To be frank, the past week is always one of my favorite weeks of the College Basketball year. Yes, I hype the Big Ten/ACC Challenge up that much and it did not disappoint. Although games like Duke vs. Indiana and Michigan vs. UNC opened up into blowouts, the competition is still fun to see especially when compacted into three nights. All in all, the Big Ten and ACC ended up deadlocked at 7 wins a conference. Quick takeaway: ACC still has the most talent at the top but the Big Ten looked MUCH deeper than any preseason prediction.
Moving on to this week, read below for Edition #3 of the Student Union Roundtable: What to Watch For. There are some conference games starting up, a couple ranked matches here and there, and all in all what should be an entertaining weekend of college basketball. This week we also have another contributor writing for us, Mike Sutphin. Each Friday we highlight key matchups for the weekend, betting lines we think may hit, teams on upset alert, and key players to watch. Follow along (approximately) every Friday to see what to watch for each weekend.
Game of the Weekend
Chase Swaringen: #12 Kansas State @ Marquette (Dec. 1) – Bruce Weber’s Wildcats have yet to play on the road and although Marquette isn’t ranked anymore, Markus Howard is still an elite scorer and capable of carrying Marquette to a victory over any team. Marquette’s two losses are to Indiana and #2 Kansas so you can’t fault them much for their inconsistent start. Home court advantage could really help out the Golden Eagles here but I predict the Wildcats will find a way to win.
Doug Wattley: #19 Purdue @ #7 Michigan (Dec. 1) – What a way to start out the B1G conference season by both of these teams. Michigan will come in as the favorite being undefeated with early-season victories over Villanova and UNC. A guy nobody has been talking about: Michigan freshman Ignas Brazdeikis has averaged 20 points per game the past three games. A guy everybody has been talking about: Purdue guard Carsen Edwards. He’s had to step up his play since the departure of Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas but has done tremendously so far and is averaging just over 25 points per game. He’ll need to be special for the Boilermakers to have a shot and sending Wolverine fans home upset.
Mike Sutphin: #9 Michigan St. vs. #14 Iowa (Dec. 3) – Although it is a little after the weekend, this is another B1G conference game worth noting because it presents so many questions. Is Iowa a legitimate contender? Can Michigan St. rebound from two early season losses? Michigan St. will be favored in this game, but should they be? Iowa has some impressive wins against #19 Oregon and UConn. No player really stands out for Iowa, as they have five players averaging between 9 points per game and 14 points per game. While the guy for MSU is Joshua Langford, who is averaging 18 ppg.
Player to Watch
Chase Swaringen: Bol Bol, Center, Oregon – Bol has been dominating since putting on an Oregon uniform. He’s averaging 21.3 point per game AS A CENTER. He’s putting up point guard numbers, as a freshman! He’s also shooting over 50% from behind the three point line. This man has Trae Young range!!
Oregon has a matchup against a sneaky tough Houston team but look for Bol to perform at a high level once again.
Mike Sutphin: Ja Morant, Guard, Murray St. – Morant is averaging 27.8 ppg on an excellent 57.5% from the field. The sophomore is a projected top-10 pick in the NBA’s upcoming draft. Morant is coming off a 38 point effort against Alabama as well. He played so well that game, that Bama fans gave him a standing ovation. He is a sophomore but one of the youngest sophomores in the country. He is one of only 3 freshmen last year to record a triple-double. Ja can put up high scoring numbers with efficient shooting while also sharing the rock with others. Look for Morant to continue his dominance Saturday against Prairie View A&M.
Chase Swaringen: #1 Gonzaga @ Creighton (Dec. 1) – Ok, I really am not that thrilled with Gonzaga this year. I was stunned they beat Duke and they didn’t impress me in any of their other Maui Invitational wins. Creighton is 6-1 and for a good reason. They have a very complete team and shoot 53% from the field. Rui Hachimura has gotten all the hype so far this season for carrying Gonzaga to the top of the rankings, the Blue Jays may be able to outshoot the Bulldogs and come away with a win in their home arena.
Mike Sutphin: Houston vs. #18 Oregon (Dec. 1) – After dropping a game to Texas Southern, Oregon will be looking to rebound with a win. But they play Houston, so that rebound win might have to wait an extra game. Corey Davis Jr. for Houston is averaging 20 ppg on 50.7% from the field and 40% from three point land. Not only is Davis Jr. shooting lights out, so is the whole Houston team. The Cougars are shooting 48.3% from the field and 40.3% from three. This team can put up a lot of points and they can do it quickly.
Easy Money (Lines Subject to Change)
Chase Swaringen (1-1): #14 Iowa (+1.5) vs. #22 Wisconsin — Take Iowa
Mike Sutphin: (0-0): Rutgers (+8) vs. #9 Michigan St. — Take Rutgers