Games to Watch: November 30th – December 5th

A lot of great games this week including the Big Ten – ACC Challenge and Pac-10 – Big 12 Challenge. I picked seventeen games that I thought would be the most entertaining. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30th:
#14 Georgetown @ #8 Missouri – 9PM ESPNU – A great match-up of contrasting styles. Georgetown is more methodical, whereas Missouri is one of the fastest teams in the nation.
North Carolina @ #21 Illinois – 930PM ESPN – Big time Big Ten / ACC Challenge game. UNC barely escaped College of Charleston after 2 losses in a week. Will they rebound in Champagne?
#2 Ohio State @ Florida State – 730 ESPN – Another nice Big Ten / ACC match-up. A balanced OSU team travels to Florida for the second time (93-75 W) to take on a talented but unranked Seminole squad.

Wednesday, December 1st:
#6 Michigan State @ #1 Duke – 930 ESPN – A Final Four type game. It will be tough for anyone to beat Duke at home this season, but this may be the best chance at anyone winning there.
St. Mary’s @ #19 San Diego State – 1030PM – Two superb mid-major teams face off in San Diego. The Aztecs are off to a great start, and look to hold on to their much coveted Top 25 ranking.
Richmond @ Old Dominion – 7PM – Another good mid-major battle. Old Dominion took Georgetown to the wire, and Richmond just handled Purdue.
#18 Purdue @ Virginia Tech – 730PM ESPN – Both teams aren’t off to the greatest of starts. Both teams need this game.

Thursday, December 2nd:
Arizona State @ #10 Baylor – 7PM ESPN2 – The first of 3 Big 12 / Pac-10 Challenge games on Thursday. All of which should be routs in favor of the Big 12, just like last season.
UCLA @ #4 Kansas – 9PM ESPN2
#8 Missouri @ Oregon – 11PM

Friday, December 3rd:
#5 Kansas State @ Washington State – 11PM – Another B12/P10 Challenge game. KState should take this one for the B12.

Saturday, December 4th:
#11 Kentucky @ North Carolina – 1230PM CBS – The first game on CBS this season has a bunch of history. UNC will either be reeling off their loss to Illinois, or gaining some confidence off of a rough start.
Butler @ #1 Duke – 315PM ESPN – Rematch of last season’s epic Championship game. Nored is injured for Butler, and they aren’t quite as good at this stage. It should be a easy win for the Dukies in Cameron Indoor.
NCSt @ #7 Syracuse – 515PM ESPN2 – The Orangemen haven’t exactly impressed so far, upset possibility.
Utah State @ #14 Georgetown – Noon ESPNU – Georgetown plays another impressive mid-major opponent, this time at home.
#21 Illinois @ #24 Gonzaga – 515PM ESPN – Rematch of last season’s Illinois – Gonzaga game on a neutral floor, although it turned out to be 95% Illini fans. This time, the scenery changes as Gonzaga has the home court advantage.

Sunday, December 5th:
Temple @ Maryland – 8PM – Temple suffered two losses in the Old Spice Classic. They are looking to turn their fortunes, but an away game at Maryland wouldn’t be my choice location.

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Games to Watch: November 22nd – 28th

Monday November 22nd:
Oklahoma (3-0) vs #13 Kentucky (2-0) – 530ET ESPN2 – Opening round of the Maui Invitational. Oklahoma was scared by North Carolina Central, while Kentucky has been dominant.
#1 Duke (3-0) vs Marquette (4-0) – 730ET ESPN2 – First round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Classic. Marquette looks to notch a major victory on their path to the NCAA tournament.
Old Dominion (3-1) vs Xavier (4-0) – 830ET Fox College Sports – Championship game of the Paradise Jam. Xavier defeated Seton Hall in the semi-finals as Old Dominion nipped Clemson.
#3 Kansas State (3-0) vs #12 Gonzaga (2-1) – 930ET ESPN2 – Opening round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Classic. Kansas State throttled Virginia Tech in the second half, while Gonzaga was upset by talented San Diego State. A battle of mid-major powerhouse vs. Big 12 powerhouse.

