Set Your Tivos: New Year’s Eve Spectacular

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2008

I’ll be honest with you. This doesn’t even come close to Super Saturday from a couple weekends ago, but it’s certainly better than watching all the specials about how your retirement account fell apart this year or some mediocre college football teams play in a meaningless bowl games that nobody has ever heard of. It certainly should be enough to distract Big Ten fans away from their teams getting blown out in the bowl games. In any event it will get the rest of you ready for Dick Clark at midnight. . .

Noon ET
#15 Michigan State at #21 Minnesota on the Big Ten Network: Both teams are riding high after impressive victories on Super Saturday. The Spartans (9-2) have rebounded from a slow start including a blowout loss to UNC (doesn’t seem that bad any more. . .ok losing by 35 in a virtual home game is really bad) to reel off 5 straight wins including a win against Texas on the 20th. Meanwhile, Minnesota (12-0) has been playing consistently good basketball–quality wins over Virginia and an overrated Louisville team–all year despite coming into the season with modest expectations from the media. While the Spartans are more of a known quantity with a number of marquee players, the Gophers are more of an unknown as their soft early season schedule (only Louisville was a RPI top 100) is the reason they are 12-0 yet only ranked #21 in the country. The key to this game will likely be Spartan sophomore PG Kalin Lucas who comes into the game boasting a better than 6.5:1 assist to turnover ratio. If he continues to play at that level, Tubby Smith will have a tough time matching Tom Izzo and the Spartans.

#3 Pittsburgh at Rutgers on ESPN Full Court and The Panthers are heavy favorites in this game, but we’ll be more interested in how the Scarlet Knights are performing in the middle of the toughest 3 game stretch in college basketball history (#1 UNC then #3 Pitt then current #2 UConn in the same week). Jamie Dixon should have his guys ready for this game after UConn’s loss to Georgetown a couple night earlier, but you never know with college kids particularly ones who probably went home for the holidays and spent time around people who praised them even more than what they normally hear at school. This is definitely an “upset alert” game, but we think the UConn loss should be enough to keep Levance Fields and the Panthers on their toes.

– Wisconsin at #24 Michigan on ESPN2 and At first glance this would appear to be a mismatch with the Badgers being unranked and the Wolverines receiving a lot of attention from the media this year, but this game should be very close. Most of you know about the Wolverines (10-2) with losses to Duke (avenged) and Maryland, but the Badgers (9-3) come in with a pretty strong resume too–a blowout loss against UConn along with 2 close losses to Marquette and Texas (by a combined 8 points). Despite their strong starts, both teams still have work to do if they want to guarantee themselves a ticket to the NCAA tournament. As usual the Badgers come in without a true superstar, but have a very balanced attack with 5 players averaging between 7.8 and 12.6 PPG. The Wolverines rely on their stars–Manny Harris (19.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 5.1 APG) and DeShawn Sims (17.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG). I figure the Wolverine fans (and Manny Harris) should be enough to put their team over the top in the Big Ten opener.

– Iowa at #23 Ohio State on the Big Ten Network: Unfortunately we don’t think we will be seeing Mr. Trillion (Mark Titus) make an on-court appearance because this also figures to be a close game. The Hawkeyes (10-3) haven’t been world-beaters, but they should put up a pretty good fight if Anthony Tucker can rebound from his recent suspension and play up to his early-season form. The Buckeyes looked absolutely awful in their last game a 76-48 loss to West Virginia, which dropped them 10 spots in the polls. If the Buckeyes expect to rebound and contend for a Big Ten title, which they have the potential to do, they will need freshman B.J. Mullens to start playing like the big-time recruit he was out of high school. At the very least, Thad Matta needs Mullens to start playing like the 7-footer that he reportedly is. Seriously, 4.0 RPG in 17.7 minutes per game against mediocre competition isn’t going to cut it for someone who has been hyped as a potential lottery pick. If Mullens can raise his game, he and Evan Turner should be enough to make them contenders for the Big Ten title.

