College Hoops Thursday: Your Commentary

November 18th, 2010
Three in-season tournaments take the stage on Thursday with action all day in Charleston and Puerto Rico to go along with a doubleheader in New York. The 2K Sports Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer takes over Madison Square Garden as Pittsburgh faces Maryland in the early game while Illinois and Texas meet in the nightcap. The first game matches the experienced talent of the Big East favorites and the young talent of Gary Williams' Terrapins, who could surprise some folks in the ACC this year. Pe'Shon Howard was Maryland's most consistent guard in a pair of wins in College Park, including the game-winning jumper against Charleston last Wednesday, and you can definitely make a case that he should be a starter ahead of Adrian Bowie. Classmate Terrell Stoglin didn't play as well against Charleston as he did in the opener but he's got the ability to bounce back.

Pitt's triumvirate of Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker and Travon Woodall will most certainly test Maryland's backcourt, as will senior center Gary McGhee in his matchup with Maryland's Jordan Williams. And it's not as if McGhee is the only big that Maryland will have to contend with. Talib Zanna has played well thus far and players such as Dante Taylor and Gilbert Brown also rebound at a decent rate. Pittsburgh has an outstanding offensive rebounding rate through three games (54.9%) and while they'll be going up against their best opponent of the season that's an effort stat that tends to carry over when it's an expectation of your program. Turnovers have limited Maryland's offensive efficiency despite their unwillingness to rely too much on the perimeter shot, and against a team like the Panthers those turnovers can turn into points. It will be interesting to see how the young Terrapins deal with this challenge.

The nightcap may be the more even matchup of the two since both Illinois and Texas are ranked but the Fighting Illini are playing some impressive basketball to this early point in the season. Demetri McCamey is an All-American candidate who's properly balanced creating his own looks and setting up his talented teammates for good shots. The Longhorns are playing slightly faster thus far (80 possessions per game to 74) but Illinois has better points per possession average and offensive efficiency rating but Rick Barnes' team has played well on the defensive end of the floor. The Illini may be better off in terms of veterans when considering the presence of the two Mikes (Davis and Tisdale) in addition to McCamey but it may be the young talent on the floor for both teams that steals the show. Texas has a freshman tandem that can stack up among the nation's best in Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson while Illinois sophomores D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul can be an absolute handful. Of the two games at MSG this one will feature the most talent from an NBA future standpoint.

Tournaments in Charleston and San Juan will also be on the radar for Thursday with two of the better games being George Mason vs. Charlotte (Charleston Classic) and Western Kentucky vs. Minnesota (San Juan). The Patriots, led by Cam Long and Luke Hancock, will be one of the contenders in the CAA while Charlotte is a team with some good talent (Derrio Green, Shamari Spears) and a new head coach (Alan Major) that should be a factor in the Atlantic 10. And the matchup between the Hilltoppers and Golden Gophers is likely one of the best opening round matchups for in-season tournaments this season given the amount of depth in the frontcourt. Minnesota may come with Colton Iverson, Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III but Ken McDonald can counter with Sergio Kerusch, Juan Patillo and Steffphon Pettigrew. If WKU can continue in a positive direction in regards to replacing A.J. Slaughter at the point look out. It would not be a shock if they were to be playing in Sunday's final. The schedule's picking up and before we know it conference play will be underway.

Top 25
8:00 PM Presbyterian at (3) Kansas State (ESPN3)
7:00 PM (4) Pittsburgh vs. Maryland* (ESPN2)
5:00 PM Hofstra vs. (8) North Carolina* (ESPN2)
7:00 PM North Carolina A&T at (10) Florida
8:00 PM Western Illinois at (14) Missouri (ESPN3)
9:00 PM (16) Illinois vs. (22) Texas* (ESPN2)
8:00 PM Jackson State at (17) Baylor
12:00 PM Coastal Carolina vs. (21) Georgetown* (MASN/CSS)

NCAA Division I Games
11:30 AM Davidson vs. West Virginia*(ESPNU)
1:30 PM Nebraska vs. Vanderbilt* (ESPNU)
2:30 PM USC Upstate vs. Wofford*(MASN/CSS)
6:00 PM East Carolina vs. North Carolina State*
7:00 PM Savannah State at Florida A&M
7:00 PM Yale at Boston College
7:00 PM Bowling Green at Michigan
7:00 PM Stony Brook at Fairleigh Dickinson
7:00 PM Reinhardt at Georgia Southern
7:00 PM Morehead State at North Carolina-Wilmington
7:00 PM South Florida at UCF
7:00 PM Florida State at Florida International
7:00 PM VA Intermont at Gardner-Webb
7:00 PM Prairie View A&M at La Salle
7:00 PM Southern Virginia at Liberty
7:00 PM Virginia-Wise at Longwood
7:00 PM Morgan State at Providence
7:00 PM Jacksonville State at Virginia Military
7:00 PM Army at N.J.I.T.
7:30 PM Western Kentucky vs. Minnesota* (ESPN3)
7:30 PM Richmond at Iona
7:30 PM Montreat College at Charleston Southern
8:00 PM Grambling State at Arkansas
8:00 PM Tennessee-Martin at LSU
8:00 PM Texas Southern at Oklahoma (ESPN3)
8:00 PM New Orleans at Louisiana College
8:00 PM Eastern Illinois at Loyola (IL)
8:00 PM Southwest St (MN) at South Dakota State
8:05 PM Purdue-North Central at Valparaiso
8:15 PM Austin Peay at Lipscomb
8:30 PM New Mexico State at Arizona
8:30 PM George Mason vs. Charlotte*
9:00 PM Colorado State at Denver
9:00 PM North Florida at Wyoming
10:00 PM CS Monterey Bay at Cal Poly
10:00 PM Rice at Santa Clara
10:00 PM Point Loma at Saint Mary's
10:30 PM Virginia at Stanford

* - played at a neutral site