1-3-1 Sports Midweek Review



1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

Chaos is king in college basketball this season. Filling out your bracket in any given season is a crapshoot, and in that sense, this season will be no different. However, with the two big changes to the game this season, (the 30-second shot clock [LOVE] and the freedom of movement rules [MEH]), we’re seeing significantly more mayhem than in past years. As with any major change, it takes time to iron out the kinks and stabilize what we expect as the norm. Thus, I anticipate that this pandemonium will continue through tournament time. Last night alone provides an example of some of the shocking upsets we’ve seen so far this season. A hot and cold Texas team won on the road against a West Virginia team who handily took care of Kansas one week prior, while the Spartans of Michigan State suffered their second straight one-point defeat, this one coming at home at the hands of a borderline-NIT Nebraska team.


3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Gonzaga @ St. Mary’s (Thursday @ 11 pm EST, TV – ESPNU)
I know, I know, this game doesn’t start until 11 PM EST and you have to work tomorrow… cry me a river; it really should be of the utmost quality. This game between the Zags and the Gaels is for the outright lead in the West Coast Conference. Here is my pretend shocked face:


These two teams are always the class of this conference, and this year is no different. Gonzaga isn’t quite the same team without Przemek Karnowski to come off the bench and be extra, super tall and do extra, super tall guy things. That being said, they still have a POY candidate in Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer, and Lithuanian sensation and double-double machine Domantas Sabonis. The Gaels counter with Emmett Naar, another Australian pipeliner that has what the analysts love to call “in-the-gym” type shooting range.

ii. Oklahoma @ Baylor (Saturday @ 12:00 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Based on a relatively favorable start to their conference schedule, the Baylor Bears sit alone atop the Big 12 conference. If they wish to remain there, they’ll have to protect their home court and knock off the temporarily top-ranked Sooners. I anticipate Oklahoma will come out pretty fired up for this game, coming off an embarrassing defensive effort in their loss to Iowa State on Monday night. Scott Drew’s Baylor squad is very well-rounded, with four players averaging double-figure scoring per game. Of these four, I look for the Bears to channel their success through Rico Gathers, who will easily be the most physically-imposing player on the court.

iii. Maryland @ Michigan State (Saturday @ 6:30 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
After starting the season 16-0, the Spartans have stumbled their way to a 3-4 start in conference play. Of the four losses, none was more frustrating for Spartan fans than the home loss to Nebraska last night. This loss marks the second time in three years Tim Miles has led the Cornhuskers to victory over Tom Izzo and his squad in East Lansing. Michigan State will have the perfect opportunity to gain a rebound victory, as College Gameday joins Maryland in coming to town for this heavyweight match-up. Maryland, led by the underachieving Melo Trimble and the constantly improving Diamond Stone, will look for a victory to keep pace with Indiana and Iowa in the Big 10 race.


1 Bold Prediction for the Week

Ben Bentil will put up 20+ points and 8+ boards, but all will be for naught in the face of a Villanova victory. The Wildcats of Villanova play host to the Friars of Providence at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 PM on Sunday. Providence has had an intriguing last four games, going 2-2 in a stretch where every game has been decided by single digits. While Kris Dunn’s name is the one that grabs headlines because of his NBA potential, Ben Bentil has quietly developed into a Robin role on the team. With Jay Wright sure to key in on stopping Dunn, it seems that Bentil will have a ripe opportunity to put up some double-double type numbers against Nova. In the end, however, I do believe the Wildcats will add another solid victory to their resume and maintain a zero in the loss column in Big East conference play.

Final Score:
Villanova – 76
Providence – 70


The Daily 1-3-1 (February 20th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

Syracuse lost to WHO!?

Syracuse had been playing with fire all season when it came to remaining undefeated – last night, it finally caught up with them. Seriously though, raise your hand if you had Boston College as the team that would go into the Carrier Dome and hand the Orange their first loss of the season. Looks like nobody raised their hand; if you did, you’re a rapscallion and a liar… or a Boston College alum. This loss leaves Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State squad as the only remaining undefeated team in Men’s D1 college hoops.


3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. (5) Duke @ North Carolina, ESPN – 9 PM
Let’s try this again! With all do respect to Louisville/Kentucky, Michigan/Michigan State, Georgetown/Syracuse, and Cincinnati/Xavier, this is the best rivalry in college basketball. It is a mere 9 miles from Durham to Chapel Hill, and there is no love lost when the two Tobacco Road goliaths tango on the basketball court. This year’s edition promises to be filled with plenty of excitement and hoopla, as freshman phenom Jabari Parker has really settled into his role in the past few games. North Carolina also seems to have settled into their fast-paced style of play, having won 7 straight games. 

ii. (25) Gonzaga @ BYU, ESPN2 – 11 PM
For all the night owls and people who live on the West coast, this game is one to watch in terms of shuffling of seeding (and entry into) the NCAA tournament. BYU has been flirting with earning an at-large birth into the tournament field, but so far they’ve just been a tease. Gonzaga has an impressive 23-4 record, albeit a bit misleading – their three tough non-conference games (Dayton, Kansas State, and Memphis) all resulted in losses.

iii. Penn State @ Nebraska, ESPNU – 7 PM
Many people would say I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel when I list this game as one you might want to watch. Those people have a valid point, but have you seen my other options for tonight? Slim pickings. Nonetheless, Nebraska is at least in the conversation as a tournament bubble team after their win in East Lansing this weekend. If they can manage to finish above .500 in the topsy-turvy Big 10, it’s going to be hard to leave them out of the field.


1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

BYU plays their way back into the thick of the bubble discussion with a close home win over Mark Few and Co.

The Marriott Center has proven to be unfriendly confines for visiting West Coast Conference opponents, who are winless against the Cougars when playing in Provo. Something deep down in my gut tells me Tyler Haws is going to find a way to will this team to a narrow victory – he might even drop 30 on the Bulldogs along the way.