After what could best be described as a "boring" night of college hoops Tuesday brings the Jimmy V Classic in New York as well as a few non-conference games that could also have an impact come March. Butler and Georgetown play in the opener at MSG and with both teams running versatile offensive systems with some skilled players it should be a close battle. The Hoyas' stiffest test came against Temple and they needed a basket late in regulation to knock off the Owls.
It's a light Monday on the schedule but there are some intriguing matchups to be seen. At the top of the list is Massachusetts heading to New Jersey to take on an undefeated yet relaitvely untested Seton Hall squad. The Pirates' best win came at Cornell and all they've done since then is quietly take care of business against inferior competition. Bobby Gonzalez's team is going to play fast and the importance of the addition of Herb Pope can't be overstated. He's added another interior presence to the team and the New Mexico State transfer is currently averaging a double-double.
While most of the nation was captivated by the battle for the Big East football title between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Ohio State was blowing out Eastern Michigan in Columbus 111-60. But it was a costly win for the Buckeyes, who lost All America guard Evan Turner for eight weeks with two broken vertebra in his back. Turner suffered the injury on a dunk attempt early in the first half, landing squarely on his back on a fall after being fouled. The original thought of head coach Thad Matta was that the junior would be OK but that was before the tests were done at the hospital.
While much of the nation will focus on some big college football games on Saturday, there's also a number of attractive basketball games to check out as well. And the fun starts early, with Kentucky receiving their first major test of the season when North Carolina visits Rupp Arena. These are the two winningest programs in the history of college basketball with the Wildcats holding a slight edge, but these are also two very young teams who are still finding their way.
The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series is set up differently than than the recently completed ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with games being spread out over a couple of weeks. The Pac-10 has taken more than its fair share of shots to this point in the season and tonight's 0-for-3 outcome certainly didn't help their cause. #10 Washington losing at Texas Tech in overtime was a tough blow to the league but that was a game in which the Red Raiders (more on them later) were right in the thick of things throughout and nearly won it in regulation on a Mike Singletary three.
For the first time in the eleven years of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge the trophy is headed to the midwest thanks to three wins on Wednesday night. Wisconsin's 73-69 win over #5 Duke was the result that will get the headlines but it was Ohio State taking care of Florida State that officially clinched the win. But back to the Badgers, who showed once again why it isn't wise to doubt a Bo Ryan-coached team. Trevon Hughes led Wisconsin with twenty-six points and the Badgers finished even with Duke on the boards (32-32).
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 night's national title game rematch was billed as the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with the experienced Spartans heading to Chapel Hill with revenge on their minds. But as Mick Jagger noted, "you can't always get what you want", and the young Tar Heels grabbed control of the game early with their offensive execution. Larry Drew II, who has played good basketball recently, ran the offense with speed and consistency in the first stanza and Dexter Strickland ended the half with a three-pointer as time expired.
Wednesday marks the final night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the two leagues go into the evening tied at three victories apiece. So which game could this come down to? Many are pointing towards Minnesota visiting Miami in a game that on paper before the season began looked to be a Golden Gophers victory. But it's a likely candidate for a tight finish provided the Hurricanes can keep big man Dwayne Collins out of foul trouble. Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson are solid young bigs but are they physical enough to hand with the senior?
According to numerous outlets including FOX Sports' Jeff Goodman this is indeed the case, with the highly touted freshman forward out of Benin by way of Montrose Christian missing the remainder of the season with an undisclosed medical issue. Yarou played in the first two games of the season but was sent home from the Wildcats' trip to Puerto Rico due to a viral infection.