College Hoops Saturday: Your Commentary

November 12th, 2011

Obviously with college football still going strong the Saturday slate will be a bit light with regards to marquee matchups, but there are some interesting teams to keep an eye on. Syracuse is the highest ranked team to play on Saturday, and they host a Fordham team that many will expect the Orange to blow out. The Rams do return forward Chris Gaston, one of the top players in the Atlantic 10, and freshman point guard Devon "Fatty" McMillan is a playmaker who has already excited the Fordham fan base. But will Tom Pecora's team have enough to knock off Syracuse? That will likely be decided by the way in which Jim Boeheim's team approaches the game. 

If point guard Scoop Jardine and wing Kris Joseph set the tone by coming out aggressive there's a strong possibility that this game gets out of hand. But as was seen with Connecticut on Friday night, sometimes teams that know they're more talented than their opponents simply do enough to get out with the win. But Syracuse is young enough in the frontcourt that Coach Boeheim will look to get as much quality time out of the likes of Fab Melo, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita among others to make sure they take some lessons of consequence out of the game. 

Duke, who survived a tough Belmont squad on Friday, hosts Presbyterian with Mike Krzyzewski sitting at 901 wins for his career. The Blue Hose aren't expected to pose much of a threat to the Blue Devils, so at a certain point maybe Duke looks to try out different lineup with an eye towards the rest of the season. One key will be freshman Austin Rivers, who seemed to force things a little too often against Belmont. There are more than enough weapons on this team, so there shouldn't be a player that feels that Duke can't win without him doing everything. That will be key with a matchup with Michigan State on the horizon. 

Iowa State plays their first game of the season, and it will be an interesting one at that. Fred Hoiberg has stocked up on transfers, with Royce White (Minnesota) and Chris Allen (Michigan State) being two of the transfers ready to play now, and the chemistry of this group will be something that many watch throughout the season. The good news is that these players have had a year in the system and practicing with each other, so there shouldn't be a major issue. But things change when actual minutes and touches are up for grabs. Is this group mature enough to deal with it? That's a question that will be answered beginning with Saturday's game against C.J. McCollum and a dangerous Lehigh squad. 

Another game to keep an eye on is Butler's visit to Evansville, and the Purple Aces knocked off the Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse last season. No Matt Howard or Shelvin Mack anymore for Brad Stevens, but that simply means that players such as Khyle Marshall and Andrew Smith have a chance to step up. Marty Simmons' Purple Aces have won their last three season openers, and in Kenneth Harris and Colt Ryan he's got a pair of wing players who will lead the way offensively. Can Evansville pick up a quality win for the Missouri Valley? There should be no doubt that they can. 

Other games of note include the first game of the Ed Cooley era at Providence, Wagner visiting Princeton in a matchup of teams expected to contend in the NEC and Ivy League respectively, and a late night contrast of styles as VMI takes on Air Force. There's also a good matchup between the MVC and CAA as Northern Iowa takes on Old Dominion, with Blaine Taylor's Monarchs consistently one of the top defensive teams around. It won't be long before the Saturday schedule is larger in both the number of games and the number of games of national importance. 

Top 25 Games
4:00 PM Fordham at (5) Syracuse
4:30 PM Presbyterian at (6) Duke (ESPNU)
1:00 PM Kennesaw State at (14) Wisconsin

NCAA Division I Games
12:00 PM Savannah State at Georgetown
1:00 PM Nicholls State at LSU
1:00 PM Spring Hill at Southern Miss
1:00 PM Nebraska-Omaha at IPFW
2:00 PM Lehigh at Iowa State (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Mississippi Valley State at Notre Dame
2:00 PM East Tennessee State at Virginia Tech (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Southwest St (MN) at Milwaukee
2:00 PM South Alabama at Mississippi State
2:00 PM Western Illinois at Dayton
2:00 PM NJIT at Manhattan
2:00 PM Fairleigh Dickinson at Providence
2:00 PM Western Michigan at South Dakota State
2:30 PM Florida Atlantic vs. Portland*
3:00 PM Butler at Evansville
3:00 PM Emory at Mercer
4:00 PM Waldorf College at North Dakota
4:00 PM Wilmington (DE) at Delaware State
4:00 PM Eastern Kentucky at Winthrop
4:30 PM Cal State Bakersfield at Oregon State
4:30 PM Hartford at Penn State
5:00 PM San Jose State at Cal Poly
5:00 PM Wagner at Princeton
5:00 PM Georgia State at Washington
5:00 PM Saint Thomas (FL) at UCF
5:05 PM Idaho at Long Beach State
7:00 PM Vermont at South Florida
7:00 PM Northern Iowa at Old Dominion
7:00 PM Methodist at Coastal Carolina
7:00 PM Hiram at Akron
7:00 PM Colgate at Binghamton
7:00 PM Ferris State at Central Michigan
7:00 PM William & Mary at Hampton
7:00 PM Bridgewater at High Point
7:00 PM Shenandoah at Radford
7:00 PM St. Francis (NY) at Seton Hall
7:30 PM UC Davis vs. Bryant*
8:00 PM New Orleans at Rice
8:00 PM Grambling State at Houston
8:00 PM Blue Mountain College at Alcorn State
8:00 PM Youngstown State at Samford
8:05 PM Ohio Dominican at Southern Illinois
8:05 PM Upper Iowa University at Drake
8:30 PM Citadel vs. Army* (CBSN)
8:30 PM Howard Payne at Sam Houston State
9:00 PM New Mexico State at Northern Colorado
9:00 PM Northern Arizona at San Francisco
10:00 PM Pomona Pitzer at Pepperdine
10:00 PM Western State at Wyoming
10:30 PM Southern Utah at San Diego State
10:30 PM VMI at Air Force (CBSN)
11:30 PM UL Lafayette vs. North Dakota State*