|ESPN's College Gameday will be in Syracuse when the Orange look to break the record for attendance at an on-campus basketball game. (cbssports.com)|
BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.
Mark March 1 on the calendar and don't plan anything else for the evening. On the surface, Kansas traveling to Gallagher-Iba to duel with Oklahoma State doesn't have the sheen of a "classic" matchup or rivalry. Dig into some recent Big 12 history and you'll find the Cowboys, even in down years, almost always play the Jayhawks close, if not winning outright.
Gallagher-Iba in Stillwater, Okla., is about as underrated as college basketball arenas get; the atmosphere will be super-charged with Cowboy fans and a large, well-traveled Jayhawk contingent. The stage will be set before the two young, highly hyped teams take the court. Two of the best players in college hoops - two projected to be lottery picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, at that - will each try to propel their teams to a win, as Marcus Smart holds down the point for OSU and Andrew Wiggins goes for what would be one of his most sterling accomplishments in his (probably) lone NCAA season. Check out the rosters and you'll see multiple other high school All-Americans filling roles across the board. Between the Dukes, Kentuckys and Louisvilles, don't overlook KU and the Pokes.
I live in Big 12 country, and I have grown up watching and being a fan of the conference. So naturally I can't wait for Kansas and Oklahoma State. These two teams are the clear favorites to battle for the conference crown, and KU's Andrew Wiggins and OSU's Marcus Smart should be two of the best players in the country this year.
But because of my Big 12 ties, I am going to pick another game that I'm very interested in seeing, and that is Duke vs. Syracuse. The storylines here make for must-see TV. Two blueblood programs. Two hall of fame coaches. Syracuse playing its first season in the ACC. That would be enough there, but add in the fact that Syracuse is considering moving the court to the center of the Carrier Dome to break the all-time attendance record for a basketball game on a college campus, and this could be one of the biggest games of the year. Syracuse already has the record for attendance, with 35,012 fans on Feb. 23, 2013 when the Orange and Georgetown faced off for the final time in what is now the old Big East. Kicking off a new conference rivalry is great, and breaking an attendance record with a atmosphere that is sure to be going crazy makes this a game fans will be circling on their calendars now.
I can't wait to see Kansas and Oklahoma State go at it. These two teams will be battling for the Big 12 crown after putting on two classic games last year. One of their two games went into double overtime with the Jayhawks coming on top.
This year Kansas adds one of the most intriguing prospects we've seen in years to the mix with Andrew Wiggins. In my opinion, seeing Wiggins in the national spotlight makes this a can't miss game.
I actually have to give the four-letter network some credit here; there's only one "Big East" game and one ACC matchup here. Giving the Palestra some love is a nice touch, too. Of course, they do have the Dukies on twice, and Digger Phelps will have a live microphone, but...let's stay positive! Good set of matchups. In no particular order, these are the games I would consider to be appointment viewing.
Florida at Kentucky: If you only had to pick one SEC matchup, well, yes, this is it...and both teams will know it. For the perpetually baby-faced Wildcats, this will be a chance to make a statement both to the selection committee and the draft analysts. If anyone still cares about regular season conference titles, well this game will matter for that as well. The Gators have a couple star frosh coming in, Kasey Hill at point guard and big man Chris Walker will compete for starting spots. Patric Young and Scotty Wilbekin headline the returning class.
Michigan at Michigan State: ohh, if you didn't know - Sparty did NOT like watching the Wolverines in the title game. No, sir. Roundball is where they can really throw their weight around against big brother, so that event was a real eye-opener for the MSU folks. This, naturally, is their chance to reassert the old world order: y'all are a football school, and Izzo is King.
Gonzaga at Memphis:
Okay, fair warning: some hating here...this feels like a fake nod to the "mid majors", and while these are both fine programs in their own right, they shouldn't have to play each other to get ESPN's attention. Like arm-wresting for the wishbone at the kid's table on Thanksgiving. If you want to do a real mid-major spotlight, put Wichita and Creighton on the tube or something bold like that. This has that "Boise St vs TCU" bowl game feel, and while it's a great opportunity for these schools, it feels patronizing from the network types.
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