So my undefeated record of picks ended last week. I was disappointed, but what made it worse was that DePaul of all schools was to blame. Plus they lost to SOUTHERN MISS LIKE SERIOUSLY THEY'RE IN CONFERENCE USA. AND THAT WAS MY ONLY WRONG PICK THUS FAR.
Now that my venting is over with (not really, more to come) let's look at the Wildcats upcoming matchups
Friday 7:00pm vs. Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
Fox Sports 1
The Wildcats will only face the Blue Hens this week as they preparel for the Battle 4 Atlantis (I'm not even going to delve into team nicknames again). In fact, the Wildcats' football team will also face Delaware the next day, coining this upcoming week "Beat Delaware Week." The Hens sit at the bottom of the Colonial Athletic Association, but don't let their 0-2 record fool you - they've lost each of those games by 2 points. Senior guards Davon Usher and Devon Saddler are averaging over 20 points/game, but Saddler will miss out via suspension. Two key factors lead me to believe the 'Cats finish victorious. First, Delaware shoots 28.6% from 3. If the first two games prove to be any sort of guide, then Villanova's performance is inversely proportional to the opponent's 3-point shooting. Also, the Brawling Poultry will have played at both the Hampton Pirates and Army Black Knights within four days before; an exhausted team should be taking the court that night.
Side note - Henry Lowe is shooting 100% from the field. GET THIS GUY SOME MORE PLAYING TIME!!!
Saturday 3:30pm vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
I'd pay big money to see a golden hurricane. I'm sure the BlueJays are happy to see them too, because it should spell out E-A-S-Y W-I-N. Sophomore forward Rashad Smith is putting up 19 points/game and shoots a super-efficient 76.5%. However, the team as a whole hits 26.1% of their 3-point attempts, and those will be the only way to keep up with Doug McDermott's 25.7 points/game. Plus, Creighton is able to get each teammate involved in every possession: they are 1st in the nation with 23.7 assist/game. Put that together with the 95 points/game they score, and that shiny hurricane will bounce off the flock of BlueJays.
Monday 7:00pm vs. Vermont Catamounts
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While Big East Standings are based on conference, not overall record, right now Providence would be in first. I'm betting not many people would vote them to be in first at any point in the season! The Friars' first game of the week comes against the Catamounts, 1-2 in the America East Conference. We all know Vermont for being the team to defeat the 3-seeded Syracuse Orange in the NCAA Tournament. No shot at a miracle this time, because Bryce Cotton "McKnight" averages 8 assists/game. In 19 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Providence will start the year 4-0.
Friday 6:30pm @ Vanderbilt Commodores
The Friars have reason to fear traveling to the Hinkle Fieldhouse. Last year the Commodores were over .500 there, however their hot start this year is more to blame. Through only 2 games, the Commodores are shooting 54.5% from the field, good enough for 12th in the nation. Senior forward Rod Odom is averaging 19.5 points/game, and more impressively shoots 60% from the field and 64% from the arc. While those stats may be inflated by playing the Georgia State Panthers and the Lipscomb Bisons, it's not enough to belittle that domination. The Friars will definitely win the rebound battle, however I do not see them winning this game.
Wednesday 8:00pm vs. Miami (OH) RedHawks
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Xavier comes off a BIG win at home vs. the Tennessee Volunteers. Their abysmal free throw shooting almost came back to bite them in that game, but they never trailed on their way to that win. If the Musketeers continue to shoot 60% from the line, those small leads near game's end could relinquish come Big East play. The little positive in the RedHawks' sluggish opening lies in the hands of sophomore guard Reggie Johnson's hands. He shoots 55% from the field, 41.7% from 3-point land, and is a 90% free throw shooter- Oh My! However, take his 23 PPG out of the equation, and the team fails to hold a players with over 9 PPG. Xavier should ovecome its charity-stripe woes to easily defeat Miami Ohio.
Tuesday 6:00pm vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
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Butler has a scare Saturday night when they edged past the Princeton Tigers by 3 AT HOME, a team who has struggled offensively early in the season. Sophomore guard Kellen Dunham's career high 26 points were a key reason why the 'Dogs didn't fall to the Ivy League foe. You've heard my two cents about Vanderbilt - they take this one as well.
