Big East Opening Night Preview
With the college basketball season just a few weeks away, it’s time to get past all the preseason hype and start looking forward to actual games. Fans should be chomping at the bit, especially if they’re love the Big East. With Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh all on their way out, we must relish this season for what it is: a last hurrah. Let’s take a look at the opening night games so we can figure out what to expect from the first games the Big East teams play.
#9 Syracuse vs. #20 San Diego St.: This is the best matchup of the night, as the Aztecs are seriously good and possibly good enough to knock off the Orange. Syracuse will have guys like C. J. Fair, Brandon Triche, and James Southerland in expanded roles, so it’s not crazy to think they won’t be on the top of their games. Add that in with Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, and the game being played in San Diego for the Battle of the Midway, and this one has upset written all over it. However, I expect head coach Jim Boeheim to have his squad ready.
Marquette vs. #4 Ohio St.: The Carrier Classic between these two Midwest teams will be exciting to watch. The Golden Eagles are deep with talent, but the Buckeyes have a lot more experience, including the duo of Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. Marquette will be competitive, but Ohio St. should pull away late.
#10 Florida vs. Georgetown: Sophomore Otto Porter will be handed the keys to the offense, with his first test against the Gators in Gainesvile. After losing only Erving Walker, Florida returns Patric Young, Kenny Boynton, and many other players from a successful team last year. The Hoyas won’t be able to handle everyone.
#14 Michigan St. vs. Connecticut: Michigan St.’s ranking puzzles me, although they do have Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson, and Keith Appling back from last year’s #1 NCAA tournament seed. The frontcourt of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier will be competitive, but Tom Izzo will likely outcoach Kevin Ollie.
The other five games won’t be nearly as attractive or competitive. Pittsburgh should be able to handle Mount St. Mary’s with ease. Villanova will crush District of Columbia, a non-Division I school. Seton Hall will cruise past UMKC. Rutgers may get a fight from St. Peter’s, but it shouldn’t last long. DePaul has a soft opener against UC Riverside.
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