Football is down to the bowl games now, so for this edition our focus switches to the hardwood.
This season is being billed as the Year of the Freshmen. So far Indiana guard Eric Gordon is as good as we’ve seen. As far as the best team, right now it’s North Carolina, which handled Ohio State and Kentucky on the road last week.
For me, the basketball season doesn’t really begin until the start of conference play after New Year’s. December leaves us with interesting matchups that provide an opportunity to scout a particular team.
Most of us won’t remember what happened in November and December once NCAA tourney berths are determined.
So here’s our first dive into the basketball waters.
Tuesday, Dec. 4
N.Carolina at Penn: The Quakers lost by 15 to Virginia. That means North Carolina could win by 30. Penn is 1-5 ATS, including losses to Howard and Loyola-Maryland. Normally, the Palestra is rough on visitors. Not so here. UNC.
USC vs Memphis: Neutral site at New York’s Madison Square Garden. USC’s Mayo is one of the nation’s top freshman. Memphis is unbeaten, a veteran club and very comfortable playing at the Garden. This early, the edge goes to experience. MEMPHIS.
Wednesday, Dec. 5
Syracuse at Virginia: The norm is for Syracuse to schedule cupcakes prior to conference play. Not so this year and the Orange have surrendered at least 79 points in three of the last four games. The Cavaliers are 4-0 in Charlottesville. VIRGINIA.
Pitt at Duquesne: The battle of Pittsburgh looks to be one of the best in recent years. Pitt jumped out to a 6-0 start, but many came against cupcakes. Duquesne, of the Atlantic 10, was off to its best start in 22 years through five games. The Dukes will be fired up for what usually is a Pitt stroll. This time could be different. DUQUESNE.
Thursday, Dec. 6
S.Carolina vs PC: First of a doubleheader at the Wachovia Center in Philly. The Gamecocks are 4-3 off a difficult schedule and are 4-1 ATS. Providence owns a 16-point win over Arkansas. This one could go down to the wire. PROVIDENCE.
LSU vs Villanova: The second and featured matchup at WC. The Tigers are middle of the road in SEC thus far against nonconference teams. Villanova figures to be among the elite in the Big East. VILLANOVA.
Friday, Dec. 7
Oregon St at UC Davis: Neither team is anything to write home about. The Beavers are ranked 152 in Parry’s Ratings. Davis is at 233 and a member of Division II. The Aggies are 5-2 with the losses coming to Texas and New Mexico State. It’s a coup for Davis to get Oregon State in its gym. This could be interesting. UC-DAVIS.
Saturday, Dec. 8
Davidson at UCLA: The Wildcats gave North Carolina and Duke all they wanted. The Bruins have been ranked at the top along with UNC. If Davidson can ignore the intimidation factor of Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins could be in for a battle. DAVIDSON.
Kentucky at Indiana: Need we say more. Indiana basketball has been energized with the play of freshman Eric Gordon, who has NBA 3-point range. The Wildcats are 4-2, having lost at home to North Carolina and Gardner Webb. That’s right, Gardner Webb. INDIANA.
Michigan at Duke: The lowly Wolverines are dismal 1-6 ATS, having suffered double-digit losses to Butler, Georgetown and Boston College, along with a loss to Harvard. Duke is 8-0, including a 24-point blowout of Wisconsin at home. DUKE.
Sunday, Dec. 9
BC at Maryland: An early ACC matchup. The Terps are 5-0 at home, but just 1-3 ATS. They have also failed to cover spreads against Northeastern, Hampton and North Florida. The visiting Eagles opened 5-0, including wins over Michigan and a improved Rhode Island. BC could pull the upset. BC.