Location: Cassell Coliseum – Blacksburg, Virginia
Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Time: 5:00 PM TV: ESPN3
The ACC in January seems like a bit of a far-fetched dream for a team from the WCC, but that’s exactly what the Cougars get to set off a potential death march of three straight tough games against the Hokies, Saint Mary’s, and punctuated next week with Gonzaga. The Hokies were 11-3 this season prior to league play, losing to Syracuse and Kansas State, while beating virtually nobody. However, the season dropped off once league play started and the Hokies lost their first four before squeaking one out against ranked in-state foe, Virginia. They are now 12-7 (1-4 ACC).
What to watch for:
The Cougars are making a long journey east to reach Blacksburg. Will they be ready to face the Hokies who are looking to make a statement that they aren’t as bad as they have been playing as of late? The Cougars have to shake off the unexpected loss to Loyola Marymount last week and win this game to keep momentum going for themselves heading into the WCC monster two-step. The other thing to watch for: freshman point guard Matt Carlino. He’s been on a slump lately and against Pepperdine he didn’t score and only registered two assists. He’s gun shy and his confidence seems to be lacking. Can he get it going again?
The Cougars will settle in early with what they know best – dump the ball to Hartsock and Davies down low and let the flow of the game come to them. That will force a double down against the Hokies’ man defense leaving a shooter open to take some threes. If BYU can get the three to fall, get Hartsock and Davies to their combined season average of 31 points, and keep the turnovers to a minimum, the Cougars should be just fine. It will be close, but I am predicting a Cougar victory.
Location: Marriott Center – Provo, UT
Date: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Time: 7:00 PM TV: ESPNU
I really like a lot of the names/mascots for the teams in the WCC and Saint Mary’s in no exception. So I googled the name and SMC has a webpage dedicated to its explanation. Click here if you are interested to read it.
The Gaels seem destined to win the WCC regular season this year. They remain undefeated and have knocked off both of the other likely teams to make a run – BYU and Gonzaga, albeit it home. However, both wins were convincing. How will they fare on the road, first at BYU and then at Gonzaga on Feb 9?
What to watch for:
In the last matchup, BYU’s first ever WCC game, the Cougars turned the ball over 15 times, Matt Carlino was overwhelmed by junior guard Matthew Dellavedova, and Rob Jones had 24 points as BYU struggled to find an answer for him. Brandon Davies has a career night, scoring 28 points for BYU but a sluggish start to the second half put the game out of BYU’s reach. BYU will have to manage turnovers, rebound the ball, hit the three, and play defense as a team to keep this one close. The other key will be starting each half and I’ve watched BYU consistently struggle at the onset of games and halves. Make some shots and play defense, and this game will stay in BYU’s control.
The Marriott Center should be rocking, despite the return of fan favorite Jimmer Fredette playing against the Jazz in SLC. This crowd should be super loud and super rowdy and poised to help the Cougars exact revenge for their earlier loss. It will be close, but BYU should win.
Editorial side note: If you have ever wanted to tailgate before a basketball game, this will be your chance. The boys over at CougarCenter.net will be hosting just like they did during the football season. I won’t be able to attend, but it promises to be a great time.