Saturday 2:00pm vs. Ball State Cardinals
A large portion of the Cardinals' offense comes from Freshman guard Zavier Turner and Senior guard Jesse Berry. Similar to Miami (OH), I think if Butler defends those two marginally, the rest of the Ball State ballers will not be able to make up the lost. The Bulldogs have four players who average double digits, three of which are forwards. I do not see the front court of Ball State covering down low efficiently, so look for Ball State to travel to their next game in Utah with a loss.
Tuesday 8:00pm vs. Milwaukee Panthers
Oh, DePaul. We meet again. I'm still mad at you. The Demons ended the week on a high note edging out the Wright State Raiders, however the Raiders shot an efficient 50% from the field. Milwaukee has shot less than that at 43.3%, however if you take their disappointing 34.5% 3-point shooting they put up a productive 50% effort on jumpers. Look for that to be a key factor this week; I'm taking the Panthers here. No bias whatsoever. Look for Milwaukee's Matt Tiby and Steve McWhorter to make some noise.
Thursday 8:00pm vs. New Hampshire Wildcats
Don't toss aside this Wildcat team just yet - they are proving to be a powerhouse in the America East Conference. They rank in the top 60 in the country in points (89.0), rebounds (45.5), assists (16.5) and FG% (54.1). Senior center Chris Pelcher is currently averaging 16.5 rebounds/game and 3.0 blocks/game. Plus, Marquette's output vs. the Ohio State Buckeyes is means for worry for Eagles' fans. However, they opponents they've played include Suffolk University Rams and the NJIT Highlanders, and their games have been kind of close. No upset alert here- Marquette will kickoff another home winning streak. Marquette's Chris Otule can contain Pelcher down low.
Monday 8:00pm vs. Monmouth Hawks
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Like New Hampshire, the Hawks sport some big-time rebounders. Junior guard Deon Jones and Sophomore forward Tyrone O'Garro each average 8.5 rebounds/game. However, the Pirates put out senior guard Fuquan Edwin, and last week vs. the Mercer Bears he scored 35 points. He and the rest of the Pirates will be too fast paced for Monmouth, and they will take the short bus ride to The Barclays Center with a win on their back
Friday 7:00pm vs. Oklahoma Sooners
The Barclays? Don't they play at the Prudential Center? Yes, however the Pirates take on the Sooners in Brooklyn as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Oklahoma hasn't exactly played any stellar schools this year, however sophomore guard Buddy Hield's 18.3 PPG, as well as seeing how they all share the rebounding game. The Big 12 is a tough conference, holding three Top 25 teams at the moment. Oklahoma will find a way past Edwin on their way to victory.
Thursday 12:30pm vs. Northeastern Huskies
The Hoyas will have had 8 days of rest before taking on the Huskies. One looks at the Northeastern roster and notes the abundance of experienced upper classmen, which accounts for Scott Eatherton who averages 14 PPG and 10 RPG. Their 63% free throw shooting sticks out like a sore thumb however. Eatherton has shown to be a pest down low, but Georgetown has these guys named Markel Starks and Joshua Smith who have done alright, so a well-rested Hoyas squad will get their second win.
Tuesday 8:30pm vs. Bucknell Bison
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I'd first like to note that this is the first team I've seen whose nickname is an animal in the singular form. Maybe its to show unity. Anywho, the Bison have (has?) shot 52% from the field this year, and 45% from the arc. However, D'Angelo Harrison is AMAZING, averaging 26 points/game. Plus, he's 19-19 from the charity stripe. If he stops taking 3's (He's shooting 9%), they should have no problem tackling all of that Bison at home. Keep tabs on Bison junior guard Steven Kaspar; he's averaging 14.3 points/game, 5.0 rebounds/game, and 5.7 assists/game. I'd like to see how those numbers matchup on the big stage.
Friday 9:00pm vs. Monmouth Hawks
The Hawks will take a few days rest before traveling from the Brooklyn Nets' arena to the Knicks', as they play their second straight Big East foe in the Red Storm. The Hawks are 9th in the country averaging almost 50 rebounds a game, which could be because they have three players registered at 6-10. If the Red Storm can neutralize Deon Jones and Josh James, there is no way on this earth that the Hawks get any sort of offensive system going. Look for that to happen, with the Hawks migrating with a loss to Penn State, their next opponent.
Have fun this week- at least this time you can devote your full attention to the NFL on Sunday! And look forward to Battle 4 Atlantis!!!!