The College Basketball Notebook

January 11, 2010 2:00 PM

Snapshot Of The Next Four Days

The Big East starts off the TV week in its usual 7 ET slot on ESPN’s Big Monday. And the conference will have the country’s best games this week. Villanova-Louisville in that Monday spot will get it going. The Cardinals are showing some signs of life since conference play started. Villanova is playing well, but hasn’t really looked the part of the elite national team they were supposed to be. Can the backcourt trio of Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding and Corey Stokes handle the ‘Ville in Freedom Hall? I expect them to do it. Louisville needs Samardo Samuels to assert himself inside, and I haven’t seen any evidence he’s ready to do it. Then on Wednesday an even bigger game goes down in Storrs, when resurgent Pitt visits UConn, who need to bounce back from their second half meltdown against Georgetown. With homecourt advantage going for them, I don’t see Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson having two bad games in a row and Pitt comes back to earth after three straight road wins. In Thursday TV games, Georgetown hosts Seton Hall and DePaul hosts Providence. If the Blue Demons can get on national TV anyone can.

On Tuesday, Ohio State’s Evan Turner gets a chance to show off his recovery from a broken back when he takes his team to Purdue. The Buckeyes badly need to string together some wins, but with the Boilermakers coming off a loss to Wisconsin, this is hardly the place to start. Purdue is a very complete team, with ballhandling, shooting, frontcourt scoring, rebounding and a shotblocking presence in JaJuan Johnson. They’ll show that off for the nation and win this one going away. In these days of the Big Ten Network, every league game is nationally televised now, and Wisconsin gets a key test at Northwestern on Wednesday. The Wildcats are not going to be an easy out, especially at home and Evanston has the looks of the kind of place where Big Ten title hopes will be tripped up somewhere along the line. Let’s see if it happens Wednesday night.

The second half of the Tuesday night doubleheader will be Kentucky-Florida in Gainesville and this has turned into an enormous game for Billy Donovan’s slumping team. To say it won’t be easy is an understatement. The Wildcats are a complete team, more than just John Wall and balanced throughout the lineup. But the Gators are tough in the backcourt and I’m going to take a leap of faith in Donovan and the Florida home crowd, combined with old-fashioned desperation and say that will combine to create an upset and the fall of another undefeated. On Thursday, Tennessee will be back in action for the first time since their win over Kansas when they host Auburn on ESPN2.

The Big 12 (Oklahoma-Oklahoma State in the late Monday slot), the ACC (BC-Duke and Carolina-Clemson on Wednesday) each have their ESPN showcases, but barring massive upsets, nothing major is on the horizon. The same goes for the Pac-10, where everyone’s still sorting themselves out.

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