Free ESPN Weekend – College Gameday Preview

With ESPN free Friday through Sunday this weekend it’s a great time to get into the college basketball season with college game day showing 5 back to back games on Saturday featuring top 25 teams. (Also Knicks @ Celtics live on Friday night)  It’s only four weeks until we are into march and the madness takes over so set the PVR to go non-stop from 3pm on Saturday!

Kentucky @ South Carolina

Terrence Jones - Knucklehead

The number one ranked team Kentucky defeated SC comfortably earlier in the season and even playing away this could easily be another blowout. South Carolina are bottom of the SEC with a 1-5 conference record and it would be a massive upset if they can get the win here. In saying all of that . . .  I hate Kentucky, I hate John Calipari, I hate Terrence Jones and I love massive upsets so I’ll definitely be watching this one and hoping that Ashley Judd will be having a miserable Saturday night.

Syracuse @ St John’s

Next up is a New York rivalry game when Syracuse make the short trip to play at St John’s. The Orangemen have one of the best records in division one with only one loss (@Notre Dame) and are favourites to take the win. I wouldn’t right off St John’s they have a talented but shallow roster playing  five freshmen in what is often just a six-man rotation led by one of the best Freshmen in the country, Moe Harkless. The Red Storm are inconsistent but that is to be expected when you lose your head coach midway through the season (Steve Lavin may return before the end of this year) and play so many young players. There will be a great atmosphere in ‘The Garden’ for this one so if St Johns can keep it close it could be a good watch.

Ohio State @ Wisconsin

The best haircut in basketball?

This one has the two top two teams in the Big Ten going at it so this should be exciting right? Well, not exactly . . . Anyone who watches a Bo Ryan team knows how they play. Tough, half court man defense and a patient Swing offense is a recipe that ends up in low scoring games that usually end up with Wisconsin getting the W and me falling asleep somewhere around the mid-way point of the second half. They have one of the best players in the country in Jordan Taylor and the best haircut in college basketball in Ryan Evans and yet they still somehow are just unwatchable!

In saying that they are up against Ohio State and they have one of my favourite players to watch, Aaron Craft, a guard who gives it his

Aaron Craft - gets it done on both ends.

all on both ends for 40 minutes and always seems to make the right play at the right time. Craft is the ultimate “intangibles” player and reminds me of Greg Paulus formely of Duke. Of course they also have Naismith award contender Jared Sullinger and a host of capable role players so they have the quality to win at the Kohl Center and  for the sake of enjoyable basketball I hope they do!

Kansas @ Missouri

If you can only watch one game this weekend then this is it.  Another top of conference clash this one has the top two teams in the Big 12 and has the potential to be a great game. Missouri are one of the best teams to watch with their high tempo and high scoring style. They have five players that average double digits and are in the top 10 in the nation in points per game and field goal percentage. Kansas are also good to watch despite losing so many players from last year’s roster. They have Thomas Robinson, who is simply a beast and the favourite for the player of the year awards at the minute, and the lightning quick Tyshawn Taylor. This should be a high scoring and entertaining game and is a must watch!

North Carolina @ Maryland

North Carolina lead the division in scoring at 84 per game and it’s hard not to like the way Roy Williams gets his teams to play. Their fast breaking style is led by Kendell Marshall and his excellent transition passing (9.5 apg) with bigs like Zeller and Henson who can run the floor. They have incredible length, great interior passing and I haven’t even mentioned Harrison Barnes who leads the team in scoring at 17.3 ppg in 26 mpg. I haven’t seen Maryland play this year yet but they have lost both games versus ranked opponents and sit in 7th place in the ACC. They have struggled since Gary Williams left the programme and they will be in trouble on Saturday too as the Tar Heels look to get a good win going into their rivalry game with Duke on Wednesday night.



Niall is the Co-Founder of the Courtside Collective and . He was one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He has coached at a variety of levels from kids to senior men's teams. He is currently coach of the LYIT National League team and women's college team.

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