College Hoops Monday: Your Commentary
Big Monday delivers one of the best matchups of the week when top-ranked Texas visits the Little Apple to take on Kansas State. Frank Martin's Wildcats could be the team with the best chance to break through the Kansas/Texas tag team atop the Big 12 thanks in large part to guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. These two have accounted for just over 42% of the team's points and 49% of the team's assists so far and when they get rolling KSU is a tough team to slow down. Playing in front of the home folks will help in regards to the tempo of the game; Texas likes to run as well but they've got to withstand the "first punch" that's bound to come due to a boisterous crowd.
But the Longhorns aren't the kind of team that will wilt in the face of pressure; led by Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Avery Bradley this team is #1 for a reason. The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in both scoring (87.2 ppg) and rebounding (45.2 rpg) and their size advantage will be something that KSU needs to account for if they're to pull off the upset. But for all the talk that the three Longhorns mentioned receive the man of interest for the K-State guards could be Dogus Balbay. He's not much of a threat scoring but defensively he gives opponents fits, something that is important when combined with the defensive prowess of Bradley. It won't be easy but a win for the Wildcats would do wonders for the program and its national profile.
Notre Dame also hosts a Top 5 team but the need to win may be of magnified importance for them given the fact that their upcoming schedule has just three quality win opportunities (Villanova, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh) in their next nine games following Syracuse's visit. The Orange has to work hard in winning at West Virginia but they'll be more than ready to take on the Irish in front of a frenzied crowd. Luke Harangody will need to have an outstanding game following a less than stellar performance at Cincinnati and he's going to need help as well if Notre Dame is to pull off the upset.
7p ESPN Syracuse at Notre Dame
7p ESPNU Southern at Mississippi Valley State
8p Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee
9p ESPN Texas at Kansas State
9p ESPNU Howard at Norfolk State
1p Canisius at Fairfield
7:30p Maryland-Eastern Shore at Bethune-Cookman
7:30p Rider at Iona
8p North Florida at Jacksonville
8:30p Texas Southern at Jackson St
Kansas St over Texas: This is going to be an extremely difficult task for the Wildcats but it can be done. They rebound as a committee, with no player averaging more than 6.2 rebounds per game (Curtis Kelly), and they're going to need all hands on deck in order to deal with the tandem of James and Pittman. Look for a big night from Jacob Pullen on the perimeter paired with a respectable night on the glass as K-State pulls off the upset.