Dayton-Creighton Highlights College Basketball's Opening Weekend

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer INovember 13, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 28:  Patrick Patterson #54 of the Kentucky Wildcats makes a jumpshot during the SEC game against the LSU Tigers at Rupp Arena on February 28, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's been well documented that college basketball doesn't really have an "opening day" or in this weekend's case, there are few games that make for a riveting "opening weekend."

There are a few notable games that highlight this week's weekend rundown.

Creighton at No. 22 Dayton, 1 PM Saturday

One of the most critical non-conference games for both the Blue Jays and Flyers come in their season openers. This game is practically a must-win for Creighton if the Blue Jays want to go dancing with an at-large bid. Creighton will play in the Old Spice Classic, at New Mexico, and home against Nebraska.

That schedule gives Creighton five or six opportunities to win against what could remotely be considered a quality opponent. That means Creighton could really use a victory against a ranked Dayton team in order to build an at-large resume come March. 

The Blue Jays should contend for the Missouri Valley Conference title as always, but the odds are stacked against them because the MVC is much stronger this year and Creighton's best player, Booker Woodfox, graduated. Creighton still has P'Allen Stinnett and the next three top scorers from last year's team.

The Blue Jays will give Dayton a challenge, but the Flyers are the best team in a league that's going to be even stronger than the MVC. Chris Wright is one of the nation's best high fliers and will lead Dayton's impenetrable defense.

The Flyers, behind Wright, should be stronger on the offensive end of the floor this year as well.

My pick: Dayton 73, Creighton 64


Morehead State at No. 5 Kentucky, 6 PM Friday on ESPNU

The Eagles are arguably the best team in the Ohio Valley Conference after reaching the NCAA Tournament and returning star big man Kenneth Faried. Morehead State gave Louisville a battle for a little bit last year in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, so the Eagles could do the same against a young Kentucky team.

If the Wildcats don't gel early because of all the new faces, the Eagles could maybe, just maybe, pull off an upset.

The chances of that are extremely low as John Calipari features two of the most unguardable players in the SEC and the entire nation. John Wall will sit out this game because of a suspension, but Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins will dominate the paint.

If Kentucky's tandem of big men get Faried in foul trouble, Morehead State will be playing to keep this game within 40 points.

My pick: Kentucky 88, Morehead State 69


Hofstra at No. 1 Kansas, 8 PM Friday

The Pride may have one of the best mid-major scorers in Charles Jenkins, but that won't be nearly enough to compete with a loaded Jayhawks team.

My pick: Kansas 96, Hofstra 69


Florida Gulf-Coast at No. 2 Michigan State, 7:00 PM Friday

The Eagles should be competitive in the Atlantic Sun Conference, but not with Michigan State.

My pick: Michigan State 84, FGCU 49


Fairleigh Dickinson at No. 6 Villanova, 7:00 PM Friday

Villanova just found out Mouphtaou Yarou will be eligible for the team's first game. They wouldn't have needed him in this one anyone.

My pick: Villanova 88, FDU 58


Cal-State Northridge at No. 7 Purdue, 7:00 PM Friday

The Boilermakers are one of the most sound teams in the country with few question marks. That will shine through as upsetting Purdue will be quite difficult this year.

My pick: Purdue 72, Cal-State Northridge 41


UNC-Greensboro at No. 9 Duke, 7:00 PM Friday

The Spartans were just awful last year. Really, really awful. Mason Plumlee won't be missing much as he sits out with a broken wrist.

My pick: Duke 98, UNC-Greensboro 52


Austin Peay at No. 11 Tennessee, 7:30 PM Friday

The always entertaining Governors with their creative "Let's Go Peay" chants won't have much to cheer about against one of the deeper and athletic teams in the country.

My pick: Tennessee 88, Austin Peay 70


Wright State at No. 13 Washington, 10:00 PM Friday

The Huskies will get a pretty solid test when Wright State comes to town. The Raiders have the talent to pull off the country's first upset.

My pick: Washington 77, Wright State 71


William & Mary at No. 14 Connecticut, 7:30 PM Friday

It took me more time to figure out where the ampersand was on my laptop than who would win this game.

