baylor at home on Saturday and faltered. If they fall to Gonzaga, their only real chances in-conference are Arizona State and UCLA. Gonzaga doesn’t quite have the same problem- they already downed Maryland and Tennessee and have games vs. Connecticut, Memphis, Tennessee and Arizona on the slate (does Arizona really quality anymore?) Look for Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes, Klay Thompson and the balanced fighting Bennett’s give Gonzaga a scare in the first half before talents like Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye down low are simply way too much to handle. Prediction: Gonzaga 67, Washington State 58

5. #22 Davidson vs. West Virginia- Jimmy V Classic, Tuesday (ESPNHD)- Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry. Sorry, but why else would you watch this game? No offense to Alex Ruoff or Devin Ebanks, but let’s be honest here. Prediction: Davidson 77, West Virginia 67

6. Butler at Ohio State- Saturday (BTN)- Don’t look now, folks, but perennial contender Butler is unbeaten in this early season. They’ve downed Northwestern, who has beaten Florida State and crushed DePaul, and won a big conference game at Cleveland State. The road becomes a bit more treacherous for Brad Stevens and Butler in the next couple weeks, though- @ Bradley, @ Ohio State, @ Xavier and UAB at home. Luckily, none of these matter an incredible amount because Butler probably isn’t going to grab an at-large berth anyway. The point is: Butler, supposedly in a down year after losing A.J. Graves, Pete Campbell and Mike Green, is still winning and it shows how tremendous of a problem they have in Indianapolis. Ohio State has two great wins @ Miami after the McClinton Swipe and in Indy against Notre Dame with Harangody playing. I won’t let Pat take credit for predicting Ohio State’s resurgence, either, because his entire reasoning was that B.J. Mullens will dominate college basketball and he’s not even averaging 7 PPG. Prediction: Ohio State 66, Butler 58

7. Dayton at Creighton- Wednesday- Mmmm, nothing like a yummy quality mid-major game on a Wednesday night! Okay, that was weird. But seriously, how about those Dayton Flyers? They downed mighty Mercer at home, defeated Auburn in Chicago and won a 54-50 nail biter at Akron Saturday that sent basketball back about 50 years. Oh, and they toppled Marquette in that same Chicago tournament for a win that will surely be discussed in March along with Dayton’s seed. When forward Chris Wright- 13.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG- is playing, Dayton wins. They have an extremely difficult test in Omaha against a Creighton team that needs a resume-building win after New Mexico has flopped and the Jays lost to Arkansas Little Rock and Nebraska. Booker Woodfox and P’Allen Stinnett (I did not make up those names) are two outstanding players for Creighton and I expect them to defend their always packed home court and take down mighty Dayton. Prediction: Creighton 78, Dayton 70

8. #10 Tennessee at Temple- Saturday (ESPN)
- Could the Temple Owls be hitting their stride? They were outplayed by Buffalo and Miami (OH) in two games prior to an underrated win in Happy Valley against Penn State. The most positive sign for Temple? They won while receiving only two points from Dionte Christmas, who may be the best all-around player in the Atlantic 10 (19.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.9 APG). Still, let’s be real, we’re talking about Penn State here. Not exactly Tennessee and their incredible talent, depth and athleticism. Temple will need an upset of epic proportions to win this game and most likely a 30+ point performance from Christmas. If you didn’t know, Tyler Smith notched the first triple-double in Tennessee basketball history on Wednesday. Prediction: Tennessee 83, Temple 67

9. #5 Gonzaga vs. Arizona in Phoenix- Sunday (FSNHD)
- Speaking of teams that need a quality win. Arizona not only needs to win this game to stay alive for an at-large berth, they may need this win to keep their basketball program in tact. Forget the Olson drama and the departing players and Brandon Jennings, this team has now lost two heartbreakers: the UAB fiasco that prevented them from notching two high-quality wins in Madison Square Garden and the 11-point halftime lead blown at Texas A&M on Friday ending in a game-winning Aggies three. Chase Budinger is doing his part at 20.1 PPG and Jordan Hill has been phenomenal at 17.4 PPG and 12.3 RPG. But can they stop Gonzaga? My guess is no. Prediction: Gonzaga 85, Arizona 75

10. San Diego State vs. Saint Mary’s- Saturday (HDNET)
- Is this San Diego State team flying under the radar? They beat struggling San Diego at home and led most of the game vs. Arizona State, but you’ll have to search hard for any quality wins. Beating tournament-bound Saint Mary’s on a neutral floor is a nice start. Kyle Spain is setting himself up to contend for Mountain West Player of the Year at 17.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG for the Aztecs. Unfortunately, they may be getting Patrick Mills when he’s hitting his stride. In his last three games against Fullerton, Providence and Kent State, he’s scored 20+ points and made 25 of 55 shots. Prediction: Saint Mary’s 74, San Diego State 68

Honorable Mention

  • California at Utah- Wednesday (MTN)
  • San Diego State at Arizona- Wednesday
  • Saint Joseph’s at Villanova- Thursday (ESPN2)
  • Iowa State at Iowa- Friday (BTN)
  • VCU at Richmond- Saturday (ESPNU)
  • Indiana at Kentucky- Saturday (CBSHD)
  • Utah at Oklahoma- Saturday (ESPN2)
  • DePaul vs. UCLA- Saturday (HDNET)

Posted in Top Ten Games of the Week | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Sunday’s Selections

Posted by Zach on December 7, 2008

Zach’s Picks: (Season Record: 121-94-4)

