The Week Ahead: What to Watch in College Basketball 2/1-2/7

The Week Ahead: What to Watch in College Basketball 2/1-2/7
Feb 01, 2010, 09:30 am
We take a look forward at this week's TV schedule to pick out the games and NBA prospects we’ll be watching intently this coming week.

Marquee Matchups:

Mississippi at #3 Kentucky (Tuesday, February 2nd: 7 p.m. on ESPN)

Both Kentucky and Mississippi have stumbled in conference play, and a win would be a significant statement for either team. While DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, and Daniel Orton have the edge in the middle, Mississippi’s guards Terrico White and Chris Warren are capable of getting hot and making this a contest. Kentucky’s freshmen phenomena John Wall and Eric Bledsoe are willing and able challengers. This is not a game to miss.

South Florida at #8 Georgetown (Wednesday, February 3rd: 9 p.m. on Big East Network, MSG+)

South Florida combo-guard Dominique Jones has willed the South Florida Bulls to victory, averaging 37 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game over his past three games. Fresh off upsetting Pittsburgh, the Bulls head to Georgetown, where they will face Greg Monroe and one of the stiffer zone defenses in the country. Scouts will be watching to see whether or not Jones can make good decisions from the perimeter and if Greg Monroe can assert his dominance in the post against a smaller team.

#1 Kansas at Colorado (Wednesday, February 3rd: 9 p.m. on ESPN2)

Kansas is a legitimate powerhouse and a favorite to win the NCAA Championship, but if a loss at Tennessee and a close call at Kansas State mean anything, they will have to prove that they can shut down teams with dynamic guard play on the road. Enter Colorado, a team mired in mediocrity over the last few years, but now featuring one of the Big 12’s biggest and underrated backcourts. 6’5 junior swingman Cory Higgins and 6’6 freshmen combo-guard Alec Burks have combined to average 34.6 points per game for the Buffaloes and will have their work cut out for them as they match up against Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry, and Tyshawn Taylor.

Iowa State at #24 Baylor (Wednesday, February 3rd: 7:30 p.m. on FS Southwest)

Iowa State has not experienced the turnaround that many expected this season, but there is no doubt that they are talented. Led by improved floor general Diante Garrett and featuring the inside-outside post duo of Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap, the Cyclones should, at the very least, challenge a Baylor team that just knocked off Texas at home. While big man Ekpe Udoh is the NBA’s focal point for Baylor, LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter combine to form a high-octane backcourt on a team that has exceeded expectations this season.

#19 Georgia Tech at #9 Duke (Thursday, February 4th: 7 p.m. on ESPN2)

While Georgia Tech is not as formidable as pre-season hype suggested and Duke has come down to Earth since their dominant start, they are both young teams that are improving rapidly. The marquee matchup is in the middle as Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal face Duke’s Kyle Singler and the Plumlee brothers, Miles and Mason. The guards are not any less important, however, and Georgia Tech (particularly the streaky but talented Iman Shumpert) must find a way to silence Duke’s backcourt, helmed by Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer. This is a key ACC challenge, and certainly not one to miss.

California at UCLA (Saturday, February 6th: 4 p.m. on CBS)

The PAC-10 has been exceptionally mediocre this season and currently lacks a team in the Top 25, let alone a contender. California, at 14-7 has been one of the better teams and faces an abnormally bad UCLA in Westwood for what could still be an interesting game. For one, it’s a chance to see UCLA combo-guard Malcolm Lee, who has blossomed somewhat in his second year as a Bruin and is looking for a chance to shine on a larger stage. He will have quite a challenge attempting to slow down California’s backcourt, primarily Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher.

#10 Texas at Oklahoma (Saturday, February 6th: 4 p.m. on ESPN)

Oklahoma continues to slump, losing on the road to Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Texas Tech, but could turn their season around with a win at home against Texas. Oklahoma should have an advantage on the perimeter, headlined by the high-scoring tandem of Willie Warren and Tommy Mason-Griffin. Ultimately, however, Texas may have too much firepower, from freshmen phenomenons Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton on the perimeter to Damion James and Dexter Pittman in the post. While this game could get interesting if Warren is making good decisions and knocking down shots from the perimeter, this should be a prime opportunity to watch a dominant Texas team that could make a deep run in March.

Under The Radar:

St. Bonaventure at St. Louis (Wednesday, February 3rd: 8 p.m. on the CW 11)

Though neither team is particularly of interest in an NCAA Tournament context, this game features one of this week’s more interesting post battles. St. Bonaventure sophomore Andrew Nicholson and Saint Louis sophomore Willie Reed are only on NBA scouts’ radars as borderline prospects at this stage, but could become more interesting as they continue to improve. Only time will tell, but this is one opportunity to catch two of the more interesting young big men in the Atlantic 10 on the same floor.

#13 Gonzaga at Memphis (Saturday, February 6th: 4 p.m. on ESPN2)

Memphis is looking for a marquee win and a chance to play Gonzaga at home is the perfect opportunity. This game will be won and lost in the post as Gonzaga’s tandem of Elias Harris and Robert Sacre could prove to be too much for Memphis’s thin frontcourt. On the perimeter, it should be far more interesting as Memphis sophomore Elliot Williams and Gonzaga senior Matt Bouldin are two premier guards looking for the chance to shine in front of NBA scouts on a big stage.

Tulsa at UTEP (Saturday, February 6th: 10 p.m. on ESPN2)

Conference USA has been a surprise this season and this is a chance to see two of the better teams not called Memphis duel on national television. UTEP clearly has the advantage here, boasting one of the deeper rosters in Conference USA, headlined by Derrick Caracter, Arnett Moultrie, Jeremy Williams, and Julyan Stone. Watch the middle, however, as projected first round pick and Tulsa standout Jerome Jordan must show scouts that he is capable of producing at a consistent rate against good competition.

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