Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 10:41 AM
THE COLLEGE HOOPS WEEKEND REPORT –WE CHECK OUT WHAT’S ON TAP FOR THE TOP TEAMS
By Jim Hurley
Hey, nobody needs to remind us that this is a football-filled great weekend on the NFL gridiron, but what about the college b-ball kids?
Here’s a look at what’s on the weekend sked for the top five teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25:
#1 ARIZONA (16-0, 3-0 Pac-12) – You’ve gotta be wondering if anyone’s gonna take down the U of A Wildcats these days as Thursday’s electric 79-75 win at 1 ½-point home dog UCLA was the latest conquest as Nick Johnson poured in 22 points and the ‘Cats overcame a season-worst 17-turnover showing. Next up: Sunday at USC (9 p.m. ET)
#2 SYRACUSE (15-0, 2-0 ACC) – Sure, the Orange played a slew of early-season non-league cupcake opponents, but did you notice that Jim Boeheim’s crew also racked up wins against the likes of Minnesota, Cal, Baylor and Indiana and the average margin of victory in those four tilts was nearly 11 ppg … hmmm. Now, the ‘Cuse hosts North Carolina on Saturday in a high noon ET time that’ll have the old Carrier Dome rockin’. Will lefty star C.J. Fair (team-leading 17.2 ppg) once again flourish in a full-court game?
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#3 OHIO STATE (15-1, 2-1 Big 10) – The Buckeyes were bounced for the first time this year in that 72-68 overtime loss at Michigan State this past Tuesday night, but how about the fact Thad Matta’s bunch roared back from a 17-point second-half deficit and did so without a single starter registering double-digit points? Next up is a tilt on Sunday at home against a gritty Iowa team that leads the Big 10 in scoring (and is seventh in the nation) at 86.5 ppg.
#4 WISCONSIN (16-0, 3-0 Big 10) – The Badgers have the weekend off as they’ll resume play on Tuesday at Indiana, but it’s worth mentioning here that
Bo Ryan’s squad is up to its usual tricks while ranking second in the Big 10 in scoring defense (61.1 ppg), while three-point scorer Ben Brust (46-of-104 from beyond the arc) might wind up being one of the league’s three or four most-important players this year.
#5 MICHIGAN STATE (14-1, 3-0 Big 10) – What, does the Big 10 have enough Top 5 teams or not? Tom Izzo’s gang hosts Minnesota on Saturday (2:15 p.m. ET tip) and PG Keith Appling remains on course for All-America honors after his stat-sheet stuffing 20-point, 7-assist and 6-rebound showing in the aforementioned overtime win against Ohio State … and don’t forget he’s the dude who nailed the tie-breaking triple with 29 seconds left in the bonus session.
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