Wednesday November 24th:
UCLA (3-0) vs #7 Villanova (4-0) – 9ET ESPN2 – Semi-finals of the Pre-season NIT in New York.
VCU (3-0) vs #22 Tennessee (3-0) – 7ET ESPN2 – The other semi-final of the Pre-season NIT. VCU is fresh off a 21 point thrashing of Wake Forest.

Thursday November 25th:
Georgia (3-0) vs Notre Dame (3-0) – 7ET ESPN2 – Opening round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Both Big 6 teams are undefeated, only one will leave that way.
#20 Temple (2-0) vs California (2-0) – 9ET ESPN2 – Opening round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Ranked Temple will look to flex their muscle against their second Big 6 foe.

Friday November 26th:
Penn State (3-0) @ Ole Miss (2-1) – 7ET – Solid Big 6 match up. Penn State travels to Mississippi to notch their first notable win of the season.
#11 Syracuse (4-0) vs Michigan (3-0) – 730ET – First round of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, NJ. Syracuse was just taken to the wire by William & Mary at the Carrier Dome.

Saturday, November 27th:
Arizona (2-0) @ #6 Kansas (3-0) – 1030ET ESPN2 – Plenty of college basketball history in this match up. The Wildcats travel to Kansas to prove they are back on the national scene after a few down years.
Dayton (3-0) @ Cincinnati (2-0) – TBD ESPN3.com – Intrastate match up between the defending NIT champs and a mid-tier Big East opponent.

Sunday, November 28th:
#10 Florida (3-1) @ Florida State (4-0) – 730ET – Another intrastate matchup between Big 6 opponents. Florida is looking to put their thrashing at the hands of the Buckeyes further in the rear view mirror as well as forget the scare provided by Morehead State.

I’ll be providing updates on here and Twitter for all the tournament match-ups that arise.

Games to Watch: Week 2 (15th-21st)

With a mostly predictable Week 1 of games complete, Week 2 is setting up to be a lot of fun. I’ll break the week into two parts, the week and the weekend, since there are so many great games.

Monday 15th:
Miami @ #19 Memphis – Midnight ESPN – First game of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoop.
Fairfield @ Rutgers – 7:30 – Rutgers lost to Ivy League powerhouse Princeton in overtime. Fairfield looks to have an even better team than Princeton. Could Mike Rice be off to an 0-2 start?

Tuesday 16th:
#23 Virginia Tech @ #3 Kansas State – 4PM ESPN – The first of two block buster OOC match ups.
#5 Ohio State @ #11 Florida – 6PM ESPN – A rematch of the 2006-07 National Championship game. Ohio State is going to rely on some young players (Sullinger) as well as some wily ole’ vets (Diebler, Lauderdale, Lighty, Buford). Should be a great game.
#18 Butler @ Louisville – 8PM ESPN – An intriguing mid-major, Big 6 match up. Louisville lost a lot of talent. Don’t be surprised if Butler wins by double digits.
South Carolina @ #2 Michigan State – 10PM ESPN – Tom Izzo’s squad should be heavily favored in this power conference match up.
#25 San Diego State @ #12 Gonzaga – 11PM ESPN2 – A terrific gauge of talent for two of the best mid major teams in the country.

Wednesday 17th:
Murray State @ Ole Miss – 8PM ESPN3 – The 30 win squad from last year (Murray State) has virtually everyone back. Watch out Rebels.

Thursday 18th:
Maryland @ #4 Pittsburgh – 7PM ESPN2 – Another blockbuster match up, despite Maryland’s lack of a ranking. This will be a true gauge of Maryland’s talent level; was Charleston just a farce?
#16 Illinois @ #25 Texas – 9PM ESPN2 – Texas started off hot last season, and finished abysmally. Will they continue that trend again this year? A big early test for both teams that expect to dance.

Friday 19th:
Alabama vs. Seton Hall – Paradise Jam – 830PM – A big time power conference match up in the Virgin Islands.

Saturday 20th:
#24 Wisconsin @ UNLV – 7PM – UNLV is a tough place to play. Bo Ryan will have the Badgers ready, but beware.
Dayton @ Ole Miss – 7PM

Sunday 21st:
Miami @ Rutgers – 2PM – Rutgers gets another early test.
#19 Memphis @ LSU – 5PM – Memphis plays another Big 6 team in LSU.

