Aaron Yorke, Graham Filler, and I attempted to look forward to a B1G night on Tuesday and the rest of the week. What we found? Well, there are kind of a couple good games tonight. You may have heard about them. But first, the rest of the B1G!
#2 Michigan State vs. #1 Kentucky, 6:30pm (Chicago)
Aaron Yorke: This game should be interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, how is Kentucky ranked as the top team in the nation? I'm not saying a group of mostly freshman can't dominate the league. I'm just saying that last year's crop of phenoms started the season ranked No. 3 and ended it with a loss to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT.
Second, the styles of these two teams are almost completely opposite each other. In its first two games, Kentucky is just 10-for-33 from beyond the arc, but they have attempted an insane 86 free throws. Michigan State, on the other hand, shot 10-for-26 from three-point range and attempted just five foul shots in its one game. I'm going to take Sparty here because of experience, shooting, and more experience. Also, defense.
Graham Filler: I do love the "uh, anything can happen" aspect of starting brand new people each year at UK. This year will be different than last year though (I promise)!. Veterans are already getting minutes for Calipari and the 2013 frosh are better than the 2012 frosh. They deserve the Top5 ranking. All Kentucky hype aside, this is a game of opposites. Michigan State will be headlined by players who have improved each year, playing themselves into NBA draft position and then defying the NBA for one more year in East Lansing.
Jesse Collins: Can I admit something? I kind of enjoy watching Kentucky basketball. Sure, it's just a Minor League team, and it really does throw out any semblance of college teamwork and growth etc. Still, I really like watching the talent come together and there is some ridiculous talent at Kentucky right now. Are they good enough to win it all? Who knows? Can the Spartans beat them tonight? Absolutely. Will I care either way? Probably not, because it will be fun, and that's what I care about when it's not my team.
#20 Wisconsin vs. #11 Florida, 8pm
Aaron: The Gators lost a lot of shooting with the graduation of Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, and for this game, they'll still be without suspended point guard Scottie Wilbekin. It's not surprise, then, that Florida looked more like an athletic drive-to-the-bucket team in its season opener versus North Florida. The Gators were 27-of-32 from the free throw line, but just 2-of-10 from three-point range. Those ratios bode well for the Badgers, who are great at not fouling their opponents. I expect Josh Gasser, Sam Dekker, and a typically smooth shooting Wisconsin team to triumph in this one.
MNW: Not only will the Gators be missing Wilbekin, but also sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith and junior C Demontre Harris. I don't like the idea of a shorthanded Florida squad, which already struggled as a team on defense against North Florida (the Ospreys beat the Gators 13-8 on the offensive glass and 37-35 overall), trying to walk into the Kohl Center and beat the Badgers. It's early, too, but the Badgers shot 47.8% from 3-pt range against St. John's. Florida allowed North Florida to shoot 37.8%, including an absurd 5/8 for Beau Beech. I expect the Badgers to make a run late in the first half and keep the Gators at arm's length.
Jesse Collins: Can I admit something else? There is an extremely good chance I watch Duke-Kansas instead of this game. That's not to say that I'm not interested in seeing how good Wisconsin can be against a Florida team that went deep last season. It's more a reflection on my desire for watchability. Unfortunately, that probably also means I'm part of the reason for these new awful foul calls. So...sorry about that.
Indiana vs. LIU-Brooklyn, 5pm CST
CfB: Barring serious illnesses and injuries, Indiana should more than beat the spread (opened at around 23) and may threaten the century mark yet again in a romp over LIU-Brooklyn. I expect that more players than just Noah Vonleh will go for a double-double (Devin Davis and Yogi Ferrell come to mind), and if Hanner Mosquera-Perea can keep improving as he's shown thus far, he should be a valuable 6th or 7th man come March.
Michigan vs. South Carolina State, 6pm
South Carolina State is a Bad Team(TM). Michigan should roll.
#10 Ohio State vs. Ohio, 7pm
Minnesota vs. Montana, 7pm
GoAUpher: My thoughts? Well, it's not on TV or even that stupid internet stream. So booooo! Also my aunt and uncle live in Montana, so there's that. For thoughts on the Lehigh game I will defer to a TDG FanPost that looked at the advanced stats from the game.
