Friday, February 1, 2008

Weekend Games (2/2) and Some Links

A full slate of action of mostly inter-divisional games. The top 2 teams in the East travel to the top 2 teams in the West for what should be a great day of basketball action. Here’s what’s on tap for the weekend…

*Kentucky @ Georgia
Somehow, the ‘Cats have made it 18 games into the season and not won a single game outside of Rupp Arena. They’re getting healthy now though and playing much better. UK G Ramel Bradley is certainly in the running for SEC Player of the Year. He and SEC Freshmen of the Year front runner Patrick Patterson should each have their way with UGA. Kentucky picks up the road win.

*LSU @ Alabama
The two coaches with the hottest seats in the conference square off in Tuscaloosa in a game that doesn’t even interest these two fan bases. Both squads are 1-5 in conference and searching for answers. Talent is in place on both teams, but Bama is playing without a true PG and can’t make FTs and LSU is shorthanded and has John Brady as their coach. The Tide will roll in this one.

*Florida @ Arkansas
This along with the UT/MSU game make Saturday a great day of SEC basketball. Arkansas dominated MSU Wednesday night and opened the door for themselves and Ole Miss to get back into the SEC West picture. Florida is tied atop the SEC East standings with UT at 5-1. The young Gators have been solid on the road in SEC, losing only in Oxford in a nail-biter, but the Hogs are a different team in Bud Walton. Like Wednesday night, the atmosphere will be electric and the Hogs land a victory over a ranked team.

*South Carolina @ Ole Miss
This will be a reunion of sorts for SC’s Devan Downey and Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy. Downey played for Kennedy in his interim year at Cincinnati in 2005-06 before transferring back home to South Carolina. Both teams are coming off big home wins. USC has two big guards that score a lot of points but not much in the middle, which is where Ole Miss makes its living. OM C Dwayne Curtis will bounce back from a 3-point effort against Vandy Wednesday night and lead the Rebels to victory.

*Auburn @ Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has to find a way to win a road game in conference. Period. End of Story. In the meantime, they can take out their frustrations on an overmatched, Auburn team that just lost at home to LSU. This one won’t be close. The Commodores roll.

*Tennessee @ Mississippi State
This will be a great game to watch as 2 teams with very contrasting styles clash in Starkville. UT looks to run teams ragged while MSU likes to slow things down and then guard the $*%& out of you. UT G Chris Lofton has finally regained his shooting touch, which he’ll need as MSU is holding teams to less than 40% from the floor in conference games. The Bulldogs will have to improve on their 5/22 Assist/Turnover ratio from Wednesday night to win this one. This will come down to how well UT shoots the ball from outside. MSU will have the advantage down low with Rhodes and Varnado, so UT will have to knock down jumpers to spread them out. After a tough win in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night, no reason to believe the shooting touch won’t carry over to the Hump. Vols win a good one.

And now for something completely different...

* Here's a good piece that asks the question "How has Billy Donovan not won SEC Coach of the Year before?" While I do agree it's surprising, I'm not sure I agree with the assertion that he will or even should win it this year. He and Andy Kennedy have both done remarkable jobs overachieving this year with very young, inexperienced teams. The race for Coach of the Year won't be decided most likely until the final week of the season. I don't think you can go wrong with either coach.

* On a football note, here are a couple of interesting links I’ve stumbled across the last few days…

- While they don't have a national title (yet), Georgia has established itself as the most consistent and winningest SEC program over the last decade (1998-2007)

- Using some sort of strange formula, Yahoo! Sports ranks the top 25 "dual-threat" programs based on success in football and basketball in the past decade. Not surprisingly, 5 SEC teams appear in the list, including 3 in the top 10. Click HERE to see the formula, since the link on the page isn't there...

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