College Basketball Weekend Preview
Can Maryland upset Villanova? Probably not.
by Aaron Torres / @Aaron_Torres
Here are some things to keep an eye on heading into this weekend’s college basketball schedule…
Game of the Weekend: Maryland at No. 7 Villanova, Saturday 1 p.m.
Maybe it’s because of the NFL Playoffs. Maybe it’s because my own expectations are a bit too high. Or maybe it’s because that darn Vanderbilt-Tennessee women’s game is stealing all the headlines. But doesn’t it seem like this weekend’s college basketball slate is a little weak?
At first glance, I know this game might not seem too appealing, considering that Maryland is a pedestrian 11-5 on the year, and Villanova has won 10 straight. But as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!!” (Did I just say that? I’m so, so sorry.)
Anyway, Maryland probably only has one guy who would start for ‘Nova, but that one guy — forward Jordan Williams — is pretty darn good. The sophomore is a double-double machine averaging 17 points and 12 boards a game, and is coming off a 23-point, 13-rebound performance at Duke last Sunday. The Wildcats have more size than usual down low with Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena, but they’ve yet to see a guy with the skills that Williams will bring to the table Saturday. He’s the biggest reason that Maryland ranks third in the country in rebounds (42.4 per game) coming into this one.
Is Williams enough to single-handedly lead Maryland to the upset? Probably not. Still, this game will be closer than you think.
Underrated Game of the Weekend: No. 12 Missouri at No. 13 Texas A&M, Saturday 1 p.m.
Yes Kansas and Texas get all the love in the Big XII, but guess what? These two teams are just as good.
And what will really be interesting in this game is the contrast of styles between these two clubs.
Missouri wants to run until you puke, get a ball boy to wipe the floor, and then make you run some more. They head into this weekend fifth in the country, averaging 85 points per game. Meanwhile, A&M plays a brand of ball that your grandparents would most appreciate. They’re slow and deliberate, and one of college basketball’s best defensive teams, allowing just under 56 points per game. That mark ranks them fifth in the country as well.
Sure these teams might not be Texas or Kansas. Then again, who cares?
Big East Game of the Weekend: Marquette at No. 17 Louisville, Saturday 11 a.m.
Allow me to vent really quick…
As things stand today, the Big East has seven ranked teams in the most recent ESPN/USA Today poll. How do we not have at least two of them on the same court at the same time this weekend? Huh? I want answers!
The Golden Eagles are once again flying under the radar in the Big East, and at 3-1 are right in the mix with heavyweights like Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova at the top of the standings. But of those three wins, two were at home and one against Rutgers, meaning that their visit to Louisville this weekend will be one of Marquette’s toughest challenges so far.
As for the Cardinals, for all that the off-season “news,” that Rick Pitino made, he’s still proving to be a pretty darn good coach. No one thought the Cardinals would be 13-2 at this point in the year, and they’ve already got nice wins over UNLV and Butler amongst others. Louisville will look to continue their assault from downtown, as they’re averaging 9.3 threes made a game, ninth in the country.
The Jimmer Fredette Watch:
After dropping 47 points against Utah on Tuesday, Fredette is…
Wait a second, BYU isn’t playing this weekend? At all? Really?! Get me the Mountain West commissioner’s office on the phone immediately! This is an outrage!
Team That Needs To Be On Upset Alert: Ohio State
While the Nittany Lions haven’t had a ton of prowess on the hard court these last few years, they’ve undoubtedly been a giant killer in 2011. Penn State is coming off back-to-back wins at Michigan State and against Illinois at home. Can they make it three wins, over three straight ranked teams?
As for Ohio State, yes, based on pure talent they should win this one going away. But as good as the Buckeyes are, they’ve hardly been great since the calendar turned to 2011. In their three victories since the New Year, Ohio State has won all three by five points or less. The Buckeyes are due to lose at some point.
Will it happen Saturday? Stranger things have happened.
Team Most Desperately In Need Of A Win: Georgetown
We labeled Georgetown as the team most in desperate need of a win a week ago, which leads to the question: After two more losses, both at home, what does that qualify the Hoyas trip to Rutgers as this weekend? How about we call it an, “Absolutely, positively, my goodness, we reeeeeeeeally need to win this game,” game? Actually, I like the sound of that.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a reason to blame on the Hoyas’ recent struggles, look no further than the three-point line and beyond. Georgetown — a team whose three leading scorers are all guards — are a combined 14-54 from downtown in their current three game losing streak. I’m not mathematician (or even basketball expert for that matter), but it seems to me, if Georgetown is going to make a serious run in the Big East, they better either start making more, or taking less. Just a hunch.
In all seriousness though, Georgetown absolutely cannot afford to lose this weekend. If it happens, the Hoyas could be looking at their second missed NCAA Tournament in three years.
Here are a few other games to keep your eye on over the weekend:
Cincinnati at No. 4 Syracuse, Saturday 12 p.m.: If Syracuse plays the way they did Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, nobody, short of the Miami Heat, is beating them.
Nebraska at No. 3 Kansas, Saturday 2 p.m.: Kansas is going to lose at some point. Sadly if you’re a Nebraska fan, it’s just not going to be Saturday afternoon.
LSU at No. 15 Kentucky, Saturday 4 p.m.: Sure the Wildcats are going to beat up on LSU. Look on the bright side though Tigers fans, Les Miles just signed a seven-year extension!
No. 8 Purdue at West Virginia, Sunday, 1:30 p.m.: No conference has the quality out of conference wins that the Big East does. But they can’t possibly get another here, can they?