Ten Questions to Consider: Weekend Hoops Are Back

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on November 9th, 2018

Move over college football, make room for the first weekend of college basketball! Here are 10 questions to consider heading into this weekend’s slate of games from Friday through Sunday.

Arkansas vs. Texas in the Armed Forces Classic is the Best Game of the Weekend (USA Today Images)

  1. Can Arkansas start another season with a win? (Armed Forces Classic, Arkansas vs. Texas, Friday 7 PM EST, ESPN) The Razorbacks have won 23 consecutive season openers, with their last loss coming against a top-five UMass team coached by none other than John Calipari to start the 1994-95 season. Mike Anderson’s squad will have to find a way to replace the 34.7 points per game left behind by Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon.
  2. After a disappointing 2017-18 season, will the Pac-12 pick up an early impressive road win for the conference resume? (Washington @ Auburn, Friday 9:30 PM EST, SEC Network) In their season-opening win against Western Kentucky, the Huskies shot 29.7 percent in the first half and trailed by nine points before getting it together in the second stanza. Washington will need to avoid a slow start against an Auburn team that shot 18-of-38 beyond the arc in its season opener.
  3. How will West Virginia look without Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles? (Buffalo at West Virginia, Friday 9 PM EST, ESPNU) While West Virginia returns a defensive stalwart in the form of shot-blocking machine Sagaba Konate, the Mountaineers will of course no longer have Jevon Carter around to pester opposing ball-handlers. Bob Huggins’ team opens against a Buffalo squad that returns four of five starters from a 26-win squad that took out Arizona in the NCAA Tournament last season.
  4. What will Kentucky look like against a team with less talent than Duke? (Southern Illinois @ Kentucky, Friday 7 PM EST, SEC Network) While a 34-point loss is never a good thing, Kentucky can at least take away the offensive successes of Reid Travis (22 points) and Keldon Johnson (23 points) against the Blue Devils. It’s also worth remembering that the Wildcats struggled to put away both Utah Valley and Vermont at Rupp Arena to start last season.
  5. Just how good will Carsen Edwards be for Purdue? (Ball State @ Purdue, Saturday 8 PM EST, Big Ten Network) Carsen Edwards began this season by scoring 30 points and making 7-of-11 shots from distance against Fairfield. Edwards, the Big Ten preseason Player of the Year, will be up against a Ball State team that won at Notre Dame a season ago and returns its top four scorers.
  6. Will someone step forward for Michigan offensively? (Holy Cross @ Michigan, Saturday 7:30 PM EST) Jon Teske’s 13 points led the maize and blue in their opening win against Norfolk State, but Michigan shot just 23 percent on 26 three-point attempts, with their starters going just 2-of-16. Michigan will need to find an offensive threat soon as the Wolverines take on Villanova next week.
  7. Is the country not giving Syracuse enough attention? (Morehead State @ Syracuse, Saturday 6:45 PM EST, ACC Network) Even without Frank Howard to start this season, Syracuse had no struggles with Eastern Washington on Tuesday night. The Orange were picked fourth in the preseason ACC media poll and are ranked in the AP/USA Today top 20s, but had a wide variance in the preseason RTC16. If Howard misses this game, it will be worth keeping an eye on the performances of freshmen Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim.
  8. At what point can we say Virginia is over its loss to UMBC? (George Washington @ Virginia, Sunday 2 PM EST, ACC Network) Nearly 10 minutes into their season, Virginia trailed Towson 11-9. Coming off of the Cavaliers’ historic #16 over #1 loss in last year’s NCAA Tournament, they knew they would be hearing about it to start this season. Tony Bennett’s team went on to win by 31 points. With De’Andre Hunter now healthy, it’s again time to think of how good this team can be rather than dwelling upon last year’s remarkable defeat.
  9. SEC vs. Pac-12 Round #2 – Will either USC or Vanderbilt take a step forward? (Vanderbilt @ USC, Sunday 9 PM EST, Pac-12 Network) Both USC and Vanderbilt made the NCAA Tournament in 2017, but last season, however, they both missed it. This inter-regional game is a chance for both teams to notch an early season win against a power conference opponent that could ultimately be the difference between an NCAA bid and an NIT bid.
  10. What will RJ, Zion, and Duke do next? (Army @ Duke, Sunday 1 PM EST, ESPN) Expectations for Duke were extremely high heading into this season, but it’s safe to say they are even higher now after the Tuesday night dismantling of Kentucky. While Army’s football team nearly pulled off an upset at Oklahoma earlier this season, a win at Cameron Indoor Staidum would be even more astronomical. After combining for 61 points in the opener, this game will be about the focus of Duke against a lesser quality opponent.
Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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