THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW
1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week
South Carolina got exposed by the first RPI top-50 team that they played this season. The one red flag that was attached to South Carolina’s undefeated start to the season was their comical SOS. On Wednesday night, the Gamecocks took on their first remotely borderline tournament-quality opponent in Alabama, and the Tide rolled. Frank Martin’s squad struggled all over the place, including, but not limited to: turning the ball over 17 times, making 3 of 18 attempts from behind the three-point line, allowing 10 offensive rebounds, and going 9 for 17 from the charity stripe. The end result of this debacle was a 23-point defeat and the removal of their 0 in the loss column. Even in the mediocre SEC, I would not be shocked to see this team lose 3 or 4 of their next 8 games after their 15-0 start to the season.
3 Games to Watch this Week
i. Iowa @ Michigan State (Thursday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
The only loss the Spartans have suffered thus far this season was their first conference game in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes (hardly redemption for what happened in football). One big difference in tonight’s game is that Denzel Valentine is healthy this go-round, and as I’ve constantly (and probably obviously) stated, Michigan State is a totally different team with their floor general and emotional leader on the court. Valentine joins Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, Maryland’s Melo Trimble, and Michigan’s Caris Levert as Big Ten players on the Midseason Top 25 Watch List for the Wooden Award. These two teams figure to be in the top echelon of the Big 10 the entire season, and this game will go a long way towards shaking out seeding for the conference and NCAA tournament come March.
ii. George Washington @ Dayton (Friday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Hooray for quality, mid-major, in-conference, televised basketball! The Colonials and the Flyers are both 3-1 in an Atlantic 10 conference that I believe is constantly underrated; I wouldn’t bet against the A10 receiving four bids on March 13th. At 6’9″, George Washington’s Tyler Cavanaugh is one of the rangiest bigs in the country this season, averaging 17.2 points per game while shooting 54% from the field, 42% from behind the arc, and 85% from the free throw line. He has scored in double-figures in every game he’s played this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what Archie Miller dials up on the defensive end to try and slow him down.
iii. West Virginia @ Oklahoma (Saturday @ 4 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Huggy Bear’s Mountaineers defensively swarmed Kansas on Tuesday night, causing the Jayhawks to commit 22 turnovers on their way to taking sole possession of the Big 12 in the process. How fitting it is, then, that their next challenge is against the team that is sure to take over the number one spot that Kansas just effectively relinquished with a victory Saturday afternoon. West Virginia’s pressure and athleticism will be tested by the triumvirate of talented guards Oklahoma has in Hield, Woodard, and Cousins. My sports man-crush on Buddy Hield and his unique and gifted abilities is tempered only by his on-court Achilles Hield (a-thank you): turnovers. If West Virginia goes into Norman and wins this game, I would not be surprised to see them receive first place votes in Monday’s AP poll; it would be well-deserved.
1 Bold Prediction for the Week
Iowa loses by double digits tonight in East Lansing, then wins by double digits against Michigan in Iowa City on Sunday. It’s a perfect storm: with revenge on their minds and their best player back on the court, I think Michigan State rolls over Iowa at home to cover the 9-point spread. This would be the Hawkeyes first in-conference loss of the season, and would send them on a long trip home to sit and rue the game they had just played. If tonight goes as predicted, come Sunday, the Hawkeyes will be at home and hungry to right the ship, while Michigan may come into town a little hungover from their massive victory over Maryland on Tuesday night. I expect these two contrasting emotions to result in an unfortunately ugly game for my alma mater.
– Game 1: Michigan State – 81, Iowa – 69
– Game 2: Iowa – 86, Michigan – 73