College Basketball: The Week Ahead (12/6/11)

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As part of our College Hoops 101 facelift, this feature will now include looking ahead to the top games in the upcoming week.  You can check out the highlights of last week in the world of college basketball by clicking here.  A pair of interesting non-conference rivalries are renewed this week when Xavier meets Cincinnati and Kentucky visits Indiana in a battle of unbeaten teams.

Missouri vs. Villanova and Marquette vs. Washington, Tuesday 6:00 &8:30, ESPN
These games will be played at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic.  Mizzou and Marquette are both unbeaten and better than most people predicted at the beginning of the year.  The Huskies and Wildcats have taken a couple of bumps early in the season and could really use a marquee win to offset some losses that will hurt their resumes come March.

Arizona at Florida, Wednesday 6:00, ESPN
The Gators have suffered a pair of losses at tough venues, Ohio State and Syracuse, but were competitive in both games.  The Wildcats have not looked sharp this season and cannot afford to have their token slow start in Gainesville.  Florida will not let ‘Zona creep back into this game like other teams have.

Harvard at UConn, Thursday 6:00, ESPN2
The Crimson are a legit threat this season as demonstrated by their Battle 4 Atlantis Championship which included wins against Florida State and UCF (who actually knocked off UConn in the semifinals.)  If Harvard can control the tempo of this game, an upset is not out of question.  The Huskies will have to use their speed and size advantage, and get out in transition.

Cincinnati at Xavier, Saturday 11:30, ESPN2
With city bragging rights on the line, this one is always an intense battle that will likely have a few “incidents” throughout the game.  Cincy has suffered a pair of surprising non-conference loses, falling at home against Presbyterian and Marshall.  The Bearcats could really use a signature win against an unbeaten Xavier team that coming off a week in which they won at Vanderbilt and beat Purdue at home.

UNLV at Wisconsin, Saturday 1:00, BTN
Talk about a total contrast in styles; you saw in the way these two teams played North Carolina this season.  UNLV attacked them and wasn’t afraid to use their athleticism to get up and down the floor.  The Badgers played at a snail’s pace at UNC and nearly pulled off the upset.  Jordan Taylor has not looked sharp for the Badgers this season and will need to step up his game against Rebel guards that pressure the basketball.

Kentucky at Indiana, Saturday 3:15, ESPN
A battle of unbeatens; who would have thought?  The Hoosiers are an improved team coming off a nice road win at N.C. State but just don’t possess the talent to compete with the Wildcats.  Right?  (By the way, look at the picture above… who is winning that tanning bed battle?)

Ohio State at Kansas, Saturday 5:15, ESPN
Despite losses to Kentucky and Duke, the Jayhawks have overcome a lack of depth early this season and proven that they are still capable of playing with the big boys.  It is never an easy challenge to win at Allen Fieldhouse and I wouldn’t expect the Buckeyes to play like they did at home against Duke last week.  By the way, I CANNOT wait to see Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson go at each other in this one.

ONE-ON-ONE MATCH-UP TO WATCH: Sullinger vs. Robinson
I just mentioned it; I am anxious to see this battle of two possible top five picks in the 2012 NBA Draft.  Both guys are usually able to dominate inside due to their strength and NBA-ready builds.  Sullinger is a little more physical than the Jayhawk junior while Robinson has more spring and athleticism.  Hopefully these two are matched up on each other quite a bit and KU doesn’t put their center, Jeff Withey on Sullinger.

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, 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 on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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