4 Bold Predictions for College Basketball's Opening Weekend

Hayden DeitrickFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts as the Spartans take on the Louisville Cardinals during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Semifinal game at US Airways Center on March 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

College Basketball tips off this weekend, and there are several great matchups to be watched. This weekend ends fans' anxiety, waiting to see their favorite teams in action. 

Questions will be answered, upsets will be had, power houses will rise and power houses will struggle.

Here are four bold predictions for basketball’s tip off weekend:


SDSU Will Upset Syracuse

SDSU will play Syracuse on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego in what should be the most exciting matchup of the weekend.

The Aztecs, led by preseason Wooden Award nominee Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley, have a great chance to beat the Orange. The key statistic that pertains to this game is that SDSU shot 34 percent from beyond the arc last season.  The team leaders in the category were Tapley (43 percent), Franklin (32 percent) and James Rahon (32 percent).

SDSU can do what Notre Dame, Cincy and Ohio State did last season against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense: move the ball inside and out until they finally find an open player.

SDSU has the shooters to punish the Orange zone defense, and for that reason, they will likely upset the heavily favored Syracuse.


Maryland Will Illuminate Kentucky’s Early Season Problems

While Maryland may not be the power house that they were in the mid-2000s, the Terrapins are still more than capable of showing up for big games. The Terrapins bring in a plethora of talented recruits, including ESPN’s 30th rated recruit, center Shaquille Cleare.

Last season, Maryland played teams tough all season, and that is exactly what they will do against Kentucky. Kentucky has reloaded their roster with talented one-and-done future NBA studs.  Let’s not give them the NCAA Championship just yet, though.

Last year’s Wildcats team was the exception, not the rule. It often takes young players time to form a cohesive unit on the court.

This team is surrounded by questions.

How will the offense run? Will the defense dominate as much as they did last season? Is Ryan Harrow ready to run this offense?  How will these young players deal with the pressure and expectations?

These questions will likely not be answered in one game, but Maryland should play the Wildcats honestly to the point that they can be examined. We will have a much better idea of Kentucky’s championship capabilities after their opener.


Michigan State Will Show they are Underrated

It seems kind of absurd to think that a Tom Izzo team could ever be considered underrated. That is the kind of success that Izzo brings to the Spartans.

Michigan State is ranked just 16th this season. The Spartans return key players in Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.  They also bring in 11th ranked recruit Gary Harris. Last season’s MSU team was equally underrated until they had a series of statement wins against FSU, Gonzaga, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Michigan State’s game against UConn is one of these statement games.

If the Spartans shine on the national scale, they will likely begin to garner the respect they deserve as true championship contenders.


One Top 10 Team Will Struggle

Every year, it seems, a top 10 team struggles in a matchup that nobody expects them to lose.

This year, there a couple of trap games that teams should be weary of: OSU vs. Marquette, Florida vs. Georgetown and Baylor vs. Lehigh.

Marquette lost considerable talent to the NBA draft last season, but they still have an impressively talented squad led by Davante Gardner. They could make some noise during the Carrier Classic.

Florida will play Georgetown without their starting point guard, Scottie Wilbekin. Wilbekin was recently suspended by the university. Georgetown loses three starters from their 24-9 team a year ago, but the Hoyas have replaced them with talented recruits such as D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.  Many think that Otto Porter is ready to breakout, and he could certainly start that process against the Gators.

Lehigh has a player in C.J. McCollum that can take over games with his innate ability to score the basketball.  His 21.9 points per game largely went under the radar until he torched Duke to upset them in the first round of March Madness last season.  He could have a similar performance against the Baylor Bears this weekend.