With the seasons turning from summer to fall and baseball winding down, it’s time to focus on the return of NCAA basketball.
Last year the Duke Blue Devils, led by championship MVP Tyus Jones, defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 68-63 in a thrilling game that saw both offenses going back and forth until the Blue Devils pulled away late.
Several games early in the season will help determine the fates of several NCAA teams. Here are some matchups to watch:
- 1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 4 Duke Blue Devils on Nov.17: This is a battle of the nation’s top two recruiting classes, according to ESPN.com. The Wildcats lost seven players to the NBA, while the Blue Devils lost their top two scorers from last year but reloaded in the offseason, adding several players, including power forward Brandon Ingram, who is the No.3 prospect according to ESPN. Two of the brightest minds in college hoops, the Wildcats’ John Calipari and the Blue Devils’ Mike Krzyzewski, square off in a game that will probably be decided by whoever has possession in the final seconds.
- 10 Arizona Wildcats @ No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs on Dec.5: A year ago, it took overtime for the Wildcats, who were ranked No. 3 at the time, to beat the pesky Bulldogs. Fast forward to this year: Gone are four of Arizona’s starting five, but they still return three point specialist Gabe York, electrifying point guard Parker Jackson Cartwright, and big man Kaleb Tarczewski. Gonzaga returns arguably the nation’s most talented front court, including big man Kyle Wiltjer. Arizona has a lot of question marks after losing four players to the NBA. They’re going to need Tarczewski and the young guys to step up if they want to beat a talented Bulldogs team.
- The DirecTV Wooden Legacy Tournament on Nov. 26, 27 and 29. This entire tournament will be interesting to watch. Arizona and Michigan State will enter as favorites to meet in the final, but the best thing about college hoops is upsets are always lurking. Boston College and Boise State could pull an upset if one of the top teams is not on top of its game.
Time for Michael’s musings:
Five things I like:
- Greg Popovich taking over as USA basketball coach.
- Phillip Rivers against the Raiders.
- Toronto to complete its comeback and go to the World Series.
- Marshawn Lynch against the NFC West.
- Texas Tech to pull an upset and beat Oklahoma in Norman.
Five things I don’t:
- The NFL telling Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward he can’t wear black eyeliner with the words Iron and Head underneath his eyes honoring his late father, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.
- The Cubs not getting into the World Series.
- Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, meaning backup Zach Mettenberger, who struggles to get the ball down field, gets the start.
- The Minnesota Vikings offense. The offense struggled mightily last week against the Chiefs. The bottom line is quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has to perform better and be able to get the ball down field; otherwise teams will stack the box to stop Adrian Peterson and the Vikings will be in trouble.
- The Dallas Cowboys facing the Giants without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Most of the matchups between the two teams have been shootouts, especially recently. Dallas is already struggling on offense, and Eli Manning always seems to have his best games against the Cowboys.
Just wondering about:
- Will the San Francisco 49ers win another game this year?
- Can Peyton Manning hand the Green Bay Packers their first loss of the year?
- Can the New York Mets win the World Series?