CBB Weekend Preview: It's Going to Be a Super Scintillating Saturday

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IDecember 18, 2008


(10) Wake Forest vs. Richmond, 7:00PM ESPNU

The Demon Deacons will go on the road and should get a pretty decent test out of the Spiders. Richmond played Syracuse tough, leading the Orange by seven at halftime. Wake hasn't played an official road game yet, but Dino Gaudio's club does have three neutral site games from the 76 Classic.

This contest will feature two of the better guards on the East Coast. Jeff Teague has been sensational so far, averaging almost 20 points per game and drilling nearly 60 percent of his three-point attempts. The Spiders also boast long-range marksman David Gonzalvez. The junior guard has knocked down 21 three-pointers in 41 attempts and is averaging 17.7 ppg.

Wake Forest should be able to come away with a victory, but this game should be closer than you'd expect.


Western Carolina vs. (23) Marquette, 8:30 ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com

The Golden Eagles will get somewhat of a breather Friday night against Western Carolina before heading to North Carolina for a tough road game against NCST on Monday. After a poor performance against Tennessee in the second half, Buzz Williams still has some kinks to work out before his team is ready to enter the super-tough conference schedule.

Marquette has gotten an incredible amount of production out of its top four players, Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, Lazar Hayward, and Dominic James, but after that, it's a crapshoot whether another player can even score more than two or three baskets.


Sensational Saturday Schedule

(9) Louisville vs. Minnesota, 2:00PM

Tubby Smith played Louisville more than enough times during his tenure at Kentucky, but the former Wildcat coach will get one more shot at Rick Pitino's athletic club.

The Golden Gophers are still undefeated, mainly because of a schedule full of cupcakes, but nonetheless, zero losses are still something to take note of. Minnesota has one of the best freshman classes in the Big Ten, and all five freshmen are contributing at least a basket a game.

Louisville is coming off a tough win in the Big East/SEC Invitational against Ole Miss. After blowing an 18-point first half lead, the Cardinals finally put the Rebels away by nine. At times, Pitino's squad got very careless with the ball and committed an absurd number of fouls, but they still held on for the victory.

(22) Michigan State vs. (5) Texas, 2:00PM CBS

The Spartans are getting healthy very quickly as stud freshman Delvin Roe is improving with each game as he's coming off micro-fracture surgery, and Goran Suton is back and ready to go after getting his knee scoped. Tom Izzo has his strong frontline back, the lack of which has led to his team's early season struggles.

Izzo is going to need his frontline to stay strong because the Longhorns feature one of the better inside-outside combinations in the country in A.J. Abrams and Damion James. Texas also has two more quality big men with slimmed-down center Dexter Pittman and forward Gary Johnson.


(7) Xavier vs. (6) Duke, 2:00PM CBS

Looking at the preseason polls, this game didn't nearly look like it would be a matchup of two top 10 teams. Xavier wasn't on the nation's radar screen, and there were questions about Duke's frontcourt. But both teams have performed to or above expectations, and entering this contest, the two squads combined are 18-1 this year.

Xavier is going to need to stop Duke's athleticism from being the difference in this game. The Blue Devils play one of the fastest brands of basketball in the country, which allows Coach Krzyzewski's team to cash in long misses and turnovers in the open court.

Xavier must also establish several of its post players. Derrick Brown and one of a trio of Musketeers off the bench, Jamel McLean, Jason Love, and Kenny Frease, must produce to give Xavier a chance.


(2) UConn vs. (7) Gonzaga, 4:00PM CBS

CBS has to be licking its chops because of its right to televise two games featuring two top 10 teams in each. The second game of the doubleheader features an undefeated UConn against mid-major extraordinaire Gonzaga. The Huskies have been dominant thus far, with their only struggle coming on the road to Buffalo. That game could be a telling sign of what to expect from Jim Calhoun's team since it's their only road game of the year.

Gonzaga's Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye are going to have their hands full with UConn's frontcourt duo of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien. The two combined are scoring 29 points and 21 rebounds. UConn's guards will have the same problem with the Zags' backcourt. Gonzaga features a stud pure point guard in Jeremy Pargo and a variety of long range super-shooters.


(20) Davidson vs. (18) Purdue, 4:00PM CBS

Correction: CBS has to be licking its chops because of its right to televise three games featuring two top 20 teams in each. This contest features the nation's most explosive player, Stephen Curry, who can't be stopped (unless you double-team him into a corner for 40 minutes). He's become a great distributor of the ball and scorer since he's moved to the point. Curry is averaging a national best 31.9 points per game and team-leading 6.8 assists.

The Boilermakers have more than enough weapons to try to counteract everything Curry does. Sophomore duo Robbie Hummel and E'Twaun Moore can both drop 20 on any given night, and Purdue has a variety of players who can also reach double-digits.

BYU vs. (17) Arizona State, 4:30 Fox Sports Net

BYU will get a true road test after dominating on its home court to jump out to an undefeated 10-0 streak. The Cougars have used a lethal inside-outside combination to thrash its opponents by an average of 22.3 points per game. BYU's Lee Cummard, Jonathan Tavernari, and Jimmer Fredette all average at least 14 points per game.

As a whole, the Cougars rank fifth in the country in two-point field goal percentage at 59.5 percent.

The Sun Devils have an answer for each one of the Cougars' trio. Wing James Harden is one of the top players in the country and has a very good shot at being an All-American. Center Jeff Pendergraph has had an incredibly consistent four-year career for Herb Sendek and should challenge Cummard under the basket. Finally, Ty Abbott hasn't been outstanding this year but is solid enough to give the Sun Devils a third option.

This game might actually be the one that tells us the most about both teams. If BYU can pull off the road win, it'll prove that the Cougars are the hands down best team in the Mountain West Conference that can win on the road and at home. But if Arizona State wins, the Sun Devils will look like the team to beat in the Pac-10.


(11) Syracuse vs. (21) Memphis, 6:00PM ESPN

Quite possibly the most played buzzer-beater on ESPN in recent memory has everyone aware the 'Cuse need to pick up a win to remind everyone why the Orange started the season 9-0. Syracuse will need floor general Jonny Flynn to step up after struggling against Canisius. The sophomore left the last game with an apparent leg injury, but the team says he'll be ready to go Saturday.

John Calipari must wish he had any semblance of a point guard like Flynn. The Tigers lack consistent ball handling or outside shooting. Memphis ranks 316th in the country in three-point shooting and 250th in effective field goal percentage.

Calipari's defense and his team's overall athleticism is what keeps the Tigers in games and in the win column. If they don't shut down Syracuse's above average offense, Memphis could be in for a long day. 


Sunday's Best

(3) Pittsburgh vs. Florida State, 5:30PM

The Panthers will face one of its toughest tests of the year when the team travels to Tallahassee Sunday. Jamie Dixon's big three of DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Levance Fields has been one of the best trios in the entire country and the reason the Panthers remain undefeated.

The Seminoles are anything but a three-man show. Toney Douglas has emerged as one of the ACC's best scorers at 18 ppg. The Seminoles have ridden his contributions to an un-Florida State-like 11-1 start.