Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico Lobos’

Top Ten Games Of The Week (11/10-11/16)

Posted by Zach on November 9, 2008

The college basketball season is finally upon us. After the March Madness recap, the recruiting rampage, clinics and camps, transfers, injuries, Midnight Madness and weeks worth of practice, real, unedited college basketball will be shown on my television for the first time since Mario Chalmers led Kansas to the national title last April. It makes no difference to me that the score will likely be Duke 104, Presbyterian 55. It’s college basketball, it’s live, and even the sight of the Cameron Crazies are enough to get me excited.

Most of these games in my first edition of the Top Ten Games of the Week are assumptions. That is, we’d need Michigan and Northeastern to beat Division II or awful Division I teams to reach that matchup. Unless we have another Gardner Webb on our hands (and most of these teams are even worse), I’d say most of these are fair bets to occur. So without further ado, here’s the Top Ten in order:

1. San Diego @ UNLV (Saturday, MTN)– The best game of the first week features two mid-majors looking to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. First team all-WCC forward Gyno Pomare and senior guard Brandon Johnson lead the way for the Toreros in this difficult early road game in Las Vegas. UNLV is the preseason Mountain West favorite after returning three starters from a 27-win team. Wink Adams is the floor general and best player on the Rebels, while this game will give us the first look at Memphis transfer Tre’Von Willis. Prediction: San Diego 70, UNLV 74

2. New Mexico @ Creighton (Sunday)– Our second best game displays another Mountain West contenders- the New Mexico Lobos and head coach Steve Alford. Many feel they can contend for the top spot in the conference with Tony Danridge at the helm of the offense. Look out for combo guard Chad Toppert as a capable compliment to the scoring leader Danridge. Creighton is the near-unanimous preseason favorite in the Missouri Valley, and will look for super sophomore P’Allen Stinnett to carry the Jays to a big road victory. Prediction: New Mexico 69, Creighton 76

3. Clemson vs. Temple (Sunday, Sport South)– This matchup assumes both teams get through two easy rounds at the Charleston Classic over the weekend. Clemson is looking like a bubble team in the middle of the ACC pack, while Temple could be a true contender in the Atlantic 10 with Xavier and Massachusetts. This would be a huge resume building win for Dionte Christmas and Temple notching a victory over an ACC school like Clemson, who will attempt to hold off the Owls with the help of K.C. Rivers and Trevor Booker. Prediction: Clemson 67, Temple 65

4. Massachusetts @ Southern Illinois (Wednesday)– If both of these teams take care of business against cupcakes in the first round of the Carbondale regional in Coaches vs. Cancer, Southern Illinois will get a tough home test in a battle for a game with Duke in Madison Square Garden. If that’s not a motivating factor, then I don’t know what is. The dynamic guard duo of Ricky Harris and Chris Lowe lead the charge for UMass against Bryan Mullins and the Salukis in a contest of offensive firepower vs. defensive dominance. Prediction: Massachusetts 70, Southern Illinois 68

5. Bradley @ Florida (Sunday, ESPNU)– This one could be closer than casual viewers expect. Andrew Warren, Theron Wilson and a well-balanced high-scoring Braves attack could give Florida and their young roster a scare in Gainesville for a healthy part of this game. But I expect Nick Calathes, Erving Walker and Co. to pull away near the end in this warmup for the CBE Classic in Kansas City. Prediction: Bradley 79, Florida 90

6. Northeastern @ Michigan (Wednesday, ESPNU)
– Watch out for this one, folks. Other than sensational guard Manny Harris, the Wolverines don’t have the talent to avoid a possible upset, even in Ann Arbor. Northeastern and Matt Janning have their eyes set on a Colonial title this season and a long-awaited trip to the NCAA Tournament, while the Michigan program is still attempting to right the ship under new coach John Beilein. This winner of this game will face UCLA in New York. Prediction: Northeastern 60, Michigan 61

7. George Mason @ Vermont (Saturday)– This is an early season battle of two programs that have certainly produced magic in the NCAA Tournament and are in prime position to return this season. The backcourt combination of senior Dre Smith, who sank 10 threes in a game last year, and double digit scorer John Vaughan might be enough to knock off America East contender Vermont. They’re led by Michigan State transfer Maurice Joseph, double-double man Marqus Blakely and outstanding guard Mike Trimboli. Prediction: George Mason 76, Vermont 79

