By Jon Rothstein
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1. WILL BUTLER MAKE A SPLASH IN THEIR ATLANTIC 10 OPENER?
We think so, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to win.
A road game at Saint Joseph’s is an arduous way to begin play in a new conference but the Bulldogs already have a victory against Indiana on their resume and will be far from intimidated.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Butler’s jump to the Atlantic 10 was whether or not their front court could handle bigger, stronger opponents on a nightly basis. That notion will be tested as the Bulldogs’ trio of Roosevelt Jones, Khyle Marshall, and Andrew Smith goes up against the Hawks’ baseline of Halil Kancevic, Ron Roberts, and C.J. Aiken.
Saint Joseph’s was picked to win the league in the preseason and while they haven’t completely looked like the team many envisioned at the start of the year, Phil Martelli’s team appears to be rounding into form.
2. IS IT POSSIBLE FOR TREY BURKE TO PLAY ANY BETTER?
We don’t think so, but Michigan has been so fun to watch this season that it’s worth tuning in to find out.
In the Wolverines’ last five games, Burke is averaging 20.8 PPG, has dished out 44 assists, and only committed four turnovers.
That’s silly numbers for a floor general that is simply on a different level right now.
The 15-0 Wolverines host Nebraska tonight in Ann Arbor.
3. WILL MINNESOTA’S DEPTH WEAR DOWN ILLINOIS?
Not if Nnannu Egwu plays the way he did against Ohio State on Saturday.
The 6-11 sophomore is coming off a terrific game against the Buckeyes (16 points, eight rebounds) and will need to be a consistent presence on the backboards if the Illini are to hold off the upstart Gophers.
Minnesota has two relentless offensive rebounders in Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe and Egwu will have to hold his own on the glass for John Groce’s team to improve to 2-1 in Big Ten play.
4. CAN SETON HALL HANDLE LOUISVILLE’S PRESSURE?
It all depends on Tom Maayan.
The Pirates’ freshman point guard has been steady but far from spectacular as Seton Hall’s starting floor general and his ability will be severely tested against the Cardinals.
Rick Pitino’s teams have notoriously turned opponents over as regularly as anyone in college basketball over the past few decades. It could be a long night for the Pirates in Newark if Maayan can’t navigate Louisville’s full-court pressure.
5. WILL ELI CARTER COME OFF THE BENCH FOR RUTGERS AGAINST ST. JOHN’S?
We think so simply because of how well Jerome Seagears played in the Scarlet Knights’ win over Pitt on Saturday.
The sophomore floor general broke out of an early season slump and looked like the player we saw towards the end of last season when he scored seven points, dished out six assists, and grabbed four rebounds in the 67-62 win.
His place in the starting lineup means Carter, the team’s leading scorer will likely come off the bench — and that may not be such a bad thing.
The 6-2 sophomore has the ability to be one of the better scorers in the Big East if he can just improve his shot selection and leadership. In a little over a season with the Scarlet Knights, Carter has had a hand in several major victories, including a 32-point performance last year in a win over Florida.
A move to the bench shouldn’t bother Carter as long as he’s still playing 30 minutes a game and continues to be one of the major focal points of Mike Rice’s offense.
Think you have the answers? Be heard in the comments!