RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: November/DecemberPosted by zhayes9 on October 18th, 2009
To get our readers excited for the endless possibilities of 2009-10, I’ve compiled an extensive list of the top 65 college basketball games of the upcoming season. Any true college hoops fan knows why we selected the number 65. Splitting up this season preview feature into three posts the next three Mondays (November/December, January and February/March), hopefully this list will provide you with the most vital of dates to circle on your calendar. Coaches are realizing more and more the importance of compiling a respectable non-conference slate to boost RPI/SOS numbers and provide their team adequate experience and preparation for the grind of conference play. Let’s lead off with the first batch of potentially memorable meetings during the first two months of the season:
Ed. Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.
November 17- Gonzaga at Michigan State (#59 overall)- The featured game in ESPN’s 24-hour hoops marathon pits a backcourt-laden Gonzaga squad in the first of many difficult road tests against a top-five Michigan State team. The State backcourt of Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen and Korie Lucious will be given a true test from the Bulldogs trio of scoring senior Matt Bouldin, deep marksman junior Stephen Gray and emerging sophomore Demetri Goodson.
November 17- Memphis vs. Kansas in St. Louis (#64 overall)- A young and largely inexperienced Memphis team will receive a stiff test right away with the likely #1 team in the nation- Kansas. Guards Doneal Mack and Roburt Sallie must shoot well from deep for the Tigers to stay competitive. Former JUCO standout Will Coleman and burly senior Pierre Henderson-Niles will have their hands full down low with likely All-American Cole Aldrich.
November 19- North Carolina vs. Ohio State in NYC (#39 overall)- November and December means one thing: plenty of electrifying non-conference action at Madison Square Garden. This semifinal matchup could prove the best. Ohio State has their entire team returning besides the underwhelming B.J. Mullens and return defensive stalwart David Lighty from injury. They could definitely surprise the inexperienced Heels, who should have a distinct frontcourt advantage with Dallas Lauderdale sidelined.
December 1- Michigan State at North Carolina (#10 overall)- The Spartans and Heels meet in a rematch of the national title game that once again headlines this year’s ACC/Big Ten challenge. State may be able to avenge those two harsh defeats a year ago by taking advantage of the point guard mismatch. With Ty Lawson no longer around, Kalin Lucas could dominate against Larry Drew or Dexter Strickland. On the flip side, Draymond Green should have his hands full with a loaded UNC frontline.
December 5- North Carolina at Kentucky (#8 overall)- Notice a trend with this list so far? Roy Williams has challenged his team with an extremely difficult non-conference schedule, and this early season matchup in Lexington should be one of the best on the early season. There will be loads of projected lottery picks on the floor in this one, from North Carolina’s Ed Davis to Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
December 6- Villanova vs. Maryland in Washington DC (#35 overall)- Both of these squads are dependent on their backcourt. Two of the best scorers/distributors in the nation will butt heads with Greivis Vasquez of the Terps facing Scottie Reynolds and his Wildcats. The difference could come inside with talented 6’9 freshman Mouphtaou Yarou.
December 6- Kansas at UCLA (#50 overall)- This could be an overwhelming endeavor for a Bruins team that still has plenty to prove. New full-time point guard Jerime Anderson will be thrown into the fire against Sherron Collins of Kansas, arguably the top PG in the nation. UCLA may have to rely on freshmen Tyler Honeycutt (if his back is healthy) and Mike Moser if the sophomores – namely Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson and J’Mison Morgan - don’t show improvement.
December 8- Georgetown vs. Butler in NYC (#49 overall)- The Hoyas are looking to reclaim their mojo back after last year’s collapse. Their stiffest test in non-conference play should come from Butler, a squad that returns their entire roster from a 26-win season. Matt Howard banging down low with Greg Monroe is definitely one to watch on this grand stage.
December 9 – Kentucky vs. Connecticut in NYC (#17 overall)- Rated by Jeff Goodman as the top non-conference contest this season, Kentucky and Connecticut will clash at Madison Square Garden as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge. The Huskies may have the ammo to stay on the floor with the wildly talented Kentucky squad as Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson all return to form Jim Calhoun’s personal Big Three.
December 12- Ohio State at Butler (#41 overall)- Looking for a great one-on-one battle to watch in non-conference play? How about possible Big Ten POY Evan Turner matching up with Butler’s Gordon Hayward? Both of these multi-dimensional wings can score, rebound, dish and lead their respective teams. Hinkle Fieldhouse should be rocking for a visit from the Buckeyes.
December 12- Washington vs. Georgetown in Anaheim (#45 overall)- The big question for Washington this season: who will step up in the frontcourt after Jon Brockman, the Huskies all-time leading rebounder and second leading scorer, graduated to the NBA? Greg Monroe is surely happy Brockman is no longer in Seattle and should be able to take advantage unless Quincy Pondexter or Matthew Bryan-Amaning emerge.
December 19- North Carolina vs. Texas in Arlington (#13 overall)- Our first look at who I consider the #2 team in the nation behind Kansas- the Texas Longhorns. Rick Barnes’ team is absurdly deep at all positions and boasts both talented youth and experience. Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton are top-15 talents and Damion James returns to compliment Dexter Pittman in the post. They should give Carolina their toughest test of a hard non-conference schedule.
December 19- Michigan at Kansas (#38 overall)- It’s hard to not like this Michigan team in a loaded Big Ten. John Beilein’s stellar 1-3-1 zone defense may confuse the Jayhawks while DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris form a tremendous inside-outside punch. Even though the Wolverines could linger near the top of their conference, they’ll have a very difficult time leaving Lawrence with a victory.
December 19- Duke vs. Gonzaga in NYC (#52 overall)- Two of the best outside shooters in the nation will face off in Duke’s Jon Scheyer and Gonzaga’s Stephen Gray. Even if Kyle Singler plays more small than power forward, he should pose a matchup dilemma for a Gonzaga team whose strength lies in the backcourt. We’ve seen the Zags pull off some magic at the Garden before, though.
December 22- Michigan State @ Texas (#6 overall)- The top game of November & December will pit two preseason top-five and possible Final Four teams. Tom Izzo leads his Spartans into a challenging road test in Austin to face Texas. The keys for the Spartans pulling off a huge road win will be 1) if Raymar Morgan shows up, and 2) if Delvon Roe can neutralize James and Pittman down low with the help of Green and either Tom Herzog or Derrick Nix.
December 22- California @ Kansas (#27 overall)- My preseason Pac-10 favorites travel to Allen Fieldhouse and take on the likely #1-ranked Jayhawks. Mike Montgomery did a remarkable job turning around a bottom-feeder Cal program in one year and returns most of his production including Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson. They could give Kansas a fight.
December 29- Northern Iowa @ Creighton (#56 overall)- The reigning conference champs travel to packed Omaha and face Creighton in the most anticipated MVC game of the season. The Panthers return five players who scored over 8 PPG a season ago including 6’8 forward Adam Koch and 7-footer Jordan Eglseder. The 1-2 punch of Justin Carter and P’Allen Stinnett return for the Bluejays and coach Dana Altman.
December 30- Connecticut @ Cincinnati (#47 overall)- The first conference game featured on this list should prove a difficult road test for Connecticut. Two of the best backcourts in the land face off with Walker and Dyson pitted against Lance Stephenson and Deonta Vaughn. Both of these teams would love to pick up a quality win against an NCAA team to open up Big East play.
Coming next Monday: the top games in the month of January.