Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Season's Here

It officially started on November 7th, say you? Yeah, technically. And that game on the aircraft carrier was fun, even if it was more of an exhibition spectacle. You'll just have to forgive me if I label tonight the true start to the season.

Michigan State vs. Duke, 7pm on ESPN Michigan State lost their first game on a boat to the number one team in the nation, North Carolina, and shot an abysmal 30% from the field in doing so. The upside is that they out rebounded the Tar Heels by 15, so if they can find a way to get some of their shots to actually go through that round thing attached to the backboard, State could be in much better shape. Duke lost Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving from last season. Spartan fans are likely happy to see Irving gone, as he torched Michigan State for 31 points in Duke's 84 to 79 victory last year. The bad news for State is that Duke has Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins back. Duke also added a third Plumlee brother, Marshall. Miles, Mason and Marshall. Weird? Beyond. And, oh yeah, Coach K is going for the all time win record with 903 wins if his team can take care of MSU tonight.

Ohio State vs. Florida, 8pm on ESPN 2 Number 3 Ohio State had no trouble dispatching the Wright State Raiders, but I think everyone is interested to see how a slim downed Jared Sullinger will perform against an opponent with teeth. Enter the Gators. Sullinger was quoted as saying this game will "determine what kind of team" Ohio State is and I tend to agree with him. I know the Buckeyes are a talented team. You don't have to convince me of that. But a team doesn't lose players like Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale and pretend like nothing's changed. William Buford is the only senior on the roster and I'm interested to see how Aaron Craft steps up this season in the absence of Diebler and Lighty. As for Florida, they're looking to atone for an embarrassing 93 to 75 loss to Ohio State on their home court last season. Florida has good guard play returning in Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. The big, though trimmer, question that any team playing Ohio State this year will be asking, does Florida have an answer for Sullinger? Probably not, but I get the feeling this one could be good.

Kentucky vs. Kansas, 9pm on ESPN Kentucky boasts the number 2 ranking and has another ridiculously stacked freshman class, highlighted by the likes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague. They also have two great returners in Darius Miller and Terrance Jones, who each played 30 plus minutes a game last year for the Wildcats. Yet after the Jayhawks impressive dismantling of Towson, 100-54, Kansas is poised to give Kentucky all they want and more tonight. Of course, it's hard to read much of anything into a blowout of Towson, but the speed of Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson in the backcourt could make Kansas scary good this year. Talent and speed. Look for an absurd display of both in what should be an incredibly entertaining night cap.

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