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College Basketball: Tipping Off

College Basketball: Tipping Off


By WagerWeb.com and edited by Ecobika Sportsbetting







Iíve been yapping about it in this space for the last two months, but itís finally time for the 2006-07 college basketball season to tip off. First on the docket are three tournaments that are worthy of your attention.


2K Hoops College Hoops Classic (11/7-11/11, 11/16-11/17): This event, previously known as the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, will give us the first looks at four major conference teams with plenty of questions to answer in the early going: Maryland, Michigan State, St. Johnís and Texas. All four schools will host first- and second-round games between Nov. 7-11, none of which should be challenging for the hosts. Winners of the four regions will play the following weekend at Madison Square Garden.


Maryland will be looking to see how well freshman Eric Hayes can settle in as starting point guard and solve the Terpsí biggest problem over the past two seasons. With 77% of his scoring from last season gone, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo will be challenged to build a team around junior point guard Drew Neitzel. St. Johnís coach Norm Roberts is eager to see if guard Daryll Hill can return to his form of two years ago, when he scored 20.7 points per game, and provide the offensive firepower to go along with the Red Stormís stifling defense. Texas coach Rick Barnes does Izzo one better, replacing his entire starting five from last season, but he has a bumper crop of recruits to fill the holes led by stud swingman Kevin Durant.


The first- and second-round matchups shouldnít feature any major surprises, although Iíve got a hunch Loyola, Md., fortified by Providence transfer Gerald Brown, could knock off the Red Storm in the second round.


College Basketball Experience Classic (11/12-11/15, 11/20-11/21): It appears this is the year to change names of tournaments; this one was formerly called the Guardians Classic. Like the 2K Hoops Classic, the first two rounds will be hosted at four campus sites: Duke, Texas Tech, Marquette and Stanford. The winners will face off in Kansas City the following week.


The brackets are set up for a potential Duke-Texas Tech (read Coach K vs. Bob Knight) matchup in the championship game, but donít count on it happening. Knight recently dismissed senior Jarrius Jackson from the team because of academic shortcomings. Then, however, Jackson returned to practice. His status is somewhat unclear, which would be a major blow for the Red Raiders since Jackson led the Big 12 in scoring (20.5 ppg.) and three-point shooting (44.8%) last season. The Red Raiders will probably get knocked out by Akron, one of the favorites in the MAC, in the second round.


Stanford, trying to bounce back from the schoolís worst season since 1993-94, should survive its first round game against San Jose State, but the Cardinal will have a lot of trouble getting by Long Beach State, one of the favorites in the Big West Conference, in their second round game.


Without injured point guard Greg Paulus, not to mention departed stars J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, Duke wonít resemble a typical Coack K team for a while, but the Blue Devils still have enough to get to Kansas City, as do the Marquette Warriors.


Preseason NIT (11/13-11/15, 11/22-11/24): As usual, the NIT is one of the deepest early-season tournaments, which should provide some interesting early-round contests.


North Carolina anchors the Charlotte regional for the first two rounds. Donít be shocked if the Tar Heels have trouble with Winthrop in the second round. Unlike Carolina, Coach Gregg Marshallís Eagles are a veteran squad and could cause Roy Williamsí young Tar Heels some serious grief in only their second regular-season game with all of those blue-chip freshmen still trying to figure out their roles.


Gonzaga begins life after Adam Morrison nearby at the Spokane Arena and could have a rude awakening in its first game vs. Rice and Owls star forward Morris Almond, but the Bulldogs still have plenty of talent and should get by the Owls and make it to Madison Square Garden.


Kelvin Sampson should survive his first game as Indiana coach by beating Lafayette in the Indianapolis regional, which would set up a likely second-round matchup against Notre Dame. The Irish have their own issues this season, but a potential shootout between Notre Dameís Collin Falls and the Hoosiersí D. J. White would be some stirring November college basketball.


Tennessee, coming off its big bounce-back season last year, is the feature team in the Nashville regional. Coach Bruce Pearl and his bright, bright orange blazer should advance past Fordham in their first round, but the Volunteers will have their hands full with a disciplined, experienced UNC-Wilmington team and leading scorer T.J. Carter.


However these games play out, the semis and finals in New York should live up to this tournamentís usual high standards, like Dukeís stirring victory over Memphis in last yearís semifinals.


As always, check with WagerWeb.com for the odds on any of these games.


Nothing But Net

Theyíve been dropping like flies at Nebraska. Nine of the 13 players on their roster have missed time with injuries so far during preseason practices. The latest casualty is center Aleks Maric, the Cornhuskersí leading returning scorer and rebounder, who underwent surgery for an appendectomy last Friday. No coach needs this kind of situation, but especially not Doc Sadler, who got a late start following Barry Collierís departure in early August.


The injury bug is biting hard in the Big 12. Two Missouri players, junior swingman Glen Dandridge and freshman guard Keon Lawrence, have broken bones in their feet since practice started, and both will miss the early portion of the season.


Kansas is also dealing with some attrition. Starting center Sasha Kaun has a partially torn tendon in his knee and may not play until well into December. Center C. J. Giles had already been suspended for the first semester by Coach Bill Self for unspecified reasons, and a position where the Jayhawks may have had too much depth has thinned out in a big way.

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