College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary
For the second consecutive night Madison Square Garden will be the center of attention in college basketball with the occasion on Wednesday being the first night of the SEC/Big East Invitational. St. John's will be playing at home in the event but the fact that they aren't the showcase game shows how far Norm Roberts' program has to go. But they are improving, a fact that should help them out against Georgia in the first game of the doubleheader. D.J. Kennedy had an outstanding second half in the Red Storm's loss at Duke, a game in which they were able to remain competitive. Trey Thompkins could be a handful inside but Mark Fox's team may not have the depth to hang with the Red Storm.
The nightcap is the game that many fans are waiting for, with Connecticut taking on Kentucky. The Huskies have issues with both rebounding and bench production, two areas that haven't been much of a problem for the Wildcats. And while many will focus on the Kemba Walker/John Wall matchup how freshman Alex Oriakhi and senior Gavin Edwards deal with Patrick Patterson will more than likely decide the outcome. Patterson has looked like an SEC Player of the Year candidate thus far while consistency has been an issue for Oriakhi.
As for the other games on the schedule Villanova would be expected to have little trouble with Big 5 rival St. Joseph's but that's the thing about the Big 5: you just never know what's going to happen. In regards to true suspense look out west, where there are two games that could have a long-lasting impact. Michigan has to find consistent help for Manny Harris and if they can't get that solved in Salt Lake City the Utes have the ability to send them home with a loss. And how good is Louisiana Tech? A win over Arizona won't make major waves due to the Wildcats' youth but it definitely wouldn't hurt. These are two games worth staying up late for if you're on the East Coast.
7p ESPN2 Georgia vs. St. John's
7p BTN Valparaiso at Purdue
7p ESPN 360 Duquesne at Vest Virginia
8p ESPNU Radford at Kansas
9p ESPN2 Villanova at St. Joseph's
9p CBS-C Michigan at Utah
9:30p ESPN Kentucky vs. Connecticut
7p Providence at George Washington
7p Harvard at Boston College
7p La Salle at Rider
8p Wisconsin at Green Bay
10p California at Pacific
11p Idaho at Washington State
11p Louisiana Tech at Arizona
Kentucky over Connecticut: Not to say that the Huskies don't have a chance but given their issues when it comes to executing in half-court sets and rebounding it's tough to see them winning. Patrick Patterson has the skill and maturity to go to work on the UConn front line and it's debatable as to whether or not anyone has an answer for John Wall. If Jerome Dyson has a game similar to his near triple-double on Sunday this becomes a toss-up. But the pick here is Kentucky due to Patterson and their overall depth.