– UNLV at #18 Louisville on ESPN2 and I would use an “upset alert” on this one, but with the way Rick Pitino’s boys have been playing this year they haven’t played well enough for me to consider another loss an upset. Louisville has the talent to blow out UNLV, but to date they haven’t shown the ability to translate that talent into performance this season. UNLV certainly hasn’t been playing great this year, but their pressing defense has started to pay dividends recently with a big win over Arizona. Normally a team as talented as Louisville shouldn’t have trouble with a trapping defense of the level of UNLV’s (saw it on Christmas Eve on a replay of the Southern Utah game on Mountain TV–don’t ask), but it might just be enough pressure to rattle a team that appears to be as mentally weak as Louisville. My prediction: Let’s just say I have a strong suspicion that Rick will be giving another long speech after this one.

#17 Gonzaga at Utah on CBS College Sports: As much as I would like to make this a game about 2 teams (sorry Utah), this game is really all about Gonzaga. The Bulldogs, who were ranked 4th in the nation a couple weeks ago, have lost 3 of 4. We’re willing to let the loss to UConn go (we called it the “Game of the Year (to date)” at the time, but neither team has done much lately to help with that claim), but losses to Arizona and Portland State have basically knocked Gonzaga out of contention for a #1 seed this year. However, Mark Few still has a chance at a #2 seed and spot in the West Region if Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, and company can get back in gear.

10 PM ET

-#1 UNC at Nevada on ESPN2. This is a true road test for the Heels, but it looked better on paper a month ago than it probably will be tonight.  The Wolfpack, with Luke Babbit, Armon Johnson and Brandon Fields, appeared to be ready to compete for another WAC championship and an NCAA bid coming into the season, but they have been nothing short of a disappointment so far, losing to pretty much every good team they’ve played.  Still, there is talent here, and if UNC is looking ahead to hanging out in the seedy casinos afterwards, Nevada could use their homecourt advantage to make a game of this one.  It’s worth keeping an eye on as you lift your glass to toast the new year in the east.


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Set Your Tivos: Super Saturday Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 20th, 2008

Super Saturday is a term usually reserved for the final Saturday of the US Open where the two men’s semifinals and the women’s final are played, but this Saturday of college basketball trumps any day at Flushing Meadows (unless we could somehow get a Kournikova-Ivanovic final). Normally I would cover all the interesting games on the docket, but today is so good that I’m only going to cover the ones featuring ranked teams matched up against each other.

No naps this Saturday afternoon

No naps this Saturday afternoon

The Undercard: On any other Saturday, these games would be the headliners, but today they are merely an appetizer to get you ready for the even bigger match-ups to follow.
#22 Michigan State at #5 Texas at 2 PM on CBS: Tom Izzo’s Spartans come into Saturday badly in need of a victory against a quality foe. Although Michigan State comes in with a respectable record of 7-2, they have been underwhelming and certainly nowhere near the level they were predicted to be coming into the season (AP #5 back on November 24th). On the other side, the Longhorns have been surprisingly strong with their only loss coming against Notre Dame (81-80) in what was the best game of the Maui Invitational. Texas has responded well to the setback with wins over 2 ranked teams in December (UCLA and Villanova). The last time Michigan State played a team of this caliber was in their much-anticipated match-up against UNC (clearly Texas isn’t quite at that level), they were blown off the court in a virtual home game. Tom Izzo will need a big game from Raymar Morgan and hope that his defense can contain A.J. Abrams and Damion James if he hopes to steal one in Austin.

#20 Davidson vs. #18 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS: Both teams are all but assured of NCAA tournament bids. However, neither team has a signature win yet. Davidson certainly has the marquee value with national POY contender Stephen Curry, but they lost their only game against a ranked team (82-78 at #14 Oklahoma on November 18th). While the Wildcats can hardly be faulted for losing a road game against Blake Griffin and the Sooners, it still leaves them without a win they would need to merit a potential 5 seed or better. If they are unable to win today in Indianapolis, their only other chance to beat a top 25 team will be on January 7th against Duke at Cameron (ESPN might be hyping that game a little bit in the time leading up to the BCS title game). The Boilermakers are in a similar situation albeit without a star anywhere close to the level of Curry. The Boilermakers lost their only games against ranked teams back-to-back (87-82 in OT against Oklahoma on November 28th and 76-60 at home against Duke on December 2nd) and after tomorrow they don’t have a game against a currently ranked team until February 3rd against Ohio State. This game will likely come down to how well the Boilermakers can contain Curry (31.9 PPG and 6.8 APG) and limit his sidekick on the inside Andrew Lovedale (13.9 PPG and 10.7 RPG). The Boilermakers will counter with a much more balanced attack (4 players averaging between 9.9 and 15.6 PPG).

