Ten Questions to Consider: Early Conference Action? Edition

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on November 30th, 2018

As November comes to a close, we are starting to have an idea of what teams will look like this season. Here are 10 questions I have for a group heading into this weekend’s action.

Michigan and Purdue Meet in an Early Monster Big Ten Match-Up (USA Today Images)

  1. Can the Badgers end their skid against the Hawkeyes? (Wisconsin @ Iowa, Friday 8 PM EST, Big Ten Network) Wisconsin begins Big Ten play on the last day of November with a trip to Iowa. The Badgers come to Iowa City having lost two straight to the Hawkeyes. In last season’s defeat, the trio of Ethan Happ, Khalil Iverson and the seldom used Charles Thomas made 20-of-35 shots while the rest of the Badgers went 6-of-30 from the field.
  2. Can San Francisco continue its hot start in Northern Ireland? (San Francisco vs. Stephen F. Austin, Friday 8 AM EST) The Hall of Fame Belfast Classic will give four mid-majors an opportunity to pick up a pair of quality wins this weekend. While the WCC is often Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and everyone else, USF is making its presence felt so far this seaon. The Dons are a perfect 5-0 to date and have a chance to pick up quality wins against Stephen F. Austin and potentially Buffalo. A pair of victories here could further the WCC’s notion of becoming a three-bid league next March.
  3. How will Gonzaga fare in its first true road game of the season? (Gonzaga @ Creighton, Saturday 2 PM EST, Fox) Gonzaga hits the road for its first true road game of the year in Omaha against Creighton. The Bulldogs must deal with an elite shooting team in the Bluejays, which have made at least nine three-pointers in every game while Gonzaga has allowed that many only once.
  4. Can Purdue’s offense be effective against Michigan’s elite defense? (Purdue @ Michigan, Saturday 3:30 PM, ESPN) In Purdue’s recent two losses, star guard Carsen Edwards committed 14 turnovers while handing out 11 assists. This early blockbuster Big Ten match-up will be interesting as Michigan’s defensive focus is staying in front of its opponent and making every shot difficult — more so than creating turnovers.
  5. Can USC get a resume-building win over Nevada? (Nevada @ USC, Saturday 4:30 PM EST, Fox) USC sits at 5-2 with all five of its wins against teams with a KenPom ranking outside of the top 200. With Nevada coming into the Galen Center on Saturday afternoon, the Trojans have an opportunity to add a marquee win to their resume. In order to have a chance, USC will need Bennie Boatwright to shine and for Kevin Porter Jr. to play after missing the last two games with a quad bruise.
  6. Will Oregon bounce back from its loss against Texas Southern? (Oregon @ Houston, Saturday 9 PM EST, ESPN2) Oregon’s last three opponents have shot a combined 54-of-103 (52.4%) from inside the three-point line. While Houston typically lives behind the arc, will they find a way to attack the struggling Ducks’ defense?
  7. Who will start league play with a win in the Maryland/Penn State game? (Penn State @ Maryland, Saturday 5 PM EST, Big Ten Network) After this conference opener, both Penn State (Indiana) and Maryland (Purdue) have difficult second games in conference play. Beginning Big Ten play with a loss would put considerable stress on both teams heading into the holidays. The Nittany Lions and their top-10 defensive efficiency ranking must deal with a Terps team that have proven very good around the rim.
  8. Will Louisville follow up its victory over Michigan State with a quality win at Seton Hall? (Louisville @ Seton Hall, Saturday 12 PM EST, FOX) For Chris Mack’s team, the Cardinals’ relentless attack of the rim has Louisville leading the nation in free throw rate. The Cardinals are one of three teams in the nation with a top 30 ranking in both free-throw rate and turnover rate (along with Nevada and NJIT). Protecting the ball and getting trips to the line is an age-old recipe for success.
  9. How will Indiana look in its first game after a disappointing showing against Duke? (Northwestern @ Indiana, Saturday 1 PM EST, Big Ten Network) The 90 points Indiana allowed against Duke overshadowed the poor offensive night the Hoosiers also had. Indiana’s offense registered a season-low efficiency mark, exhibited with a season high turnover rate and Romeo Langford going just 3-of-15 from the field.
  10. Which potential bubble team gets an important late November win? (Oklahoma State @ Minnesota, Friday 10 PM EST, Big Ten Network) Piling on wins before conference play begins will be vital for two teams expected to finish in the bottom third of their respective power conferences. As such, this game provides both the Cowboys and Golden Gophers a chance to add a top 100 win against a solid opponent to their resume.
Matthew Eisenberg (143 Posts)

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