Dec 28, 2012, 12:30 PM EST
Game of the Weekend: Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Kentucky at No. 4 Louisville (CBS)
It may not be the battle of top five teams that we expected it to be heading into the season, but that doesn’t take any of the excitement away from the battle for bluegrass supremacy.
Louisville enters this game playing as well as they have all season long. Their lone loss to Duke seems like it was an eternity ago, and given the success the Blue Devils have had this season, relatively insignificant as well. The Cardinals have one of the best back courts in the country in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, and while their front line has played well over the course of the last month, Rick Pitino’s club will get a big boost on Saturday afternoon as Gorgui Dieng has been cleared to play. I’m sure he would have liked to have gotten Dieng in a game or two before throwing him into the biggest game of the regular season for the Cardinals, but having Gorgui is much better than, well, not having Gorgui.
While Louisville is beginning to hit their stride, Kentucky is still enduring some growing pains. As much talent as the Wildcats have on their roster, John Calipari looks like he is still figuring out how to get all that talent to fit together. The good news? Ryan Harrow is coming off of the best game of his collegiate career. The bad news? He now has to deal with one of the peskiest defensive back courts in the country.
And that right there is going to be what determines the outcome of this game. Can Kentucky’s back court handle the pressure that will inevitably be thrown at them by Louisville’s guards? Will Harrow’s confidence survive Smith’s quick hands? Can Archie Goodwin be patient enough in half court sets? If they can, than Kentucky might have a chance to upset the Cards.
Six more games to watch this weekend
- Fri. 8:00 p.m.: Baylor at No. 13 Gonzaga (ESPN2): So how good is Baylor? They won in Lexington, yes. But they also lost at home to Charleston and Northwestern at home. And isn’t this the same question we always end up asking about Scott Drew’s teams? Pierre Jackson is going to be a nightmare matchup for either Kevin Pangos or David Stockton, but the real question is going to be how Baylor handles Gonzaga’s physicality up front.
- Fri. 10:00 p.m.: No. 7 Missouri at UCLA (ESPN2): UCLA looks like they are finally starting to hit their stride this season as their three stud freshmen all played their best games of the year the last time the Bruins took the floor. But Ben Howland’s team will have their work cut out for them with the Tigers, who have the kind of size and physicality that could give the Bruins problems. The key? Who wins the battle of the backboards. Missouri crashes the offensive glass as hard as anyone. Can the Bruins keep them from getting those second chance points?
- Sat. 2:00 p.m.: No. 20 UNLV at North Carolina (ESPN2): North Carolina will get a chance for some revenge against UNLV after the Rebels knocked them off of their No. 1 perch last season with a win in Vegas. And for UNC, that’s something that they definitely need at this point: a statement win. Something that tells the country that this season will be different than 2009-2010. Because right now, the Heels don’t look like a serious contender for the ACC title, let alone a national title.
- Sat. 3:00 p.m.: Valparaiso at Murray State (ESPN3): One of the best mid-major matchups of the season. Valpo is the favorite in the Horizon, while Murray State looks like they picked up where they left off last season. Isaiah Canaan looks like an all-american again, and Stacy Wilson has proven to be terrific this year. The best matchup, however, will end up being Ed Daniel squaring off with Valpo’s front line of Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk.
- Sat. 6:00 p.m.: Xavier at Tennessee (ESPNU): Xavier has one of the best freshman in the country in Semaj Christon, but where they will end up having issues with Tennessee is along with Vols front line. Does Chris Mack have anyone capable of hanging with Jarnell Stokes in the paint?
