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November 10, 2008

SCS.comHere’s the good news: college basketball tips off this week. Still, I’ll go ahead and suggest that you keep watching football. The matchups for week one of NCAA hoops are that bad. Just be patient for now—next week will be packed with marquee games. Until then, enjoy football season for at least another week. But if you’re a diehard basketball fan and you want to know what’s coming up this week, here’s what to look for. And trust me, it’s not much.


2K Sports Classic (Coaches vs. Cancer)
Regionals (Monday-Thursday), select games on ESPNU

The fun doesn’t really start until next week in the 2K Sports Classic, but the opening rounds begin today and will continue through Thursday. The major teams in this tournament are UCLA, Duke, Michigan and Southern Illinois—the Salukis, who will likely face Massachusetts in the second round, are the only favorites that could trip up before the semi-finals. UCLA, Duke and Michigan should all have cakewalks through the first two rounds. Unfortunately for us, that means the only game worth watching this week will be that SIU/UMass game, or maybe the Michigan/Michigan Tech opening round game if you just love in-state rivalries.

CBE Classic
Regionals begin Friday (ESPNU)

Like the 2K Sports Classic, the CBE Classic won’t get interesting until next week either. This tournament actually only has three games this week: Toledo/Florida on Friday, Bradley/Florida on Sunday and UMKC/Kansas on Sunday. Bradley at least has a decent program and might be able to hang around with the Gators, but the Braves are in the rebuilding phase after losing productive seniors Jeremy Crouch and Daniel Ruffin.



Temple at East Tennessee State
2:00 PM CT

As a favorite to win the Atlantic Ten conference, Temple is the superior team in this game. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, though. First of all, any road game in college basketball is tough, and East Tennessee State is a formidable opponent. The Buccaneers star, senior guard Courtney Pigram, is capable of winning a game by himself. The Owls have a stud of their own in Dionte Christmas, who has led the A-10 in scoring the past two years, and they should be able to leave Johnson City with a hard-fought victory.

Prediction: Temple 76, East Tennessee State 68


San Diego at UNLV
4:30 PM CT

If I had to pick a Game of the Week, this would be it. Both teams not only made the NCAA tournament last year, but won a game once they got there. Both UNLV and San Diego figure to be strong again this year—UNLV returns one of the top players in the conference in Wink Adams, and the Toreros have almost everyone back from last season’s team. It might be asking a bit too much of San Diego to predict it to win this road game, but the Toreros definitely won’t go down easy.

Prediction: UNLV 72, San Diego 66

Oral Roberts at Tulsa
4:05 PM CT

Coming off a 24 win season, Oral Roberts lost some key pieces from last year, but the reigning Summit League champions are still in position to repeat. Tulsa won the very first CBI title in 2008 and may have the best shot of any Conference USA team to earn an at-large bid outside of Memphis. The Golden Hurricane has junior center Jerome Jordan back, one of the most dominant big men on the conference, as well as high-scoring guard Ben Uzoh. At home, Tulsa can take care of business in this one.

Prediction: 69, Oral Roberts 61

Illinois State at Wright State
6:00 PM CT

Illinois State is coming off an NIT appearance while Wright State won at least 20 games for the second straight season, and both squads figure to compete for conference championships this year. It’s never too early to start thinking about post-season resumes—if either team is on the bubble for an NIT or NCAA berth, it could point to a victory in this game to boost its credentials. The Redbirds will have the best player on the floor in Osiris Eldridge, and Tim Jankovich’s team is out to prove that last year was no fluke.

Prediction: Illinois State 76, Wright State 74

Northeastern at Providence
6:00 PM CT

With Keno Davis taking over as head coach, Providence is a trendy pick as a Big East sleeper. Davis will have some talented veteran players to work with, and if the Friars can make it through conference play without completely wilting, this may be a surprise NCAA tournament team. Northeastern has some experience of its own, however. With all five starters back, the Huskies will also be looking to surprise some people in the Colonial Athletic Association. If you’re looking for an upset pick, this could be it, as Providence may struggle early as it adjusts to Davis’ brand-new coaching style. I’m not quite that bold, though, so I’ll take the Friars in my prediction.

Prediction: Providence 80, Northeastern 69

Butler at Drake
7:05 PM CT

Last February, Butler and Drake met at the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, and Drake came away with a huge Bracket Buster victory. This year’s meeting won’t be nearly as exciting, since both teams lost a substantial amount from last season’s roster—Butler lost practically its whole team. Still, both of these Bulldogs should be in the hunt for at least an NIT bid come March, so this November match-up is one to keep an eye on.

Prediction: Drake 75, Butler 65


Winthrop at South Carolina
3:00 PM CT

Winthrop’s basketball program has been one of the most successful in the state in recent years, even more so than the flagship University of South Carolina, which hasn’t made an NCAA tournament since 2004. With a weak year most likely in store for the Big South, Winthrop has a chance to capture yet another conference title (that would make 9 out of the past 11). Even though South Carolina is a long shot to make the NCAA tournament, the Gamecocks deserve to be favored in this one. The Eagles’ roster is not nearly as strong as it has been in recent years, and South Carolina does have a new coach (former Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn) and star guard Devan Downey back.

Prediction: South Carolina 64, Winthrop 56

NOTE: Every week, I’ll be predicting the outcomes of the games I preview. And I’ll be keeping track as well from week-to-week, to make sure you all know how brilliant I am (or, rather, how awful I am) at predictions.

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