1-3-1 Sports Midweek Review

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.

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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.

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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

1-3-1 Sports Midweek Review

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!

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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.

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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.