Nebraska vs. Western Illinois, 7pm
Jesse: I'm a Nebrasketball fan and they looked great against FGCU. That does not mean they're going to be great this season per say, but it was nice to see a fun, athletic team out there. WIU lost to Idaho who was pretty bad last season, which means I am hoping for a big Husker win. Also, the new arena looks gorgeous on TV. I can't wait to get down to Lincoln for a game or two this season. That is not really a part of the analysis of the game so much as something to point to that is awesome about being a Nebrasketball [fan] right now.
Penn State vs. Bucknell, 6pm
Aaron: Without Mike Muscala, Bucknell just isn't as sexy as it was last season, and it only returns one of its major contributors (senior Cameron Ayers) for 2014. Still, the Bison were able to hang with Stanford on the road in their first game of the season. That's pretty impressive, and my Lions showed on Saturday that they still have some major shooting issues to overcome. This should be a close game, but I'm guessing that Penn State will prevail because it still has Tim Frazier, and he will be the best player on the court.
MNW: NOT SO FAST! Actually, yeah, that sounds about right. I chose to highlight this game on Wednesday, though, because Bucknell will give the Nittany Lions some trouble. Four Bison found their way into double digits against the Cardinal, and stopping senior G Ben Brackney will give D.J. Newbill some trouble. If the Bison can get consistent scoring from around their lineup and Tim Frazier goes a little cold, I could see Bucknell sneaking out of the Bryce Jordan Center with a win.
Purdue vs. Central Connecticut, 6pm
This is apparently a basketball game. There will be train noises.
Illinois vs. Valparaiso, 6:30pm
The Crusaders are an awfully deceptive 2-0, with a narrow 3-point win over Kenpom #191 Murray State and something called "North Park", which very well may be a local high school. Illinois has been spreading out minutes and points, with four players averaging double digits and all but one player in the lineup averaging double digits on the clock per game. I just found it interesting, that's all. Mmmm, cupcakes.
Northwestern @ Stanford, 10pm
Aaron: The Cardinal just lost a barn-burner to BYU, but I expect it to handle Northwestern in Palo Alto this week. Stanford returns their top three scorers from last season, the best of which is Dwight Powell, a 6'10" Canadian who will be impossible for Northwestern to guard with one man. The Wildcats are a personal favorite of mine because of the depth they return (Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb are the team's two best players and they both missed pretty much all of last season) and their shiny new coach, but Stanford's size will be too much for them.
MNW: WOOOOOO I get to write about something, suckers! So, um, Northwestern. Drew Crawford is really good. JerShon Cobb is playing point guard, which is a surprising-ish development, as it relegates the Northwestern White Guy Everyone Loves to Hate(TM), Dave Sobolewski, to coming off the bench, from which he was underwhelming. Key for the 'Cats will be finding anyone to match up with Stanford's 6'10" F, Filthy Monarchist Dwight Powell, who is averaging a double-double (17 ppg, 12 rpg) already on the season. (Hint: the 'Cats have no one.) Stanford's defense was absolutely torched last night by a hot BYU shooting effort, when the Cougars went 8/15 from three and controlled the pace (insofar as there was none) of the game.
hot matchup key position slapfight to watch will be the matchup of Eurotrash centers: Northwestern's Alex Olah, a promising sophomore who has struggled to match the athleticism of most upper-level centers, against Stanford's Stefan Nastic, a slightly better version of Olah, if barely. Northwestern will have to use their bigs to match up with the taller Cardinal, but if the 'Cats can mirror BYU's hot shooting with Crawford, Cobb, and freshman swingmen Sanjay Lumpkin and Nathan Taphorn, they might sneak out of Maples Pavilion with a win. Oh, and I'll be there. SUCKAS.
Iowa vs. MD-Eastern Shore, 6pm
I will quote the great Mike Jones (no, actually, just our Mike Jones): "To quote one of the greatest actors of all time: it doesn't matter if you win by inches or if you win by miles. Winning is winning." Shooting is shooting, Mike, and the Hawks weren't very good at it against Nebraska-Omaha. Fran McCaffery's squad can clean up the boards, led by Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White, the Hawkeyes can find their shooting touch, and Iowa should romp over the...um...fighting shores?