By Jon Rothstein
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1. MILLER EXPECTED TO PLAY FOR FLORIDA STATE AGAINST MINNESOTA
Florida State junior guard Ian Miller is expected to play on Tuesday night against Minnesota in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the school confirmed late on Monday. Miller, who is averaging 8.8 PPG, missed the Seminoles’ previous tilt against North Florida last week due to a bone bruise in his right foot, but began practicing again with the team on Sunday.
The showdown with the Golden Gophers is the beginning of a pivotal nine-day stretch for Florida State. The Seminoles also host Florida next Wednesday, December 5, in Tallahassee.
“We’ve got a young team that’s finding themselves,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said last week. “I hope we can find ourselves early without having some of the losses we’ve had the past few years at the start of the season.”
Florida State already has victories over BYU and Atlantic 10 favorite Saint Joseph’s, but they could really make a statement nationally in the next week-and-a-half by beating both Minnesota and Florida. The Golden Gophers enter tonight’s game with a 6-1 record after going 2-1 in the Battle 4 Atlantis last weekend.
2. UCLA WILL MISS LAMB
It’s been a rough few days for UCLA.
The Bruins squandered an 18-point second-half lead in a loss to Cal Poly at home on Sunday night, and then may have lost their best perimeter defender when junior guard Tyler Lamb announced his intentions to transfer.
For a team that’s been struggling to find an identity defensively, the loss of Lamb could really hurt UCLA. The Bruins have struggled to stop teams from penetrating into the paint in every game they’ve played this year, and Lamb, who had been nursing a knee injury, was their best hope for a lockdown guy on the wing.
Last season as a sophomore, Lamb averaged nine points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He will be eligible to play in December of 2013, and has a season-and-a-half of eligibility remaining.
3. DIENG OUT FOUR TO SIX WEEKS WITH WRIST INJURY
Louisville announced that starting center Gorgui Dieng will miss four to six weeks with a broken left wrist.
Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said he’s hopeful that Dieng will return by the middle of the Big East season.
Dieng was averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebound and 2.0 blocks for Louisville this season, but the Cardinals still have capable people to fill his spot in freshman Montrezl Harrell and senior Stephan Van Treese.
Before the season began, Pitino told me that his team’s greatest attribute was its depth.
“We’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts,” Pitino said in early October. “We’re much deeper than we were last year.”
The Cardinals will likely be without Dieng for their annual in-state tilt with Kentucky at the KFC Yum Center on December 29. Without their dominant center, it will be a tall task for Louisville to match up inside with the Wildcats’ interior tandem of freshmen Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein.
4. COBBS, CRABBE PACE CAL
Could Cal have the best backcourt in college basketball? Quite possibly.
The Bears’ tandem of Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe is playing at an unbelievably high level — even if it is late November.
Through six games, Cobbs is averaging 20 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.7 APG, while the 6-foor-6 Crabbe is tallying 22 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 2.7 APG. Both are shooting over 40 percent from three-point range.
We’ve felt for a long time that if Crabbe played on the East Coast people would say that he’s the next Jeremy Lamb — he’s that good.
We’ll know a lot more about this team after their next three games. The Bears are at Wisconsin and then return home to Berkeley for showdowns with UNLV and Creighton.
5. IVERSON MAKING IMPACT FOR COLORADO STATE
The transfer with the biggest impact in college basketball may be playing in the Mountain West Conference.
Colorado State big man Colton Iverson has been an absolute menace for the Rams, averaging a double-double (16.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG) and giving his teammates a low post presence that they didn’t have last year.
With Iverson and bruising forward Pierce Hornung, Colorado State will be an absolute nuisance to play against this year.
Look for the Mountain West to again push for four bids to the NCAA Tournament, with the Rams, UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico.