Big East/SEC Challenge Preview and Predictions


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With the exodus of Big East teams leaving for the ACC, this is going to be the final year that the Big East/SEC Challenge will have such star power.  The three day event tips off tonight and here is a preview including my brilliant, insightful predictions.

Kentucky (4-1) at Notre Dame (6-1), 6:00, ESPN2
What to Watch:
I’m really torn on this one actually.  The Irish are a veteran team that will try to slow the tempo to a snail’s pace and out-execute the Wildcats in the halfcourt.  UK clearly has better individual talent but ND knows how to play as a unit.  If this game were in Lexington, I would pick Kentucky without thinking twice but playing in a tough road environment will be a challenge I’m not sure the young ‘Cats will be ready to handle.
Prediction: Notre Dame 58, Kentucky 56

South Carolina (5-1) at St. John’s (4-2), 6:30, ESPNU
What to Watch:
The Gamecocks record consists of a pair of overtime wins and a two-point loss at home to Elon.  They haven’t played anyone significant yet so this will be their first game against a power conference opponent.  Steve Lavin has an all underclassmen rotation that is extremely long and athletic.  Outside of D’Angelo Harrison, the Red Storm lack any sort of three-point threat so they’ll need to force turnovers and turn them into transition buckets.
Prediction: St. John’s 73, South Carolina 60

Marquette (5-1) at Florida (5-0), 8:00, ESPN2
What to Watch:
A rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 in which the Gators knocked out the Golden Eagles.  Florida is at full strength with Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather back in the line-up while Marquette’s Vander Blue might be out for a second straight game due to a knee injury.  MU does not have a whole lot of shooters while Florida can light it up from deep.  The Golden Eagles will really need to get after it on the defensive end and limit offensive rebounds score the upset road win.
Prediction: Florida 71, Marquette 65

Seton Hall (5-1) at LSU (4-0), 8:30, ESPNU
What to Watch:
Against a few cupcakes, the Tigers have gotten terrific guard play led by junior college transfer Shavon Coleman who is averaging 17.3 points and 8 boards per night.  Fuquan Edwin has been equally impressive for the Pirates whose lone loss came in overtime against Washington.  This one’s a toss up so I’m rolling with the home team.
Prediction: LSU 74, Seton Hall 72

Tennessee (4-1) at Georgetown (4-1), 5:30, ESPN
What to Watch:
The physicality of the Vols versus the length and athleticism of the Hoyas.  Sophomores Otto Porter and Greg Whittington have been awesome for JT3 this year who will start four players 6-8 or taller.  Jeronne Maymon is still out for Tennessee meaning a sophomore of their own, Jarnell Stokes mans the inside with his big body.
Prediction: Georgetown 70, Tennessee 57

Georgia (2-4) at South Florida (4-2), 6:00, ESPNU
What to Watch:
Both teams really struggle offensively and the first to hit 60 could win.  Led by highly skilled sophomore wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (or KCP if acronyms are your thing,) the Bulldogs held their own against Indiana and UCLA last week.  USF hasn’t found the magic they put together last year during Big East play but has a tad bit more options for scoring the basketball.
Prediction: USF 57, Georgia 49

Syracuse (4-0) at Arkansas (3-2), 7:30, ESPN
What to Watch:
Orange sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams (or MCW if acronyms are your thing,) has a ridiculous stat line so far; 10.3 pts, 9.3 asts, 5.5 reb, 4 stl per game.  The Razorbacks haven’t shot it well from distance and must do so Friday to break the Orange 2-3 zone.
Prediction: Syracuse 82, Arkansas 61

DePaul (2-3) at Auburn (2-4), 8:00, ESPNU
What to Watch:
You are not watching this.  Nobody is watching this.  So why waste my time with actual insight?
Prediction: DePaul 78, Auburn 74

Mississippi State (1-4) at Providence (5-2), 11:00 am, ESPNU
What to Watch:
Props to Friar head coach Ed Cooley who has held things together despite the fact Providence is only suiting up six scholarship players.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are as bad as most expected them to be during this rebuilding effort.
Prediction: Providence 79, Mississippi State 63

Rutgers (4-1) at Ole Miss (5-0), 1:00, ESPNU
What to Watch:
The Rebels unblemished mark is misleading since they have played all no-name schools thus far.  Rutgers has scratched and clawed to their 4-1 record but rely way too heavily on sophomore guards Eli Carter and Myles Mack to score.  Going with the home team on this one.
Prediction: Ole Miss 62, Rutgers 58

Alabama (5-0) at Cincinnati (6-0), 2:00, ESPN2
What to Watch:
The three-headed backcourt of Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright, and Jaquon Parker are averaging 48 of the Bearcats 87 points which ranks sixth among all D-1 programs.  Bama has their trio of guards in Trevor Releford, Trevor Lacey, and Rodney Cooper who are combining to put up 49 points per night.  Both teams like to get after it with hard-nosed defense so I expect those offensive numbers to decrease.
Prediction: Cincinnati 63, Alabama 62

Villanova (3-3) at Vanderbilt (2-3), 4:00, ESPN2
What to Watch:
Nova has dropped three straight including an embarrassing 20-point home loss to Colombia and overtime defeat to city rival LaSalle.  Equally as pathetic, Vandy managed just 33 points while being upset by Marist in the consolation bracket of the Old Spice Classic.  The Wildcats have more talent and experience so I’ll give them the edge though I don’t at all feel good about it.
Prediction: Villanova 72, Vanderbilt 64

FINAL TOTAL:
Big East 9, SEC 3

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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  1. loved your comments on DPU and ND. spot on

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