My pick:Connecticut 85, William & Mary 48


Tennessee Tech at No. 18 Minnesota, 8:00 PM Friday

Tubby Smith opens the season without his stud freshman Royce White, but it won't matter against Tennessee Tech. The Golden Gophers defense will completely overwhelm the Golden Eagles.

My pick: Minnesota 78, Tennessee Tech 48


Rider at No. 19 Mississippi State, 9:00 PM Friday

Mississippi State could find itself in a dog fight (pun absolutely intended) with Rider. The Broncos should be able to keep it close for awhile, but MSU should definitely pull away by the end.

My pick: Mississippi State 83, Rider 68


No. 21 Georgetown at Tulane, 9:00 PM Friday

Yes, you read that right. The Hoyas are heading to the road for their season opener. Though who can blame them for going south to New Orleans to take on the Green Wave. The home-court advantage should help Tulane a bit, but Georgetown is pretty darn good.

My pick: Georgetown 70, Tulane 51


Presbyterian at No. 24 Clemson,  8:00 PM Friday

This is a throw away year for the Blue Hose as they are redshirting players so they are eligible when Presbyterian is postseason eligible. This will be ugly.

My pick: Clemson 92, Presbyterian 43


Davidson at No. 10 Butler, 2:00 PM Saturday

Last year, this game is a spotlight game considering the lack of highlight matchups on the docket. But Davidson won't be very good (still good enough though to finish in the top three or four of the Southern Conference) and Butler is potentially top-10 good. This is the back end of a Bracket Buster series.

It should be slow paced which means the scoring margin between these two teams will be deceptive.

My pick: Butler 68, Davidson 56


Belmont at No. 13 Washington, 10:00 PM Saturday

The Huskies play on back-to-back nights, but luckily for them they'll get somewhat of a breather when Belmont comes to town. Recent history suggests the Bruins have been pretty darn good, but last year they struggled and they didn't get much better coming into this season.

My pick: Washington 84, Belmont 62


Northern Michigan at No. 15 Michigan, 7:00 PM Saturday

The Wildcats aren't Division I. Michigan is. Northern Michigan is in a conference abbreviated GLIAC. The Big Ten is as many characters long as Northern Michigan's conference acronym. That's the most useful info about this game.

Expect Manny Harris to dominate like he did last year against Michigan Tech.

My pick: Michigan 88, Northern Michigan 41


Mount St. Mary's at No. 16 Oklahoma, 2:00 PM Saturday

MSM should be an NCAA Tournament team because the Mountaineers are the Northeast Conference favorites. So let's think of NCAA Tournament and call this 1 vs. 16 game. The Sooners aren't as good as a one seed, but they aren't losing this game.

My pick: Oklahoma 75, Mount St. Mary's 55


Florida A&M at No. 20 Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM Saturday

The whole "it look me longer to find the ampersand than pick this winner" joke doesn't work for this game because I'm now familiar with the ampersand; however, it still only took a split second to pick a winner.

My pick: Georgia Tech 86, Florida A&M 50


UC-Irvine at No. 3 Texas, 2:00 PM Sunday

The Longhorns' size is just too much for mid-majors. It would be shocking if any mid-major gives Texas a run for its money this year.

My pick: Texas 99, UC-Irvine 65


Valparaiso at No. 4 North Carolina, 4:00 PM Sunday

The Tar Heels get in a warm-up before heading to New York City for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Like Texas, North Carolina's dominant front line will make it tough for smaller teams to stay in the game.

My pick: North Carolina 95, Valparaiso 52


Loyola (MD) at No. 9 West Virginia, 4:00 PM Sunday

The Mountaineers dominate front court of Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler should be good for about 40 points and 25 rebounds in this game.  They are the best frontcourt duo in the Big East.

My pick: West Virginia 83, Loyola 58


Portland State at No. 13 Washington, 10:00 PM Sunday

This makes three games in the first three days of the season for Washington. Preparation for the Pac-10 Tournament is beginning early for Lorenzo Romar's team.

My pick: Washington 73, Portland State 64


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