Pregame Shootaround: Sunday has some solid games including four ranked teams in action
GAME OF THE DAY: Tulane vs. No. 17 St. John’s, 12:00 p.m.
The opening game of Sunday also happens to be the most enticing matchup: a decent Tulane team against 10-1 St. John’s. The Green Wave have a solid 9-2 record but the schedule has been filled with easy victories against bad teams. It is encouraging that Tulane took unbeaten Washington deep into the second half on the road last week even though the team’s leading scorer, guard Louis Dabney, was 2-for-13 from the field. St. John’s has won six consecutive games and D’Angelo Harrison is playing tremendous basketball in his senior season. If both those guards get rolling this could be a great way to start the day.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: UCLA at Alabama, 6:30 p.m.
Both of these teams could really use a win as the Bruins are still coming off of the Kentucky embarrassment and Alabama is reeling from a loss where they blew a lead in the final minutes at Wichita State. So, are these teams for real? Are they NCAA Tournament contenders? Each group has talented players, although UCLA is even thinner with the loss of Wannah Bail for the season. The Crimson Tide (8-3) are a perfect 7-0 at home on the season while UCLA has yet to play a true road game. The key in this one could be if Alabama can keep center Jimmie Taylor on the floor. Their defense fell apart when he fouled out against the Shockers.
MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: South Dakota State at No. 23 Northern Iowa, 3:00 p.m.
South Dakota State (9-4) is looking like a legitimate contender in the Summit League and they recently beat Utah State on the road and played against Utah on the road as well. They won’t be phased after a tough two-game road split to start this trip. But they’re in for a tough test against Missouri Valley Conference contender Northern Iowa. The Panthers take smart shots and have a complete defense so they’re going to make South Dakota State work for every point and it should be an interesting test for both teams.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
- Wisconsin, the No. 6 team in the country, hosts Buffalo. The Bulls made it a game with Kentucky for a half and Justin Moss is averaging a double-double with 17.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
- One of college basketball’s last unbeatens, No. 13 Washington, hosts Stony Brook on Sunday. The Seawolves have lost eight straight road games dating back to last season but Carson Puriefoy and Jameel Warney are a talented duo.
- Florida Gulf Coast has talent and an experienced backcourt, but they haven’t pulled off a signature win this season. Xavier is unbeaten at home, but very inexperienced. Can the Musketeers continue to shoot a high percentage in what should be a run-and-gun game?
- Arizona State could use another good win and Harvard was completely embarrassed by Virginia last week. The Crimson really need to bounce back in this one.
- Belmont finally broke a three-game losing streak with a win over Fairfield and they’ll get a crack at Butler, who dropped out of the top 25 after losing two of its last three. Craig Bradshaw is a potent enough scorer to carry the Bruins to a win if this game is low scoring.
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
- Central Connecticut State at Connecticut, 1:00 p.m.
- Long Beach State at Syracuse, 2:00 p.m.
- Morgan State at Marquette, 2:00 p.m.
- Texas Southern at Kansas State, 3:00 p.m.
- Northwestern State at Arkansas, 3:30 p.m.
- Wake Forest at Richmond, 4:00 p.m.
- Delaware State at Temple, 5:00 p.m.
- UC Davis at Washington State, 6:00 p.m.
- CSU Bakersfield at Cal, 10:00 p.m.