Has Coop learned that he doesn't have to do it alone? - Andy Lyons
The second day's schedule isn't as excellent as the first one was, but that doesn't mean there isn't something to watch. Keep an eye on these five games featuring top 50 talent, and some good learning opportunities.
Can we do it again? For all the bluster that opening night brought us, the schedule for Saturday just whimpers.
That doesn't mean there aren't a few games that we should be looking into. When you have 250 teams on your radar, there is always something.
Just to recap for a moment. In this space yesterday, we called the Bucknell win, we dreamed about what turned into the South Alabama upset and we lamented the loss of a starter for George Mason that turned out to be inconsequential.
I think our radar is working.
1. Portland at Ohio - Remember how we told you about the brutal schedule that Portland is playing this season? Well, here is begins. The young Pilots get one of the more experienced teams in the country. Now we get to see what the Christian era for the Bobcats will look like. Has he taught D.J. Cooper how to use his teammates better? Or did the tournament experience, when Cooper didn't need to be the only one scoring for Ohio, do that? Either way, it is the first look at one of the more explosive players in the country, one that everyone might have forgotten about. Key Matchup: D.J. Cooper against the Pilot defense. Will Coop put up 25 shots, or 15 on his way to 20 points?
2. Central Florida at South Florida - I don't like South Florida. I thought they were overrated based on their Big East affiliation last year. I felt they cost Drexel its rightful place in the NCAA Tournament last season (well, that and the pathetic nonconference schedule). No matter what you think about the Bulls, this is about Keith Clanton and his decision to stay put in Orlando with Central Florida. The senior isn't playing for any postseason tournament; he is playing to showcase himself. I think the the Knights are very underrated this season, just based on how much of the team decided they wanted to stick it out. There is a lot of returning talent and value here, and should be a great basketball game overall. Key Matchup: You can watch Clanton, but this is really about where the South Florida offense will come from. Almost every start on the Bulls from last season was inefficient in their offense, while Central Florida had a strong defense that is mostly intact. This one should go the Knights' way.
3. North Carolina Central at Wichita State - Alright Shocker fans, let's hear it. This game will certainly prove how well Gregg Marshall has done reassembling his team over the summer. That is sarcasm in case you can't tell. The Eagles are supposed to lose this game by double digits. It wouldn't matter who Wichita State put on the floor, this one is going there way. It does give the Shockers a chance to get the lineup in place for when it does matter, like in their next game against Virginia Commonwealth. I am just interested to see what exactly the end production is from the team, even if doesn't have much of a challenge on the other side. Key Matchup: Which new piece of the Shocker team will have the most impact? This might be one where we are going to be looking at the player game score to really get inside the numbers.
4. Evansville at Notre Dame - Much like we were watching Jake Odum last night against UCLA, we should check into Colt Ryan against Notre Dame. This one shouldn't go the way of the Aces, but it does give an opportunity to guage how good the senior is against the top talent. Notre Dame is strong on the wing, and Ryan will likely be outsized by the player on the other side of the ball. Key Matchup: While we are watching Ryan, it will be interesting to see what the Evansville big men can do to top Jack Cooley. The senior forward came on strong during the latter part of last season and should be a force inside this afternoon against Evansville.
5. Princeton at Buffalo - This one is quick. Look in the paint to watch the best big man battle of the day. Key Matchup: Ian Hummer from Princeton will be facing up against Javon McCrea from the Bulls. You want a look at two of the best players in the mid-major game? You got it here.