National POY?

National POY?

#11 Syracuse at #21 Memphis at 6 PM on ESPN and The Orangemen (other than Jim Boeheim) responded well to their crushing loss at the buzzer on Monday night. However, they will be without Eric Devendorf for at least 2 games so Jonny Flynn will have to hope that Paul Harris and/or Arinze Onuaku can pick up the slack as John Calipari will almost certainly be focusing on Flynn on the perimeter. The Tigers could use a quality win here as they have lose both of the games they have played against quality opponents (Xavier and Georgetown). Tyreke Evans and Shawn Taggert will need to play well, but this is a game that the Tigers should win.

The Title Bouts: These games are as good as you will find any time this season (in-conference or out-of-conference) until we get to March.
#7 Xavier vs. #6 Duke at 2 PM on CBS: Although this game is a “neutral” site game and quite far away from North Carolina, East Rutherford, New Jersey has become a de facto home for Coach K and the Blue Devils over the past 20 years. Despite that edge, I don’t think Coach K will be starting his bench (including everybody’s favorite whipping boy Greg Paulus) like he did in the Blue Devils last game against UNC-Asheville. Sean Miller didn’t have quite the same luxury in Xavier’s last game as they had to fight hard to beat crosstown rival Cincinnati 76-66 a week ago. Both teams rely on a balanced scoring attack, but the outcome of the game will likely be decided by Duke’s ability to hit the 3. The Blue Devils don’t shoot a particularly high percentage from 3 (32% for the season), but they are such high-volume shooters (20.6 attempts per game compared to 15.3 attempts per game for the Musketeers) that it becomes a major factor in all of their games. Their only loss this year was their rematch against Michigan in Ann Arbor where they opened the game hitting 3 of their first 27 attempts for 3 point range before hitting 4 in a row late to close the gap. The key match-up in this game should be Kyle Singler versus Derrick Brown, which should be interesting to watch if Singler tries to pull Brown away from the basket with his outside shooting. This should be a close game, but look for Duke to win this one as they have had a tendency to pull out big games before conference play starts.

#2 UConn vs. #7 Gonzaga at 4 PM on CBS: This game could have very easily been a 2-4 match-up if Gonzaga hadn’t slipped up last week against Arizona in Tucson. One of the interesting subplots, which I’m sure that CBS will cover repeatedly, is that it was match-up that introduced the nation to Gonzaga basketball less than 10 years ago and propelled UConn to its first Final 4 trip. While I remember the game for its significance for Gonzaga’s program, I had completely forgotten that it gave UConn its first Final 4 trip ever (won the title that year in a nail-bitter over Trajan Langdon’s Blue Devils). This Gonzaga team is significantly different than the one you might see on ESPN Classic. They are no longer just the team that relies on exceptional skill and execution. Now they have the athletes to compete with anybody in the nation. However, UConn has been playing better than anyone in the nation not wearing baby blue so Gonzaga will have its hands full trying to keep up with the Huskies, who have a balanced scoring attack led by Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien. Dyson leads the Huskies in scoring at 15.4 PPG and provides Jim Calhoun with a versatile one-on-one scorer. Thabeet, his counterpart on the inside, has finally started to show some of the promise that has had NBA scouts salivating over him in the past as he has started to score on a consistent basis to compliment his always strong defensive presence. The one area that the Huskies need to improve upon if they want to compete for the national title (read: challenge UNC) is for A.J. Price to step up as an elite college PG. His 35% FG and 36% FT isn’t going to cut it in March and may even be a liability in Big East play, which may be more competitive than the NCAA tournament itself on a nightly basis. The Bulldogs have also been playing exceptionally well this year with the exception of their loss last week to Arizona last week. They also come in with a balanced attack, but they are led by PG Jeremy Pargo whose scoring is slightly down (12.1 PPG to 8.9 PPG) from the past 2 season as he has focused more on running the team (3.4 assist:turnover ratio compared to 1.8 last year). To beat the Huskies, Mark Few will need everybody–Pargo, Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, and Matt Bouldin–to be near the top of their games. In the end, the Huskies depth and superior interior defense will probably be too much for Gonzaga to overcome.

