1-3-1 Sports Midweek Review

THE 1-3-1 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.

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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:

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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.

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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

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