Jan 4, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT
Game of the Weekend: Sat. 2:15 p.m.: No. 8 Ohio State at No. 11 Illinois (Big Ten)
You know how we all keep saying that the Big Ten is so tough this season? Well, Illinois is a perfect example of why. The Illini lost their conference opener on Wednesday night, as they went into Mackey Arena and lost to Purdue, who had been the most disappointing team in the conference heading into league play. The Illini follow that up by hosting Ohio State on Saturday. On Wednesday of next week, John Groce’s club will host Minnesota and follow that up with a trip to Madison to take on the Badgers.
And that’s not even the most difficult stretch of the conference season for the Illini. They have a five game stretch spanning the end of January and the beginning of February where they play Michigan, at MSU, Wisconsin, Indiana and at Minnesota. If Illinois is going to avoid digging themselves a massive hole to start league play, they are going to have to defend their home court.
That will be easier said than done, however. I don’t think Ohio State is on the same level as Indiana or Michigan (or even Minnesota), but the Buckeyes do have the league’s best scorer in Deshaun Thomas and it’s best perimeter defender in Aaron Craft. Purdue won because they slowed down Brandon Paul with a great game-plan to battle the Illini’s ball-screening. How will Ohio State defend it?
Four more games that you need to watch:
- Sat. 1:30 p.m.: No. 22 Oklahoma State at No. 25 Kansas State (ESPN3): Here’s the key to this game for the Wildcats: health. Both Angel Rodriguez, Bruce Weber’s starting point guard, and Martavious Irving, Rodriguez’s backup, have missed the last two games with injuries. K-State has struggled offensively without them, and Oklahoma State has just a bit more talent than UMKC. It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats matchup with LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart. If Rodriguez and Will Spradling are both on the floor at the same time, who can matchup with one of the nation’s best freshman?
- Sat. 3:05 p.m.: Indiana State at No. 16 Creighton (ESPN3): The Missouri Valley is going to be loaded with quality contests this season, and this may be the best of the year to date. Indiana State is on some kind of run right now. They beat both Ole Miss and Miami in overtime out in Hawaii during the Diamond Head Classic and have kicked off league play with a home win over Illinois State and a road win against Northern Iowa. Not many teams have gone into Omaha and left with a win, but then again, not many teams have a 1-2 punch like Jake Odum and Manny Arop.
- Sat. 5:00 p.m.: Lehigh at VCU (NBC Sports Net): Some more mid-major goodness. You all should know about Lehigh by now; they are the team that beat Duke in the opening round of last year’s NCAA tournament and count potential first round pick CJ McCollum amongst their ranks. But VCU might be the nation’s most underrated team. They have a suffocating press and are as good as anyone in the country at forcing turnovers without fouling. Oh, and Troy Daniels is on fire.
- Sun. 4:30 p.m.: Temple at No. 6 Kansas (CBS): Kansas is beginning to look like one of the nation’s best teams. Ben McLemore is ahead of schedule in terms of being the Jayhawk go-to guy, and Jeff Withey anchors one of the best defenses in the country. That said, we all thought that Syracuse was one of the nation’s best teams when Temple went into Syracuse’s second home court (Madison Square Garden) and knocked off the Orange. Travis Releford going up against Khalif Wyatt will be fun to watch.
And the Mid-Majors?
- 4:30 p.m.: Loyola Marymount at St. Mary’s
- 8:00 p.m.: Northern Iowa at Illinois State
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 5, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT
Nevada landed a Southern Illinois transfer at forward.
May 5, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
Oklahoma State has added a big man who could help in the rotation if he’s eligible.
May 5, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
Old Dominion is gaining a transfer from Illinois
May 5, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Florida looks like they’ll be losing a key member of their 2015 recruiting haul.
May 5, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
Nebraska picked up a guard who should help after one season.
May 5, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Tennessee is losing its second front court player of the off season to transfer.
May 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Florida State grabbed an impact shooting guard in 2016.
May 5, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
This isn’t a decision that is going to get made quickly.
May 5, 2015, 3:26 PM EDT
Of all the changes on the coaching carousel, what are we most interested in seeing?
May 5, 2015, 1:43 PM EDT
As it stands, it appears that Texas will not be bringing ‘HAVOC’ to Austin.
May 5, 2015, 1:02 PM EDT
Did he really need to say it though?
May 5, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT
Demetrius Henry is the only player of note leaving the program.
May 5, 2015, 11:42 AM EDT
J.D. Collins will be the one to replace John Adams.
May 5, 2015, 10:21 AM EDT
This should end up being a solid early season tournament.
May 5, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Theo Pinson should be ready to play by next season.
May 4, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Boise State might have found some production in its backcourt to help replace Derrick Marks.
May 4, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Quinn Cook had plenty of ups and downs at Duke and this senior speech caps it all off.
May 4, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT
San Diego State landed a top-100 player in the 2016 class on Monday night.
Report: Former Clemson guard Rod Hall has interest from multiple NFL teams; college football also an option
May 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Former Clemson point guard Rod Hall has some decisions to make regarding his future in football.
Four-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson will take a mission trip before playing college basketball
May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson is a unique recruit because of a two-year mission he plans on taking after high school.
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