College Basketball: Weekend Viewer's Guide
With the ACC, Big 12 and SEC Championship games this weekend, plenty of you are probably thinking more about the pigskin (and the #@!# BCS) than hoops. But there's still a few games worth tuning into. Here's a look:
Saturday, Dec. 6
12:00 p.m. (FSN South, NESN) NC State vs. #24 Davidson
Not exactly the most intense of in-state rivalries, but still a good chance to catch Davidson's Stephen Curry. In case you haven't heard, he is kind of a good shooter, and knows how to put the ball in the basket...to the tune of 29 points per game so far. But Davidson is far from a one-man team, as Andrew Lovedale, Bryant Barr and Stephen Rossiter are all veteran players who won't back down from the challenge. State comes in undefeated, but this will be their first real test of the season. Guard Courtney Fells and forwards Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner lead the way, but State's weak schedule so far makes it hard to get a read on how good this team could be. Look for Davidson to ride Curry to victory.
1:30 p.m. #5 Gonzaga vs. Indiana
The Zags appear to have taken the final step from solid team to title contender this year, evidenced by their victory over Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic Championship game. The Zags have veterans leadership in Jeremy Pargo and Matt Bouldin, solid inside play with Josh Heytvelt, a future lottery pick in forward Austin Daye, and a ton of depth, with eight players averaging double-digit minutes. Indiana will clearly be outmatched in this one, but watching the Hoosiers' effort this season shows that Tom Crean has them on the right track. Gonzaga wins going away, but Indiana fans can take heart in knowing their team won't quit fighting.
4 p.m. (ESPNU) Ohio State vs. #7 Notre Dame
The absence of Luke Harangody could bode well for the Buckeyes in this one. Freshman center BJ Mullins hasn't yet met the lofty expectations that accompanied him, but he hasn't had to, as the Buckeyes have been used their depth to wear teams out. Seven players are averaging at least five points per game, and the Buckeyes will be feeling confident after their triumph over Miami in the ACC/Big 10 Showdown. However, they better guard the perimeter, as Notre Dame can fill it up as quickly as any team in recent memory. Led by Kyle McAlarney, the Irish are shooting nearly 43% from 3-point range, and have hit 80 3's as a team in their first seven games. Look for Ohio State to keep it close, but the Irish will ultimately pull away.
5:30 p.m. (ESPN) Kentucky vs. #22 Miami
This should be a fun affair as two high profile teams needing big wins square of on national TV. Miami needs a W coming off a disappointing loss in which star guard Jack McClinton blew his team's chances by getting ejected from the game. Kentucky needs a W because, well, the loss to VMI will sting for quite some time. With wins over Kansas State, West Virginia, and possibly Miami though, the Wildcats would be back in the Top 25 picture. Not that they'd be ranked next week, but I guarantee they'd get a fair share of votes. You know all the big names for UK, since there's only two right now: Meeks & Patterson. For Miami, there's one: the aforementioned McClinton. Stars dictate big college basketball games, and it might come down to which of the two volume shooters has a big night. Expect to Kentucky to surprise by picking up the home win. (Capsule by Shawn Siegel)
9:30 p.m. (ESPNU) #22 Wisconsin at Marquette
Buzz Williams gets his first look at this intense rivalry from the head coach's seat, as the Eagles try to knock off their in-state nemesis for the second straight year. The Eagles are led by (stop me if you've heard this before) the guard play of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James, while Lazar Haywood has been solid in the post. The Badgers are also their typical selves, relying on tough defense, passing and a slow tempo. Guard Travon Hughes and forward Marcus Landry lead the way, although neither is likely to put up gaudy statistics in their offense. Look for the Eagles to win on their home court, and earn another year of bragging rights in the state.
Sunday, Dec. 7
6 p.m. (FSN) #21 Florida at. Florida State
This game hardly carries with it the emotion of the football matchup, and it will undoubtedly take a backseat in the Gatos' minds to the Florida-Alabama game, but it's still worth a watch. Florida is still painfully young, but they're quietly developing into a solid team, As expected, guard Nick Calathes is leading the way, but Gator fans also have to love the development of sophomore forward Alex Tyus, who has started the season on a roll. FSU is led by senior guard Toney Douglas and freshman forward Chris Singleton, a highly-touted recruit who Noles' fans hope can finally get them into the NCAA Tournament this year. Look for the Noles to win this one with the support of the home crowd, although Gators fans might not even notice as they're busy celebrating their SEC Championship Game win over the Crimson Tide.