I’m stoked for tonight. And my reason for anticipation is not that Harvardfan94 will feverishly watch a stream of stats this evening. (Harvard plays MIT and the game will, predictably, not be televised.) Nope, I’m pumped because tonight Kentucky will take on Michigan State, Duke will play Kansas, VCU will face Virginia, and Wisonsin will battle Florida. You really don’t get slates of college basketball games any better than that during the regular season. Now, I’d like to offer a big thank you to the college basketball gods (and by that I mean the folks at ESPN) for packing all these immaculate matchups into one night. Here are some thoughts on each of them:
Kentucky vs. Michigan State
Here are the first and second ranked teams in the nation. Everybody knows the deal with Kentucky: they’ve got what many consider to be the best class of freshmen ever. And, thanks to that fact, they entered the season atop the polls. The Wildcats have already played two games, but both were cupcakes, so this is Kentucky’s first real test of the season. And it is some test. Sparty is pure filth per usual and their backcourt is as good as any team’s in the nation. Michigan State is the much more veteran, battle-tested team, which should serve them well against the green Wildcats. They also have the very real added motivation of knowing that I only ranked them fourth in the nation coming into the season. Of course, UK’s probably got the edge in the athleticism department. Their talent level is just wacky.
Duke vs. Kansas
Bill Self vs. Mike Krzyzewski. Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker. Story lines anyone? This game features arguably the two best coaches in college hoops (calm down Louisville, Michigan State, Syracuse, etc. fans, I said arguably) and possibly the two top picks in next year’s draft. It should be fun. And these teams certainly can put the biscuit in the basket–Duke shot 70% from the field in their season opener, while KU managed a 54% clip in their’s.
VCU vs. Virginia
Here’s some fun in the Old Dominion. The Rams of VCU might be the best mid-major team in college basketball this year, thanks to super-coach Shaka Smart and his havoc creators, led by sweet shooting guard Treveon Graham. In the other corner, the Virginia Cavaliers have difference makers at both ends of the court, and could prove to be the ACC’s best defensive team this winter. They’re led by dynamic guard senior guard Joe Harris.
Wisconsin vs. Florida
Wisconsin (coached by this man) scored 86 points in their season opener against St. John’s, which was a great deal considering their plodding offensive pace. Wiscy could be better this year than last year’s outstanding 23-win Badger team. Thing is, that team got killed by Florida. This year, playing at home, I’d be shocked if Wisconsin doesn’t at least play the super-talented Gators close. The Badgers are led by sophomore forward Sam Dekker who figures to have a huge year. Billy Donvon’s Gators, on the other hand, will lean on senior center Patric Young, who was quiet in their season opener.
Outside of these four outstanding matchups, there are a number of other games worth keeping an eye on tonight, including NC State-Cincinnati and Ohio-Ohio State. It is going to be fun!