By Jon Rothstein
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1. CAN MARYLAND TURN THINGS AROUND AGAINST NC STATE?
It all depends on their guard play.
Mark Turgeon has openly said that he’s considering using sophomore Nick Faust at point guard against the Wolfpack, simply because the Terrapins haven’t been getting the same type of play in the backcourt that they were at the beginning of the season.
Pe’Shon Howard has really struggled recently after a terrific start to the year, only handing out two assists while committing four turnovers in the last two games.
To beat NC State, Maryland will have to take care of the ball and hold their own on the backboards. C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell are playing at an unbelievably high level right now and look like one of the better frontcourt combinations in America. Howell is coming off an 18-rebound performance in Saturday’s win over Duke.
2. HOW WILL UNLV PLAY ON THE ROAD AT SAN DIEGO STATE?
We think well, but ultimately not well enough to win.
The Runnin’ Rebels have one of the more talented rosters in America, but their chemistry just isn’t right. After a breakout year at power forward last season, Mike Moser is now caught in a little bit of a logjam up front with Khem Birch and freshman Anthony Bennett. Dave Rice has tried to play all three together, but it’s very clear that no one in that trio is a true small forward.
Also, this team is still playing without a pure point guard and it doesn’t look like there is one on UNLV’s roster.
All those variables make it hard for us to believe that UNLV can go on the road and beat a San Diego State team that looks like the squad to be reckoned with in the upstart Mountain West Conference.
3. WILL DAYTON GET THEIR FIRST ATLANTIC 10 WIN?
Consider it a toss-up.
No team in the Atlantic 10 has had a tougher start to the conference slate than the Flyers. Archie Miller’s team started league play at VCU, then returned home to play Butler and will now travel to Philadelphia to take on a sneaky good La Salle team.
The Explorers are coming off a solid home win against Richmond and will be a tough matchup because of their versatility on the perimeter.
Keep an eye on Tyrone Garland. The transfer from Virginia Tech has been terrific in the eight games he’s played for La Salle, averaging 14.3 PPG.
4. CAN COLORADO RIGHT THE SHIP AGAINST WASHINGTON?
The Buffaloes have gotten off to a 1-3 start in PAC-12 play after dropping a close game at home last weekend to UCLA. Tad Boyle’s team still has the ability to challenge for a place in the conference’s top third, but they can’t dig themselves too big of a hole.
The Huskies, meanwhile, are off to a 3-0 start in league play after a disappointing non-conference portion of their schedule.
Washington has been anchored by a real solid inside/outside combo of C.J. Wilcox and Aziz N’diaye.
5. WHICH BCS TEAM THAT PLAYS WEDNESDAY IS ON THE RISE?
The Cyclones may have lost a tough game last week at Kansas, but Fred Hoiberg’s team proved that they’re more than capable of beating anyone in their conference.
There’s no surefire pro on this Iowa State team like there was last year with Royce White, but Hoiberg still likes where this group is headed.
“We’ve gotten better and we’re taking care of the ball,” Hoiberg said on Tuesday. “That’s a credit to Korie Lucious, who’s doing a much better job at running things. Our lineup is balanced. We’ve got five guys on the floor who can make a shot.”
Lucious has handed out 11 assists in his last two games and Hoiberg is also especially pleased with the development of freshman forward Georges Niang.
“He’s been great,” Hoiberg said of the 6-foot-7 Niang, who’s averaging 11.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG. “He can really bring the opposing big man away from the basket because of his ability to stretch the defense.”
The Cyclones will host West Virginia tonight in Ames.
THIS AND THAT:
– Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said that Beavers forward Eric Moreland will return from suspension on Saturday at USC. Moreland has missed the last two games for Oregon State, who is now 0-3 in PAC-12 play. The 6-foot-10 sophomore is averaging 10.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG and 2.7 BPG.
– Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said that Carl Hall will likely return from a thumb injury on Wednesday night against Illinois State. The 6-foot-8 Hall hasn’t played since December 13 and was averaging 13.9 PPG and 7.6 RPG for the 15-2 Shockers prior to getting hurt.
– UMass announced on Tuesday that shooting guard Jesse Morgan will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. We feel for Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg on this one. Morgan had emerged as UMass’ best perimeter defender and was a capable offensive player, scoring 35 points in an early-season win against Ohio. The 6-foot-5 Morgan was averaging 13.4 PPG and will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by senior Freddie Riley.
– Auburn is 2-0 in the SEC and will likely be without freshman guard Jordan Price until at least early February, Tigers coach Tony Barbee said on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5 Price had a stretch of three straight games in double figures in December, but was lost just before Christmas with a stress fracture in his foot.
– UCLA point guard Larry Drew continues to play brilliantly for the Bruins. In his past five games, Drew has dished out 35 assists while only committing nine turnovers. The former North Carolina floor general is averaging 8.1 APG this season.
Does Maryland have enough firepower to upset NC State tonight? Give us your predictions in the comments section below…