I originally wanted this to be a post for the entire weekend, but after looking at the schedule for the weekend I realized that the only games worth watching were on Saturday so I had to make a slight revision and consequently this will be a Saturday only post. The way I look at it is to view Sunday as a day off to rest up (maybe get a little bit ahead on either school work or “real world” work so you can do absolutely nothing next week) for the first set of big games, which will be start on Monday. Unfortunately as you will soon see even Saturday might be a bust unless you live in about a 200-mile radius near the Indiana or Ohio border. Fortunately, your fearless editors have come through with RTC Live coverage at 2 out of 3 sites with the third site being less enlightened about new media.
Creighton at #22 Dayton at 1 PM on WHIO-TV: Yeah. That’s right. Only on local television, but like I said we will be there with RTC Live coverage. This will be the first game for both teams so both teams will be hyped up for this game even though the Flyers come in with significantly higher expectation not that the Bluejays are slouches. After being snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee two years ago, the Flyers now have a target on their back after knocking off West Virginia in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament. Brian Gregory‘s team is led by Chris Wright, everyone’s preseason A-10 POY (everyone also conveniently forgets that Wright wasn’t even 1st team A-10 last year), but if the Flyers are to live up to their preseason ranking they will need other players to step-up. If we were to pick out two players to fit that description would be London Warren, who picked apart West Virginia with 9 assists and only 1 turnover, and Marcus Johnson, a sophmore swingman who put up solid if unspectacular numbers (6.3 PPG and 5.2 RPG) last year, but has been pegged by Gregory as a breakout star this year. On the other sideline, Dana Altman will be hoping that P’Allen Stinnett can fill the void left by Booker Woodfox, last year’s Missouri Valley Conference POY and need center Kenny Lawson (8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and conference-leading 1.6 BPG last year) to dominate the Flyers on the inside. If the Bluejays can get big performances out of those two and some big shots by Kaleb Korver (yes, he is Kyle’s brother and he can shoot–45% from beyond the arc last year). However, the Bluejays’ biggest advantage might be that the Flyers could be looking ahead to their next opponent–#20 Georgia Tech and its hyped freshman Derrick Favors in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Davidson at #10 Butler at 2 PM on WHMB-40: Yeah. Local television again, but once again we have come through for you with yet another RTC Live from historic Hinkle Fieldhouse (the site of Milan’s famous 1954 win over Muncie and where they filmed Hoosiers–anybo are dy got the odds that Bill Simmons has ever travelled there since he references the movie so often?). Of course, we have a funny feeling that if Stephen Curry were still in a Wildcat uniform ESPN might have found a way to get them on one of their networks. Instead this game will give us a look at Butler, everyone’s top mid-major team and one of the highest ranked mid-majors that I can remember in recent years. Butler coach Brad Stevens managed to lead the Bulldogs to 26-6 record last year despite starting three freshmen in every game, a remarkable feat for the 2nd year coach who has more wins (56) in his first two years than any coach in D1 history other than Bill Guthridge (58). This year, Stevens will have significantly higher expectations for his Bulldogs who are led by sophomore Gordon Hayward (13.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.5 SPG) and junior Matt Howard (14.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG). On the other side of the ball, Davidson coach Bob McKillop will have his hands full trying to manage an inexperienced and Curry-less group in a hostile environment. In addition to losing Curry and his nation-leading 28.6 PPG, the Wildcats also lost Andrew Lovedale (a solid inside presence who provided both points and rebounds) and Max Paulhus-Gosselin (an excellent defender who to the best of my knowledge is not related to Jon, Kate, or any of the 8). This year, McKillop will be relying on Will Archambault (8.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG), Bryant Barr (7.1 PPG and 2.0 RPG), and Stephen Rossiter (6.1 PPG and 5.9 RPG). Unfortunately, the Wildcats strength is on the inside where Hayward and Howard will be dominating. The Bulldogs relative weakness is on the outside where Curry could have done some major damage, but he’s hanging out with Nellie now so expect the Bulldogs to be out to send a message to the rest of the nation that they deserving of this extremely high ranking.
Mount St. Mary’s at #16 Oklahoma at 2 PM on ???: This is ridiculous. I can’t find this game on any TV listing and we won’t be there thanks to Big 12 policy against new media so we will just assume that Jeff Capel will hire one of those courthouse artists to let the rest of us know what the action was like. There are only really two reasons to watch this game if you happen to be in Norman, Oklahoma (since you can’t see it anywhere else–seriously Oklahoma’s site doesn’t even list a local TV station carrying the game): to see how the Sooners adapt to life without Blake Griffin and to see how Willie Warren plays as the main option for the Sooners playing against the Mountaineers’ backcourt of Jeremy Goode (15.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG), Kelly Beidler (12.1 PPG and 6.5 RPG), and Jean Cajou (13.6 PPG and 3.4 RPG). We expect the Sooners to be ok, but don’t be surprised to see them struggle a bit in the early going. They shouldn’t have a problem with the Mountaineers, but if Milan Brown‘s backcourt gets hot from beyond the arc we could have an interesting game that nobody outside of the arena will see.