Outside of March Madness, right now is the best time for the college basketball fan. Feast Week is in the oven and starting to heat up so it can be served to millions of college basketball fans. Get out your silver platter, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Do whatever you need to do to prepare yourself for the upsets, the blowouts, and the heartbreaks.
This weekend is the start of the greatest week of the regular season.
Meals You Need to Prepare For
(1) UNC (2-0) vs. UC-Santa Barbara (1-1)—10:00 Friday ESPNU
The Tar Heels may get Tyler Hansbrough back for this game, which is pretty much the only reason to watch this game unless you are a UNC or UC-Santa Barbara fan.
Seton Hall (3-0) vs. (12) Memphis (3-0)—7:30 Friday ESPNU
The Pirates outscored USC by 17 points in the second half to upset the Trojans and set up a matchup with John Calipari's Tigers. Memphis had a significant amount of trouble trying to handle Chattanooga, a team that lost badly to both Tennessee and Missouri.
Neither team has a lot of depth, which means foul trouble could sink the Pirates or tame the Tigers.
(5) Duke (4-0) vs. Michigan (3-0)—7:00 Friday ESPN
The upstart Wolverines will be looking to knock off their second top five team in as many days. A strong second half comeback led to the upset of No. 4 UCLA Thursday night. Super sixth man DeShawn Sims scored 18 points to bail out superstar Manny Harris's off night.
The dynamic duo will take on a Duke team that blew Southern Illinois out of the water in the second half of the first semifinal. The Salukis couldn't contain the Blue Devils any longer as Coach K's squad dropped 54 on SIU in the second half.
O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship Game—8:30 Sunday ESPN2
It's a mouthful, but it should be a dandy. The winner of Seton Hall-Memphis and Xavier-Virginia Tech will meet for the championship.
Recipes You Need to Keep An Eye On
Xavier (3-0) vs. Virginia Tech (3-0)—1:30 Friday
A couple teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations will face each other in the semifinals of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. A well-balanced Xavier team will try to stop a front-loaded Hokie squad.
A.D. Vassallo dropped 24 points in the opening round, and teammate Jeff Allen hit four three-pointers, grabbed eight rebounds, and blocked five shots on his way to a nice 18-point game.
Winthrop (1-2) vs. Stephen Curry (2-1)—7:00 Friday
The Eagles will be looking to not get shot straight out of the air against Stephen Curry and the rest of the Wildcats. South Carolina has already spanked Winthrop—look for Davidson to do the same.
Stephen Curry should be good for another 30-point performance depending on how long coach Bob McKillop keeps him in the game.
Delaware St. (1-3) vs. Kentucky (0-2)—12:00 Saturday
The Big Blue Nation needs to redeem itself as soon as possible. The road to respectability will begin Saturday against the Hornets. After losing to VMI, nothing is a sure bet, but UK should be able to run away with this game.
Note to Billy Gillispie: Take some of those touches Jodie Meeks is getting and give them to Patrick Patterson.
Georgia Tech (1-0) vs. Mercer (3-0)—1:00 Saturday
The Yellow Jackets take an unusual road trip over to Mercer to take on the Bears. Mercer should forever change its name to the SEC Slayers after taking down Alabama and Auburn in consecutive games.
Mercer's James Florence, averaging over 22 points per game, is the main reason the Bears are still undefeated.
VCU (2-0) vs. Rhode Island (1-1)—7:00 Saturday
It's the Battle of the Rams!
The game between VCU and Rhode Island will decide which team can claim to be the better of the two Rams. But this game is worth following for more than the battle over the bragging rights—it will feature two of the best guards from mid-majors.
VCU's Eric Maynor is best known for the role he played in upsetting Duke two years ago in the NCAA Tournament, while Rhode Island's Jimmy Baron Jr. is best known for almost upsetting Duke just a few days ago with an unprecedented barrage of second half three-pointers.
Kansas State (3-0) vs. Cleveland State (1-1)—7:00 Saturday
The Vikings are considered the favorites in the Horizon League, a conference that has sent multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament several times in the past. CSU needs to pick up nice non-conference wins after missing a chance already to upset Washington. CSU does have a nice win over Summit League favorite Oakland this past week.
A win against Kansas State would do wonders for CSU's confidence as the Vikings will head to Marquette and Syracuse in December.
Cornell (2-1) vs. Siena (1-0)—7:00 Saturday
The Ivy League's best team will tip-off against the MAAC's best team. Both the Big Red and the Saints could be Cinderellas this March after both teams went to the NCAA Tournament last March.
Ryan Wittman and his 24 points per game will lead Cornell against Kenny Hasbrouck, who dropped 20 points in Siena's season-opening win.
Ingredients You Need to Look Into
James Florence, Mercer
The junior guard from Marietta, Georgia has been one of the best players in the Atlantic Sun the past few years, but not 'til now is Florence finally getting the publicity he deserves.
After averaging at least 19 points each of the past two seasons, Florence stepped up in two games against SEC West opponents. The junior dropped 23 on Alabama and 25 on Auburn last night. He'll be one guy Auburn coach Jeff Lebo can thank when he's kissing his job goodbye as the Tigers' coach this year.
Saturday provides Florence with another chance to shine against a major conference foe when Mercer takes on Georgia Tech.
Manny Harris, Michigan
Despite an off game (15 points on poor shooting qualifies as a bad game for Manny Harris), the Wolverine wing will be giving the Blue Devils everything they can handle. Harris is averaging 24 points per game early in the season, but he has shown the ability to absolutely take over the game with his pro-style moves.
Harris is a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate that few people outside the Big Ten have actually heard of, but Madison Square Garden could and should prove as his coming-out party on the national stage.
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