Tyler who?

Tyler who?

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Set Your Tivos: Finals Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 15th, 2008

After a couple weeks off spent touring the country, Set Your Tivos is back. When I started to look at this week’s slate of games, I thought it was one of the worst weeks of the year. Then I saw Saturday, which is without a doubt the best set of college basketball games so far this season. In fact, Saturday is so good that I am going to do a separate Set Your Tivos for it.


– Stony Brook at #2 UConn at 7 PM on ESPN Full Court,, and the Big East Network: The only way this game stays within 20 is if the Huskies actually have to take final exams. Nothing to see here unless you know one of the Huskies benchwarmers and want to see him get some PT.

– Cleveland State at #11 Syracuse at 7 PM on Time Warner-New York: Should be another snoozefest, but you might want to check the Orangemen out to see how they are adjusting to life without Eric Devendorf (or not). If Time Warner-New York is on their game, they will run a feature on the 1985-86 Cleveland State team that upset Indiana in the NCAA tournament that was documented in John Feinstein’s classic “Season on the Brink” (great winter break reading for the erudite RTC fan).

– South Florida vs. Vanderbilt at 7 PM on ESPN 2 and This game is officially at a “neutral” location, but the game is being played in Nashville. Even Coach K would be embarrassed to call that a neutral site. The Commodores could use a win here as they have been disappointing so far while the Bulls have been surprisingly competitive. However, since Vanderbilt plays in the SEC and USF plays in the Big East the reverse will be true during league play.

#23 Marquette vs. #19 Tennessee at 9:30 PM on ESPN 2 and The game of the week (before Saturday). Another “neutral” site game in Nashville. The Volunteers will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Dionte Christmas Temple. The loss dropped them 11 spots from a #8 ranking. They can make a case for a top 10 ranking again if they can beat Marquette. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles have been playing well (7-1) and come into the game with a top 25 ranking. Unfortunately, that only makes them the 8th highest ranked team in the Big East. I know it’s early and sounds ridiculous for a top 25 team, but Marquette could use a win here to start building a case for a NCAA tournament bid in case they fall back a little in the Big East because I still have a hard time believing the Selection Committee will give the Big East 10 bids.

– Cram for your last finals or go through the games you missed while studying for those finals/writing that term paper because this is a weak set of games.

– Mississippi State at Cincinnati at 6:30 PM on ESPN 2 and The Bearcats (6-2) are off to a respectable start–losses to FSU and Xavier–by almost any league’s standards except for the Big East where they will struggle to stay out of the bottom third of the conference. The Bulldogs (7-3) are also off to decent start, but may be without coach Rick Stansbury who was admitted to a local hospital for new-onset migraines (the administration expects him to be able to coach that night). The Bearcats will have their handful trying to score inside with “The Human Eraser” Jarvis Varnado who comes into the game with a 6.2 blocks per game average.

– Evansville at #1 UNC at 7 PM on ESPN and I’m expecting the line for this game to be UNC by 20, but don’t sleep on Evansville. They come into the game with a 7-1 record including a 32-point win over a Western Kentucky team that handled preseason Final Four favorite Louisville its only loss. The Tar Heels may also be a little off their game if they start buying into the hype (we aren’t) or if they continue to have late-night trysts with America’s sideline princess.

– Mississippi at #9 Louisville at 9 PM on ESPN and The Rebels shouldn’t really present a challenge Louisville, but I haven’t bought into Rick Pitino’s Cardinals yet. In their only game that could be considered moderately challenging, they fell apart losing to Western Kentucky. If Pitino hopes to contend for a national title this year, his team needs to be able to put away teams like Mississippi early. We’ll also be watching to see Samardo Samuels, who is playing like the best freshman in the country right now.

