What to Watch
Remember when the WeaRemember when the Wear twins made the McDonalds AA game? Totally deserved it and it had nothing to do with the fact they were playing for UNC I am sure. On a positive note not very many players get a chance to stink it up at two top 5 programs of all time.
As college football continues its Andy Dufresne like crawl through the sewer pipe that is the bowl season, hoping to emerge clean for the one game in that sport that still matters, basketball picks up in full force with a strong slate of non-conference games across Friday and Saturday. On Sunday both college sports bail out of the way of the NFL with no top 25 basketball games and not a single bowl game to be found. Here is what Jayhawk Sports Report will be watching.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Friday brings a surprisingly decent slate of evening games to the table for those of us who are not waiting on the edge of our seat for the Meineke Car Care Bowl featuring two teams that have been out of contention for conference titles and national championships since September.
Who: Baylor @ Gonzaga
When: 7:00 PM
Where: ESPN 2
Why to watch: Gonzaga has marched through the soft underbelly of the Big XII like Sherman marched to the sea compiling a 3-0 record against KSU, OU and WVU and winning those games by an average of 25 points. It now faces back to back games against Baylor and Oklahoma State as the Big XII looks to avoid an embarrassing sweep to a team that stopped being cute to most college basketball fans about seven years ago. Baylor has the talent and size to matchup with Gonzaga and this may be a decent matchup for the Bears as Gonzaga does not shoot the three at a really high level. Still, Baylor is going to have to find something it only rarely harnesses and play some defense to beat Gonzaga.
The Real Reason to Watch: Baylor games are nothing if not entertaining. You never have any idea what they are going to do given the uneven coaching and watching Scott Drew make faces when things are not going well is always its own small joy. Plus even if they manage to win the game you can take solace in it at least being good for the Big XII.
Who: Missouri @ UCLA
When: 9:00 PM
Where: ESPN 2
Why to watch: Missouri takes its first true road trip of the year out to a UCLA team that seems to be finding its footing. For the general basketball fan this will be a chance to see if UCLA has grown from its early season struggles and for Missouri it will be a chance to prove that the Illinois game was no fluke. Missouri has thrived on getting offensive rebounds but UCLA is a pretty stout rebounding team (particularly compared to Illinois) so it will be interesting to see if Missouri can score without getting garbage put backs from their bigs.
The Real Reason to Watch: This is a classic can’t lose game for viewers. If Missouri wins then the heat on Ben “Pete Bell” Howland gets turned up yet again. And if UCLA wins that means Missouri loses. Plus you will get to see delightful replays of Tyus Edney destroying Missouri’s hopes and dreams.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The day really kicks off at 2PM with UNLV and North Carolina and should offer enough entertainment to get you through the majority of a Saturday. For the most part stick to ESPN 2 and CBS to avoid getting sucked into the vortex of crap bowl games running on ESPN from dawn until dusk. Frankly anyone that stays up to watch the TCU play Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl that will probably run until around midnight deserves a medal. The Big XII plays in three bowl games and not one of them is a compelling matchup. He is what you should watch instead.
Who: UNLV & North Carolina
When: 2:00 PM
Where: ESPN 2
Why to watch: UNLV is a better team than North Carolina this year as UNC continues its frankly bizarre swings up and down (KenPom rating last 8 years: 1, 60, 12, 7, 27). UNC is slightly favored due to the game being at home but it should be a close contest. UNC badly needs a signature non-conference win. Their best victory is 131st ranked East Carolina who they only beat by 6 points at home. A win by UNLV would give them an impressive slate of non-conference wins and would bring national attention and momentum to the team as it heads into its conference schedule.
The Real Reason to Watch: If UNC is down you will get to listen to ESPN announcers frantically trying to spin yet another pretty poor looking year from a team that has finishes every single year in the top 10 according to most recruiting websites and is loaded with top prep talent all the time. If UNC wins a home game against a fringe top 25 team then we can all chuckle as the announcers climb over one another to laud the revival.
Other Games to Keep an Eye On:
Rice @ Texas on the Longhorn Network at 2PM. This should not be much of a game but with UT you never know. Everything else on during this time slot is junk.
John Calipari and the Wildcats have treated Pitino with all the respect of a minimum wage waitress over the past few years. This years edition of the Cardinals looks to impose a little role reversal.
Who: Kentucky@ Louisville
When: 4:00 PM
Why to watch: Louisville, for the first time in a while, has a superior team to Kentucky and if they get the chance won’t hesitate to drop the hammer on Kentucky. Louisville is not a particularly good three point shooting team, though they shoot a lot of them anyway, so expect the game to hinge on which set of big men can establish their dominance in the paint. Louisville has bulk but not length in the paint so if Nerlens Noel is deserving of his reputation as a defensive presence he should be a large factor in deciding this outcome.
The Real Reason to Watch: There is a lot of hatred in this matchup. Chances of something crazy happening are fairly high in this type of environment where no love is lost between the coaches, fans or players. You have to think Pitino is desperate to win this one as he hasn’t beaten Calipari in the matchup yet. If not now when Kentucky is a bit down then one has to ask when?
Who: American @ Kansas
When: 7:00 PM
Where: Jayhawk Network/ESPN 3
Why to watch: It’s Kansas basketball. Also it should be interesting to see if the team maintained its focus and energy coming off a big win at Ohio State and then dispersing home. It often seems that kids have their heads filled with praise when they go home off a high like that and the coaches have to fight against it.
The Real Reason to Watch: To see what Ben McLemore will do next. The Freshman makes it so you don’t often want to turn away and delivers with enough regularity that seeing a game without a highlight reel play from him would be a surprise at this point.
Other Games to Keep an Eye On:
UMKC @ KSU at 6:00PM on Fox Sports Midwest should not be much of a game but is worth keeping track of to see how the Wildcats do coming off of their big victory over Florida and even though UMKC is a bad team they did hang with Iowa State for a half recently.
Ohio @ OU at 7:00 PM on Fox Sports Southwest should be interesting as OU really needs a quality win and while Ohio won’t turn up many skirts nationally it would be a step in the right direction for the Sooners. A loss here would be yet another Big XII loss to a mid-major school and something the league really does not need any more of.
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