Top 5: The best upcoming college hoops games
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
College basketball fans will get a strong strong dose of intense matchups this weekend, thanks largely to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, which could set up a showdown between No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 5 Duke on Saturday. That’s if an upset doesn’t happen, though, and it’s highly likely after the Cardinals almost lost to Northern Iowa Thursday night.
That’s only the first order. Three premier matchups highlight next week’s slate. Here are our top five games on deck.
Battle 4 Atlantis pairings | Friday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET, NBC
No. 5 Duke vs. VCU (7): Coach Shaka Smart and the Rams are no stranger to playing Giant-killer. After a Final Four run in 2011 and another strong showing last season, VCU switched from the CAA to the Atlantic 10, a league that has the potential to send five teams to the NCAA tournament. But until heated conference play starts up for the Rams, a difficult non-conference slate stands in their way. After a huge win over No. 19 Memphis, now an even-bigger showdown awaits vs. Duke on a neutral court. The Blue Devils have looked like a top five team early on, beating then-No. 3 Kentucky and cruising to a 4-0 start. Seniors Mason Plumlee (21.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and Seth Curry (18.3 ppg) have stepped up this season. This should be an easy Duke win, but then again the Blue Devils were supposed to have an easy win vs. Lehigh in the NCAA tournament. We all know that didn’t work out well for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players last season.
Our pick: Duke
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 14 Missouri (9:30): The Cardinals barely avoided an upset against mid-major Northern Iowa on Thursday in a 51-46 loss in which coach Rick Pitino said “they made us look bad.” Louisville will have to play much better against Missouri to advance to the tournament championship. The Tigers aren’t as good as they were last season, but they’re still capable of an offensive onslaught with Phil Pressey (16 ppg, 5.5 apg) at the controls. Louisville’s … [For more on Top 5: The best upcoming college hoops games, click here.]