Day 1 of the 2013-2014 college basketball season starts tonight with a few quality games to hold us over until the big-time action starts on Tuesday (11/12).
- 6:30 ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — Maryland Terrapins vs #18 UCONN Huskies. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright leading the Huskies against a new look Maryland squad that lost Alex Len to the draft. Maryland will still be solid, though, led by guard Nick Faust. Fun game to kick off the season.
- 7:00 ET — St. John’s Red Storm vs #20 Wisconsin Badgers. Two polar opposite teams, stylistically. Look for Sam Dekker, Ben Brust, and Trayvon Jackson to control the tempo, limit turnovers, and rain some 3’s for the Badgers against a youthful St. John’s team. The Red Storm can get hot in a hurry, though, and Steve Lavin is a helluva coach and recruiter. He has reestablished the pipeline from top prep programs in NYC to Queens, resulting in two of the best names in sports. No, this ain’t ebonics, guys. God’sgift Achiuwa is a force to handle down low and Sir’Dominic Pointer is a tough G-F with deep range. Upset potential here.
- 8:00 ET at U.S. Army base in South Korea — Georgetown vs #19 Oregon. I’m calling the upset. Look for preseason all-Big East PG Markel Starks to dominate the rock while the Hoyas enforce their defense-first brand of basketball against the more uptempo Oregon Ducks from the Pac-12. Georgetown typically grinds it out, controls the rebounding margin, and takes good shots. If this happens, they’ll win. Oregon F Mike Moser, who transferred from UNLV, could be the game-changer. If he has a big game on the boards, the Ducks will roll.
I’m a huge NBA fan but there is a special place in my heart reserved for the college game. The energy on campus during a marquee match-up is only paralleled by college football. It’s a community-wide, all for one, one for all event. Come March, there is nothing better in sports than college hoops.
Unfortunately, we still have until Tuesday for the big-time, ranked matchups to take place. #2 Michigan State vs #1 Kentucky and #5 Kansas vs #4 Duke headline the day at the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago. Also on the schedule of ranked matchups is #10 Florida vs #20 Wisconsin. Normally, I wouldn’t say this, but the weekend can’t go by any faster.
Cue the Videos:
Consensus #1 college freshmen Andrew Wiggins will be leading the Kansas Jayhawks this season before departing for the NBA draft. Not a bad deal when you only have to make it through the first semester and then never step foot in a classroom again.
note: Wiggins put up a line of 16 points, 3 boards, 2 assists, and 3 steals against Louisiana-Monroe.
Jabari Parker was the consensus #2 incoming freshmen, but many have argued that he is the most polished player. Parker, like Derrick Rose, is a product of Simeon Career Academy on Chicago’s South Side. Only player to ever win 4 Illinois state titles. Parker is a do-it-all 6’8 forward who can handle the ball as well as command the block. He instantly makes the Duke Blue Devils a Final Four contender.
note: Jabari got his college career started with a bang. 8-10, 22 points, 6 boards, 2 assists in the Blue Devils 111-77 victory over Davidson.
Kentucky has a slew of top-ranked freshmen, continuing Coach Cal’s dominance on the recruiting trail. Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson will be impact players, along with returning sophomores Willie Caulie-Stein and Alex Poythress. Keep an eye out for the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron. Both 6’6 high-flying guards who no doubt already have a great chemistry on the floor. Should be fun to watch these two roll through the SEC
note: Randle had the biggest night of any college freshmen, putting up 23 points and 15 rebounds against UNC Asheville. Aaron Harrison had 10 pts, 5 boards, and 4 steals while Andrew produced 8 pts and 5 assists.