– Get some sleep or go get some sun because you’re going to be glued to your couch all day tomorrow.

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Set Your Tivos: Week 3

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2008

Our third installment of Set Your Tivos brings us what I consider the first legitimate tournament of the season–the Maui Invitational. It’s your yearly chance to see some of the biggest names in college basketball rocking Hawaiian t-shirts or polos. You could argue that I’m just being nostalgic over the most shocking upset in NCAA history (that barely anybody saw live) except that the famous game actually happened a little less than 3 months before I was born. Anyways, onto our weekly countdown. . .


#10: Boston College vs. #10 Purdue, Wednesday at 7 PM on ESPN2 and I’m curious to see how one of the Big 10 co-favorites (along with Michigan State and now Michigan) will do against a middle to bottom of the pack Big East ACC team. This game is about getting some respect for the Big 10. If the Boilermakers don’t win this game easily, it could be a sign that we’re in for another season of really bad Big 10 basketball.

#9: Duquesne at #5 Duke; Friday at 3 PM on ESPN and It will still be November when they play this game so the Blue Devils should win this game even though they have struggled at times this year. One of the revelations from last week’s Coaches vs. Cancer was that Brian Zoubek may still be a stiff, but he is a tall one. Look for Coach K to try to get Zoubek involved as he may be a key for Duke if they want to advance deep into the NCAA tournament this year. (Hint: Don’t put Duke too far in your March Madness bracket). 

#8: Maryland vs. #7 Michigan State, Thursday at 7 PM on ESPN2 and This game seems more interesting on paper (program reputation) than it will be on the court (this year’s teams), but I’ll be tuned in to see what Tom Izzo actually has this season. The Spartans come in with a preseason #7 ranking, but got “UNLV-Duke 1990” crushed by Memphis in their Sweet 16 match-up and have lost their floor general Drew Neitzel. This year’s Spartan team has the potential to make it to Detroit (for the Final 4–I can’t imagine why you would want to go there for any other reason), but they’ll have to step it up several levels from where they were last week (beating Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne by 11 in a game that was as close as the final margin indicates). 

#7: UAB vs. #14 Oklahoma, Wednesday 9 PM on ESPN2 and This game will be a match-up of potential All-Americans–Robert Vaden and Blake Griffin–although they won’t match-up against each other outside of the occasional switch off a screen. The Sooners looked like they were still basking in the glow of beating America’s sweetheart Davidson when they almost lost to Gardner-Webb although BIlly Gillispie may disagree. The thought here is that if Oklahoma could hold of Stephen Curry then they can do the same against Vaden.

#6: Saint Joseph’s vs. #8 Texas, Monday at 3 PM on ESPN2 and Rick Barnes managed to get to the Elite 8 one year after losing national POY and the greatest freshman ever (I disagree with rtmsf) Kevin Durant. Now the question is how far he can get the Longhorns after losing All-American point guard D. J. Augustin. The early game of ESPN’s tripleheader will give us some insight into that. The Longhorns should win this one easily since Phil Martelli’s crew is in rebuilding mode (see their loss to Holy Cross), but the Hawks could show us some weaknesses that the Longhorns may have.

#5: Syracuse at #19 Florida, Monday at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and Jim Boeheim will need big games out of Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf to pull off the upset tonight. Despite struggling to put away Richmond last week, the Orangemen have the potential to pull off the upset against Billy Donovan’s young squad especially after the loss of last year’s starting PG Jai Lucas. I’m assuming that the Gators will return to the NCAA tournament, but if they want to have a successful season (Sweet 16 trip), they will have to be able to beat teams of Syracuse’s caliber.

#4: Indiana vs. #9 Notre Dame, Monday at 5:30 PM on ESPN2 and Our first look at Tom Crean’s new squad (Bruce Weber has already told us what he thinks of them). Unfortunately this game isn’t at Alumni Hall. It will be interesting to see how the Hooiser faithful react to Crean and his JV squad. I am imaging the scene out of Hooisers at town hall where they vote Norman Dale out before Jimmy Chitwood shows up and saves the day. Unfortunately, I don’t think Eric Gordon can come back to Bloomington with any eligibility to recreate this. Bottom line: The Golden Domers will have something to look forward to after pelting their football players with snowballs after another embarrassing loss.

