Every Monday morning, One and One will examine the upcoming slate of games and highlight individual matchups that intrigue us in the weekly Scouting Report.
Michigan’s Nik Stauskas vs. Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross, Tuesday. The Wolverines’ scintillating start to Big Ten play has stumbled into two losses in three games, and Stauskas’ player of the year candidacy has lurched as well. The sophomore guard has shot 5-of-15, total, in that three-game stretch. Meanwhile the Buckeyes are revived with three-straight wins, and Ross has eight straight double-digit scoring outings. A win might re-stamp Ohio State as for real, given how desperate Michigan might play.
Duke’s Jabari Parker vs. North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo, Wednesday. It’s Parker’s first taste of the Tobacco Road rivalry, and he soars into it with 29 points and 16 rebounds in his last game against Boston College. McAdoo has demonstrated metronomic consistency in ACC play, never scoring fewer than 11 points in a league game. It might be that McAdoo is rounding into the form everyone expected from him just in time for a matchup that could help define the Tar Heels’ season.
Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis vs. Pittsburgh’s James Robinson, Wednesday. This was supposed to be it, a game in the din of the Petersen Events Center that knocks the Orange from the ranks of the unbeaten. This was before the Panthers started to struggle. Robinson can head off the nation’s No. 1 team by heading off Ennis. Robinson rebounded from subpar efforts with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals against Virginia Tech. Ennis may be in what qualifies as a mini-slump, with back-to-back six-point games, not that it’s alarming if the wins keep coming.
Florida’s Casey Prather vs. Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Saturday. This will be the first of the only two meaningful SEC regular season games, and it could stoke the Wildcats’ interest more than any other. This won’t be a head-to-head match but one of players capable of carrying their team to a momentous win. Prather followed up two single-digit scoring efforts with a 15-point bounce back against Alabama on Saturday – but he hasn’t scored 20 points in a game since Jan. 18. Is he due to detonate? Randle has been mercurial lately: Six points, 18 points, 2-of-6 shooting, 8-of-13 shooting. Now would be the time for a statement game. VCU’s Briante Weber vs. Saint Louis’ Jordair Jett, Saturday. The Billikens once again are pacing the Atlantic-10, though two of the last three wins have been hair-raising. Jett scored the game-winner with four seconds left at LaSalle last weekend, capping a four-game stretch in which he averaged 18.5 points per game. Weber, meanwhile, is now the Rams’ career leader in steals and has two double-figure scoring games in his last three outings, shooting 52.3 percent from the floor in that stretch.