So long

With all my time being devoted to class and the newspaper, I’m going to have to discontinue my blog. It’s been a fun two months writing and I hope the few readers I have had all enjoyed reading my stuff. 

 

I might be contributing to College Hoops Net in the near future, so I will keep you posted.

Saturday’s Games

Notre Dame @ Syracuse- Big game for the ‘Cuse coming after the discouraging performance against Georgetown. A healthy Andy Rautins would help. The Irish look to come back from a lackluster overtime against Louisville. This is the second of a murderous five-game stretch for the Irish (@UL, @ Cuse, UConn, Mar., @ Pitt) and getting a win here will help them persevere in the future.

Georgetown @ Duke– Georgetown has done well against Duke recently. This time, the Hoyas travel to Durham where the Devils have thoroughly dominated opponents. It could end up being a defensive battle with both team scoring less than 60.

Oklahoma @ Texas A&M- The Aggies are coming off a win against Baylor at home. Can they knock off the Sooners in the same week? College Station should be rocking for this one. Josh Carter will need a huge game for the Aggies to pull the upset.

Wake Forest @ Clemson- The Demon Deacons are getting a lot of hype and are being regarded as many as “the best team in basketball”. They better not let that statement get to their heads as they head to Clemson, another undefeated team looking to justify their #9 rank. The battle between Trevor Booker and Wake Forest’s big men will be key.

Arizona State @ UCLA- Personally I don’t give ASU much of a chance in this one. I’m not sure James Harden will be able to overcome the defensive pressure of the Bruins. I’ve been wrong before and this is why they play the game.

Illinois @ Michigan St.- Bruce Weber’s squad is for real. Their balanced squad heads to East Lansing where Michigan St. returns after their hard-fought victory at Penn State. No one has emerged as a favorite in the Big Ten, but the winner of this one could have the upper hand.

Pittsburgh @ Louisville- A differenct Louisville squad has showed up during Big East play. Everyone knew they had the talent to succeed, but it was evident that the talent was not gelling well. Blair vs. Samuels is the key match-up, though Samuels has not been that impressive in my eye. Terrance Williams should have the Cardinals close in the final minutes.

Miami (FL) vs. UNC– The Tar Heels escaped the basement of the ACC with their win at Virginia. They finally return home with a date with Jack McClinton the Hurricanes. If BC can beat UNC at home, then Miami can… I just wouldn’t count on it.

Battle Becoming Best In Big Ten

Penn St Minnesota Basketball

Sophomore Guard Could Help End Penn State’s Post-season Drought

Since their Sweet Sixteen season in the 2000-2001 season, the Penn State basketball program has fallen on tough times. Aside from a NIT birth in 2005-2006, the Nittany Lions have missed the post-season and lacked the talent to make noise in the Big Ten.

What Penn State lacked for so long was a certified play-maker that put the team on his back when needed. 

Talor Battle is the kid the Penn State coaches have been looking for all of these years. 

After a freshman season highlighted by flashes of excellence, Battle has taken his game to a new level. The star guard is averaging 18.9 points a game this season, helping Penn State to a 13-4 record. To put this into perspective, Penn State managed to top the 13-victory mark only two times in the past seven seasons.

But Battle has resurrected the Penn State basketball program.  A maturity process took place during his freshman and sophomore seasons, making Battle a more well-rounded player and a leader. He came to Happy Valley as a highly regarded prospect with a habit of chucking.

This was evident his freshman season. He had flashes of excellence and averaged 10.2 points a game, but most of his shots came from three-point range where he shot only 28.4%. Battle gained the reputation of a shoot-first point guard that lacked the skills to distribute the ball effectively.

But Battle has silenced any critics he once had. Now the man at point guard, Battle is averaging 5.5 assists a game and has gained the ability of making his teammates better.

He is also a tough customer on the boards, averaging 5.9 rebounds a game. At 5’11” and 165 lbs., Battle is one of the toughest players pound-for-pound in the Big Ten.

But the main reason Battle is warranting hype this season is his improvement shooting the ball. He still takes a lot of threes, but he is now shooting 41.2% from three-point range and 44% from the floor.

This turnaround by Battle has reflected in his team’s performance so far this season. They find themselves on the verge of becoming a tournament team and have beaten Georgia Tech along with Purdue.

Battle’s supporting cast has drastically improved as well. Stanley Pringle gives the Nittany Lions another great shooter and Jamelle Cornley provides a great inside presence. These guys and Battle have provided Nittany Lions fans with some hope during the winter for the first time since that Sweet 16 season.

The Rose Bowl may not be the last important game Penn state plays this school year.

Tuesday Picks

OHIO STATE (-17.5) over Indiana Win

Florida State (+4.5) over NC STATE Win

Memphis (-4.5) over TULSA Loss

KANSAS (-8.5) over Kansas State Win

TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Kentucky Loss

TCU (+14.5) over BYU Win

Question Of The Week

Iowa St Texas Basketball

Who Will Emerge As The Favorite (and Challengers) In The Big 12?

Rivals meet throughout the week in the Big 12. By the end of the weekend, the contenders may emerge.

Monday night’s game between Texas and Oklahoma will determine which team has the early advantage in the Big 12. The Sooners are off to their best start in 23 years, but face a Texas team they have lost to six straight times. The Griffin brothers will look to maintain their great record at the Noble Center, where Oklahoma has won 13-straight.

This isn’t the only pivotal game taking place in the Conference. Kansas and Kansas State renew their rivalry on Tuesday with both teams sitting at 11-4. The Wildcats have yet to capture an impressive win and hope the guard trio of Jacob Pullen, Denis Clemente and Fred Brown can roll into Lawrence and return to Manhattan 1-1 in the Big 12. It certainly won’t be easy after Kansas was thoroughly embarrassed at Michigan State. They will look to take their frustration out on their rivals in front of a home crowd.

Nebraska has also emerged as a dark horse in the conference. They weren’t overly impressive in out-of-conference play but picked up an impressive conference win against Missouri. They head to Ames on Wednesday to take on Iowa State, a team nearly beat Texas. A win there will look impressive heading into a home game against Kansas State.

Baylor and Texas A&M have both stacked up impressive records against quality talent rather quietly. These rivals meet Wednesday in College Station. The Aggies have wins against Kent State, Arizona, Alabama and LSU. They look to recover from their conference opening loss against Oklahoma State when #23 Baylor comes into town. The Bears have wins against Providence, Washington State, Arizona State and Texas Tech. A win in College Station, where Texas A&M is 11-1 this year, will be rather impressive. It will be a battle between Baylor’s explosive offense and Texas A&M’s stifling defense.

Monday Picks

LOUISVILLE (-6.5) over Notre Dame Win

Texas (+4) over OKLAHOMA Loss

Sunday Picks

PURDUE (-5.5) over Wisconsin Win

Penn State (+7) over Minnesota Loss

WAKE FOREST (+6) over North Carolina Win

UCLA (-2.5) over USC Win

Iowa (+7.5) over MICHIGAN Loss