Northwest NCAA Basketball
Midnight madness hit the NCAA this week as teams officially open their season, hyping up diehard fans, alumni, boosters and themselves as they chase dreams of dancing the final dance in March.
With a new look to the Pac 12, here is a quick breakdown of five must see games this season.
December 10 vs. Duke (@ Jimmy V Classic Madison Square Garden) The Huskies play a handful of winnable games before heading down to the Jimmy V Classic to take on Marquette and Duke back to back.
Whether you love them or hate them (I find there is no grey area with the Devils, and I for one detest them), this game will be show the Dawgs whether or not they are ready to battle the big boys this season.
As a pre-season top ten squad, the Blue Devils quartet of Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, , Quinn Cook and Austin Rivers will give Ross, Wroten, Suggs and Wilcox all they can handle.
While the guard game could be played evenly, it is the battle in the paint that could be uphill for the Huskies.
As Isaiah Thomas was to the backcourt, Matthew Bryan-Amaning was to the big men, and without him the cupboard is pretty bare.
January 15 / February 25 vs. Washington (Home and Home) With all consideration to the other North West teams, the Cougars have the lightest schedule this season, which is good for a squad looking to rebuild itself.
The home and home battle for the state bragging rights is important for both teams, but if the Cougars could somehow manage to come away winning at home, or better yet taking the set, it will help quicken the rebuilding schedule by leaps and bounds.
November 11 vs. Vanderbilt (Nashville) If the Ducks are going to make the leap into the top tier of the Pac 12, let alone the top 68, a victory against John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, Festus Ezeli and the rest of the Commodores.
The off guard battle between Jenkins and Jabari Brown should keep the fans of both teams on the edge of their seats as both have the ability to torch the twine. If Olu Ashaolu can provide the Ducks with some quality minutes against Taylor, and Tony Woods can prove to be a worth matchup for Ezeli, Oregon may have a chance to leave Nashville with a “W” or at the very least their heads held high.
November 19 vs. Texas Longhorns (Ticketcity Legends Classic, New Jersey) Losing two key components to their lineup (though wondering at this point if Thompson and Joseph wish they stayed in the burnt orange uniforms this year), the Longhorns will not be the Final Four bound squad everyone pegged them to be at the end of last year, but they will certainly be a force, thanks to their incoming freshmen class.
The Beavers will have their hands full trying to contain freshman guard Myck Kabongo and J’Covan Brown.
Both teams are relatively thin on frontcourt offensive experience, but on paper, the Ducks big men appear to provide a bigger defensive threat.
December 17 vs. Arizona Wildcats (Battle In Seattle, Keyarena) It would be great to see the Zags as part of the Pac 12, but that is a story for another day.
Entering the 2011 Battle, the Bulldogs sit at an even 4-4, losing to Illinois last year and defeating Davidson in 2009. While the Wildcats aren’t as star studded without Derrick Williams, they return a roster that goes deep at all spots and will be highlighted by junior forward Solomon Hill and freshman point Josiah Turner.
The Bulldogs while steady in the backcourt will be unspectacular as they figure out their guard rotation of Stockton, Pangos, Bell and Carter.
Look for the duo of Rob Sacre and Elias Harris to dominate the Wildcat bigs.