8. Houston @ Duke (Tuesday, ESPNU)
– I don’t expect this one to be particularly close with a trip to New York on the line in Durham. I’m still intrigued to see some of Houston’s new players, notably freshman Desmond Wade and a slew of talented JC transfers along with guard Kelvin Lewis, and how they hold up in Cameron against Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson, Greg Paulus and the rest. If Houston does stay close, Memphis might have a difficult conference foe on their hands. Prediction: Houston 68, Duke 88

9. Illinois State @ Wright State (Saturday)– Not many searching for good games this week will avoid overlooking this battle, but these are two schools that could win their conferences- the Missouri Valley and Horizon League, respectively. 15.8 PPG scorer Osiris Eldridge is a contender for MVC Player of the Year while Todd Brown and Vaughn Duggins look to defend their home court in this battle of mid majors. Prediction: Illinois State 59, Wright State 60

10. American @ Oklahoma (Friday, ESPN Full Court)– Oklahoma should win this easily, but you’ll surely see American as an upset contender next March. They’ve got one of the best unknown players in the nation in Garrison Carr. Derrick Mercer is another outstanding guard for the Patriot League favorites. This is also our first look at Willie Warren for the Sooners. Prediction: American 71, Oklahoma 90

Also keep an eye on:
– Miami (OH) @ UCLA (Thursday, ESPNU)
– Bucknell @ Maryland (Friday)
– Butler @ Drake (Saturday)
– Pennsylvania @ North Carolina (Saturday, FSN South)
– Northeastern @ Providence (Saturday)
– Rhode Island @ Duke (Sunday, ESPNU)
– Winthrop @ South Carolina (Sunday)
– Milwaukee @ Iowa State (Sunday)


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Mountain West Conference Preview

Posted by Tommy on October 8, 2008

Ahhh, college basketball is right around the corner, which means it’s time to preview the conferences for the upcoming season. We’re starting a three week period during which we’ll do conference previews for the Mountain West, Colonial, A-10, Missouri Valley, WCC, Big 12, Big 10 and SEC as well as in-depth looks at the ACC, Pac 10 and Big East. I’m kicking it off with the preview of the Mountain West, one of the most under-appreciated conferences in all of college basketball. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get the publicity it deserves from the major sports networks like ESPN and FSN and is often seen on networks like CSTV and Versus. This lack of media coverage permits the high quality teams in the MWC to fly under the national radar even if they do deserve to be nationally recognized. I’ll start off with a rundown of each team in the conference from best to worst and then preview the First Team All-Conference players.

1. UNLV Rebels: Coach Lon Kruger and the Rebels have found themselves atop of the MWC the past couple of years and look to make it three straight seasons in the field of 65. One fact that I found astounding is that UNLV’s program has a winning percentage of .716, third in the country behind Kentucky and North Carolina. Kruger is one of the best coaches in the country and will have another great team for the 08-09 campaign. Explosive guard Wink Adams, the favorite to win conference POY, returns to Vegas to provide plenty of scoring as well as strong senior leadership. Fellow senior Rene Rougeau does all the dirty work for the Rebels. He may not put up the biggest numbers, but he has a nose for the ball on defense as well as when he crashes the boards. UNLV will be a team to watch come March because coach Kruger always seems to have his players ready for the big games.

2. Utah Utes: One of the traditional MWC powerhouses looks to return to the top of the league after going 7-9 within the conference last season. The Utes will have to give big man Luke Neville (15.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG in 07-08, which was down from his 06-07 production) plenty of touches in the paint if the Utes are to succeed. Jim Boylen returns all five starters, which is always a plus, but outside of Neville none of those starters have made too big of contributions in the past. Johnnie Bryant was the second leading scorer behind Neville with 14.2 PPG off the bench, but his departure leaves a pretty big hole to fill in the scoring column. Despite the loss of Bryant, the Utes will be much improved from last season and will use their experience and depth to out-play opponents. The Utes could sneak up on UNLV to contend for the MWC crown and possibly get a NCAA tournament bid if everything goes well.

3. San Diego State Aztecs: The Aztecs are going to be a team to look out for in the MWC this season. They return their top eight scorers from last year, they have six seniors on the roster, and boast plenty of athleticism. The scoring was spread around pretty nicely over the course of last season with 4 players in double-digits and their 8th leading scorer averaged almost 6 points per game. After taking his name out of the draft, Louisville transfer Lorrenzo Wade is going to be the Aztecs’ go to guy and Kyle Spain along with Ryan Amoroso will provide plenty of support in the scoring column. SDSU looks like a legitimate contender for the MWC title on paper, but they always seem to under-perform expectations. They could finish anywhere from second (first is a slight stretch) to fifth in the conference, and that’s saying a lot with the weak bottom half of the MWC.