Games to Watch: Tip-off Week!

Week 1 is from Monday the 8th, through Sunday the 14th:

Monday 8th:
Rhode Island @ #4 Pittsburgh – 7ET – ESPNU – Rhode Island is a tough team that will compete in the upper half of the solid A10 this season. They will likely be a bubble team all season and should give the Panthers a run for their money.

Friday 12th:
Seton Hall @ #22 Temple – 730ET – Somehow, this game won’t be on TV unless something changes. Seton Hall is poised to crack the Top 8 of the BE in their rematch with Temple. Seton Hall blew a sizable lead in the second half last year in Newark. Temple is a very tough team to play at home.
Northern Iowa @ #13 Syracuse – 7ET – ESPN3.com Northern Iowa made a magical run in last season’s NCAA tournament. They are missing some key pieces from that squad, but are still a scary mid-major.
#21 Georgetown @ Old Dominion – 7ET – Comcast (local) The Hoyas travel to play the defending CAA champs who lost their leading scorer Gerald Lee. They are still a dangerous team that has been picked to win the CAA again. Upset alert.

Sunday 14th:
Maine @ Maryland – 2ET – Comcast Sports Net
Maine and Boston University are the favorites to win the American East. Maine should give the Terps a scare.

–Fringe Games–

Saturday 13th:
St. Peters @ Robert Morris – 4ET –
St. Peters should contend for the MAAC title if they are healthy since they return their entire team. They are banged up, though. Robert Morris is looking to rebuild after losing Mike Rice to Rutgers. Karon Abraham is one of the best guards in the NEC.
Vermont @ Siena – 7ET – Time Warner Cable Sports Vermont loses 4 starters, but they always seems to churn out solid teams. Siena loses a lot, but they still have Jackson and Rossiter upfront. They should fight Fairfield for the MAAC auto-bid.

Things should heat up next week or two as some ranked teams start playing other ranked opponents in the big OOC tournaments.

Seton Hall v. William Patterson Recap, 97-55

A few things stuck out to me as the Pirates jogged out of the Walsh Gym locker room to the applause of 2,600+ fans around 7PM tonight:

Keon Lawrence, Anali Okoloji and Aaron Geramipoor were not in uniform. Okoloji was likely resting his stress fracture and Geramipoor is dealing with a case of mono, but Lawrence was a mystery to me until I tuned into Hall Line. Apparently, Kevin Willard decided not to allow Keon to play tonight: a “coaches decision”. This does not bode well, and is eerily similar to the start of last season.

The uniforms. It had been reported that the Pirates were wearing new threads, but I didn’t think they were this nice. I was thoroughly impressed.

The atmosphere. The place was packed. There were dozens of people standing along the back row of seats and there were very few empty seats. The gym was also very nice looking. I admittedly had never attended a game at Walsh, but from what I’ve heard, the gym looked great.

Game Summary: To those who weren’t there, the Pioneers and Pirates matched baskets for the first 9 minutes until Seton Hall pulled away quickly to lead by 20+ at half. Oddly enough, it seems like the Pirates started playing better as soon as Jordan Theodore entered the game. The Pirates continued to play a fast pace game in the second half, not taking their proverbial boot off WPU’s throat. The Pioneers were never able to really go on any runs, so the game was never in question. Seton Hall stretched the lead to the high 30s when I left (3:40 to play), around the time when Darnell Gatling entered the game.

3 Highlights:

– The first one is a package deal. Jordan Theodore had two identical behind the back passes to Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson for slam dunks. The crowd went wild both times… it looked like something from a street ball tape. The second time, one of the WPU defenders tripped, I’m not sure if it was due to Theodore or not.

– I can’t remember the exact play, but Fuquan Edwin or Herb Pope caught the ball under the basket, faked a shot, and dished to the other for a lay in. I believe Pope dished it to Edwin. This was a microcosm of Edwin’s fine play in and around the paint.

– Flag Man. The new Flag Man barely made it out of the gates, as his arms were wobbling immediately. Somehow, he was able to complete three laps, nearly hitting the WPU and SHU huddles. I wouldn’t be able to lift the thing, but Flag Man has to go back to the drawing board if he wants to improve this season.