#3: #6 Pittsburgh vs. Texas Tech, Friday at 7:30 PM on HDNet: I’m guessing that Pat Knight’s boys won’t be putting up 167 tonight unless this game goes to 6 OTs. So far the Panthers have players compared to Shaq (DeJuan Blair) and Lebron (Sam Young) and that doesn’t even factor in Levance Fields, who may be the most important player on the roster. There is no question that Pittsburgh is the better team in this match-up, but I’ll be following this to see just how good the Panthers are and the Red Raiders have had a tendency to come up with big upsets early in the year.

#2: #3 Louisville vs. Western Kentucky, Sunday at 3 PM on Fox College Sports Atlantic: Our first good look at RTC pre-season bracketology national champion against some real competition. The Hilltoppers lost a lot in the backcourt (Courtney Lee, Ty Rogers, and Tyrone Brazelton), but they return a lot of experience in the frontcourt. If the Hilltoppers want to give Rick Pitino’s Cardinals a game they will need JUCO transfer Sergio Kerusch, Motlow State Community College transfer Anthony Sally, and Dejan Cvoro, a point guard from Serbia, to step up. I’m guessing that Western Kentucky will keep it close for the first 10 minutes before Louisville pulls away, but it should still be interesting to see just how good freshman Samardo Samuels is. If he is as good as advertised, Pitino may have a legitimate title contender.

#1: Oklahoma State vs. #11 Gonzaga, Thursday at 9 PM on ESPN2 and Mark Few comes into this year with his 2nd highest ranked team ever (7th in the 2005-2006 preseason poll) and one of the most talented teams he has ever had. While the Zags lack the superstar they had a few years ago in Adam Morrison, they are not lacking in talent (Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Austin Daye, and Josh Heytvelt). However, as the Zags have steadily moved up in the national conscience andthe regular season polls, they seem to have underperformed in the NCAA tournament. After losing to Cinderella (Davidson) in the first round last year, the Zags are hoping to bounce back and their first big test of the season will be against Travis Ford’s Cowboys. Ford has been quick to keep expectations realistic for his rookie season, but some experts have picked the Cowboys to be a surprise in the Big 12 despite their lack of interior play.

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Set Your Tivos: Week 2

Posted by nvr1983 on November 16th, 2008

Our new and improved Set Your Tivos is in the format that we expect this feature to take for the rest of the season. It will feature our top games of the week and leave the daily TV schedules to After the Buzzer. Now the top 7 games (add 3 for a few of the late round games in some of the random tournaments to make a top 10 if you want) in reverse order. . .


7) Illinois at Vanderbilt–Thursday, 8 PM on Fox Sports South, ESPN Full Court, and Our only featured game involving two unranked teams. We’ll be watching to see if Bruce Weber has recovered from losing out on Eric Gordon, who would have left Illinois by now anyways even if Kelvin Sampson hadn’t stolen him before destroying Indiana’s basketball program. On the other side, Vanderbilt will be trying to recover from last year’s embarrassing first round loss to Siena in the NCAA tournament after a trip to the Sweet 16 the year before that ended with a close loss to Georgetown.

6) Southern Illinois vs. #5 Duke–Thursday, 7 PM on ESPN2 and Salukis look to recover from last year’s 18-15 season after six consecutive NCAA tournament bids against everyone’s favorite villain Duke. I’m sure most of you would like nothing more than seeing Duke lose in Madison Square Garden against a mid-major, but that’s not happening here. Watch it to see if Southern Illinois will be challenging for the MVC title this year and if Duke is going to try to develop an inside game this year.

5) #4 UCLA vs. Michigan–Thursday, 9 PM on ESPN2 and The more interesting of the Coaches vs. Cancer games will feature two of the most prestigious programs in the country with one (UCLA) coming into the season with high expectations following 3 straight Final 4 trips while the other (Michigan) has become a source of humor for visitors to this site. Both teams struggled in the early rounds, but the Bruins will be overwhelming favorites and should advance unless the freshman get caught up in the bright lights of MSG and/or start looking forward to playing Duke in the championship game.

