Kemba needs to pull a Jimmer, Gonzaga needs to record a win, and Corey and Corey over at Villanova, well, they just need to make a shot every once in a while. (Baby steps, you know?) Can Missouri score on Texas? Can Syracuse avoid a fourth straight loss? These are questions that'll be answered this weekend. Let's do the Friday Look Ahead.
Best game of the weekend: UConn's Kemba Walker remained the leader in the latest AnnArbor.com Player of the Year straw poll, but that was conducted Tuesday, i.e., 24 hours before BYU's Jimmer Fredette hung 43 points on San Diego State. Conduct a new poll today, and Fredette would lead, I'm certain. So Walker needs to step his POY game up ASAP, which means a nice performance in Saturday's showdown with No. 23 Louisville is a must. Without it, Fredette could start to pull away -- especially if he drops 40-plus again during Saturday's trip to New Mexico -- and the No. 5 Huskies might just take a loss.
Another interesting matchup: The development of Jordan Hamilton is among the reasons Texas now looks like a legitimate Final Four contender, but it's not the only reason. Heck, it's not even the main reason. "Basically, what this comes down to [is that] Texas, on a per-possession basis, is scoring at a higher rate (1.16 points per possession) while keeping opponents' scoring production at a contrasting minimum (.84 points per possession)," CBSSports.com blogger Matt Norlander wrote earlier this week. Translation: Texas is very good offensively and incredible defensively. That's why the Longhorns are atop the Big 12 standings and ranked seventh heading into Saturday's game with No. 11 Missouri.
Yet another interesting matchup: Syracuse opened the season with 18 consecutive wins, but that seems like 18 seasons ago. Now all the No. 9 Orange do is lose. They lost at Pittsburgh two Mondays ago, then backed that with back-to-back home losses to Villanova and Seton Hall. Up next is Saturday's game at unranked Marquette, and you would be wise to ignore the numbers beside the two schools' names. I know Syracuse is ranked in the top 10 and Marquette didn't receive a single vote in the latest AP poll, but it'll technically be an "upset" if Syracuse escapes Milwaukee with anything other than a fourth straight loss.
Guaranteed to be a blowout: Speaking of four-game losing streaks, Wyoming is currently enduring one vs. unranked teams, and three of those losses have come by double-digits. So if unranked teams are easily handling the Cowboys, what do you suppose No. 4 San Diego State will do to them Saturday? Answer: Crush them. By 20, at least.
|More weekend college hoops|
Guaranteed to be an upset: Washington has won three straight Pac-10 games by at least 13 points. Meantime, Washington State is 4-4 in the league and coming off a home loss to an Arizona team that Washington recently beat by 17 points. And yet unranked Washington State will beat No. 18 Washington late Sunday night. Why? Because I said so, that's why.
Player trying to keep rolling: It's interesting how the loss of Kyrie Irving and that loss at Florida State have sort of dropped Duke from the public consciousness while Jimmer, Kemba and Ohio State garner headlines. Still, the No. 3 Blue Devils remain the favorite to win the national championship (according to Sportsbook.com), and Nolan Smith -- who is averaging 24.5 points and 5.8 assists in his past four outings -- remains a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate heading into Sunday's game at St. John's.
Player(s) trying to get rolling: Villanova's surprising loss to Providence featured Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes combining to go 4 of 26 from the field and 1 of 13 from 3-point range. The two guards don't have to be perfect Saturday for the No. 8 Wildcats to beat 21st-ranked Georgetown, but they have to be much better than that.
Three things you need to know
1. Kansas sophomore Thomas Robinson is expected to return to Lawrence in time for Saturday's game between the sixth-ranked Jayhawks and Kansas State, but whether the sophomore forward will play remains unclear. Robinson's mother died last Friday night. She was buried Thursday in Washington D.C.
2. Minnesota passed its first test without Al Nolen (injured), but that test was a home game against Northwestern. Test No. 2 is stiffer. The 16th-ranked Gophers are at No. 12 Purdue on Saturday (CBS/CBSSports.com at 1 ET), and the Boilermakers are solid despite the fact that they've lost three of their past five.
|Rand and Chelsy Erickson sandwich Jimmer Fredette for a photo op on their baby due date. (Provided to CBSSports.com).|
Final thought: Remember Chelsy Erickson -- the pregnant BYU fan from my column earlier this week? The pregnant fan who attended the BYU-SDSU game despite the fact that it was her due date? The pregnant fan who wore a shirt that explained all this? Turns out, she (and her husband Rand) got their desired picture with Fredette.
"Jimmer got a chuckle out of the shirt," Chelsy wrote in an e-mail. "Who knew a $5, last-minute shirt idea would garner so much attention!"
Now to the important news: Has the baby arrived?
Not yet (at least according to Chelsy's last e-mail). But when the baby does arrive, it'll be a girl. And, no, she will not be named Jimmer.
Her name will be Emma.
"But we've already had the suggestion," Chelsy said, "that we change our baby's name from Emma to Emmer!"
At this point, why not?