With finals week over Saturday can be seen almost as a celebration of that fact with a number of games on the schedule with national ramifications. Tops on the list would be North Carolina taking on Texas in Jerry Jones' new palace in front of a possible attendance of about 70,000. Outside of their win over Pittsburgh Rick Barnes' Longhorns haven't been tested thus far so it will be interesting to see how his freshmen handle the atmosphere.
Betting odds are a great guide to college basketball entertainment. Unlike fans, who often ride the wave of media predictions, betting lines tend to be a bit more focused and can give you an objective picture of how teams matchup (though lines too can get caught up in the wave of human emotion).
Thursday is a light evening in regards to the schedule with just two ranked teams playing. #2 Texas played a USC team that was gutted by scandal and the departure of Tim Floyd; Kevin O'Neill is now the man running the show at the Galen Center. North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson and returning starter Dwight Lewis will likely have to play the games of their lives offensively for the Trojans to have any chance at the upset in Austin. A trickier matchup awaits #10 Washington in Lubbock, where Pat Knight's Red Raiders are 7-0 but in need of a headline victory.
Tuesday will offer some intriguing matchups with the marquee game likely being Maryland taking on Cincinnati in a Maui Invitational semifinal. The Bearcats were able to use their quickness to disrupt Vanderbilt on Monday, winning 67-58 thanks to sixteen points from Yancy Gates and a defensive effort that held the Commodores to 27.5% from the field. Deonta Vaughn played just fifteen minutes in the win but they're going to need more from him and the other guards (Cashmere Wright was 2-for-13 from the field) if they're to take care of Greivis Vasquez and company.
College Hoops is here. Finally! (This also means we get more of Gus Johnson! I’m excited!) We know all about Coach Cal’s new colors, Pitino’s “family” issues, and most of the big name players and teams in the country. Plus two Isaiah/Isiah Thomases this year. We’re in for a treat.