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November 12, 2007

SCS.comWith most major conference teams playing host to “cupcake” squads as a tune-up to begin the year, the first few weeks of college hoops are usually uneventful. That certainly wasn’t the case this year though, as both Kentucky and USC not only lost, but were blown out by Gardner-Webb and Mercer, respectively. With a few in-season tournaments entering the final rounds, as well as a large slate of other interesting games to keep an eye on, week two should provide a great deal of excitement for college hoops fans that need a basketball fix.

[Complete list of in-season tournaments]


2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Semi-Final and Final Rounds - Oklahoma, Memphis, Connecticut, Gardner-Webb

Semi-Finals - Oklahoma vs. Memphis
Thursday 8:00PM CDT ESPN2

Since both the Sooners and the Tigers took care of business in the opening rounds, they’ll take on each other at Madison Square Garden in the 2k Sports Coaches vs. Cancer semi-finals. Memphis point guard Derrick Rose showcased his skills during the tournament’s first two rounds, but Oklahoma will provide the young freshman with his first legitimate test. It won’t be easy for the Sooners to keep up with the Tigers’ supreme athleticism and their ridiculously deep set of guards, so look for the Tigers to win this one. However, if Joey Dorsey still can’t go due to his shoulder injury, the Sooners will have a slight advantage down low with the powerful Griffin brothers.

Finals - Oklahoma/Memphis vs. Connecticut/Gardner-Webb
Friday 7:30 CDT ESPN2

If Gardner-Webb somehow does the impossible and pulls off another upset against Connecticut, the final game of this tournament will be a snoozer. That’s extremely unlikely, but with this crazy first week of college hoops, nothing is for sure. If UConn can avoid the upset and move on to the final round, they will be awaited by the winner of the Oklahoma/Memphis game. If the Huskies want to have any shot at winning this tournament, they will need to play markedly better than they showed against Morgan State in their season opener, a game they nearly lost.


Davidson at North Carolina
Wednesday 6:00PM CDT ESPN

After playing Maryland tough in last year’s NCAA tournament, Davidson finds itself as the small school darling entering the 2007-2008 season. We’ll quickly find out if the Wildcats are for real, as they face highly ranked North Carolina on Wednesday to kick off a grueling non-conference schedule which also includes Duke, UCLA, and North Carolina State. Everybody is talking about Davidson’s high-scoring guard Stephen Curry, and Davidson will need him to light up the scoreboard if they want to have any shot against the Tar Heels.

Clemson at Mississippi State
Thursday 7:00PM CDT SEC-TV

This ACC/SEC matchup may be the most evenly matched game of the week, as both teams find themselves close to the pre-season Top 25, but not quite in it just yet. When these two teams met last season, Clemson won by three points, and the game this year will most likely be just as close. This game could really go either way, and the winner will come away boasting a solid non-conference victory.

Virginia at Arizona
Saturday 9:30PM CDT FSN

If you’re willing to stay up a little late on Saturday night, make sure to check out this game, which will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net. With Virginia’s Sean Singletary on one side and Arizona’s Chase Budinger on the other side, there’s going to be a whole lot of star power out West on Saturday. Keep an eye on the Wildcats’ defensive effort, as new assistant coach Kevin O’Neill was hired specifically to make Arizona tougher on defense, an area in which they really struggled last season.

Providence vs. Arkansas (ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
Friday 4:30PM CDT ESPNU

If Temple can knock off Providence or the College of Charleston can knock off Arkansas, this game may not even happen. But if both teams can dispose of their inferior first round opponents like they are expected to, this game between two NCAA tournament hopefuls is worth your time. Ranked 19th in the country to begin the season, Arkansas will enter the game as the favorite. The Friars won’t be a pushover, though, and this game would be a perfect opportunity for Providence to pick up an impressive win to the show the NCAA tournament selection committee.

ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off Finals
Sunday 6:30PM CDT ESPN2

The final round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off could feature a number of teams. Virginia Commonwealth has the best shot to advance to this game on their side of the bracket, although both Houston and Miami (FL) could ruin their plans. As long as there aren’t any major upsets, you’ll most likely be seeing the winner of the Providence/Arkansas game pitted against whichever team comes out of the other side of the bracket. No matter what happens, though, this entire tournament should be competitive all week.


New Mexico State at Duke Monday 6:00PM CDT ESPN2

New Mexico State is expected to compete for a WAC title this season, and they may give Duke some trouble at Cameron Indoor Stadium Monday night. Remember, the Aggies hung with Kevin Durant and Texas last year in the first round of the NCAA tournament, so Duke better not overlook them. Still, Duke enters the season as a top 15 team for a reason. Their guard play should carry them to victory, but New Mexico State’s experience and size - three starters are 6 foot 7 or taller - could bother the Blue Devils.

St. Josephs at Syracuse (Pre-Season NIT) Tuesday 6:00PM CDT ESPN

Assuming St. Joseph’s beats Farleigh Dickinson and Syracuse beats Siena, this game should take place at the Carrier Dome as part of the Syracuse regional of the Pre-Season NIT. The Orange hold the advantage in this one with the homecourt, but St. Joseph’s possesses an outstanding and deep frontcourt, as the trio of Ahmad Nivins, Pat Calathes, and Rob Ferguson all averaged double digits in scoring last season. Syracuse will be extremely young this season, and they could very well lose this one if they aren’t careful, but look for the Orange’s superiorly talented squad to come away a winner in this game.

Baylor/Wichita State vs. Notre Dame (Paradise Jam) Sunday 7:30PM CDT

Whoever wins the Baylor/Wichita State game will be the underdog against Notre Dame, but no matter who it is, the game should be fairly competitive. Baylor could be the Big 12’s biggest surprise this season, as they boast an underrated but extremely talented backcourt. Wichita State is a complete unknown this season with an overhauled roster and a new head coach in Gregg Marshall. Notre Dame is the favorite to advance to the finals of the Paradise Jam and will most likely win the entire tournament.

Michigan at Georgetown Thursday 6:30 CDT

John Beilein will finally find out how his team performs against legitimate competition when his team takes on Georgetown. Michigan will have their hands full and may not even make this one close, but pay attention to how the Wolverines’ players are handling Beilein’s system so far. Georgetown will roll in this one unless they decide not to show up.

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