College Hoops Monday: Your Commentary

November 22nd, 2010
Thanksgiving week is here and with that more in-season tournaments either tip off or move to the semifinal stage. Monday features four games in Maui, with a lot of eyes focused on Wichita State/Connecticut in the first game of the day. Of course there's expected national title contender Michigan State along with two other good teams in Kentucky and Washington (given the meetings on the recruiting trail many hope that the Wildcats and Huskies advance to Tuesday's semifinals). But the meeting between the Shockers and Huskies is a matchup between a team hoping to show off what it can become in March (Wichita State) and a team looking to find its identity (Connecticut). Gregg Marshall's team is the preseason favorite in the Missouri Valley, and with four starters returning including guard Toure' Murry and forward J.T. Durley there's no doubt they'll be a factor in the race.

But the Shockers have just one game under their belts, a 79-67 win over Texas Southern, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with the jump in competition. Wichita State knocked down 11 three pointers in the win, making it imperative that the Huskies get out to shooters. UConn, on the other hand, has home wins over Stony Brook and Vermont and while that's not exactly a "murderer's row" it's what was needed for a young team that's far different from prior Jim Calhoun-coached teams. Kemba Walker is the unquestioned leader of this team just one year after a listless bunch showed little more than a faint pulse at times last season, and he's coming off of a 42-point game in the win over Vermont. Inside Alex Oriakhi has played well thus far but he will be challenged by the likes of Durley and Garrett Stutz just to name two of the many options the Shockers have in the frontcourt.

The first quarterfinal in the Maui Invitational provides both teams with a good early-season opportunity to pick up a good resume victory, one that could serve both well come March. In addition to Maui there the CBE Experience in Kansas City, with Duke taking on Marquette followed by Kansas State and Gonzaga. The two teams in the second semifinal have both been tested, with Frank Martin's Wildcats beating Virginia Tech in Manhattan while Mark Few's Bulldogs fell on San Diego State at home. Also of note for this one is the return of senior forward Curtis Kelly, who was held out of games by Coach Martin due to his performance in practice. Marquette may be the team with the most to prove as they're the lone unranked team of the quartet, and they've got a lot of new pieces to work into a rotation that lost Lazar Hayward, David Cubillan and Maurice Acker.

Monday also marks the final day of the US Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, with Old Dominion meeting Xavier in the title game. Both survived tough battles that went the distance on Sunday, with Blaine Taylor's Monarchs outlasting Clemson while Tu Holloway dropped an absolute dagger on Seton Hall. How ODU deals with Holloway (31 points vs. SHU) will likely determine the outcome, but they've got a few options defensively with Kent Bazemore being one of the main suspects. Seton Hall and Clemson should be interesting to watch in regards to the Pirates' shot selection (and shot-making ability) as they struggled from the field in their first game without senior shooting guard Jeremy Hazell (out 4-6 weeks with a broken left wrist). Jordan Theodore will need to play better against Demontez Stitt than he did against Holloway, and for the most part it's been a lost trip for Keon Lawrence. Another November day brings about another early-season litmus test that can have an impact come March in addition to providing visuals of what works and what doesn't.

Top 25
7:30 PM (1) Duke vs. Marquette*(ESPN2)
9:30 PM (2) Michigan State at Chaminade (ESPNU)
9:30 PM (3) Kansas State vs. (12) Gonzaga* (ESPN2)
5:30 PM Oklahoma vs. (13) Kentucky* (ESPN2)
12:00 AM Virginia vs. (15) Washington* (ESPN2)
8:00 PM Lipscomb at (17) Baylor

NCAA Division I Games
2:00 PM St. Peter's vs. Alabama*
3:00 PM Wichita State vs. Connecticut* (ESPN2)
4:30 PM Presbyterian vs. Bucknell*
4:30 PM Long Beach State vs. Iowa*
4:30 PM IUPUI vs. Green Bay*
7:00 PM Chattanooga at Louisville (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Holy Cross at Boston College
7:00 PM Duquesne at Bowling Green
7:00 PM San Diego State at Miami (OH)
7:00 PM Seton Hall vs. Clemson*
7:00 PM Central Connecticut State at Penn State
7:00 PM Princeton at James Madison
7:00 PM Jackson State at Marshall
7:00 PM Mount St. Mary's at Niagara
7:00 PM Florida A&M at Cincinnati
7:00 PM Savannah State at Dayton
7:00 PM Hampden-Sydney at Elon
7:00 PM Cornell at Lehigh
7:00 PM Montreat College at Longwood
7:00 PM Warren Wilson at Western Carolina
7:30 PM Maine at Notre Dame
7:30 PM Northern Arizona at Kennesaw State
8:00 PM Florida Gulf Coast at Arkansas
8:00 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Jacksonville State
8:00 PM Hardin-Simmons at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM Detroit at Mississippi State
8:00 PM Northwestern State at Centenary
8:00 PM Alabama State at Loyola (IL)
8:00 PM New Orleans at Mississippi College
8:00 PM Grambling State at Southeast Missouri State
8:00 PM McNeese State at Southern Miss
8:00 PM Massachusetts vs. TCU*
8:00 PM Troy at Texas-San Antonio
8:00 PM Maryville (MO) at Tulane
9:05 PM Idaho at Montana
9:30 PM Old Dominion vs. Xavier*
*- Neutral location