4. BYU Cougars: Unlike Utah and SDSU, the Cougars lost several key contributors from last year’s squad, which was arguably the best team from last year’s version of the MWC. BYU is going to have a tough time making up for the losses of big man Trent Plaisted and guards Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess who combined for 28.2 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 7 APG last year. The Cougars do return leading scorer Lee Cummard as well as Jonathon Taverneri who contributed 13.1 PPG, but the big question is whether these guys can make up for the losses of their big man and point guard, two key components to any good basketball team. Cummard is a great player, but him and Taverneri will have to create a lot of offense on their own, and the Cougars seem to be a little soft on the defensive side of the ball.

5. New Mexico Lobos: The loss of high-flying J.R Giddens is certainly going to hurt the Lobos, but they have a good amount of talent to bring to the table for the 08-09 campaign in Albuquerque. The team is fairly young with only four upperclassmen, but these four players are big contributors for coach Steve Alford. Tony Danridge, who didn’t play at all last season because of a broken leg, returns this season as a senior and will be a key to success for the Lobos. In addition to Danridge, Chad Toppert and Daniel Faris will provide plenty of scoring, and point guard Dairese Gary returns as a sophomore with a year of experience as the starter. I really like the makeup of this team, they all shoot good percentages from the field and there isn’t a standout star requiring all the attention. One problem is the lack of experience on the roster. There are six true freshman on the roster, including SG Phillip McDonald, who could become a key contributor come mid-season, and PF AJ Hardeman, another frosh that will have to step up his game for the Lobos.

6. Air Force Falcons: The Falcons finished in 5th place in the MWC last year, the first under coach Jeff Reynolds. The Falcons may not always have the most talented teams, but they play terrific defense and do the little things to perfection. The team returns just three starters, but sixth-man Andrew Henke, who will be a senior, was the team’s second leading scorer. Fellow seniors Matt Holland and Anwar Johnson will look to improve on their 7-9 record in the MWC from last season, which may be a reach. It’s always tough to succeed under a first year coach, so I think the Falcons will be a good team despite the loss of their heart and soul in Tim Anderson. The ceiling of this team’s success is 7-9 within the conference.

7. Wyoming Cowboys: Heath Schroyer and the Cowboys fell victim to an upset at the hands of Colorado State (0-16 in conference play) in the first round of last year’s MWC tournament. Brandon Ewing, the MWC’s leading scorer from last year, returns in hopes to improve on their disappointing season last year. Ryan Dermody and 7-footer Mikhail Linskens are returning starters from last year and will have to step up their game if the Cowboys want to make some noise in the MWC. Schroyer has brought in several transfers, three if whom are eligible to play in 08-09. The most notable of these transfers is former Wichita State guard Sean Ogirri. Ogirri will combine with Ewing to make up a very strong backcourt for Wyoming. This team’s season is going to ride mostly on the shoulders of Brandon Ewing, and unless they get big contributions from role players, I don’t see them doing too well in the Mountain West.

8. Colorado State Rams: The Rams move up one spot in the rankings after going 0-16 within the conference last season. Like Wyoming, the Rams are going to have to rely a lot on guard Marcus Walker, who was runner up to Ewing in scoring in the conference. The Rams are returning four of their starters from last season and are entering their second year under coach Tim Miles. Things are looking up for the Rams when compared to their winless season in the MWC last year, but don’t expect anything better than a 6th place finish.

9. TCU Horned Frogs: Leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Langford returns to TCU in 08-09, but will his contributions in the paint be enough to propel TCU up the ranks? I really don’t think so. The Horned Frogs only return two starters from last year’s team, Langford and junior guard Jason Elbi. Coach Jim Christian has started to rebuild the program by bringing in five new players, including three JUCO transfers, but his efforts won’t be enough for his team to succeed this season.

First Team All-Mountain West Conference:

G- Wink Adams, UNLV

G- Brandon Ewing, Wyoming

F- Lee Cummard, BYU

F- Lorrenzo Wade, SDSU

C- Luke Neville, Utah

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