And the mid-majors?:
- Fri. 7:00 p.m.: Iona at St. Joe’s
- Fri. 7:30 p.m.: Bucknell at Loyola (MD)
- Sat. 8:00 p.m.: North Texas at Western Kentucky
- Sat. 8:00 p.m.: South Dakota State at North Dakota State
Dec 18, 2013, 5:35 PM EST
Now in his third season as head coach at his alma mater, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew has led the Crusaders to 55 wins and two consecutive Horizon League regular season titles. The next step for Valparaiso would be to win the conference’s tournament title and thereby earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Valparaiso was…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:30 PM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: Texas vs. No. 14 North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) The Tar Heels have been one of the more puzzling teams in college basketball this season, but in the last three games they’ve knocked off top-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing and topped No. 11 Kentucky. North Carolina is once again without…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:31 PM EST
On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA announced that North Carolina guard Leslie McDonald had been cleared, effective immediately. He missed nine games and will have to pay $1,783 to the charity of his choice for receiving impressible benefits. Sources informed Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports McDonald was expected to be cleared, but the source was also said that P.J.…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:05 PM EST
Who wouldn’t love that matchup? Kansas vs. Wichita State in a three-game series, well unfortunately there is nothing in the works at the moment, despite a three-year offer Wichita State claims it proposed to Kansas, according to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Gregg Marshall said last week, he tried to get the Jayhawks…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:35 AM EST
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson has been an overnight sensation with a six-minute postgame rant following his team’s 73-65 loss to Murray State on Tuesday night. He appeared on the second hour on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning to discuss the viral video. During the rant (can watch it here), which was mostly entertaining,…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:02 AM EST
Former Duke forward Alex Murphy is going to following in his older brother’s footsteps. On Tuesday night, following Providence’s 76-74 win over Yale, Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal reported that Murphy, a South Kingstown, R.I. native, had decided to join Florida, the same school his older brother Erik played four years for Billy Donovan, averaging 12.2…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
If your team is getting blown out, and you get ejected, dunking over a 7-foot-1 center is probably the way to go out. Tuesday night, Florida State steamrolled Charlotte in a 106-62 win at home. With 14 minutes remaining in the game, it was already out of hand with the Seminoles leading 63-37. Charlotte junior…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:26 AM EST
NEW YORK — I’m staying with a couple of college buddies here in New York while I cover the Jimmy V Classic and the Duke-UCLA game. This morning, I was chatting with one of them — I’ll call him Rizzo — about the game last night. He’s a big sports fan and watches his fair share…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:09 AM EST
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson delivered the press conference of the year after Tuesday night’s 73-65 loss to Murray State. Hinson, the second-year coach who is 16-25 with the Salukis, has his team off to a 2-8 start this season and is less than pleased about the state of his team. Fast forward to the…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:53 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Florida 77, No. 15 Memphis 75 The Gators looked like they would cruise in the final minutes of second half, but the Tigers charged back. Joe Jackson had a chance to tie, but could not convert Florida, finally healthy and still getting players back, are showing how impressive it…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:20 AM EST
New Mexico State held a 13-point halftime lead and nearly gave it away in the waning moments of the game, but Daniel Mullings block on Cullen Neal kept New Mexico from tying the game at 61 with 30 seconds to play. K.C. Ross-Miller would go to the line three times in the final seconds and…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:58 PM EST
No. 11 Wichita State went on the road in Tuscaloosa to take on a quality Alabama program, led by senior point guard Travis Releford. In the first half Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early and Fred VanVleet all sat for much of the first half with foul trouble. In the second half, Alabama took the lead on…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:57 PM EST
NEW YORK — Billy Donovan said that this season, for his Gators, has been exhausting. Between the injuries and the suspensions and the academic issues, the status of Florida’s roster has been a bigger story to date than their performance against teams like Wisconsin or UConn or Kansas. “I almost keep looking around to see…
South Florida holds on as Florida Gulf Coast’s buzzer-beater in double overtime doesn’t count (VIDEO)
Dec 17, 2013, 10:35 PM EST
With 0.3 seconds remaining in double overtime, Jamail Jones threw a beautiful full-court pass — which he put by the 7-foot-3 Jordan Omogbehin — ending up in the hands of Chase Fieler, who put up a shot that bounced off the rim and in. The Eagles thought the bucket tied the score at 68-68, but instead…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:59 PM EST
NEW YORK — Dear Pitt: This is why you put together a real non-conference schedule. This is why you make sure that, more than a month and 11 games into the season, the best team on your schedule is someone better than Cincinnati. Don’t get me wrong, the Bearcats aren’t a bad basketball team. They’re…
Dec 17, 2013, 8:06 PM EST
Florida Gulf Coast guard Jamail Jones’ shot was off the mark, but he ran down his miss near the baseline. He beat a pair of South Florida defenders before throwing down on another one. That ended the half as Bulls led 23-21. It’s an absolutely vicious slam, unfortunately South Florida guard Martino Brock is blocking…
Dec 17, 2013, 6:35 PM EST
You’ve probably already heard the name Jahlil Okafor. The 6-foot-10 Whitney Young Magnet High (Ill.) center is the nation’s consensus top player, and is Duke bound, staying true to his word that he would attend the same college as Apple Valley High (Minn.) point guard Tyus Jones. Okafor will only continue to grab national attention…
Dec 17, 2013, 5:40 PM EST
Injuries have piled up for Seton Hall in recent weeks, as the roster got even thinner once Tom Maayan had to return to Israel to fulfill his military commitment for the Israeli Defense Forces. However, Kevin Willard got some good news on Monday night, learning that Sterling Gibbs knee injury will only sideline him for 1-2…
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- Leslie McDonald has been cleared, while reports say P.J. Hairston unlikely to play this season 3
- Memphis loss shouldn’t feed narrative about Josh Pastner, big games 0
- Casey Prather’s star turn a boon for Florida 1
- South Florida holds on as Florida Gulf Coast’s buzzer-beater in double overtime doesn’t count (VIDEO) 2
- Report: Former North Carolina guard Will Graves arrested on drug charges at home owned by head coach Roy Williams (20)
- Kentucky is a flawed team, but does that mean they can’t contend? (12)
- WATCH: Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson unloads in press conference (7)
- Weekend Preview: Iowa-Iowa State highlights a rivalry-heavy weekend slate (5)
- Difference between Kentucky, ’12 title team: role players? (5)