Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: Ten ranked teams, including No. 1 Kentucky, in action
GAME OF THE DAY: George Washington at No. 9 Virginia, 7:00 p.m.
George Washington looked good Sunday evening in their comfortable win at Rutgers, but with all due respect to the Scarlet Knights beating them doesn’t move the needle nationally. What will do that for Mike Lonergan’s Colonials is good performance tonight in Charlottesville, as they’ll take on the reigning ACC champions. The Cavaliers are getting used to life without Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, but players such as London Perrantes and Justin Anderson remain as does Tony Bennett’s incredibly tough pack-line defense. George Washington’s guard tandem of Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage will need to be at their best if the Colonials are to win, and they’re capable of getting the job done.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Dayton vs. No. 17 UConn, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Two of the surprises of the 2014 NCAA tournament meet in Puerto Rico, with the reigning national champions being led by senior point guard Ryan Boatright and the Flyers countering with sophomore Scoochie Smith. That matchup will set the tone for this game but there will be other talented players on the court, including UConn’s Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis and Dayton’s Jordan Sibert and Kendall Pollard.
WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?: Kansas State (at Long Beach State)
Prior to their appearance at the Maui Invitational the Wildcats are making a stop in Long Beach, where they’ll take on Dan Monson’s 49ers. Long Beach State traditionally takes on tough opposition in the non-conference portion of their schedule, but the majority of those games are played on the road. Now Mike Caffey, Tyler Lamb and the 49ers get a shot at a major conference opponent at home, and that could be a dangerous situation for Bruce Weber’s team. Will Kansas State be focused on the task at hand, or will they entertain thoughts of Maui? Marcus Foster will have to set the tone for K-State in this area.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. After being on the receiving end of a lot of (well-deserved) praise, No. 1 Kentucky returns to the court as they take on Boston University at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats are expected to win comfortably, but this game’s all about focus. Will they still have their 72-40 win over No. 5 Kansas on their minds, or will John Calipari’s team have their attention focused on the visiting Terriers?
2. No. 10 Texas and California meet in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic in New York, with the Longhorns entering the game as the favorites to take home the title. Texas has an edge with regards to front court depth, but the perimeter play could be where Cal has an edge. The Golden Bears will be led by the triumvirate of Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird, and Texas will be without starting point guard Isaiah Taylor (left wrist).
3. Chris Walker makes his season debut for No. 9 Florida after being suspended for the first two games of the season. Given Florida’s injuries, including Dorian Finney-Smith’s hairline fracture in his left hand, Walker’s return is important from a depth standpoint. Will the sophomore be ready to go from the start against UL Monroe?
4. No. 4 Duke is back in action, as they take on Temple in the second game of a doubleheader at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Blue Devils looked good in their win over No. 18 Michigan State on Tuesday, and like Kentucky it’ll be interesting to see how Mike Krzyzewski’s team handles that success.
5. Also playing in Brooklyn are Stanford and UNLV, and this game could be one that looms large come March from a resume standpoint. Because not only is there a quality win on the line, but there’s also the likelihood that the victor gets a shot at Duke Saturday night.
OTHER GAMES OF NOTE
- No. 23 Syracuse vs. Iowa, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Marshall at No. 7 Louisville, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Loyola (IL) at No. 19 Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. (BTN)
- UC Riverside at No. 25 Utah, 9:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
- Akron vs. Miami, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Boston College vs. West Virginia, 5:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Toledo at Oregon, 7:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
- Charlotte vs. South Carolina, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Stephen F. Austin at Xavier, 8:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 2)
- Morehead State at Louisiana Tech, 8:00 p.m.
- Iona at Wake Forest, 8:30 p.m.
- Pittsburgh at Hawaii, 11:59 p.m.