MIP (Most Impressive Pirate) Award: Fuquan Edwin was a force. In his first action as a Pirate (in public), FU really stood out. Not one attribute really stuck out, but Edwin seemed to have a great basketball sense. Cliche, I know, but that is exactly what it was. He had a nose for some loose balls on the defensive end, and was very elusive within the arc on the offensive end… He also hit a 3 pointer (1-2). Nothing to not like about this advertised gunner.

Jordan Theodore – If there was such a thing as the “Ooh Aah” award, Theodore would have won it, hands down. Theo dished two fantastic behind the back passes to Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson that made Walsh Gym erupt. He was also incredibly fast in transition; he was really on another level with the rock in his hands. There is no evidence of his shot being improved, but he has all the tools to be a true point and a great leader for this season and next.

Herb Pope – Status Quo. Pope looked like himself after a very scary off season. He might have been a little gassed, but it wasn’t noticeable. He reeled in 20 rebounds in his first “game” back… not bad. The much improved Ferro Hall will scoop up any minutes that Pope can’t handle.

Ferrakohn Hall – Improved. Hall backed up the numerous reports that he has improved and tacked on some muscle. He had a few impressive post moves as well as quite a few rebounds. However, Hall still looks iffy on the defensive end. He defended once or twice very well (forced a bad shot) but he also tacked up a few silly fouls just like last year.

Eniel Polynice – As advertised. He reminds me of a more complete Edwin. He was able to run the point briefly, played solid defense, held his own on offense, and made a 3 early in the game. Whether its off the bench as a 6th man, or as a starter, Eniel will be a key player for the Pirates.

Jeremy Hazell – Jeremy had a quiet 16 points. Its obvious that Jeremy is not going to have to carry this team day in, day out. Although he didn’t play major minutes tonight, Hazell didn’t really force too many shots. I’m sure he’ll take a few more shots against Temple, but Hazell played smart tonight.

Jeff Robinson – Jeff had an up and down game. He was stuffed once or twice by Robert Whetham (#5) of WPU in the early goings. He also took quite a few shots to start the game. His most impressive moment was throwing down a huge dunk after Theodore’s first behind the back dish. All in all, Jeff can do much better than this.

Jamel Jackson – JJax played a little bit more than he was supposed to due to Keon Lawrence not suiting up. He took a few silly fouls on defense and hit a shot or two on offense. Overall, he looks about the same as last season. He should be behind Polynice, Theodore, Lawrence and Hazell in the guard rotation, but he is not really a liability — as some think.

Patrik Auda – Auda had a solid game. He had a nose for some tipped around rebounds that Pope was not able to corral and also showed the ability to hit the 3. I don’t think he was really tested on defense, nor a focal point in the offensive game, so I can’t really make a conclusion about Patrik yet. He looked a little slow in the full court press, but I had to keep reminding myself that he is a forward. He should improve over the course of the season as the next forward off the bench behind Hall.

Darnell Gatling – Not much to say here. I left a minute or so after he entered the game. He won’t be logging many minutes this season, so theres not much to say.

Report Card
Pirates Offense: B
I was not too impressed by the Pirates half court offense. They didn’t seem to run too many set plays outside of a few coming out of timeouts (none of which worked, to my memory). A lot of us had been told that Willard was going to run more of a half court offense, but this team ran early and often (as soon as Theodore stepped on the court). I mean it worked, but this is also William Patterson. The team will have to improve on the half court offense. Funny how I’m complaining about offense when the team scored 97…

Pirates Defense: A-
Early in the game, William Patterson was breaking the press rather easily. Auda looked slow, and the WPU guards looked decent. That changed quickly as WPU started to turn the ball over in bunches. Hall looked improved on defense, but he also took a few bad fouls. Overall, it was kind of tough to judge the defense since WPU wasn’t really able to play in the half court. Yes, thats a side effect of running a press, but I guess its just not what I expected. It will be interesting to see how long Willard sticks with the full court press against Temple. Side note: The team also played a 2-3 zone.

Overall: B+
The Hall obviously flexed their basketball muscles tonight, but it might not of been in the way we all would have liked to see. They didn’t dominate in the half court offense because they continued to run and they weren’t really tested in the defensive half court, which may or not have been because of the press they ran. I don’t think the Pirates played bad, but its difficult to translate their performance tonight to match a Top 25 team, in their house.