4) Kentucky at #1 UNC–Tuesday, 9 PM on ESPN and This game, which was once billed as one of the premier early season games, has lost much of its luster with Kentucky’s opening loss to VMI and the absence of Tyler Hansbrough (and his fellow pool-jumping “Golden God” Bobby Frasor). This game will be more of a barometer for Kentucky than the injury-depleted Tar Heels. A Kentucky win would give Billy Gillispie a temporary reprieve from Wildcat fans who are undoubtedly livid after another embarrassing season-opening early-season loss. If the Wildcats want to do that, they will need to utilize Patrick Patterson much more than they did against VMI.

3) Massachusetts at #12 Memphis–Tuesday/Wednesday at midnight on ESPN and Our first look at this year’s Tigers will be a relatively challenging game against John Calipari’s old school. While Tyreke Evans might be one of the top players in this year’s freshman class, he will be a significant drop-off from Derrick Rose. The Tigers may be able to adjust to that, but they will be hard-pressed to replace the veteran leadership and all-around play of Chris Douglas-Roberts. We will be interested to see if the Tigers worked on that small issue of free throw shooting that reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time last year. 

2) Miami (OH) at #6 Pittsburgh–Monday, 7 PM on ESPN Full Court and While this might not seem like an interesting game to most of you, I think it will give us a good idea of how good/bad UCLA is given the fact they narrowly held off the Redhawks 64-59 and whether or not Doug Gottlieb is an idiot. Given that we think it’s definitely worth watching and should be a good lead-in to Monday Night Football.

1) 2K Sports Classic Championship Game (if it is #4 UCLA vs. #5 Duke)–Friday, 7 PM on ESPN2 and As noted this is only if we get our first top 5 (or top 25) match-up of the season. Both teams should be able to navigate their semifinals despite the fact that the Bruins struggled against Miami (OH) last week. Duke will probably win this game as they tend to dominate early season tournaments and the Bruins are still very green, but the Bruins young talent and Darren Collison will give Coach K and the Blue Devils a stiff challenge.

If I missed any good games and I’m sure I did, tell me about it in the comments and I’ll update the list.

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Set Your Tivos: Week 1

Posted by nvr1983 on November 10th, 2008

As part of our attempt to improve Rush the Court and make it the premier college basketball blog, we’re introducing a series of new features. Some will be daily (we’re bringing back our recaps on nightly action called After the Buzzer), weekly, and others will be a little more random (the Brandon Jennings Watch or the long-awaited RTC Prestige rankings). One of these features will be the RTC “Set Your Tivos” feature previewing the week ahead and giving our loyal readers a heads-up as they plan their lives around college basketball (all times EST). Without further ado, your Week 1 Set Your Tivos. . .


Normally, I would be going through a more extensive analysis of the day’s offerings, but this week the pickings are pretty slim so you’re essentially getting every game that I know is on TV.

Monday, November 10, 2008Presbyterian at #5 Duke, 7 PM (ESPNU): College basketball officially gets underway with a cupcake. While it will be interesting to see if Coach K has brought any new wrinkles into the Duke offense from Beijing, I don’t think he’ll be revealing it against Presbyterian. If you want to see if Duke has regrouped from its poor performance last March (barely beating Belmont and getting thumped by Joe Alexander and West Virginia), you’ll have to wait until Friday because this is going to be a beatdown.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008Michigan Tech at Michigan, 7 PM (ESPNU): The Wolverines are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2007-08 campaign under former Mountaineer coach John Beilein. What is it with Michigan’s athletic department poaching all the coaching talent in Morgantown? If they have any shot of returning to respectability they should crush Michigan Tech. They should be able to do the latter, but I doubt they will be respectable this season unless you consider battling for a NIT bid respectable.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008Prairie View A&M at #4 UCLA, 10 PM (ESPNU): The big question for Ben Howland will be if he can guide the Bruins to Detroit for their 4th consecutive Final 4 (the last 3 ended with losses). This game will not answer any of the questions the Bruins have. Are you sensing a pattern here? So Bruins fans, enjoy the exhibition against a school that is most well-known for its incompetence on the football field.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 – Nothing. Catch up on the rest of your life since you’ll be busy until early in the morning on April 7, 2009.

