Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heavyweight Week - Top Ten Matchups Highlight College Basketball

If last week was "Feast Week," according to ESPN's marketing department, because of the great games/lineup in the Maui Invitational (along with that whole Thanksgiving holiday thing), then Daily Onions is dubbing this week "Heavyweight Week." Think about it, the only suitable follow up to a week of feasting, is a week of being a heavyweight.

Actually, "Heavyweight Week" references the all the Top 10 match ups that we have this week. Last night's hyped up game (no, not Syracuse vs. Eastern Michigan), featured #2 Ohio State vs. #4 Duke. Not sure we can even say Duke was there though. After dropping behind the Buckeyes 11-0 to start the game, the Blue Devils were able to get back into the game to make it close halfway through the first half. From that point on, it was ALL (and I mean all) Ohio State. A few thoughts from the game:

-Austin Rivers crossover.....oh my. Quickest since.....Iverson? D. Rose? Man, that thing is impressive. He's got a decent jumper too. With that said, let's remember, Rivers has only played 7 college basketball games. Still lots to be learned.

Aaron Craft arguably the best PG in the country (Pic: US Presswire/SI.com)
-Sullinger, Buford, Craft and.....Deshaun Thomas (who?): We all knew Ohio State would depend on their big three of Sullinger, Buford and Craft. We rode the Buckeyes hard last year, and then Sullinger and mostly Buford pulled the disappearing act in their Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky.  These two (Sullinger 21, Buford 17) along with Craft (17 and 8 assists) were on top of their games on Tuesday night, and it was a bit of a coming out party for sophomore Deshaun Thomas. Check out the 6-7 swingman's line: 8-12 from the field, 2-4 from 3, 18 points and 5 rebounds. Thomas now averaging 12 points a game on the season. He'll be key for the Buckeyes, who try to replace the scoring of David Lighty and  Jon Diebler.

-I think I heard Dick Vitale cheating on Duke a bit, as he praised Sullinger and Buford throughout the night.

-LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were in attendance for the big game as well. LeBron was comfortable being there, since there isn't a 4th quarter in college basketball games (heyoooooo).

-One more thought on Duke: They are really going to miss Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Rivers is the only player on that team can create his own shot, and he isn't really a distributor yet. Curry is deadly from outside, but Ryan Kelly, the Plumlees, etc shouldn't really scare people.

With last night's game being a bit of a dud. We'll hope the rest of the marquee match ups live up to the hype.

Tonight: #9 Wisconsin vs. #5 UNC - The Tar Heels were anointed the head and shoulders favorite coming into this season, but have been knocked off their pedestal after a loss to UNLV in Vegas over the weekend. Harrison Barnes has a slightly injured ankle coming into tonight's game. UNC's Kendall Marshall is one of the best PG's in the country (from a getting teammates involved standpoint), but is a liability on defense. It will be interesting to see if he can match up with Wisconsin's preseason All-American Jordan Taylor. Daily Onions is a fan of freshman P.J. Hairston (McDonald's All-American last year), who leads the team in 3-point percentage and can get to the rim as well. We also like what we saw from junior guard Dexter Strickland against UNLV. Look for him to be a spark for the Heels tonight.

Friday: #4 Syracuse vs. #10 Florida - By far the toughest test for the Orange thus far this season. They needed to comeback wins in NYC last week to beat Virginia Tech and Stanford. Besides those games, they've handled the likes of Colgate, Eastern Michigan, Albany, Manhattan, etc. Will be interesting to see what Jim Boeheim does with Rakeem Christmas, Michael Carter Williams, and even James Sutherland. In tight games w/ Tech and Stanford, Boeheim tightened his rotation (as we've seen over the years) to 7 guys (Joseph, Scoop, Waiters, Triche, Fair, Fab, and Keita). Florida, whose only defeat this year was a seven point loss at Ohio State (ask Duke if its tough to play there). Last year, many people thought the Gators were a year away from being a contender. Well, now we're here. Keep your eye on freshman Bradley Beal, who hit 5 three pointers last time out. Throw in Kenny Boynton in the backcourt, the Gators will be ready to chomp (too easy) on the 'Cuse 2-3 zone.
UK's Davis (Kentucky.com)

Saturday: #5 UNC vs. #1 Kentucky - UNC took a little air out of this matchup after losing to UNLV. A loss tonight to Wisconsin would raise even more questions about Roy Williams' squad. Kentucky once again is stacked with freshman. Their starting five, which includes three freshmen, all average in double figures. Anthony Davis, from Chicago, might be the number 1 pick in the NBA Draft next year. Sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb (leading the team in scoring this year) add some experience for the Cats this season, who have already beaten Kansas by ten two weeks ago. Before they get UNC, Kentucky hosts St. John's on Thursday.

Daily Onions picks for Heavyweight Week: UNC over Wisconsin, Cuse over Florida and Kentucky over UNC.

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