The NCAA Tip-Off Marathon is on ESPN all day today, featuring some great games around all of college basketball. The jewel of the day is in the ACC between #2 Kentucky and #5 Duke this evening, but here’s a preview of all of the other games from around the ACC.
Milwaukee (3-0) Vs. #18 Notre Dame (1-0), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN3.com
- In a weird scheduling quirk, Milwaukee will already be playing it’s fourth game of the season on Tuesday night. Their three wins are tied for the D-1 lead with Northern Illinois.
- In the first game of the Post-Grant/Connaughton Era in South Bend, Demetrius Jackson took it upon himself to shoulder the scoring load, tallying a career-high 27 points on 10-14 shooting in the Irish’s 87-56 win on Friday against St. Francis.
- Milwaukee has lost six straight contests against ranked opponents.
- Forward Austin Arians is the early scoring leader for the Panthers, averaging a shade over 15 points per game in leading his team to their best three-game start since the 2011 season.
The Irish are longer and more athletic than Milwaukee, as the tandem of guard Demetrius Jackson and forward Zach Auguste will prove to be too much for the Panthers to handle on the road in South Bend. Look for the advantage on the boards to go to the Irish, with Auguste looking to build off of his 14 rebound effort in Friday’s opener.
Notre Dame 80 Milwaukee 56
Hartford (1-1) Vs. Louisville (1-0), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN3.com
- Hartford is a dangerous team due to the fact that they live and die by the three. They are averaging nearly 25 threes per contest in their first two games this season.
- Louisville will lean on Damion Lee, a Drexel transfer, for an offensive boost. He fought through early foul trouble to score 14 points on Friday against Samford in his debut with the Cardinals.
The most interesting aspect of this game is how the Cardinals will decide to play defense against the Hawks. Hartford lives and dies with the three point field goal, as they have already attempted 49 through their first two games this season. I’d expect the Cardinals to press Hartford in order to get some tired, heavy legs under those three point shooters for the Hawks. If the Cardinals contain sharpshooting guards Justin Graham and Pancake Thomas (yes, that is indeed his name), Louisville should pull away late.
Louisville 64 Hartford 47
St. Bonaventure (1-0) Vs. Syracuse (1-0), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN3.com
- On a young Syracuse team with a good bit of turnover, senior guard Trevor Cooney and freshman Malachi Richardson are the two sharpshooters on this year’s squad. The orange love to play that gruesome zone defense and shoot a ton of threes, as they poured in 11 out of 34 from downtown in the season opening win against a scrappy Lehigh squad.
- Bonnies wing Dion Wright led three players in double figures with 20 points in their season opening win against Binghamton.
- If Wright doesn’t get going for St. Bonaventure, they could have a tough go of it offensively. The team largely struggled from the field in the opener, shooting just 37% from the field as a team, and only 21% from beyond the arc.
This is a game where points will be at a premium. Neither team is an offensive juggernaut by any stretch, but the Bonnies certainly have the athleticism to hang around in this one, especially if Syracuse can’t get the threes to fall early. In a battle of the defenses, I give the Orange a slight edge due to how aggressive their zone scheme can be and how it can wear on teams, especially in the second half.
Syracuse 58 St. Bonaventure 52
St. Joseph’s (IND) Vs. Pittsburgh (0-0), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN3.com
- Pittsburgh’s opener was a back and forth affair against #9 Gonzaga, but was canceled at the half in Okinawa, Japan due to treacherous floor conditions. The Panthers were leading 37-35 at the half when the game was called.
- Michael Young led the way for the Panthers in the first half of the game that ultimately did not count, tallying 11 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
- This will be the first time that the Panthers will be opening their season against a Division II opponent since the 1990 season.
Do I even need to explain? Jamel Artis, James Robinson, and Michael Young are Division I basketball players for a reason. I like Pitt in a rout.
Pittsburgh 88 St. Joseph’s College 37
#2 Kentucky (2-0) Vs. #5 Duke (2-0), 7:30 PM ET on ESPN
- This game will be decided by which young low post player will perform best when the lights are brightest. Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere will be pitted against Duke’s Chase Jeter for a majority of tonight’s contest.
- This will be the first real test to date for both clubs, as neither team has yet to play a ranked opponent in this young season.
- How will Kentucky contain Grayson Allen tonight? Allen has performed admirably in an increased role, averaging 27 points per game through the first two games this season.
This game is fascinating, because both clubs are extremely young and very guard-heavy. Two of the top three picks in the NBA Draft were low post players from these two schools, displaying the attrition felt in the new season up front for both of these teams. I’ll take Duke in this one, because I believe that Grayson Allen and an improved Amile Jefferson will be the difference. Kentucky should be able to hang around for a while though due to the low post presence of Skal Labissiere.
Duke 78 Kentucky 70
Jacksonville (0-1) Vs. Florida State (1-0), 9:00 PM ET ESPN3.com
- Guard Kori Babineaux is the player to watch for Jacksonville in this game, as he averaged a shade under 15 points per contest last season and is looking to avenge a tough shooting night in the opener in which he only scored eight points on 3 of 8 shooting.
- Babineaux was the only player in the Atlantic Sun Conference last season to rank in the top 10 in scoring, assists, field goal percentage, and steals.
- For Florida State, Xavier Rathan-Mayes looks to continue his positive momentum from his breakout freshman campaign into this season. He is joined in the backcourt by Dwayne Bacon, who was a pleasant surprise in the opener, scoring 23 points against Nichols State.
All in all, Florida State is just too talented. I would like to see how Rathan-Mayes defends Babineaux in this game one-on-one, but other than that, there’s not a ton to look forward to in this one as a neutral viewer.
Florida State 80 Jacksonville 62