"I Know the Game Like I'm Reffing It"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tonight's Games To Watch, Friday, Dec. 5th

We have moved from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Don't get dizzy yet, there are more challenges to come.

First, props to TCU for a big win at Ole Miss last night. Trent Johnson has things moving in the right direction down in Fort Worth. It looks like the Horned Frogs will at least be a tough out in the Big 12 this year.

Iowa State also made a statement last night for the Big 12, as they blew out a previously up-and-coming Arkansas squad.

On the SEC side, LSU got a very big win at previously undefeated West Virginia. The Tigers now look like possible contenders in the SEC, for second place, that is.

Tonight, the Big 12/SEC Challenge continues, headlined by a marquee match-up in Lexington.

#6 Texas (7-0) at #2 Kentucky (7-0) 7PM, Lexington, KY, ESPN

This is one of the most anticipated games so far this season. We all know about Kentucky. A roster full of McDonald's All-Americans, the "platoon" system, the 30-point win versus Kansas. But, guess what? There's more. They are playing selflessly on both ends of the floor, particularly on the defensive end where they've absolutely stifled opponents when they've wanted to. Texas is one of the few teams that doesn't look embarrassingly inadequate opposite the UK lay up line. The Longhorns have length and talent in their front court, led by freshman, Myles Turner, and have a very capable, athletic backcourt. They would have even more of a chance in this one if starting PG, Isaiah Taylor, were healthy. But, he's not. And even with him, winning in Lexington would be unlikely. Prediction: Kentucky 71, Texas 62.

#25 Providence (6-1) at Boston College (3-3) 7PM, Chestnut Hill, MA, ESPN3

Speaking of Kentucky, Providence just experienced their hospitality. Despite being hobbled by a couple of key nagging injuries, the Friars kept it close for 3/4s of the game. But eventually, Kentucky's superior length, depth and talent wore Ed Cooley's team down. It'll be a little different for them traveling the short distance to Chestnut Hill. Providence has shown in the early season that they are a solid, tough-minded squad. Boston College has been gritty and a little better than expected, so far, under 1st year head coach, Jim Cristian. But, this match-up of former Big East founding members should be a tough one for BC. Prediction: Providence 66, BC 60.

Wyoming (6-0) at SMU (4-3) 7PM, Dallas, TX, ESPNNews

Wyoming, from the Mountain West, has jumped out to an undefeated November and early December, including a 56-33 demolishment of Colorado. SMU and Larry Brown have been a disappointment so far this season. They have failed all of their non-conference tests to date, with losses at Gonzaga and Indiana and a home loss to Arkansas. So, you could say SMU needs this one. Prediction: SMU 59, Wyoming 53.

Florida (3-3) at #12 Kansas (5-1) 9PM, Lawrence, KS, ESPN

Florida was a little overrated to start the season, considering they lost four starters from last year's Final Four team. Billy Donovan will no doubt get them right, but it's a work in progress and they have lost to the three solid teams they've played thus far. Kansas is in a similar position, a young, inexperienced team, highly rated too soon and then taken to the woodshed by Kentucky. But, Bill Self seems to have put things together quickly, capped by a neutral court victory over Michigan State last weekend. Back home, in Lawrence, Kansas should continue its improved play. Prediction: Kansas 68, Florida 61.

Other games of note...

Yale (6-2) at Connecticut (3-2) 7PM, Storrs, CT, ESPNFC
Duquesne (2-1) vs. Pittsburgh (3-3) 7PM, Pittsburgh, PA, ESPN3
Long Beach State (4-4) at Stephen F. Austin (3-3) 8PM, Nacogdoches, TX

Other Top 25 games...

FIU (3-3) at #3 Louisville (6-0) 7PM, Louisville, KY, ESPNFC
Missouri (3-3) at #18 Oklahoma (4-2) 9:30PM, Norman, OK, ESPNU

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