Ah January. The NFL playoffs, NHL is mid-season, MLB hot stove, NBA basketball, oh and college basketball starts conference play. It’s that time of year that every sports fan forgoes work and family time to begin their affair with the television.
There’s something strange going on in college basketball. As always, conference play has left analysts worrying for their jobs over their failed predictions and students cursing the unranked rival who killed their buzz. Here’s a peak on the hot topics in college basketball this week.
Unbeatens: And then there were three. Syracuse (#1, 14-0, 4-0) may be the most complete team in the country with center Fab Melo(13th in nation in blocks)
forward Kris Joseph, and of course senior guard Scoop Jardine. The Orange have the highest RPI rating this year by far, topping 2nd ranked Duke. Their next three games come against the bottom three teams in the Big East, but after that their schedule gets tougher. Should stay unbeaten through the week.
Baylor has played some close games recently as three of its last five games have been decided by a basket. Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Perry Jones III leads the Bears in points (13/game) and rebounds (7.2/game) and every starter is averaging double figure points per game. This team has shown inexperience in years past and many still question Scott Drew‘s ability to take this team deep in the tournament. The Bears are super athletic and have great size, but aren’t that deep. Now on to cinderella Murray State. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good team that is going to get a 2 or 3 seed in the tournament, but they are playing poor teams and are, quite frankly, boring to watch. Star junior guard Isaiah Canaan leads the team with 18.7 points per game and has Murray State rolling deep into Ohio Valley conference play.
Panic Meter: After yesterday’s polls came out, one has to wonder what is going on in Florida? The nation’s leading 3-point shooting team dropped two tough losses early to Ohio State and Syracuse, but more recent let downs have come in its last four games to Rutgers and Tennessee. Brad Beal and Kenny Boynton travel to South Carolina on Saturday and look to end their 0-4 record on the road.
Another team on my panic meter is Louisville. After starting out 12-0, Rick Pitino’s club has lost four out of its last five, the most shocking coming last night in a 90-59 loss at Providence. Louisville is going to need to shoot better from the field (182nd in FG %) and have more disciplined offense from Junior guard Peyton Siva, who is averaging over 3.5 turnovers/game, if the Cardinals want to win in a powerful Big East.
Who’s Hot: Virginia has won 12 straight and is quietly climbing the polls. Currently ranked 17th in the AP poll, they have a tough road game at Cameron Indoor against the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday. This is going to be a test for the Cavaliers to see if they are a legit contender in the ACC. Their only loss came against TCU by a basket in the Virgin Islands.
Surprise Team: The Creighton Blue Jays (#21, 14-2, 4-1) rank 1st in the nation in FG % and Assists/game, and are 4th in Assists/Turnover ration and three-point %. They are helped by forward Doug McDermott, who is 2nd in the nation in points per game at 25.2.
Games to Watch: #17 Virginia at #6 Duke. The Blue Devils are rolling and don’t like losing at home, but the Cavaliers are hot and are looking to make themselves known in the ACC. Thursday, 9ET, ESPN.
#16 Connecticut at Notre Dame. The Irish have been doing well lately taking down Louisville and Pitt in consecutive weeks and wouldn’t mind another upset against struggling Jeremy Lamb and the Huskies. Saturday, 11am ET, ESPN2.
BMOC: My Big Man on Campus award goes to guard Brandon Paul from Illinois who put up 43 in the Illini win against the 5th ranked Buckeyes. You will be hearing about this guy all year.
- Daily Grind Sports 1/10/12
- In Focus
- Freshman Brad Beal Proving That He Is Best Player in the SEC (bleacherreport.com)
- Melo’s first double-double fuels No. 1 Syracuse (sports.espn.go.com)
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