Sunday, November 04, 2012

Previewing Wednesday, November 14th

Below are the other previews I have done for the first week of the regular season:

November 9th, Part 1 of 2
November 9th, Part 2 of 2
November 10th
November 11th
November 12th
November 13th

November 14th is a light day, with only two real games of note. Let's get to them (all times eastern):

#23 Wisconsin at #10 Florida (7 PM, ESPN) - This was a game that I was really looking forward to when I saw the initial schedules. I believed that both of these teams were being underrated. Unfortunately, the injury to Mike Bruesewitz and the season-ending injury to Josh Gasser means that it's unlikely Wisconsin will be able to pull the upset, and this game might not be as close and exciting as it could have been. The most important match-up, in my opinion, will be Patric Young against Jared Berggren. I expect both of those two to be among the best big men in the nation this season, with Young a dark horse All-American candidate.

If Wisconsin is going to keep this game close they will need a huge game from some unknown young guards, like George Marshall and Traevon Jackson. Florida's defense is weakest on the perimeter, and Wisconsin will need to exploit that. It will be interesting to see how big of a role is played by Florida's own young guards - Braxton Ogbueze, Michael Frazier and Dillon Graham. If Florida gets a large amount of production from these 2012 freshman in a dominant win over Wisconsin, that will really reinforce my belief that they, and not Kentucky, are the team to beat in the SEC.

Toledo at Northern Iowa (8 PM) - Ben Jacobson has built a very solid program at Northern Iowa. They lost three key players, including their two best players, after that magical 2010 NCAA Tournament run and were always going to need to rebuild. But they never fell below the middle of the pack in the Missouri Valley, and after going 9-9 in conference play last season are in position to be really good this season. They return everybody but Johnny Moran from last season, and have several young players who should bloom with another year of experience. One guy who the advanced stats love is rising-junior swing man Chip Rank. Also look for increased impact from rising-sophomore point guard Deon Mitchell. And the only reason why I didn't including rising-sophomore Seth Tuttle in those last two sentences is because he was already a key player last season - he doesn't need to improve to be a really good Missouri Valley player. Tuttle could be an All-American candidate by the time he's a senior.

Northern Iowa's biggest problem last season was paint offense. They struggled to score in the paint, get to the line or collect offense rebounds. Seth Tuttle will need to be a bigger focus of the offense, but that won't be enough for them to make the NCAA Tournament. In my opinion they are a bubble team, and a strong win over Toledo here would help inch them closer to a spot in the BP68.

Toledo will be coming into this game off of a road game at Minnesota. They could be coming off a big win looking to start building an at-large resume (Toledo is a realistic bubble team, although I don't view them as a bubble team at the moment). They could be coming off a bad loss, looking to salvage the start to their season. Rian Pearson is the key scorer for Toledo,  Rising-sophomore Julius Brown, their starting point guard, will be another key player. An x-factor could be Dominique Buckley, who is Toledo's best outside shooter, and who could make a big difference against a Northern Iowa defense that struggled to stop the three last season.

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