Monday, January 23, 2006

What to Watch For - 1/23/06

Game 1 crosses the gender line - #1 Tennessee in Cameron to play #2 Duke. Don't watch much women's basketball, so I can't really give much of a preview, but it should be a hell of a game. Go Devils!

2) Furman at Elon. On December 29, Elon was 2-9, and those two wins came against Guilford and Southeastern, two non-D1 schools. They had a game the next night with Clemson, who was undefeated. We all know that Elon beat Clemson the next night, 72-69 in a stunning upset. What we may not all know is that the Phoenix has been rising since that game - that was the start of a still-active seven game winning streak that has vaulted them to the top of the Southern Conference standings at 5-0. The Phoenix has used a balanced scoring attack to get them this far (against Clemson, five players hit double figures), but Montell Watson, Justin Atoyebi, and Chris Chalko have been the most consistent contributors. Furman has been a bit of an early season surprise itself, jumping out to a first-place tie with Davidson in the SoCon South at 5-1. Their offense has been fantastic - first in the SoCon in eFG% and PPWS and (most crucial to their success) assisted basket ratio - two-thirds of Furman's made field goals on the season come off assists, good not only for tops in the conference, but 13th overall in the country. As befits a team that likes to share the ball, three players share the bulk of the assists - Tony Carter, Robby Bostain, and Eric Webb.

3) Morgan State at North Carolina A&T. According to the consensus computer ratings, these are two of the worst ten teams in the country. Should make for a pretty evenly played game. Morgan State has been atrocious this year, yet to record a win, and really not even keeping games close - they got outscored 80-50 on average in non-conference play, and have been getting beat by an average margin of 73.8-45.8 in conference play. A&T was itself winless until about a week ago, but a two game winning streak puts them at 2-12 overall and 2-4 in the MEAC. It says here that the streak gets extended to 3 tonight at the woes continue for Morgan St.

4) From the very bad to the very good, the final game to watch for tonight the WAC heavyweight bout between Utah State and Nevada. This game pits the best offense in the conference (Utah State) against the best defense (Nevada). Utah State is in it's first WAC season after moving over from annually dominating the Big West (this Anteater fan was more than glad to see them go) and has gotten off to a very solid start - they sit at second in conference with a 4-2 record and handed conference leader Louisiana Tech its only loss. They're led by the inside-outside combo of Nate Harris and Jaycee Carroll, both of whom average over 17ppg. Nevada is the WAC favorite this year, led by Nick Fazekas (should be in any All-American conversation), Marcellus Kemp, and Mo Charlo. Though they've already dropped a couple conference games on the road, they lead the WAC in defensive efficiency and are second in offensive efficiency. It says here that Nevada holds home court tonight on national TV (ESPN 12:05am ET). It also says here that I'll probably be asleep before the first half ends.

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