I went on several radio shows after Syracuse lost that exhibition to Le Moyne, and every host asked what I thought it meant. Each time, I told them I thought it meant nothing, that it was just one of those bizarre nights, that Syracuse would be fine.
Now you know why I'm a "college basketball expert."
Let's do the Friday Look Ahead ...
Best game of the weekend: Syracuse could go from losing an exhibition to Le Moyne to beating the Pac-10 favorite (California) and ACC favorite ( North Carolina ) in a span of three weeks. That's what's at stake Friday night when the Orange meet the sixth-ranked Tar Heels in the title game of Coaches vs. Cancer at New York's Madison Square Garden, and it's wild to think how the best player on the floor will probably be a guy who started his career at Iowa State. Yes, I'm talking about Wesley Johnson. The Cyclone-turned-Orange got 17 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in Thursday night's win over No. 13 California. Similar numbers against UNC could produce a similar result.
Another interesting matchup: Dayton is well on its way to building a nice at-large résumé, what with wins over Creighton and Georgia Tech. The best news? Brian Gregory's squad was able to get past the Yellow Jackets early Thursday despite All-American candidate Chris Wright making just two field goals, point being this isn't an Atlantic 10 team reduced to relying on one star to carry it. Dayton is more than that. But I would advise Wright to show up Friday when the 18th-ranked Flyers meet No. 5 Villanova in one semifinal of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, because getting past the Wildcats without him won't be quite as simple.
Yet another interesting matchup: If you like guards -- and really, who doesn't? -- the second semifinal of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (i.e., the one after the Dayton-Villanova game) is the game for you. It's Ole Miss against Kansas State . Or, more specifically, Chris Warren and Terrico White against Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. All four guys are averaging double-digits in points while leading a pair of former Bob Huggins' assistants -- namely Ole Miss' Andy Kennedy and KSU's Frank Martin -- to 3-0 starts.
Guaranteed to be a blowout: The world travelers known as the Texas-Pan American Broncs are playing the third of nine consecutive road games Sunday at Missouri. They've already lost to Louisiana Tech by 18 points and Texas A&M-CC by 22 points. So even though J.T. Tiller is out with a bone contusion in his left foot, the Tigers should play really fast and cruise pretty easily.
Guaranteed to be an upset: The strangest thing about the Puerto Rico Tip-Off -- besides that Puerto Ricans don't seem the least bit interested in the event -- is that the organizers of the eight-team tournament put all three ranked teams on the same side of the bracket. Consequently, one of Friday's semifinals (No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 18 Dayton) features two ranked teams while the other (Ole Miss vs. Kansas State) features none. The title game is Sunday. And I tell you all that to tell you that I've decided to take the unranked team (either Ole Miss or Kansas State) against the ranked team (either Dayton or Villanova) in the championship game, meaning I'm predicting the winner of Ole Miss-Kansas State to take the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title. We'll celebrate my brilliance Monday. Don't miss it.
Player trying to keep rolling: Tennessee sophomore Scotty Hopson has made 14 of 19 field goal attempts through two games, including 10 of 13 3-point attempts. If he keeps that up in the Paradise Jam -- the No. 10 Vols open the event Friday against East Carolina -- and throughout the rest of the season, Hopson will prove worthy of the "SEC Breakthrough Player" honor I bestowed upon him in the preseason. More important, he'll be in a position to become the professional basketball player he's always wanted to be.
|The Spartans are still waiting for the first points from Delvon Roe. (Getty Images)|
Three things you need to know
1. Cleveland State's Norris Cole and Sam Houston State's Corey Allmond are relative unknowns in college basketball to the point where I'm not sure I've ever typed either of their names. But Cole got 38 points in a win over Florida A&M on Thursday while Allmond finished with 37 in a loss at Kentucky. Now they'll play against each other Saturday. The first to score 40 wins a mention in the Monday Look Back.
2. California will play without Theo Robertson for the second time Friday when the Bears meet Ohio State in the consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer. Robertson -- who was averaging 18.0 points through two games -- reportedly has a stress reaction in his left foot that could sideline him for at least two weeks. That's a big blow for Mike Montgomery, whose Bears will go from Pac-10 favorites to owners of a 2-2 record if they don't get by the 15th-ranked Buckeyes.
3. The Big East and Big 12 enter the weekend with a combined record of 64-1, which is a testament to the strength of the leagues and the softness of the leagues' members' schedules. The Big East's best win is Syracuse's win over a short-handed Cal team, while the Big 12's best win is Kansas' win over a Memphis program lacking talent and depth because of a coaching change. Of the 28 Big East/Big 12 schools, Nebraska is the only one with a loss. The Huskers are 1-1 heading into Saturday's game against TCU.
Final thought: Kentucky is going to be there in the end thanks to all that talent; nobody is moving me off that point. But if you're one of the readers who e-mailed and told me I was crazy for ranking the Wildcats No. 2 in the preseason, well, I'm willing to admit they are nowhere close to the nation's second-best team at this moment, this moment being the week before Thanksgiving.
John Calipari's Wildcats can't guard anybody.
If it's not Miami University's Nick Winbush killing them, it's Sam Houston State's Corey Allmond.
The former got 26 points Monday night, the latter got 37 Thursday night.
Rider's Novar Gadson must be salivating.
Saturday presents his turn to score on Kentucky.
"Do you think we can score 100 against everybody?" Calipari asked. "Because we're going to have to. They are going to score 100 against us."