College Hoops Tuesday: Your Commentary

November 23rd, 2010
We've already had a matchup between Top 10 teams this season (Ohio State at Florida), but Tuesday brings about the first matchup between Top 5 teams as Duke and Kansas State meet in the finals of the CBE Classic. The Wildcats, playing in front of a partisan crowd in Kansas City, scored 49 points in the first half and knocked down 12 three pointers in beating Gonzaga 81-64 in the nightcap of Monday's doubleheader. The Blue Devils survived a game Marquette squad 82-77 thanks in large part to sophomore forward Mason Plumlee, who accounted for 25 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and three assists and turned the tide of the game in the second half. Mason offers Duke an interior presence that the defending national champions did not have last season as he started off the season with a broken wrist and seniors Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek along with older brother Miles weren't considered to be major scoring threats in the post.

Also of note in the frontcourt is the return of senior forward Curtis Kelly to the Kansas State rotation. The Bronx native, suspended from the Wildcats' first three games of the season, was rusty in his first game action of the year (three points, four rebounds and three turnovers). But head coach Frank Martin enjoys the luxury of a deep roster just like his team's opponent on Tuesday night, meaning that while K-State will need Kelly to get going there are other options available. Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla got the start Monday night while sixth man Jamar Samuels played more minutes than both of them (and this is usually the case). The Kansas State frontcourt will need to be ready to contribute more offensively against the Blue Devils, who limited Marquette to four three pointers on twenty attempts and opponents thus far get just 25% of their points from beyond the arc (Kansas State got 44% of their points on Monday from deep).

Even with the crowd likely in their favor, Kansas State will need to take far better care of the basketball than they did against Gonzaga as they turned the ball over 22 times. Defensively the Blue Devils, thanks to perimeter players such as Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith (just to name two), have forced opponents into turning the ball over 27.2% of the time through four games. Jacob Pullen, who leads Kansas State in scoring (16.0) and assists (4.0), will need to play at an All-American level while contributors such as Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling continue their progression on the perimeter. Kansas State has good wins over Virginia Tech and Gonzaga but a win over the defending national champions would do wonders for their national reputation. A win for Duke further cements their status as the favorites to win the national title.

The Maui Invitational moves to the semifinal round, as Connecticut takes on Michigan State and Kentucky meets Washington in a battle that may be spicier for the fans than the teams themselves. For all the talk about "hard feelings" in regards to the recruitment of Terrence Jones (keep in mind UK and Washington were both in the chase for Enes Kanter as well) the simple fact is that Kentucky got the kid and Washington didn't. Jones was outstanding after a lackadaisical start against Oklahoma but John Calipari's young squad will be tested by a more experience group that absolutely blitzed Virginia (tied a school record with 17 three pointers). Michigan State struggled with host Chaminade before waking up in the second half, and their task against UConn will likely be a simple one: stop Kemba Walker.

The junior scored 29 of his 31 points in the second half of the Huskies' win over Wichita State, and more of the same may be needed to take out the deep Spartans. And if you're looking for some non-tournament action to keep an eye on defending national runner-up Butler hits the road to take on Siena in a matchup of two of the more successful non-BCS programs the last four years, and there's the Battle of I-10 between New Mexico State and UTEP. Troy Gillenwater (NMSU) and Randy Culpepper (UTEP) are both Player of the Year possibilities in their respective leagues, and the outcome could be decided by which "supporting cast" performs better. As Thanksgiving approaches so do more intriguing non-conference matchups which make for good early-season evaluations of many of the nation's best teams.

Top 25
10:00 PM (1) Duke vs. (3) Kansas State (ESPN2)*
7:00 PM Connecticut vs. (2) Michigan State (ESPN)
7:00 PM Morehead State at (3) Ohio State (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Robert Morris at (5) Pittsburgh
8:00 PM Texas A&M-CC at (6) Kansas
7:00 PM Austin Peay at (8) Purdue (ESPN3)
9:30 PM (9) Kentucky vs. (11) Washington* (ESPN)
7:30 PM (12) Gonzaga vs. Marquette* (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Wyoming vs. (12) Missouri* (CBSC)
7:00 PM Florida Atlantic at (14) Florida
8:00 PM Tennessee-Martin at (15) Memphis
9:45 PM Yale at (19) Illinois (BTN)
8:00 PM Sam Houston State at (21) Texas
7:00 PM (23) Butler at Siena
7:00 PM North Carolina-Asheville at (25) North Carolina

NCAA Division I Games
11:00 AM Prairie View A&M at North Florida
12:00 PM Southern University at Richmond
1:30 PM Western Illinois at Morgan State
2:00 PM Wichita State at Chaminade* (ESPN2)
4:30 PM Oklahoma vs. Virginia* (ESPN2)
4:30 PM Bucknell vs. Princeton*
4:30 PM Winthrop vs. Belmont*
4:30 PM La Salle vs. Providence* (CBSC)
5:30 PM Urbana at Kent State
5:30 PM Boston University vs. Nevada*
5:30 PM Arkansas State vs. Pepperdine*
7:00 PM American University at Howard
7:00 PM Mercer at Florida State
7:00 PM UCF at Stetson
7:00 PM Liberty at South Florida
7:00 PM North Carolina Central at Indiana
7:00 PM Marist at Wake Forest
7:00 PM Quinnipiac at Dartmouth
7:00 PM Colgate at Columbia
7:00 PM Valparaiso at Ohio
7:00 PM Lafayette at Pennsylvania
7:00 PM Presbyterian at James Madison
7:00 PM Binghamton at Army
7:00 PM Buffalo at Canisius
7:00 PM Cincinnati Christian at Eastern Kentucky
7:00 PM Long Island at Fordham
7:00 PM Utah Valley at Georgia State
7:00 PM North Carolina-Wilmington at North Carolina A&T
7:00 PM New Hampshire at Sacred Heart
7:00 PM Northern Colorado at Santa Clara
7:00 PM USC Upstate at South Carolina
7:00 PM Appalachian State at Tennessee Tech
7:00 PM High Point at Citadel
7:00 PM Southern Virginia at Virginia Military
7:00 PM Oakland at Wright State
7:30 PM Norfolk State at Rutgers
7:30 PM NC Wesleyan at Coastal Carolina
7:30 PM Iona at Albany
7:30 PM UMBC at Coppin State
7:30 PM Saint Joseph's at Fairfield
7:30 PM Furman at South Carolina State
8:00 PM South Alabama at UAB
8:00 PM Hampton at George Washington
8:00 PM Delaware State at Maryland
8:00 PM Tennessee State at Saint Louis
8:00 PM Louisiana-Lafayette at Houston
8:00 PM Rice at North Texas
8:00 PM Western Michigan at Milwaukee
8:00 PM Lamar at Texas-Pan American
8:00 PM Champion Baptist College at Central Arkansas
8:00 PM Stephen F. Austin at Louisiana-Monroe
8:00 PM Idaho State at South Dakota State
8:00 PM Pacific at Missouri State
8:05 PM Charleston Southern at Southern Illinois
8:30 PM Bethune-Cookman at Arizona
8:30 PM Georgia Southern at Texas Tech
9:00 PM Alcorn State at Colorado
9:00 PM IPFW at North Dakota
9:00 PM Mississippi Valley State at Brigham Young
9:05 PM New Mexico State at UTEP
10:00 PM Texas Southern at Oregon
10:00 PM Chicago State at Saint Mary's
10:05 PM UC Davis at Sacramento State
10:30 PM Portland at Washington State