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

Top Men’s Basketball Games Breakdown 11/28-12/1


Now that college football is winding down into bowl season, college basketball is heating up. Two strong crossover challenges, the ACC/Big 10 and the Big East/SEC, take place this week, and one of the ACC/Big 10 matchups is a highly-anticipated contest between Duke and Ohio State. It is a solid slate of games early in the week, but the big one is coming at week’s end.


No. 14 XAVIER AT No. 17 VANDERBILT (7 p.m. Monday at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee)

This non-conference matchup pits one of the strongest Atlantic-10 programs against a Southeastern Conference squad looking to make more of an impact in the men’s basketball picture this year. Xavier (4-0) saw its most impressive victory come in a 70-56 win over Georgia on Friday, spurred by 12 points apiece from Kenny Frease and Tu Holloway. Xavier has some tough tests coming up against Purdue and Butler before its traditional crosstown game with Cincinnati, so the Musketeers would love nothing more than to win in Nashville. Vanderbilt (5-1) has tough back to back games with Xavier and Louisville before it gets a bit of a break. The Commodores bring a four-game winning streak into this game, helped by John Jenkins’ strong 20.2 points per game and 15 points and 6.5 rebounds from Jeffery Taylor.


No. 5 DUKE AT No. 2 OHIO STATE (9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio)

The late start time is undoubtedly to catch a national television audience, but who cares? This game could be a preview of a regional final or NCAA Final Four showdown if all goes well. One of the most eagerly anticipated matchups of the early season puts the Blue Devils (7-0) against the fellow unbeaten Buckeyes (6-0). Duke will have played its third straight game against a ranked opponent after beating Michigan and Kansas. No doubt Seth Curry’s 15.1 points and 3.1 assists are impressive, as is Mason Plumlee’s 10 rebounds per game. Don’t forget Duke has also beaten Michigan State and Tennessee in early-season play. Ohio State ranks fifth in Division I in assists per game (20.3) and 10th in shooting (51.5 percent), led by Jared Sullinger’s 18.8 points and 10.7 boards. Two of the next three games are against ranked teams, with a game at Kansas on Dec. 14.


No. 7 WISCONSIN AT No. 4 NORTH CAROLINA (9:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

The second game featured here from the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, it looked like it would be a battle of unbeaten teams until North Carolina gummed up the works with its loss to UNLV. That said, this is still quite an impressive contest and one the Tar Heels (5-1) cannot take lightly, not with a game against Kentucky coming up on Saturday. Wisconsin (6-0) has beaten Bradley and Brigham Young in the past week but has scored 70 points or less in three of its victories. That could be trouble down the line, especially against a hot-shooting squad like North Carolina. The Badgers’ leaders include Ben Brust (12.8 points per game) and Jared Berggren (12.3).


NOTRE DAME AT No. 24 GONZAGA (11:15 p.m. Wednesday at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Washington)

A solid Big East Conference school goes up against the darlings of the West Coast Conference in what could be a closer contest than some might think. The Fighting Irish (5-2) started off with a four-game winning streak before hitting a snag in losses against Missouri and Georgia. Notre Dame got back on a winning track with an 84-59 win over Bryant behind 18 points from Eric Atkins. Not only that, five Irish players scored in double figures. Not too shabby a performance, even though it was against a lower school like Bryant. Gonzaga (4-0) hasn’t been severely challenged to start the season, with wins against Eastern Washington, Washington State, Hawaii and Western Michigan. Robert Sacre has 17 points and nine rebounds to lead Gonzaga.


GEORGETOWN AT No. 15 ALABAMA (9:30 p.m. Thursday at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Much like the ACC/Big 10 Challenge early this week, this is a contest in the Big East/SEC challenge, a good way for non-conference teams to enjoy strong crossover contests against tough opponents. If it works out, that’s all the better for your RPI and NCAA tournament hopes, right? Despite being in the top 25 in shooting percentage (14th, 51 percent) and scoring (24th, 82.2 points per game), the Hoyas are not in the top 25 partially because of a loss to Kansas. The Hoyas might have some success in the future impressing voters thanks to a 91-88 overtime win against Memphis, keyed by 24 points and eight rebounds from Homer Sims. Georgetown faces IUPUI before the Alabama contest. The Crimson Tide (7-0) aren’t shooting or scoring well but their ninth-best 42.7 rebounds per game have worked out beautifully. Alabama has beaten Purdue, Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth during the opening streak, demonstrating an ability to knock off teams from different power or high-major conferences. Tony Mitchell and Jamychal Green have 29.1 points and 15.5 rebounds per game combined.


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