There are no games between ranked teams in this opening weekend of college basketball.
So if you like blowouts, you're going to have a blast!
Let's do the Friday Look Ahead ...
Best game of the weekend: Credit Creighton coach Dana Altman for his willingness to go on the road and play a legitimate opponent in the opener, but the timing couldn't be worse. Winning Saturday at Dayton was going to be tough regardless considering the Flyers have won 20 straight home games and are ranked 21st nationally. But injuries to Justin Carter (knee) and Chad Millard (foot) -- combined with Casey Harriman battling what's believed to be the H1N1 Virus -- have diminished the chances of an upset. That's three frontline players missing. That's not good for the Bluejays.
Another interesting matchup: What some believe could be a memorable year at Butler begins Saturday with a home game against Davidson. If you remember, it was against the Wildcats last season that Gordon Hayward got a career-high 27 points and nine rebounds and really burst onto the national scene. Similar numbers will secure another win for the 11th-ranked Bulldogs, particularly now that Stephen Curry is with Golden State.
|It will be a homecoming for Greg Monroe as Georgetown travels to New Orleans to face Tulane. (Getty Images)|
Guaranteed to be a blowout: The UC-Irvine Anteaters opened last season with a 78-55 loss at Southern California. Having not learned their lesson -- or, more likely, in desperate need of a paycheck -- the Anteaters agreed to open this season at Texas, where they will lose by a similar margin, if they're lucky. The beating comes Sunday afternoon. Damion James and Avery Bradley will be the two delivering it for the third-ranked Longhorns.
Guaranteed to be an upset: The worst thing about the opening weekend is that nobody is playing anybody. If I didn't know better, I'd think Urban Meyer was put in charge of the nation's non-league schedules. Bunch of boring/non-competitive games are on tap. So though I will use this space each Friday to predict an unranked team over a ranked team, I'm protesting the schedule by refusing to pick an unranked team over a ranked team this weekend. At some point, you have to take a stand.
Player trying to keep rolling: Devin Ebanks got 19 points and 10 rebounds -- i.e., the double-double I believe he can average -- in West Virginia's 102-84 exhibition victory over Mountain State last Sunday. The 6-9 forward could be in the NBA now, but he returned to school to improve his stock and, perhaps, lead Bob Huggins to the Final Four. The quest begins Sunday against Loyola. It should go well for Ebanks unless Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos uses his patented stop-one-guy-even-if-it-means-your-team-has-no-chance-of-winning strategy, you know, the same one he used against Davidson last season. In that case, Ebanks will score no points, but West Virginia will win by 78.
Player trying to get rolling: John Henson was supposed to make an immediate impact at North Carolina, and I'm sure he'll make that impact eventually. But the 6-10 freshman has been mostly irrelevant in UNC's first two games -- a pair of wins over Florida International and North Carolina Central. Henson is averaging 4.0 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 12.5 minutes. This is not what anybody expected, although it's obviously still early. No. 6 North Carolina plays Valparaiso on Sunday afternoon.
Three random notes
1. Kentucky opens Friday but John Wall will not. He's completing his suspension for amateurism issues, meaning the fourth-ranked Wildcats will have to figure out a way to get past Morehead State without their freshman point guard. Somehow, I think they'll manage.
2. Another elite freshman who will not play in his team's Friday opener (against Tennessee Tech) is Minnesota forward Royce White. The reigning Mr. Basketball in the state of Minnesota is being investigated in the theft of a laptop computer from a student's dorm room last weekend, this happening less than a week after he was charged with shoplifting at the Mall of America. Predictably, Minnesota, ranked 25th nationally, has suspended White indefinitely. Why he doesn't play football for Tennessee is beyond me.
3. And yet another elite freshman who will not play in his team's opener is Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney. Surely, you know his story by now. The 19th-ranked Bulldogs start Friday night against Rider.
Final Thought: Speaking of Rider, I had lunch Thursday at Interstate Bar-B-Que, otherwise known as my favorite barbeque spot in the Memphis-area. When I was paying my ticket, I noticed a piece of paper near the cash register with a huge order on it. At the top it read "Rider Basketball." So I asked the gentleman if he was indeed expecting the Rider basketball team, and he told me he was before adding, "You can tell they're not from around here."
"Really?" I asked. "How so?"
"They must not know our portions they ordered so much," he said. "They're going to be so stuffed they won't be able to play."