GAME OF THE WEEK...
Cincinnati at (1) Illinois - Friday
Only thirteen teams in all of Division I college basketball are still unbeaten on this young season, and two of them get together on Friday evening in Champaign. Illinois has been rolling all season long, winning nationally televised games against teams like Wake Forest, Arkansas, and Illinois already this year. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has slipped under the radar so far but does claim early-season wins over Purdue, Dayton, and Vanderbilt.
Coach Bob Huggins' team is led by four players who average between 12 and 15 points a contest. Senior forward Jason Maxiell is a veteran Bearcat and is leading the way with 14.8 points per game. Juniors Armein Kirkland and Eric Hicks follow with 14 each, while true freshman Jihad Muhammad, a New Jersey native, scores just over a dozen a contest. Cincy has won only one game all season by less than double figures, that a six-point victory over feisty Northern Iowa more than a month ago. Since beating Vanderbilt on December 9, the 'Cats have played four consecutive cupcakes and will have to regain their focus after a layoff of over a week.
Illinois was highly-ranked by most experts in the preseason (number six by this site), but few, if any, had the Illini as their top-ranked squad. But following an eighteen-point victory over Wake Forest on the first day of December, the country began to take serious notice. Illinois' top five scorers are all juniors or seniors. Forward Luther Head leads the way with over 16 points a contest, while Dee Brown, Roger Powell, and Deron Williams all average more than 13 points a night. The Illini's schedule has been one of the nation's toughest thus far. Two games are scheduled earlier in the week for UI before their showdown with the 'Cats.
No test has been too big for coach Bruce Webber's team so far this year, but more than one person has overlooked Cincinnati already in 2004. The Bearcats are athletic and not likely to be out-ran by Dee Brown & Co. Illinois must be on top of their game to keep their slate perfect, and they'll be able to do just that as they gather in another huge victory prior to the start of Big Ten play.
The Editor Says: Illinois
THE WEEK'S OTHER TOP MATCHUPS...
Gonzaga vs (4) Oklahoma State (Oklahoma City, OK) - Tuesday
The Zags have played one of the nation's toughest schedules so far, and the task gets no easier this week. After beating one of the ACC's best teams in Georgia Tech last week, GU will take a shot at perhaps the Big XII's best. Home court gets it done for the Cowboys.
The Editor Says: Oklahoma State
George Washington at West Virginia - Wednesday
At first glance, this matchup doesn't seem to mean much, but then again, both teams are riding high right now. The Colonials' only loss all season was the season-opener against Wake Forest. WVU is unbeaten but hasn't played a tough schedule. GW ends the Moutaineers' streak.
The Editor Says: George Washington
(5) Georgia Tech at (9) Kansas - Saturday
The Techsters were taken down in Las Vegas by Gonzaga more than a week ago and now leave home again. KU was some experts' preseason number one team in the nation, but star forward Wayne Simien is injured and out. It will be a close one, but the home court makes the difference.
The Editor Says: Kansas
Arizona State at (11) Arizona - Sunday
Not much was expected out of Arizona State, but the Sun Devils, led by star forward Ike Diogu, have jumped out a 9-2 start. Arizona's schedule has been murderous so far, but the 'Cats have escaped with an 8-2 mark and will knock off another tough opponent, this time at home.
The Editor Says: Arizona
(2) Wake Forest at Virginia - Sunday
The Deacons' only loss all season came in a hostile, road environment, and that's exactly what Skip Prosser's club will face in Charlottesville. The Cavs have already beaten Arizona at home this year, but the Deacons are much more talented and now road-tested.
The Editor Says: Wake Forest
COULD BE INTERESTING...
Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati - Monday
Tulsa vs Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK) - Tuesday
Rutgers at Kansas State - Tuesday
Air Force at Iowa - Tuesday
South Carolina at (15) Pittsburgh - Wednesday
(10) Alabama at Wisconsin - Wednesday
Kent State at Boston College - Wednesday
Dayton at Vanderbilt - Wednesday
Hawaii at Fresno State - Wednesday
Gonzaga at Missouri - Thursday
Wyoming at Southern Illinois - Thursday
Colorado at Utah - Thursday
Florida State at LSU - Thursday
California at (7) Washington - Friday
Oral Roberts at Indiana - Friday
Hawaii at Nevada - Saturday
Florida at Florida State - Sunday
Boston College at Massachusetts - Sunday
West Virginia at NC State - Sunday
Stanford at (7) Washington - Sunday
UCLA at Oregon - Sunday
The Editor's CBB Records:
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