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College Basketball: But football isn’t over yet!

Ok, so technically the season has started and games have been played.  For all intents and purposes though, football is still on TV so the season is still a couple of months away in many of our minds. However, many of these early season matchups will go a long way towards deciding who will be in or out come tourney time and who will get the champion from MEAC or a fourth place team from the ACC. So I’ll give you a few November clashes that should make you want to switch from the gridiron at least for a couple of hours.

November 17: Memphis vs Kansas

An early test for the favorites? Not likely considering everything the Tigers have been through in the past eight months, but it will give the Jayhawks top tier talent a chance to show how they will handle their rotation with a deep, talented bench against a solid opponent.  It will also show how KU will handle a team that will not be able to match them size wise inside and will likely try to spread them out and force the big guys to guard on the perimeter.  I’m sure new Memphis coach Josh Pastner would like to have a couple more pushovers before facing a team like this, but we’ll get to see what kind of attitude and heart this Memphis team has as they are likely being run out of the gym.  Don’t let the neutral site fool you.  Even though the two schools are the same distance away, the Scottrade Center will be echoing Rock Chalk the entire day.

November 19: North Carolina at Ohio State

The defending champs take their title defense on the road to face a top team from the best conference in CBB this year.  The Heels have questions about their backcourt, which is the biggest strength of this Buckeye team.  The Buckeyes have questions in the paint, which is UNC’s biggest strength.  OSU’s Evan Turner, fresh off a triple-double in the opener, will be matched up against Marcus Ginyard, which should be one of the best individual matchups of the year.  If the Buckeye’s want to take that next step this year (because with the recruiting class they have coming in they will in the next two) they have to show they can beat top teams in their non-conference schedule, especially at a neutral local.  The past three years the Buck’s are 2-6 against non-conference top 20 teams.

November 19: Syracuse at California

Cal is the enigma going into this season of the top 16 teams out there.  They are considered to be the class of the Pac 10 (which isn’t saying much this year) with the majority of their team coming back and it being year two of Mike Montgomery’s system. This will be a good litmus test to see if this team is for real or not, a neutral site game against a traditional Big East power on national television. Cal is known for their jump shooting ability and it will be interesting to see how that fairs against the famous Boeheim match-up zone the Orange thrive on.

November 26-29: 76 Classic in Anaheim, CA

Big time preseason tournament out west starting on Thanksgiving features four top 25 teams in action.  The first round is highlighted with Butler, the top Mid-Major team this year (sorry Gonzaga), against Minnesota, the deepest team in the Big Ten.  Second round matchups may include the winner of that game against a rebuilding UCLA and West Virginia vs the Texas A&M/Clemson winner and of course the final should be a clash of titans.  I love these tournaments, teams playing three times in four days will have their depth and conditioning on display.

Let the Smack begin

Ok, so I give Gusto some credit, he showed some balls in his predictions and being the first one to post, but I have some issues with those ten predictions.

40-0!? I don’t see that from KU this year.  First of all, there is the potential for chemistry issues on that team. They have enough talent to do anything, but will Bill Self be able to control all those egos and make them play team basketball?  They play in the second toughest conference in the NCAA which means road games to NCAA tourney teams (potentially this year) Iowa St., Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma St., and Texas.  They also have a nonconference slate that includes a trip to Tennessee as well as home games vs Michigan and Cal.  Gusto, sorry to be a boner killer but there are at least two losses in there.

Kentucky will not be one and done.  Sure Coach Cal is about as credible and Kim Jong Il when it comes to recruiting, but the guy can coach.  His dribble drive offense is why point guards that can penetrate thrive under his tutelage, and John Wall is just the latest that will exemplify that.  Add that to the best big man he’s had since Marcus Camby in Patrick Patterson, and the Wildcats are set up for a deep run in the tourney.

Finally, Butler is not new to town.  If you paid more attention to what happens outside of Allen Fieldhouse Gusto you’d realize that they have been to 4 of the last 7 tournaments including two Sweet Sixteen appearances.  They may have their best squad in that time this year, but in no way are they a new darling on the block.

Posted by: Michael Dufresne

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