College Basketball Update

While the Sixers have the day off before an impossible game @ Denver, let's take a look at some unpaid players, shall we?

Today's NCAA slate is pretty impressive.  I've already watched UConn's talent prevail over Notre Dame and Syracuse handed their first loss at home against an unspectacular Pitt team.  As of this writing, Illinois has overcome a huge deficit to lead Gonzaga late in OT, and Rhode Island is up over Oklahoma State.  Nova heads to Marquette later on and John Wall's Wildcats face a disappointing Louisville team in Lexington.  Derrick Favors and GTech take on the surprising Charlotte 49ers led by BC transfer Shamari Spears and impressive freshman Chris Braswell.  Stanford/Cal should also be a rare great game for the underwhelming Pac-10. 

But.

The game I'm most excited for is when the #1 Kansas Jayhawks travel to the Liacouras Center to face 18th ranked Temple.  And TAFKA Mike Bourn will be present.  After seeing a great game last week when Syracuse went to Seton Hall and won (Wes Johnson is good), I get my second game so far this break in North Philly.  Kansas has won each of its 12 wins by double digits, but has yet to play a ranked team.  However, 3 of Bill Self's next 5 games come against alliterative ranked opponents (Temple, Tennessee, Texas Tech).  This is also just KU's second game playing at an opponent's home court (crushed UCLA in Pauley Pavilion).  This could be a tough game for Kansas.

Temple, meanwhile, comes into today's game with an 11-2 record and their best ranking since Lynn Greer's 2001 team.  Fran Dunphy leads a solid group of players that suffered a close loss early on at Georgetown and a disappointing home loss to St. John's.  Their best win was clearly against #3 ranked Villanova also at the Liacouras Center, in which they won by 10 points.  Victorious over Siena, Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Seton Hall, the Owls have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 70 points in a game.  Controlling Kansas's many weapons (who've scored more than 70 in every game but one) will be very tough for this Temple defense.

Now let's take a look at some of the key players and their pro prospects in today's game.

Cole Aldrich - A freshman when Kansas went on their championship run, Cole has been a model of consistency this year in Lawrence.  At 6'11, 245, his role has slightly diminished since last season with the emergence of the Morris twins and their huge leads relegating him to the bench, but still averages a double double and almost 4 blocks per game.  I've been impressed with his team defense and quick, smooth rotations.  His offensive game is fairly simple, a jump shot extending to 15 feet out and a decent back to the basket game.  He plays very within himself, which causes him to disappear at times.  He'll be an average starting center in the NBA, but I'd be hesitant to use a top 5 pick on him because his upside is limited and he doesn't have game changing ability.  For me, he sits around 8-10 on the board.

Xavier Henry - Pronounced Zaviay (not phonetically), which makes him even more awesome.  Despite having a crazy dad and a brother whose baseball career completely flamed out in the Phils farm system, Henry brings an amazing skill set to Kansas in his freshman year.  While he's not the most athletic player on the court, he can shoot the piss out of the ball (46% from beyond) and he's built like a Ford truck (I didn't get paid for that).  He's got good size for a 2-guard and his ball handling continues to improve.  He needs to improve on defense and court vision, but he's a top prospect because of how efficient he is shooting the basketball (52% FG).  Unless we get rid of Thad or 'Dre, he's not a good fit for us, but I'd put him somewhere between 4-6 on my board. 

Lavoy Allen - The junior 6'9 power forward from Pennsbury High School (my rival school) has yet to realize all of his potential, but I think he's a late first round pick if he left this year.  Averaging a double-double with surprisingly good court vision for a big man, Lavoy makes the game look relatively effortless.  He gravitates to rebounds and has a developing jump shot from 15 feet and can sometimes step out and hit the trey.  He needs to work on low post moves, but plays good on-ball defense despite being a little light in the cakes.  I'd like to see him muscle up and take a more active role in the game.  When he was a senior in high school (so was I), he played dominated in a tournament at my high school and I did play-by-play for the radio station.  Also on that team was current West Virginia freshman Dalton Pepper, who will be dirty for the fat piece of crap who prefers being called Bob Huggins.

Juan Fernandez - Great size for the Argentinian point guard at 6'4 with tremendous vision and an upstart offensive game, Fernandez was a wild card on last year's team, but is a legitimate A-10 first teamer right now.  He's a pass-first point guard that has recently become a big offensive threat, especially from behind the line -- shooting over 46%.  He hasn't gotten as many assists recently because of poor shooting from the wing players, but in 32 minutes per game, Juan averages only 1.8 turnovers.  He hasn't been getting much national hype yet, but with a solid performance today, and his 33 points in the win against Nova, he could be a candidate to leave early not this year, but possibly next.  His matchup against Sherron Collins will be a fun one to watch because this kid can flat out play.

I've got Kansas winning this game by about 8 because they have too much depth for Temple to overcome, but if the Owls can stump Bill Self's team with their defense, things could get interesting.  I'm pumped.  I'll be wearing my cherry and white.  If I get trampled while storming the court, well, so be it. 

Use this as a discussion board for any college basketball news or opinions.  Tanner's still nursing his wounds after a gruesome loss to William and Mary (!!)  Anyway, Go TU!

Additional side note: If you look on the left of your screen, you'll see a new widget -- the LB big board.  I'll keep updating that as we keep pumping out the votes.  That is all.

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