Friday, November 14, 2008Toledo at #19 Florida, 6 PM (ESPNU): After a rebuilding campaign following their back-to-back national titles, Billy Donovan’s Gators look to rebound and make a run in March. Tonight will be a big first step in showing the nation they can do that even with the recent departure of last season’s starting PG Jai Lucas.

Fairleigh Dickinson at #6 Pittsburgh, 7 PM (CBS College Sports All-Access): Our first look at one of the Big East powers, this won’t necessarily give us a good indication of how strong the Panthers will be this year, but it could be a potential 1 vs. 16 or 2 vs. 15 match-up in March.

North Carolina Central at #24 Wake Forest, 7 PM (None): This may be the most interesting of the games tonight as Wake is a team with “tremendous upside potential” (see Brown, Hubie). Dino Gaudio managed to bring in the best recruiting class in the ACC (h/t to the late Skip Prosser) and will be poised to put a scare into some of the top teams in the country later in the year. This game may just give us a glimpse of how scary the Demon Deacons could be.

Western Carolina at #2 UConn, 7:30 PM (ESPN360): The Big East favorites open up with a cupcake. Not much to see here. The Huskies won’t be at full-strength yet, but it shouldn’t matter. We’ll be interested to see if Hasheem Thabeet has progressed any since last season.

Stetson at #8 Texas, 8 PM (ESPN Full Court & ESPN360): The Longhorns return 4 of 5 starters from last season’s Elite 8 team, but will have a big hole at the 1 with D.J. Augustin’s early entry into the draft. Rick Barnes will have to find a way to replace Augustin (last seen getting punked by Derrick Rose) in much the same way as he built last year’s team after the early entry of Kevin Durant (last seen leaving the city of Seattle in tears). If Barnes is able to pull that off, the Longhorns should have a good shot at a #1 or #2 seed. By the way, this game won’t give us any indication if that is the case.

American University at #14 Oklahoma, 8 PM (ESPN Full Court & ESPN360): The Sooners are loaded this year and some are even picking them to win the Big 12. Blake Griffin will be leading the way, but will need solid support from diaper dandy Willie Warren and UCLA transfer Ryan Wright if they are going to challenge Texas. While Jeff Capel still has some work to do to match his predecessor’s level of success, we’re pretty sure he will be slightly less controversial. I’d watch this game more to see how good Capel’s new recruit and transfer are rather than using it as a gauge of how good his team is.

Albany at #25 Villanova, 8 PM (Nova Nation All-Access):  A first look at Jay Wright’s team against a solid program from the Am East.  Will Wright go with the four-guard set that’s been rumored?  A lineup of 6’2 Scottie Reynolds, 6’1 Corey Fisher, 6’0 Malcolm Grant and 6’5 Corey Stokes wouldn’t get many rebouds, but would cause quickness mismatches all over the court.  Should be fun to watch. 

Houston Baptist at #17 Marquette, 8:30 PM (Time Warner Cable Sports 32 locally in Wisconsin):  The seventh-year trio of Wesley Matthews, Dominic James and Jerel McNeal all return for the Warriors Golden Eagles, but Tom Crean doesn’t.  New coach and former assistant Buzz Williams has a talented, experienced team returning that probably should have made the Sweet Sixteen last year (but for the Lopez Roll).  In other words, he’s in a much better position than his predecessor will be this season several hours south down in Bloomington. 

Detroit at #10 Purdue, 9 PM (ESPN360):  Purdue shouldn’t have much trouble with the team picked by RTC to finish dead last in the Horizon.  E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummell are worth sitting at home watching your computer on a Friday night, trust us. 

Mississippi Valley State at #15 Arizona State, 10 PM (Fox Sports Arizona & Fox College Sports Pacific):  MVSU should be one of the better teams in the SWAC this year, but that doesn’t mean this will be a good game.  The more we think about ASU, the more we believe that they’re in for a big season.  James Harden is just that good, and Sendek has had enough time to get buy-in from his players for his system (which generally works). 

*h/t to Patrick Marshall (see below)

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