Today's Specials: Plenty of action, 24-hour marathon kicks off at midnight
Welcome to Today's Specials, our daily preview of the slate of games. Monday features an NCAA tournament rematch and a big-time non-BCS battle.
|Gonzaga beat West Virginia by 23 points in March; they face off again Monday night. (US Presswire)|
After a great opening weekend of college hoops, it’s time to settle in for a great five months. As a result, we’re bringing back our daily preview, looking at each night’s slate of games. It will appear on the blog each weekday around noon ET, complete with predictions and notes on the night’s contests. This week gets off to a rousing start with a 24-hour marathon beginning at midnight. But you don't have to wait until midnight -- there are plenty of other compelling games.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: West Virginia at No. 21 Gonzaga (Midnight, ESPN). The first game of the 24-hour marathon features a rematch of Gonzaga’s 23-point win in the NCAA tournament. Since then, West Virginia has lost All-American Kevin Jones, while Gonzaga added potential future pro Przemek Karnowski. This season, West Virginia is counting on transfers Juwan Staten (Dayton), Matt Humphrey (Boston College) and Aaric Murray (La Salle). Led by Kevin Pangos and Elias Harris, Gonzaga has the pieces to make a run.
Second-best game: Davidson at New Mexico (2 a.m., ESPN). This is technically on Tuesday, but it counts, since most people will watch it before going to sleep (if they go to sleep at all). Davidson is one of the best non-BCS teams in the country, with forwards De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen forming a very difficult duo to contain. New Mexico loses Drew Gordon from a season ago, but the Lobos return the perimeter tandem of Kendall Williams and Tony Snell, in addition to much of the depth that made New Mexico so good a year ago.
Another one to watch: Robert Morris at Lehigh (8:30 p.m. Monday). I mentioned this on Twitter a few times over the weekend, but it’s tough to judge Lehigh based on its 22-point loss at Baylor on Friday. C.J. McCollum went off, but sidekick Gabe Knutson (and B.J. Bailey) was sidelined with an injury. When Knutson returns, the Mountain Hawks are a completely different team. Robert Morris won 26 games a year ago but did lost its opener by 25 to Rider. Either way, the battle between McCollum and Velton Jones should be fun to watch.
Guaranteed win: Iowa State has plenty of newcomers to rely on this season, and the Cyclones will get a second look at them against Alabama A&M (8 p.m. Monday). Three players racked up double-doubles in Iowa State’s opener against Southern on Friday. Their first test will come against Cincinnati on Nov. 23.
Potential upset: Can Florida State really lose back-to-back home games to start the season? The Seminoles fell to South Alabama on Friday and will host Buffalo on Monday (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Bulls have Javon McCrea, one of the most efficient offensive players in the country, and Florida State really struggled to score on Friday. Expect this game to be tight.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Stanford is expected by some to be a sleeper in the Pac-12 this season, but the Cardinal will have their hands full with Cal State-Fullerton’s D.J. Seeley on Monday (11:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Seeley can really fill it up.
- ACC teams have plenty of question marks heading into the season, and Virginia’s opening-night loss to George Mason didn’t help. The Cavaliers on Monday will look to bounce back against Fairfield (7 p.m., ESPN3), while Virginia Tech will host Rhode Island (7 p.m., ESPN3).
- Georgia has some optimism in the SEC this year, but on Monday the Bulldogs need to keep an eye on Youngstown State (7 p.m., ESPNU). Kendrick Perry is a stud, and Damian Eargle is solid. Can Kentavious Caldwell-Pope be more efficient?
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