Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pay's Pick & Roll - January 2, 2008

Conference Play Is Here

Hallelujah! Full-scale conference play is finally here, yet I had a hole in my heart thanks to the alma mater - shortly after 5pm Eastern time no less!

Over the last few weeks, I've been consumed with things other than college basketball, yet I assure you that while the updates will not be daily as I originally would have hoped, it will be more regular as conference play continues to take shape. What I love about the start of conference play is the optimism that almost all teams carry into the season. Unless your team has a RPI in the 300s, then it's likely that at this point, they have yet to go through that February funk. They have yet to take possessions off. They have yet to give up on their coach. Freshmen are still freshmen, and even if Dick Vitale had a voice, he'd wait until late February or early March to remark that "they (freshmen - usually from Duke) are no longer freshmen".

With all of the love showered upon conference play, recognition must be given to the likes of Kent State, who fearlessly traveled to Chapel Hill to battle the Tar Heels (albeit, in defeat); to Houston and Massachusetts for putting on an entertaining end-to-end show; and to Ohio University who will play absolutely anyone, anywhere, anytime if given the opportunity.

Here are some key matchups leading into the weekend:

Non-Conference Play
Virginia @ Xavier - Singletary versus Lavender is more than enough reason to watch this game.

Conference Play
UCLA @ Stanford - Can UCLA stop the Lopez twins? Can Anthony Goods involve himself early and often when being gloved by Darren Collison? This game could literally mean millions to Brook Lopez and Kevin Love.
Providence @ Marquette - Stocks are up in Creanland. Four Friars averaging double-digit points may very well initiate depreciation.
Marist @ Rider - Some love for the little guys. Don't use that term around Syracuse transfer Louie McCroskey or the other Mr. Double Double Jason Thompson (19.9ppg, 11.0rpg, 2.9bpg).

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