Monday, November 14, 2011

Road to the Final Four (Week 2)

With the College Basketball season now entering week two - similar to College Football, I figured I would try to track the important games of the season in this segment called "Road to the Final Four". Really it just gives me the opportunity to write a little more about basketball since the NBA won't be starting anytime soon and also gets me to pay more attention to college athletics. Now to be fair, unlike College Football - I do have a horse in this race. The Dragons of Drexel lead by Coach James "Bruiser" Flint are the only team I openly root for - I also have ties to Pitt thanks to my brother, and Mercer County Community College thanks to my mother, cousin, and the summer camps that I spent learning how to juggle, hit forehands and backhands, and master the art of how to turn a computer on. Unfortunately, MCCC doesn't have a D-1 team. Click for Tuesday's picks after the jump...

ESPN will have their "Tip-Off" Marathon in which they cycle 24 hours of College Basketball games played throughout the day. This is also every betting man's dream. I'll try to pick out a couple of the games that look interesting and make wild speculations as to how they will finish. See below for a full schedule of games:

Drexel (-3) @ Rider - 6am, ESPN (Yes In the Morning)
Drexel tips off their season against an 0-2 Rider team that just played Pittsburgh tough on the road. An 8 point loss, with the game tied at half time tells me the Dragons should have their hands full with the Broncos - but Rider also lost to Robert Morris by 26 so I'm not really sure what's at play here. Anyways, I've watched enough of Drexel to know that they should be a much improved team this year. Senior PF Sammie "Windex" Givens (10.3 RPG) cleans the glass as well as anyone in the country - he's only 6'5". The Dragons play a very similar brand of basketball to Pitt - just with a mid-major level of talent. They play a defensive-intensive game of basketball and recklessly crash the boards - with points sometimes hard to come by. They will rely heavily on Sophomore PG Frantz Massenat to run the offense and find open shots for shooters Derrick Thomas (Junior), Damion Lee (Freshman), and Chris Fouch (Junior - out for the beginning of the season). The weakness for the Dragons comes down low at the Center position where Daryl "Teddy Bear" McCoy and Dartaye Ruffin struggle to add any offensive value. I'll be up early to watch this game - and will take Drexel to start the season off on the right foot. 

No. 6 Duke (-6) vs. Michigan State (at Madison Square Garden) - 7pm, ESPN
Coach Kchachefski will be going for his 903rd win which would make him the winningest coach in College Basketball history, passing his former mentor Bob Knight. I watched Duke play against Belmont on Friday night and they definitely have some weapons - but their issue is the lack of a download presence. Even though they have all three Plumlees they will have a tough time matching up down low with Michigan State's Draymond Green, Derrick Nix, and Branden Dawson. I like Michigan State to keep this closer than the game against UNC and will take them plus the points here.

No. 7 Florida @ No. 3 Ohio State (-10.5) - 8PM, ESPN2
This is a great early season matchup featuring two of the best big men in college. Jared Sullinger is on everyone's preseason All American list and will be a player likely drafted in the lottery if the NBA ever decides to play again. Florida touts big man Sophomore Patric Young who is a gifted 6'9" talent but is still improving. Obviously Sullinger is the more recognized player and for good reason, but Florida has a lot of pieces around Young that could make for an exciting finish. Rutgers Transfer Mike Rosario joins Florida after sitting out a year and already let people know he can still score by pouring in 19 points in just 20 mins of action. I like the pieces in place for Florida to avenge their 18 point loss last year to the Buckeys. I'll take the Gators plus the points on the road.

No. 2 Kentucky (-6) vs. No. 12 Kansas (at Madison Square Garden) - 9PM, ESPN
This will be a great game to close out the night between the two winningest programs in college basketball history. To me this just comes down to the fact that Kentucky will be the more talented team when these two take the court on Tuesday night. Kansas lost the Morris twins to the NBA this past year, and they only return one starter (Guard Tyshawn Taylor) from last year's No. 1 ranked team. Meanwhile Kentucky returns Terrance Jones (15.7 ppg and 8.8 rpg) a dominant presence on the court, as well as Doron Lamb (12.3 ppg). The Wildcats bring in another brilliant group of freshman lead by the number one recruit in the country 6-10 Anthony Davis who posted a double-double (23 pts, 10 rebs, and 5 blks) in his debut. I'll roll with the Wildcats to take care of the Jayhawks in this one.

Should be a great day of college basketball - and a great way to tip-off the season. Enjoy!

Last Week: 1-0
Season Record: 1-0

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