I feel a little bad for O.J. Mayo.
Honestly, I do.
Because if somebody I've known since seventh grade offered Lakers tickets I'd take them, too.
|Gonzaga gets a chance to prove its worth against better than WCC competition. (Getty Images)|
But either way, here's the Friday Look Ahead.
Game worth flying to see in person: It's not really that great of a weekend in terms of matchups, evidence being there is just one game featuring two Top 25 teams. That game is No. 6 Washington State at No. 24 Arizona State. That both are coming of losses should indicate how tough the Pac-10 is this season (or perhaps that Washington State and Arizona State just aren't as good as everybody thought).
Game worth driving to see in person: Is Miami the new Clemson? I've had several e-mails pose the question now that the Hurricanes are collapsing in league play after a hot start, just like the Tigers did last season. Miami started 14-1 but has lost three straight. And though I'm not ready to give up on the Hurricanes just yet, if they take a home loss to Clemson on Sunday then the comparison will be difficult to ignore.
Game worth watching on TV: John Thompson III's Georgetown Hoyas have really only played two tough road games -- at Memphis and at Pittsburgh -- and they were basically run off the court in both. Seems to me that shouldn't happen to a legitimate Final Four contender, though in fairness there aren't many teams that could avoid losses at those two places. Still, that's partly what makes Saturday's game at West Virginia interesting, because the ninth-ranked Hoyas need a signature road victory as much as Bob Huggins' Mountaineers need a huge win of their own.
Some non-BCS love: Compelling non-league matchups are rare this time of year, yet crucial for high-profile schools from low-profile leagues in need of a gift for fans tired of watching their teams destroy outclassed competition. Dominance can be boring, you know? So it is out of desperation that Memphis and Gonzaga have this series, and Saturday's showdown at FedExForum should be a treat especially considering this will be the Tigers' first home game as the top-ranked team in the country. The only thing that could make this better would be if the two schools decided to play this game twice a season. Or three times. Or every weekend in February. It would sure beat the hell out of Gonzaga-Portland. Or Memphis-Rice. Or anything else either league offers.
An obvious prediction: A few weeks ago I suggested Nebraska might have a shot at knocking off Kansas at home. It was a stupid suggestion. The No. 2 Jayhawks won by 21 points. So in an attempt to prove I can learn from my mistakes, I'm now suggesting the Huskers have no chance Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, where Doc Sadler's team will continue its Big 12 tumble after an impressive non-league start that produced false hope (and stupid suggestions).
A crazy prediction (but it might happen anyway): I have a formula for this category, one that's pretty simple to follow. All I do is find a game where a ranked team is playing on the road at a place where the opponent is unranked but still pretty good. It works. And 11th-ranked Wisconsin at Purdue on Saturday fits the description. So take the Boilermakers, straight up!
Player trying to keep rolling: If Kevin Love can get 26 points and 18 rebounds against Oregon, what do you think he can hang on Oregon State? My guess is something like 62 points and 41 rebounds. Plus 22 blocks. Regardless, rest assured the Beavers won't have much of a chance of slowing the UCLA freshman (or the No. 8 Bruins in general) late Saturday, and the sooner Love gets out of his home state the better for his home-state schools.
Player trying to get rolling: Marquette's Dominic James is still hampered by an injured right wrist, if you're wondering why he has been playing poorly. He has an excuse. But the NCAA Tournament selection committee won't care too much, nor will All-American voters. So James has to get better fast, because he has missed 10-of-15 shots the past two games and finished with a total of just 12 points and four assists in a pair of losses to Louisville and Connecticut. Next up for Marquette is Saturday's game against DePaul. For Tom Crean's sake, let's hope James' wrist is nice and flexible. Otherwise, his 21st-ranked Golden Eagles could drop their third consecutive game.
Three things you should know before you go
1. The new hot topic of conversation is Baylor, which is 16-2 and coming off a five-overtime victory over Texas A&M. The 25th-ranked Bears play again Saturday, this time at home against Oklahoma. Because Blake Griffin (injured knee) won't be involved, Baylor should be able to knock it out in regulation.
2. It's a good weekend for Top 25 teams playing in-state rivals. There's No. 17 Ole Miss at Mississippi State, No. 20 Stanford at California, Texas Tech at No. 12 Texas and No. 24 Saint Mary's at San Francisco.
3. The top five at CollegeRPI.com heading into the weekend are Tennessee, North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis and Michigan State.
Final thought: Sidney Lowe didn't have a whole lot of experience at the collegiate level when North Carolina State hired him to replace Herb Sendek, and it's starting to show. The first example came when he slashed Ben McCauley's minutes and effectively destroyed team chemistry, and now he's publicly discussing prospects, which is something the NCAA deems a big no-no.
The result will be a minor violation.
It's no big deal, in the grand scheme of things.
But every good coach knows how to sidestep questions about prospects.
So it's pretty clear in his second year that Lowe is still learning as he goes.