As the college basketball early season begins to heat up with the start of the many holiday tournaments, I will be at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden tonight to check out a couple of very nice match-ups in the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
The semi-final games feature Busting Brackets’ Power 32 #26 Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State and St. John’s vs. #12 Arizona.
Both of these games are intriguing and the winners will face off at the Garden on Friday night.
- #26 Texas A&M (2-0) vs. Mississippi State (2-1)
Texas A&M, who was my pick as the preseason’s most overrated team, has served me an appetizer of crow, all be it by beating subpar competition, but doing so convincingly.
With Billy Kennedy back on the bench, the Aggies have defeated Liberty and Southern by an average of 23.5 points. I figured they would start off slowly because of the coaching change and then Coach Kennedy’s absence, but that has not been the case. A&M has been paced by forward Ray Turner’s 20 points and 7 rebounds per game.
However, tonight the Aggies will face, undoubtedly, their stiffest competition so far this season.
Mississippi State came into the season as a popular sleeper pick out of the SEC, but has already shown signs of repeating last year’s considerable turmoil.
Troubled 6’10 junior forward, Renardo Sidney, sat out the Bulldogs’ 80-65 win versus South Alabama and there have been mixed reports as to whether his absence was disciplinary or injury related. Regardless of Sidney’s status, MSU has plenty of talent to lean on, led by Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie.
This match-up should be a good one that comes down to the wire.
- St. John’s (3-0) vs. #12 Arizona (3-0)
St. John’s talented group of first-year division I college players will get their first opportunity to play under the bright lights of their home away from home.
The home crowd should be helpful to the Johnies, as they will face a tough-minded, Sean Miller coached team that, like the Red Storm, is 3-0, but has been tested by greater competition thus far. Arizona has faced some pretty good mid-major competition and has found a way to out will and out work Valpo, Duquesne and Ball State.
The Red Storm youngsters have looked impressive, but struggled at times with William & Mary and Lehigh, before dismantling UMBC.
This will be a solid test for Steve Lavin’s squad (who surprisingly were 2-point favorites the last time I checked). It will be interesting to see how Nurideen Lindsay, Moe Harkless and God’s Gift Achiuwa fare against real defense for the first time this year. Win or lose, this will be a valuable early season experience for St. John’s.
The bet here is that they will lose. Arizona and their balanced attack and aforementioned stingy defense, should be too much for the Red Storm at this stage of the season.
Who are you picking in tonight’s games?