Saturday, December 10, 2011

Road to the Final Four (Week 5)

After some of the blockbuster match ups that we've had early in the season week 5 of college basketball has been pretty quiet. There are a couple of games worth mentioning this week - so I'll do just that after the jump...

Thursday, December 8th
No. 25 Harvard @ No. 9 Connecticut (-6.5), 8 ET - ESPN2 - W
Allow me to write that again. No. 25 Harvard. Wow. In the first time in their athletic history, the Harvard Crimson Men's Basketball team has cracked the AP Top 25. It marks the first time that a team from the Ivy League has been ranked in the top 25 since the Princeton Tigers in the 1997-1998 season. Head Coach Tommy Amaker (formerly at Michigan) has turned this Harvard program completely around and was within one last second miracle shot of leading the Crimson to the NCAA tournament last year. This year Harvard is off to an impressive 8-0 start and were champions of the "Battle 4 Atlantis" tournament which included UConn, UCF, and Florida State. The Crimson have relied on their two big men Keith Wright and Kyle Casey as well as a defense that limited then No. 22 Florida State to just 41 points. In order to keep their dream season going Harvard will have to take on an impressive Huskies team that is led by the best backcourt in the country in Jeremy Lamb (20.2 ppg), Ryan Boatright (18.5 ppg), and Shabazz Napier (16.8 ppg). It should be noted that UConn played its first six games of the season without freshman phenom Boatright due to a NCAA Rules violation. After invoking comparisons to Kemba Walker and even Allen Iverson by his coach, Jim Calhoun, Boatright will have the opportunity to shine on national television against a top 25 opponent. I'm legitimately giddy to watch him. As for a prediction - I think UConn's backcourt is too strong and will be able to dictate the game against the weaker Harvard guards - it's been a perfect start to the season for Harvard - but UConn will have something to say about that. I'll take UConn and lay the points at home. 

Saturday, December 10th
No. 2 Ohio St. @ No. 13 Kansas (Straight Up), 3:15 ET - ESPN
Ohio State is coming off an impressive win against Duke last week and is off to an 8-0 start behind All American Jared Sullinger (19.1 ppg & 10.3 rpg). One of the keys to their hot start has been their home court advantage - where they've outscored opponents by an average of 29 points per game. Very impressive. The fact that the line has moved in the favor of Ohio State (-4) to an even spread on game day tells me that the inside sharps at Vegas are a little skeptical on whether or not Ohio State will be able to keep up their strong performance away from home - and the fact that Sullinger is nursing a bad back. The Buckeyes will be going into a hostile Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas today where the Jayhawks are 4-0. The Jayhawks are a much different team from last years consensus No. 1 - but they do still have a lot of talent left to depend on. Thomas Robinson has been their go to guy all year down low and will provide some stiff competition for Sullinger near the basket. The question on whether Sullinger will be able to play seems to be real - and if he is allowed to play how effective will he be? Too many uncertainties for me. I'll take the Jayhawks at home to win this game.

This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 5-1
Season Record: 14-3-1

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