Two of the nation's best programs are meeting at Assembly Hall, two of the nation's best players are meeting in Allen Fieldhouse, and Mike Krzyzewski is back in the building he used to become the sport's all-time winningest coach. Yeah, this should be a fun couple of days. Let's preview things with the Weekend Look Ahead.
Best game of the weekend: The last time I saw Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson on the court together was back in July at the LeBron James Skills Academy. They're now No. 1 and No. 2 in the CBSSports.com National Player of the Year rankings, and on Saturday they'll face each other when the second-ranked Buckeyes visit No. 13 Kansas. The only thing that could prevent the anticipated individual matchup is the back spasms that sidelined Sullinger last weekend. But Buckeyes coach Thad Matta suggested Thursday that his All-American big man is good to go. "[Sullinger] just told me he feels great," Matta said. "He said he feels a lot better. He said he woke up dancing this morning, but I don't know what that entails." For the record, I don't know what that entails, either, but I know what it means. It means somebody is about to put a double-double on Kansas.
Another interesting matchup: The most anticipated game at Indiana in years will tip late Saturday afternoon when John Calipari takes his top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats to Assembly Hall to face the undefeated Hoosiers.Yes, the undefeated Hoosiers who are getting votes in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls. Yes, the undefeated Hoosiers who will be ranked next week if they upset UK in front of what should be an electric crowd hoping that maybe, just maybe, this will be the weekend Tom Crean's rebuilding project takes a big and unexpected leap.
|Saturday video previews|
Yet another interesting matchup: My colleague and little homie Jeff Borzello wrote earlier this week that Washington's game against No. 7 Duke on Saturday at Madison Square Garden (Noon ET on CBS) is a "must-win" for the Huskies, and, with all due respect, I couldn't disagree more. Truth is, there just isn't a such thing as a must-win game in December for a power-conference school unless you think a team that goes undefeated in the Pac-12 wouldn't receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.Now do I believe Washington will go undefeated in the Pac-12? No. But that's not the point. The point is that if the Huskies did, they'd make the NCAA tournament. Which, by definition, means there's nothing must-win about this matchup with Duke. (Take a breath.) That said, I know what Borzello meant because this is undeniably important for Lorenzo Romar. If it's not a must-win, it's certainly a would-be-really-nice-to-win game that could keep his Huskies from falling to 4-4. So it's big, yes. But it's still just a December non-league game, and that's always important to remember in this sport.
Guaranteed to be a blowout: Missouri is 8-0 with eight double-digit victories and Navy has lost three straight to Maryland-Eastern Shore, Elon and Monmouth. So Saturday's game is gonna get lopsided. In fact, this one might get so lopsided that David Stern may need to step in and stop it.
Guaranteed to be an upset: The most obvious place for an upset is Sunday when undefeated Murray State plays at 20th-ranked Memphis. But Memphis fans are already on me for not ranking the Tigers in the CBSSports.com Top 25 (and one), and I have to walk around this city for the next two days, so I'm just not gonna get involved. That leaves me with unranked Michigan State over 23rd-ranked Gonzaga on Saturday. It's a safer pick if only because I live 2,000 miles from Spokane.
Player trying to keep rolling: One way for Memphis to avoid an upset against Murray State is for Will Barton to keep playing like he's been playing lately. The 6-foot-6 wing got 22 points and 13 rebounds in last weekend's win over Austin Peay, then got 27 points and 14 rebounds in Tuesday's victory at Miami. So Barton is averaging 24.5 points and 13.5 rebounds the past two games while shooting 60.1 percent. He's genuinely taken his game to another level and helped the Tigers alleviate their rebounding woes. If he plays like that Sunday, Memphis should be OK.
Player trying to get rolling: Cincinnati senior Yancy Gates played 36 minutes in last week's win over Georgia but scored only five points while making only 2 of 8 shots. The Bearcats still won so it was OK. But they've got no chance of winning at eighth-ranked Xavier unless their 6-9 forward who has averaged double-digits in points every year he's been in school records a double-digit effort (perhaps in points and rebounds) Saturday afternoon.
Three things you need to know before you go
1. Creighton is ranked in the AP Top 25 this week for the first time in five years. If the 19th-ranked Bluejays win at Saint Joseph's on Saturday, they'll be 8-0 for the first time in eight seasons.
2. LaQuinton Ross officially became eligible Friday, but he will not be with Ohio State when the Buckeyes play at Kansas. Expect the freshman forward to make his collegiate debut next week.
3. Former McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick is expected to make his collegiate debut Saturday for Ole Miss when the Rebels host Louisiana-Lafayette. The 6-foot-6 wing was one of the stars of the Class of 2010 when he signed with Memphis, where he ultimately enrolled. But Kendrick was dismissed from the team before ever playing a game and had to miss two semesters of games because of normal NCAA transfer rules. How much Kendrick will play this weekend remains unclear. He's missed a significant amount of practice time because of a sports hernia.
Final thought: Technology helped bring the college careers of Kelvin Sampson (via cell phone), Bruce Pearl (via camera) and Jim Tressel (via email) to a close, and it claimed another victim this week when Chaminade assistant Mike Mathey resigned after sending a text message to a player that contained a racial slur.
He allegedly texted that the problem with Chaminade is that there are too many African-Americans on the roster. But he didn't use the term African-Americans. He used the n-word.
Mathey meant to send the text to a friend.
But he messed up and the text went to a player instead.
We've all done this right? Sent something to somebody by accident?
I know I have, and it's terrifying. Or at least it can be. So let this serve as a lesson to all: Be careful with your phone. Make sure you know exactly where you're sending something when you send it. And, oh yeah, don't be a racist, either. Because when you are you deserve whatever you get.