College Hoops Monday Preview: Your Commentary

November 15th, 2010
Despite the amount of attention being given to ESPN's 24-hour college basketball marathon that tips off at midnight (Miami at Memphis) there are some good games on the docket Monday night. In the early window there are a two under the radar games that lack television coverage but won't lack for quality. Oakland (0-1), the preseason favorite in the Summit League, makes the trek south to take on one of the favorites in the Mid-American in Ohio (1-0). Two of the better players not in BCS conferences will be on display in Athens: Oakland center Keith Benson and Ohio guard D.J. Cooper. Benson, who averaged 17.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season, is the reigning Summit League Player of the Year and a 6-11 post who's been on the radar of NBA scouts for some time now. He and Larry Wright make up a very good one-two punch for head coach Greg Kampe.

As for John Groce's Bobcats, who return three starters and eight letter-winners from a team that won 22 games and finished with five players averaging at least 10.5 points per game, they'll be led by the sophomore who burst onto the national scene with his play in the NCAA Tournament win over Georgetown. Cooper was named MAC Freshman of the Year and was also a member of the Freshman All-America Team, averaging 13.5 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in 2009-10. Cooper accounted for 25 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in the Bobcats' 88-69 win over Delaware on Saturday, and Reggie Keely added 19 and 11 rebounds as Ohio lit up the Blue Hens to the tune of 53 second half points.

The key for Ohio, who had a rebounding margin of -0.7 last season (212th nationally), will be to keep Benson and company off of the boards. Oakland outrebounded opponents by 4.9 rebounds per game last season (32nd nationally) and has the interior talent needed to do so again. While neither team is expected to be in the at-large conversation at the very least a win in a game like this helps on the resume when it comes to seeding.

The other game would qualify as a "red line upset" if the visitors were to win, but rest assured it would not be a shock of Wofford (0-1) were to leave Clemson with a win. The Terriers, reigning champions of the Southern Conference, are expected by many to repeat thanks in large part to the return of SoCon Player of the Year Noah Dahlman, who averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He and classmate Tim Johnson form one of the better frontcourt tandems in the SoCon, and with four starters returning head coach Mike Young has enough talent at his disposal to give Brad Brownell and company fits. But the Tigers have some talent up front as well, with Devin Booker coming off of a career-high 16 points in their season opening win over Western Carolina and four players reached double digits despite an off night from senior guard Demontez Stitt. Those who assume that Clemson will simply drop off due to Oliver Purnell's (and Trevor Booker's) departure may be in for a surprise this season.

And if you're looking to stay up late to take in the first few games of the marathon keep a close eye on Josh Pastner's Memphis Tigers. While young this is likely man for man one of the most talented teams in the nation, led by returnee Wesley Witherspoon and a host of newcomers that ranked among the top three recruiting classes by most services. Eleven players played at least 13 minutes in their pasting of Centenary on Friday night, and that was with Chris Crawford and Witherspoon both being disciplined by Coach Pastner. The one face you won't see is Jelan Kendrick, who's no longer a Tiger after yet another disciplinary issue. If anything the maturity of the Tigers is the major question mark, but Pastner asking Kendrick to leave is a sign that such behavior will not be tolerated.

Miami doesn't lack for talent either, especially on the perimeter where Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant and DeQuan Jones can do a variety of things for head coach Frank Haith. And there would be little opposition if there were a halftime dunk competition between Jones and Memphis' Will Barton; look for this to be a very entertaining contest. Following this matchup is the first game of the Steve Lavin era at St. John's as they visit Saint Mary's. Randy Bennett's Gaels are coming off of a Sweet 16 appearance but will have to replace the departed Omar Samhan. Luckily for SMC Matthew Dellavedova is back, as is Mickey McConnell, and they also enjoy one of the better home court advantages in the nation. And while there's been much excitement about the recruiting haul that Lavin's brought to Queens fact is he's got 10 seniors who've yet to make their mark. D.J. Kennedy and company have the experience to hit the ground running, and in a new era the hope of St. John's fans is that these familiar faces have learned some new tricks.

Top 25
8:00 PM Valparaiso at (7) Kansas
12:00 AM Miami (FL) at (19) Memphis (ESPN)
7:00 PM Tulane at (21) Georgetown

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Southeastern University at Florida A&M
7:00 PM St. Francis (NY) at South Florida
7:00 PM Campbell at East Carolina
7:00 PM Hampton at Wake Forest
7:00 PM Maryland-Eastern Shore at Columbia
7:00 PM Oakland at Ohio
7:00 PM Wofford at Clemson
7:00 PM Austin Peay at Chattanooga
7:00 PM William & Mary at Richmond
7:00 PM USC Upstate at Virginia
7:00 PM Glenville State at Marshall
7:00 PM Carver Bible College at Georgia Southern
7:00 PM High Point at Old Dominion
7:00 PM Urbana at Cleveland State
7:00 PM Central Connecticut State at Army
7:00 PM American University at Albany
7:00 PM Jackson State at UCF
7:00 PM Wright State at Central Michigan
7:00 PM Mount St. Mary's at Cincinnati
7:00 PM New Jersey at Elon
7:00 PM Barry at Florida International
7:00 PM Sacred Heart at Fordham
7:00 PM Wagner at Lehigh
7:00 PM Yale at Providence
7:00 PM Colgate at St. Francis (PA)
7:00 PM Polytechnic at N.J.I.T.
7:30 PM Fairfield at Rutgers
7:30 PM Georgia Tech at Kennesaw State
8:00 PM Roosevelt at Illinois-Chicago
8:00 PM Alabama A&M at Western Kentucky
8:00 PM Rockhurst at Saint Louis
8:00 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Nebraska
8:00 PM Ohio Dominican at Bowling Green
8:00 PM North Carolina Central at Oklahoma
8:00 PM Stillman at Lipscomb
8:00 PM Troy at Alabama
8:00 PM Texas A&M at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Houston Baptist at Northwestern State
8:00 PM NW Oklahoma St at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Tennessee Wesleyan at Samford
8:00 PM Longwood at Stephen F. Austin
8:00 PM Centenary at Tennessee-Martin
8:00 PM Fisk at Tennessee State
8:15 PM Louisiana College at Louisiana-Lafayette
8:30 PM East Tennessee State at Murray State
8:30 PM Pacific vs. Nevada*
9:00 PM Siena at Minnesota
9:00 PM West New Mexico at New Mexico State
9:30 PM Winthrop vs. Virginia Commonwealth*
10:00 PM San Diego at Stanford
10:00 PM Pomona Pitzer at UC Riverside
10:00 PM Cal Baptist at Southern Utah
10:00 PM Cal State Fullerton vs. Montana State*
10:05 PM San Francisco St. at Long Beach State
10:30 PM Santa Clara at USC
11:00 PM Pepperdine at UCLA
2:00 AM St. John's at Saint Mary's (ESPN)
4:00 AM Central Michigan at Hawaii (ESPN)