College Basketball Weekend Preview
Big-time games on a Friday night… Enjoy!
by Aaron Torres / @Aaron_Torres
Here are some things to keep an eye on heading into this weekend’s college basketball schedule…
OK, OK, I’ll be real: Ohio State at Purdue is probably the game of the weekend. Still, we’ve got college basketball on Friday night! What better way could a guy spend his time? Well, unless he had friends to spend it with I suppose. Or a girlfriend. Or even a dog. Whatever, if you want to find me Friday night, you know what I’ll be watching.
And what I’ll really be watching is two of my favorite point guards go at it like a pair of dogs in heat. But don’t be fooled here. While Kemba Walker has the stats to make him a Player of the Year candidate, believe me when I say that Peyton Siva is just as important to his team. I know Siva only averages 10 points and five assists, but could you imagine any other point guard running this Louisville club as well as he does? I can’t.
Beyond that, you know what else I’m looking forward to? Terrence Jennings and Alex Oriakhi battling in the paint. The truth is, that for all the credit that the guards get, the two big guys are just as important to their team’s success. Each is playing better than their numbers indicate, and they’re doing it with little to no help down low.
All I’ll say is the following: The last time these two got together, it was an instant classic. While I don’t expect a double-overtime thriller this time around, I promise you, we will get a good game here. You won’t be disappointed.
(And again, it’s college hoops on a Friday night. Just enjoy it!)
For those of you who’ve forgotten (or blacked the entire episode out of your memory), these two teams got together in Columbus back on January 25, and to say it got ugly would be an understatement. Honestly, Charlie Sheen thought things were out of hand. Ohio State jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead, and if Thad Matta hadn’t called off the dogs, the Buckeyes might’ve won by 40. It was far and away Ohio State’s best performance of the season.
Of course, Ohio State probably isn’t quite as good overall as they were that night, and Purdue wasn’t nearly as bad. Just as importantly, the Boilermakers have been a completely different team of late with the re-emergence of E’Twaun Moore after some midseason struggles. The first time these two teams played, Moore had a respectable 16 points, but did it on a less than respectable 4 of 13 shooting from the field. Well, in his last three games Moore has been much better, averaging over 21 a game. In a related story, Purdue has won all three by an average of 11 points each.
So will a rejuvenated be enough to put Moore over the top here? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that regardless of who wins, it’ll be that team’s signature win of the season.
Listen, I’ve never lied to you guys before, so I’m just going to come clean: I don’t know nearly enough about either of these two teams. Then again, I guess if anyone did, we wouldn’t have these “Bracket Buster,” games, right? (And if you’re wondering, yes that was a thinly veiled attempt by me to try and save face. Did it work?)
Regardless, this might be the most interesting game of the weekend from a tempo standpoint. St. Mary’s wants to get up and down the floor, and looking at the stats, they’ve been more than successful at doing just that this season. The Gaels have four starters averaging in double-figures and rank No. 12 nationally in scoring, at over 80 points per game.
As for Stew Morrill’s Utah State club, well they play at a tempo that only your grandma (or the blind) could fully appreciate. The Aggies don’t score nearly as much as St. Mary’s does (just 72 points per game), but they do rank in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.
Also, what adds an extra caveat to this game is that each team is coming off an especially bad conference loss within the last 10 days. St. Mary’s in particular lost to a 6-21 San Diego team on Wednesday night. Egads!
And remember, as important as a win will be for one of these teams, a loss for the other could be even more crippling heading toward the NCAA Tournament.
Don’t let the names on the jerseys fool you, this might be the weekend’s best game.
It’s time for me to fess up again (Man, this column is becoming quite therapeutic). Because my local cable operator is apparently allergic to showing Pac-10 basketball, I haven’t seen nearly enough of their teams either. In this case, I want to watch more Pac-10 ball, but just can’t.
Anyway, I’m ready to see if UDub is for real or not. They enter this one having lost three in a row on the road, with their last victory away from Seattle coming all the way back on January 16. Not good. And really, since Abdul Gaddy went down with an injury a few weeks ago, something just doesn’t seem right for the Huskies. Now understand, I’m not blaming anyone in particular. But at the same time, the dynamic of the team has changed without Gaddy. And looking at the schedule, this really might be the last opportunity for Washington to get a quality win on the road.
Arizona meanwhile has won eight games since losing in Seattle back in mid-January, so you know they’ll be focused.
This will be a fun one.
A Few More Games To Keep An Eye On This Weekend:
No. 4 Pittsburgh at St. John’s: Before you just pencil in Pitt for a “W,” here, remember that St. John’s has already beaten Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke and UConn at Madison Square Garden. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s four teams in this week’s Top 12.
I’m not saying Pitt will lose. What I am saying is that they better not dare look ahead.
What does that mean for this game in particular? Expect a whole lot of bricks from both teams. Personally, I expect a lot more from Nebraska.
With that said, you know what the good news is if you’re a DePaul fan? Actually, wait a second, there is no good news.