ARIZONA STATE (-9) over Nebraska- WIN
California (+6.5) over MISSOURI- LOSS
MICHIGAN STATE (-14.5) over Bradley- WIN
Oklahoma (-6.5) over TULSA- WIN
FLORIDA STATE (+2.5) over Florida- WIN
Maryland (-3.5) over George Washington- WIN
OREGON (-1.5) over Kansas State- WIN

Posted in Daily Selections | 1 Comment »

Saturday’s Selections

Posted by Zach on December 6, 2008

Zach’s Picks: (Season Record: 115-93-4)

CINCINNATI (-2.5) over UAB- WIN
NC State (+10.5) over Davidson- WIN
Illinois (-8) over Georgia- WIN
Cleveland State (+13.5) over WEST VIRGINIA- WIN
Gonzaga (-20) over INDIANA- LOSS
GEORGIA TECH (-6.5) over Vanderbilt- WIN
IOWA STATE (-10) over Oregon State- WIN
Rhode Island (+4) over PROVIDENCE- WIN
Cornell (+11.5) over MINNESOTA- LOSS
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (-7) over Charlotte- LOSS
Western Kentucky (-5) over TULANE- WIN
Duke (-9.5) over MICHIGAN- LOSS
DePaul (+5.5) over NORTHWESTERN- LOSS
Notre Dame (-2) over Ohio State- LOSS
DREXEL (+5.5) over George Mason- WIN
Miami (FL) (+2) over KENTUCKY- WIN
Temple (+5) over PENN STATE- WIN
Southern Miss (+7) over NEW MEXICO- WIN
BYU (-7.5) over Utah State- LOSS
Vermont (+17) over PITTSBURGH- LOSS
Creighton (+3) over ST. JOSEPH’S- WIN
Dayton (-1) over AKRON- WIN
Boston College (-4) over MASSACHUSETTS- PUSH
Wisconsin (+4.5) over MARQUETTE- WIN
SAN DIEGO STATE (-4) over San Diego- WIN
UNLV (-1) over NEVADA- WIN
Baylor (+2.5) over WASHINGTON STATE- WIN

Tommy’s Picks: (Season Record: 110-98-4)

UAB (+2.5) over CINCINNATI- LOSS
NC State (+10.5) over Davidson- WIN
Georgia (+8) over Illinois- LOSS
Cleveland State (+13.5) over WEST VIRGINIA- WIN
INDIANA (+20) over Gonzaga- WIN
Vanderbilt (+6.5) over GEORGIA TECH- LOSS
Oregon State (+10) over IOWA STATE- LOSS
Rhode Island (+4) over PROVIDENCE- WIN
Cornell (+11.5) over MINNESOTA- LOSS
Charlotte (+7.5) over SOUTHERN ILLINOIS- WIN
TULANE (+5) over Western Kentucky- LOSS
MICHIGAN (+9.5) over Duke- WIN
DePaul (+5.5) over NORTHWESTERN- LOSS
Ohio State (+2) over Notre Dame- WIN
DREXEL (+5.5) over George Mason- WIN
Miami (FL) (+2) over KENTUCKY- WIN
Temple (+5) over PENN STATE- WIN
Southern Miss (+7) over NEW MEXICO- WIN
Utah State (+7.5) over BYU- WIN
Vermont (+17) over PITTSBURGH- LOSS
Creighton (+3) over ST. JOSEPH’S- WIN
AKRON (+1) over Dayton- LOSS
MASSACHUSETTS (+4) over Boston College- PUSH
Wisconsin (+4.5) over MARQUETTE- WIN
San Diego (+4) over SAN DIEGO STATE- LOSS
NEVADA (+1) over UNLV- LOSS
Baylor (+2.5) over WASHINGTON STATE- WIN

Patrick’s Picks: (Season Record: 108-100-4)

UAB (+2.5) over CINCINNATI- LOSS
NC State (+10.5) over Davidson- WIN
Georgia (+8) over Illinois- LOSS
Cleveland State (+13.5) over WEST VIRGINIA- WIN
INDIANA (+20) over Gonzaga- WIN
Vanderbilt (+6.5) over GEORGIA TECH- LOSS
Oregon State (+10) over IOWA STATE- LOSS
Rhode Island (+4) over PROVIDENCE- WIN
Cornell (+11.5) over MINNESOTA- LOSS
Charlotte (+7.5) over SOUTHERN ILLINOIS- WIN
TULANE (+5) over Western Kentucky- LOSS
MICHIGAN (+9.5) over Duke- WIN
DePaul (+5.5) over NORTHWESTERN- LOSS
Ohio State (+2) over Notre Dame- WIN
DREXEL (+5.5) over George Mason- WIN
Miami (FL) (+2) over KENTUCKY- WIN
Temple (+5) over PENN STATE- WIN
Southern Miss (+7) over NEW MEXICO- WIN
Utah State (+7.5) over BYU- WIN
Vermont (+17) over PITTSBURGH- LOSS
Creighton (+3) over ST. JOSEPH’S- WIN
AKRON (+1) over Dayton- LOSS
MASSACHUSETTS (+4) over Boston College- PUSH
Wisconsin (+4.5) over MARQUETTE- WIN
San Diego (+4) over SAN DIEGO STATE- LOSS
NEVADA (+1) over UNLV- LOSS
Baylor (+2.5) over WASHINGTON STATE- WIN

Posted in Daily Selections | 3 Comments »

 
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