The College Basketball Notebook

December 7, 2010 7:03 AM

The Week Ahead

NotreDameHoops.jpg The Jimmy V Classic goes tonight in New York City, the third time Madison Square Garden has hosted a marquee early season event, following the Coaches vs. Cancer classic and the NIT Tipoff. Tonight's card starts with a rematch of that epic 2008 national championship game, as Memphis takes on Kansas (7 ET, ESPN). The Tigers are trying to show they can still be elite, even without John Calipari on the sidelines, while the Jayhawks are in the process of re-tooling their lineup. The nightcap is Michigan State-Syracuse (9 ET, ESPN), two teams that traditionally hit the boards hard. The difference is that the Spartans' backcourt is in much better shape, with Kalin Lucas leading the way and on that basis I see them getting the win.

Wednesday night's showcase game is Notre Dame-Kentucky (9:30 ET, ESPN2) and the Wildcats aren't playing well right now, coming off a loss at North Carolina. The tough non-conference schedule Calipari has lined up for his young team will help in SEC play, but not right now. The Irish are playing good basketball, having just won the Old Spice Classic and are strong in the low post. They go into Rupp and come out with the win. Other games Wednesday night include Seton Hall-Arkansas (7 ET, ESPN), as the Pirates try and adjust to life without prolific guard Jeremy Hazell who got hurt right out of the gate, and Bradley-Duke (9 ET, ESPN2) as apparently the idea of a Duke game not being nationally televised is too much for the country to handle. A more interesting game in the late time slot would be San Diego State-Cal, as the Aztecs are off to a good start and look ready to make some noise in the Mountain West. Also out west, Gonzaga takes on Washington State, with the Zags faced with the challenge of slowing down Klay Thompson.

Thursday night offers some good grudge matches in the East and Midwest. The cities of Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, already with some bad blood going over Donovan McNabb and Jayson Werth and separated by only a couple hours on I-95, sent Georgetown and Temple (9 ET, ESPN2) to square off. The Owls are coming off an upset of Maryland on Sunday night. In the Midwest, Indianapolis and Cincinnati are only a short drive from each other and pair up Butler and Xavier (9 ET, ESPN). The Musketeers have been one of the country's better midmajor programs for a while now, but have never scaled the heights the Bulldogs did in last spring's run to the NCAA final.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football , game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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