THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW
1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week
The triple overtime thriller between Kansas and Oklahoma was the most intriguing non-tournament game I’ve watched since 2009. I remember it like it was yesterday – going back and forth between my friend’s dorm and my own during my freshman year of college, clamoring for overtime again and again, and getting my wish six times over. The game that took place Monday night at Phog Allen Fieldhouse forced flashbacks upon me, as both teams played great basketball, but neither team could seal the deal, with both given multiple opportunities. Buddy Hield’s performance, even in the face of defeat, was strong enough that he is my current front-runner for the Naismith POY award. After the game, Hield, who played 54 of the 55 minutes, said that all he wanted was a bed. Now he knows how Jonny Flynn felt on the fateful March night at MSG; he played 67 of 70 minutes!
3 Games to Watch this Week
i. Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (Saturday @ 3 pm EST, TV – ESPNU)
I’m not sure a team can go undefeated in any more of a low-key fashion than what the Gamecocks have accomplished so far this year (though SMU is actually competitive in this regard due to their sanctions). The knock on Frank Martin’s team is that they’ve beaten exactly zero teams inside the RPI top-75 as of the writing of this article. Enter Vanderbilt, whose SOS is a stark contrast, and whose record isn’t quite as pretty. The Commodores haven’t beaten any tournament teams, but they’ve played plenty (including Kansas, Baylor, and Dayton) very tough; don’t think for a second that the committee ignores close, quality losses. If nothing else, this game is worth watching to see if South Carolina can keep a zero in the loss column… and to see how red Frank Martin’s face gets on a scale from tomato to fire engine.
ii. Arizona @ USC (Saturday @ 7 pm EST, TV – PACN)
If you work a regular 9 to 5 and you’re living East of the Mississippi, it’s difficult to catch a lot of West coast basketball during the week; this is why I picked a Saturday game for you to watch. Arizona, per usual, is widely considered the class of the teams out West. USC, on the other hand, appears to have finally (maybe) fielded a team that won’t finish dead last in the Pac-12 under former Dunk City legend Andy Enfield. USC has an opportunity to add their first signature win to a resume that currently barely has them on the right side of the bubble. The current over/under on number of times the TV cameras pan to Amanda Enfield: 2.5 – it’s only so low because this isn’t an ESPN broadcast.
iii. Villanova @ Butler (Sunday @ 7:30 pm EST, TV – FS1)
I mentioned a lot of Big East teams, players, and games in last week’s edition of the Midweek Review, but can you blame me? The conference has had a lot of great early season action to discuss, and this game is no different. The Wildcats sit alone atop the Big East standings at 3-0, while the Bulldogs have stumbled to a 1-2 start in conference play… who could’ve possibly saw that coming!? (For that answer and more, please see last week’s edition of the 1-3-1 Midweek Review.) Villanova has the metrics and the talent to join Xavier in the push for a one-seed come March, and a win on the road at Hinkle would be another notch in
George Clooney’s Jay Wright’s surely well-manicured belt.
1 Bold Prediction for the Week
Wichita State goes into Carbondale and shocks (see what I did there?) the Salukis to take control of the Missouri Valley. Fred VanVleet is finally rounding into form after a hamstring injury sidelined him for a couple weeks earlier this season. Since his return, the Shockers are 7-1, including last night’s huge victory over a greatly improved Evansville squad. The great equalizer for the Salukis is Anthony Beane, who’s currently averaging 21 points per game, including a blazing 46% from behind the arc, all while launching nearly 6 attempts per game. This year’s edition of Wichita State is not comparable to Gregg Marshall’s squads from the past few seasons, but I still believe they are the class of the MVC.