High-Major Men's Basketball Game Breakdowns 11/28-12/1

High-Major Men’s Basketball Game Breakdowns 11/28-12/1


The high major outlook this week is dominated by two matchups pitting universities from the same metro area against each other, with Los Angeles and Pittsburgh in this week’s spotlight. Throw in a game between two Iowa-based opponents and a strong contest between neighboring states (Illinois and Wisconsin) and it shapes up to not be a bad early-week schedule at all.


AKRON AT WEST VIRGINIA (7 p.m. Monday at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia)

This looks like it could be a promising early-season showdown between a higher-ranked Mid-American Conference school and a member of the really tough Big East Conference. The Zips (3-2) have a national rank of 17 in shooting percentage with a 50.2 mark, and that has helped in wins against Mississippi State and Detroit. Akron’s two losses, against Valparaiso and Duquesne, have been by a combined eight points. Nikola Cvetinovic scored 16 points against Detroit to lead the Zips to victory. West Virginia (3-1) is in the top 50 in points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentage, and that has led to wins in every game except a 70-60 loss to Kent State, Akron’s fellow member in the MAC. Kevin Jones has been potent this year with 21.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.


PEPPERDINE AT UCLA (11 p.m. Monday at Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California)

On the surface this doesn’t appear to be a tough matchup. UCLA has dropped four of its first five games, after all. Ah, but isn’t this what makes high major vs. major games more attractive? The fact a high-major team could win here, not to mention this is a battle of two Southern California colleges, brings the rivalry factor into play here. Pepperdine (3-2) lost back-to-back games against California-Santa Barbara and Central Michigan, but the Waves recovered for a 70-64 win over Tulsa last week. Taylor Darby’s 12 points and 6.2 rebounds lead the way. UCLA (1-4) scored its lone win against Chaminade, but the Bruins have since lost to Kansas and Michigan. Jerime Anderson’s 13.3 points per game is high for UCLA.


No. 19 PITTSBURGH VS. DUQUESNE (7 p.m. Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

It isn’t exactly a battle for control of Pittsburgh-area basketball, but a Big East and Atlantic-10 showdown between two Steel City schools will definitely attract attention. Pittsburgh ranks in the top 10 in both assists (fourth, 20.4 per game) and shooting (ninth, 51.6 percent). Since losing to Long Beach State, the Panthers have rattled off wins against LaSalle, Penn and Robert Morris with an easier schedule ahead prior to the start of Big East play. Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson have combined for 35 points per game to date. Duquesne (4-2) has lost to both Arizona and Valparaiso and is led by Sean Johnson’s 16.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. The Dukes are very weak in rebounding, and that could be an Achilles heel in this contest.


NORTHERN IOWA AT IOWA STATE (8 p.m. Wednesday at James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa)

They are separated by about an hour and a half via US Highway 20 and Interstate 35 and play in two different conferences. Nevertheless, it’s two Iowa schools and that means something to the Hawkeye State faithful. Northern Iowa (5-1) is on a four-game winning streak that includes victories against Northern Colorado, Western Carolina, Rice and Providence. The Panthers have done all this despite having one of the weaker-shooting and rebounding teams in the country (both out of the top 250). Jake Koch is a triple threat at 11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Iowa State (5-1) is a top 30 team in assists per game (16.7) and just out of the top 30 in scoring (81.2). Chris Babb and Royce White both have 14 points a game for the Cyclones.


LOYOLA-CHICAGO AT MILWAUKEE (8 p.m. Thursday at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

It’s hard to believe, but this game marks the start of Horizon League play for these two schools. It stands to reason for Loyola-Chicago, as 18 of its next 23 games are against Horizon teams. Loyola is off to a 1-4 start but found the win column Saturday in a 64-50 win over Fordham. Ben Averkamp (11.4 points) and Joe Crisman (11.0) lead a scoring attack that hasn’t been the best so far this year. Milwaukee (5-1) is licking its wounds following a 68-55 loss to Michigan State, and this game begins a stretch of three straight games against Chicago-area opponents (Loyola, Illinois-Chicago and DePaul). James Haarsma leads Milwaukee with 12.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.


Men's Basketball Games of the Week and Tournament Breakdowns