Its tough to complain about a 42 point win, but hey, thats my job.

Extras:

– The St. Benedicts basketball team was behind the Seton Hall bench, as noted on Hall Line. I wasn’t able to see them since I was seated behind the WPU bench. This seems like a good recruiting move.

– According to Alex Kline (www.therecruitscoop.com), “A trio of New Jersey sophomore sensations of Austin Colbert, Reggie Cameron & Halice Cooke attended the Seton Hall scrimmage tonight.” — Another good recruiting move.

– 12 and 20. Jordan Theodore had 12 dishes and Herb Pope had 20 rebounds. Although they were against a D-III opponent, both were in limited minutes.

– The $1 hot dogs were solid. A lot more appealing than the $100 hot dogs at major sporting events.

Big East Preview – Part 4

This tier of the Big East might as well be called the basement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any of these squads have the ability to crack the first three tiers except the Bulls. Rutgers is the definition of rebuilding under new coach Mike Rice. Depaul hired new coach Oliver Purnell, and Providence lost a few players and recruits.

13. South Florida Bulls 20-13 (9-9) – South Florida had a .500 BE season last year. Pretty darn good for their standards. A large part of their success had to do with stand out Dominique Jones (21.4 ppg). Unfortunately for the Bulls, he has moved on to bigger and better things like the NBA. USF also loses Chris Howard (10.3 ppg) and Mike Mercer (9.2 ppg). However, South Florida does return big men Jarrid Famous and Augustus Gilchrist.
USF will need major contributions from JUCO transfers Jawanza Poland and Hugh Robertson to hold their own this season. Famous and Gilchrist will have to do their best job to fill the points lost of Jones. Unfortunately, the losses will be too much. Don’t expect another 9 Big East wins for the Bulls.

14. Providence Friars 12-19 (4-14) – Four of the Friars top 6 scorers are gone, including their top two. Jamine Peterson (19.6), Sharaud Curry (15.5), Bilal Dixon (8.2) and Brian McKenzie (5.8) are all gone. Marshon Brooks and Vincent Council are going to have plenty of playing time and opportunities to try and pick up the slack. ESPNU 100 freshman shooting guard Gerard Coleman will likely see plenty of time early.
Simply put, the Friars won’t be able to replace their losses from an already bottom 4 squad of last year.

15. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 15-17 (5-13) – Rutgers loses just about everyone from last season’s 15 win squad. Leading scorer Mike Rosario (16.7 ppg) transferred to Florida, Gregory Echenique (12.7 ppg) was a midseason transfer to Creighton, Hamady Ndiaye (9.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg) was an NBA draft pick, and reserve Patrick Jackson (2.4 ppg) transferred to Kent State. The Rutgers roster is very thin this season. Only one of Rutgers’ projected starters (Mitchell 11.8) averaged over 10 ppg last season.
This will be a rough, rough year for the Scarlet Knights, but there are brighter skies ahead.

16. DePaul Blue Demons 8-23 (1-17) –Depaul loses their two headed monster Mac Koshwal (16.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg) and Will Walker (16.2 ppg). Together, the tandem accounted for over 50% of the Blue Demons’ scoring last year. New coach Oliver Purnell will have to use a combination of returning role players to try and find some sort of foundation to build a program off of. Perhaps, freshmen Moses Morgan, Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin could contribute.
Anyway this picture is painted, it’s not a pretty one for DePaul fans. Fortunately, next year’s recruiting class was given a boost with ESPNU100 stud Shane Larkin.

Sorry for the disappointment, but I won’t be having any additional statistics or anything. I had a bunch of point % lost by each team, what players they lost, and which players they gained, but the numbers are slightly off due to late additions and subtractions, so I don’t want to post erroneous numbers.

I will have a B10 preview out before the start of the season (November 8th!), a write up for games to watch during the opening week of college basketball, as well as a recap for the Seton Hall v. William Patterson exhibition game on November 5th.

Thanks for reading again, and I’m still on Twitter @ the_bracket_man (for some reason, the blog won’t let me link this..)