Now two weeks in, the College Basketball season has gotten off to a very intriguing start, with several of the pre-season favourites being tested early. Another exciting Wednesday slate awaits us here, headlined by Duke looking to rebound from their loss to Gonzaga as they play host to Indiana. Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Michigan State also feature in a jam-packed day of action. With Wednesdays and Fridays typically being very strong days on the College Basketball calendar, we’ll be continuing with previews on these days throughout the season.
Penn State Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions enter this one at a middling 3-2, losing 2 of their last 3 games. Junior Forward Lamar Stevens has been by far the team’s best player this season, averaging a shade under 25 points and 9 boards so far. Freshman Guard Rasir Bolton has also provided a nice spark off the bench, averaging in double digits so far. The Nittany Lions are a rather thin team that tends to run only an 8-man rotation, which could struggle against a deep Hokies team.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies enter this one as the #13 ranked team in the country after an impressive 5-0 start. Senior Guard Ahmed Hill has led the way offensively, averaging 15 points and 3 boards per game. He has been supported capably in the backcourt by fellow senior Justin Robinson, who’s averaging 15.5 points and 6 assists of his own. One of the few problems with this Hokies side is the lack of an interior presence and they’ve struggled on the glass at times so far.
Prediction: Virginia Tech -1.5
I really don’t think the Nittany Lions are all that good of a team this season. The Hokies are a strong outfit filled with two-way players that should have enough talent for the comfortable road cover here.
The Cardinals enter this one at 3-2 after consecutive losses to both Tennessee and Marquette. 6th man Jordan Nwora is the only team member putting up consistent offence, averaging 18 points and 7 boards so far. The rest of this Cardinals offence has very much struggled, with a handful of players averaging between 6-9 points per game. Against a ferocious Spartans defence, I expect them to struggle here.
Michigan State Spartans
After an opening night loss to Kansas, the Spartans enter this one off the back of 5 straight double-digit victories, including wins over both UCLA and Texas. Junior Shooting Guard Joshua Langford has had a strong start to the campaign, averaging a very efficient 18.5 points and 4 rebounds per game so far. He’s been capably supported in the backcourt by Point Guard Cassius Winston, who dropped a 20-point double-double last time out against Texas.
Prediction: Michigan State -5
I know I’m bullish on the Spartans, but this line is far too low here. This is a veteran team with a significant talent edge on both sides of the ball. I expect their strong backcourt to prove too much here in a comfortable road win.
Wisconsin enter this one at 5-1 after suffering a loss to the #4 ranked Virginia Cavaliers last time out. This was despite an excellent performance from Forward Ethan Happ, who put up 22 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. Sophomore Point Guard D’Mitrik Trice has also helped carry the load offensively, averaging 17 points per game and shooting a scorching 57% from 3. The Badgers are another team that don’t really rely on their bench and will definitely need more than the 5 bench points they got last time out.
NC State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack enter this one with an impressive 6-0 record and currently sit first in the ACC. A strong NC State offence is averaged by their 3 starting guards, each of whom is averaging in double digits so far. Senior Shooting Guard Torin Dorn has led the way with an average of 18 points and 7 rebounds per game, whilst C.J. Bryce and Markell Johnson have combined for an extra 23 between them. Without a strong interior presence, one area where the Wolfpack have struggled this season is on the boards.
Prediction: NC State +8
I think these two teams are a bit more even than the generous 8-point spread would suggest. This is a strong offensive team with very capable playmakers that can keep them in this one on the road. I could see NC State pulling this out, but I’m definitely more comfortable with the 8 points.
Duke Blue Devils
Duke enter this one at 5-1, their loss to Gonzaga last time out pushing them out to the #3 ranked team in the nation. Power Forward Zion Williamson has received a ton of hype this season, averaging 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on 65% shooting so far. Shooting Guard RJ Barrett looks like a frontrunner to be the #1 pick in the 2019 draft, averaging a cool 23 points, 6 boards and 4 assists per game. Cam Reddish rounds out Duke’s trio of freshmen stars, averaging an efficient 15 points as he shoots 43% from 3.
The Hoosiers make this daunting trip also at 5-1, winning each of their games by 14 or more points. Power Forward Juwan Morgan had an excellent display in a win over UC Davis last time out, putting up an efficient 31 points and 10 boards. He has been complemented nicely in the scoring department by freshman guard Romeo Langford, who’s put up a cool 18 points and 6 boards so far. Indiana is a team that relies very heavily on their starters and I wonder if they’ll be able to cope with Duke’s pace here.
Prediction: Duke -14.5
You’re paying a bit of a premium with Duke at this point, but Coach K has always had his teams fired up after a loss. I’m expecting a big night from both RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson here as the Blue Devils cruise to a comfortable win.