By Seth Davis
December 09, 2011
The Weekend Forecast
Seth Davis' Take 5
Source:SI's Seth Davis weighs in on the five hottest topics in college hoops.
Saturday, Dec. 10
Noon (The Comcast Network) No. 19 Creighton (7-0) at Saint Joseph's (6-3)
You remember The Jimmer? Meet The Dougie. Doug McDermott, Creighton's 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, is playing like an All-America so far. He has scored 20 or more points in his last six games in helping the Bluejays to an undefeated record. But Creighton is no one-man team, and this game presents a rare East Coast road test. I think they'll pass it, but they better be ready to play. Their center, Gregory Echenique, will be going up against the nation's leading shot blocker in C.J. Aiken, and the Bluejays will need to lock down the 6-2 sophomore guard Langston Galloway, who scored a career-high 30 points in the Hawks' win over Boston University on Wednesday.
5:15 p.m. (ESPN) No. 1 Kentucky (8-0) at Indiana (8-0)
This has all the makings of a trap game. Kentucky is young and riding high. Indiana is hungry and playing at home. Still, I'm not going to pull the trigger on the upset pick. In order to win, the Hoosiers need Kentucky to sleep on them, and that's not going to happen, especially since the Wildcats did not play a midweek game following the win over North Carolina, so they should be refreshed. Then there's the difference in talent. IU freshman center Cody Zeller leads the Hoosiers in scoring at 15.5 points per game, but he gets most of his work done around the rim. And we all know Anthony Davis does not allow others to work around the rim.
3:15 p.m. (ESPN) No. 2 Ohio State (8-0) at No. 13 Kansas (6-2)
This game is hard to predict because we don't yet know whether Jared Sullinger, who missed the Buckeyes' game last Saturday because of back spasms, will play. Thad Matta is hopeful Sullinger will be in the lineup, but he also told me this week that he won't take any chances. I'm going to assume Sullinger will play, in which case I'll also assume the Buckeyes will win. I don't believe they'll be able to "name the score" as Bill Self predicted in his postgame rant on Tuesday, but I do agree with Self that the play of his backcourt is a major concern. I wrote earlier this year that I didn't think Kansas could win anything of real significance this season with Tyshawn Taylor at point guard, and so far he hasn't done much to change my opinion. Self demoted Taylor from the starting lineup against Long Beach State, but he still committed five turnovers off the bench.
Noon (CBS) Washington (4-3) vs. No. 7 Duke (8-1) at Madison Square Garden
What in the world has gotten into Lorenzo Romar? The man who is usually allergic to nonconference games outside his home state, and who backed out of the annual series with Gonzaga, has played true road games at St. Louis and Nevada and a neutral court game against Marquette in Madison Square Garden. And guess what: Washington lost all three. Now the Huskies have another de facto road game against Duke in The Garden, also known as Cameron North. The Blue Devils got exposed at Ohio State, but they are still a crisp offensive team, and Washington has trouble clamping down on D.
12:30 p.m. (ESPN2) Cincinnati (5-2) at No. 8 Xavier (7-0)
Here's a brilliant insight: If you want to win basketball games, you've got to score points. Unfortunately, the Bearcats didn't get the memo. They are averaging just 63.6 per game. They are also ranked 96th in the country in offensive efficiency and 330th in free-throw percentage. Xavier, on the other hand, has no problem scoring. It's also an excellent defensive team, ranked 10th in the county in defensive field goal percentage. If this game were being played on the Bearcats' home floor, I might give them a puncher's chance, but I don't see them mucking out a win in Cintas Center.
2 p.m. (Big Ten Network) UNLV (9-1) at No. 14 Wisconsin (7-2)
Jordan Taylor's numbers aren't just off from last season, they're way off. He's averaging 12.4 points per game on 39.6 percent shooting (35.1 percent from three). As a junior, Taylor scored 18.1 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting (42.9 percent from three). Luke Winn did a terrific job breaking down Taylor's deficiencies in the Badgers' loss to Marquette last week. I think another factor is that defenses are overplaying him now that they don't have Jon Leuer to worry about. Until one of his teammates becomes a reliable weapon -- Jared Berggren is on his way, but he's not there yet -- Taylor will continue to struggle. Still, despite how well UNLV (especially Mike Moser) has played, it's awfully hard to pick against Wisconsin team at home. So I won't.
4 p.m. (Fox Sports Detroit) No. 20 Michigan (6-2) vs. Oakland (6-3)
Last year's roster at Oakland included the school's first-ever NBA Draft pick in 6-11 center Keith Benson. This year's might have the second. Senior guard Reggie Hamilton may only be 5-11, but he knows how to use his strength to create scoring opportunities and get to the foul line. He proved that by lighting up Tennessee for 35 points (15-for-15 foul shooting) in an eight-point win last month. Michigan, meanwhile, needs more production from sophomore center Jordan Morgan, who has not improved from his freshman season as much as I anticipated. This is a neutral court game between two evenly matched local rivals. I'll go with the mid-major underdogs by a hair, but if Oakland wins it would really only be a mild upset.
9 p.m. (ESPN2) Michigan State (7-2) at No. 23 Gonzaga (5-1)
Gonzaga did well to hang tough at Illinois last weekend before losing by seven, but I'm still not sure how good this team is. Junior forward Elias Harris, who regressed from his freshman to sophomore year, looks more active and lively, but while he is averaging nearly three more rebounds per game his assertiveness has prompted a decline in his field goal percentages. On the other hand, I'm also not sure how good Michigan State is, either. I like that freshman point guard Travis Trice came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points against Central Connecticut State on Wednesday night, but I don't think he'll have that kind of game on the road against a stronger opponent.
5 p.m. (ESPN2) Villanova (5-3) at Temple (5-2)
You gotta love a good old-fashioned neighborhood brawl, especially when that neighborhood is in Philadelphia. Both teams have played OK but lack a signature win. Both have played mediocre defense. Both have guards who can penetrate and score (Maalik Wayns for Nova, Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore for Temple.) Villanova has the better post player in Mouphtao Yarou, but Temple has the homecourt advantage. When the talent is close and the rivalry is intense, you go with the home team. But it won't be pretty.
Sunday, Dec. 11
2:30 p.m. Iona (7-1) at Marshall (5-2)
This is an under-the-radar game between two underrated mid-majors. Iona, sparked by its fabulous backcourt of Scott Machado and Momo Jones, is coming off an exceptional comeback win in overtime at Denver (another underrated mid-major). As for Tommy Herrion's Thundering Herd, they won at Cincinnati on Nov. 30 and played Syracuse tough in the Carrier Dome before losing by six. Marshall has a pretty tough point guard of its own in 5-10 senior Damier Pitts, who is averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 assists per game, but I don't think Marshall has the overall team speed to keep pace with the Gaels.
Last Pickoff: 8-2               Overall: 18-2

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