With conference play starting to heat up and March Madness right around the corner, college basketball is really starting to get interesting. While Kentucky and Virginia are the cream of the crop in college basketball, this year in particular there is a large group of teams in the next tier that is really pushing college basketball to the next level. Here on the grill, we will have daily coverage of the most important college basketball games going on. Here is what we have on slate for today
National Game of the Day: #25 Iowa (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten) @ #6 Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Wisconsin rebounded from an embarrassing road loss at Rutgers last week to handily beat Nebraska 70-55. Frank Kaminsky returned to the lineup and provided a major scoring boost that was missing at Rutgers. However, Traevon Jackson did not play as he nurses an ankle injury and is expected to miss tonight’s game as well. Expect the offense to run through Kaminsky as well as sophomore forward Sam Dekker. Wisconsin is currently 56th in the country at 73.3 points per game while shooting a scorching 48.8%. They have lost just one time at home, to Duke, and other than that, they have steam rolled every opponent at home. Meanwhile, for Iowa, they are a team starting to click, winning 5 of their last 6 games, including sweeping Ohio State. There offense runs through senior forward Aaron White, who is averaging 16.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The battle between White and Kaminsky will likely determine the game. I believe Wisconsin wins this game, and the score will be 79-68 as Frank Kaminsky is just too much to handle.
While the SEC is Kentucky and then everyone else, these two teams are in that next tier and both will be vying for tournament bids come March. They both feature explosive offenses, averaging over 72 points per game and this should be an exciting contest. Georgia has played very well in the SEC so far beating Florida and Vanderbilt in their past two contests. They feature a very balanced offensive attack, led by Senior Forward Marcus Thorton, who is averaging 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. They have four players averaging over 11 points per game and are a good shooting team. Ole Miss is built in a similar mold, with three upper classmen averaging 12 points per game or more. Both teams are well coached and have great senior leadership so we will give the edge to the home team. Georgia wins in a close one, 75-70.
#3 Game of the Day: Kansas State (11-7, 4-1 Big 12) @ #9 Iowa State (13-3, 3-1 Big 12)
This matchup features two of the hottest teams in the country and two teams that have totally opposite styles. Kansas State is a grind it out, defensive team, averaging just 65.6 points per game, who has reeled off four straight wins, including a road overtime upset over Oklahoma and a home upset over Baylor. On the other hand, Iowa State has one of the most explosive offenses in the game, averaging 80.3 points per game coming off a 2-1 stretch vs. three ranked teams, including a massive win against Kansas. This could be a trap game for the Cyclones. Kansas State is lead by sharpshooting guard Marcus Foster, who averages 13.6 points per game. On the Iowa State end, Georges Niang is one of the best players in the country, averaging 14.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He is a matchup nightmare and if he is rolling, Iowa State usually rolls as well. However, Kansas State’s ability to control tempo should allow them to stay in this game. I say Iowa State in a close one, 71-63.
Top Mid Major Game of the Day: #22 Dayton (15-2, 5-0 Atlantic 10) @ Davidson (12-4, 3-2 Atlantic 10)
Dayton is an incredible defensive team who is very experienced and used to playing in big games. The team has put together an impressive resume so far and is led by senior guard Jordan Sibert on offense and defense. Sibert is averaging 15.7 points per game thus far as well as 1.2 steals per game. He is the heart and sole of this team, a team that will be dancing in March barring a total meltdown. Davidson is an explosive offensive team, ranking 8th in the nation at 82.4 points per game. They have nearly pulled off upsets against undefeated Virginia and ranked VCU this year but fell just short in both tries. However, with the home crowd behind them, I believe there two star guards will have huge games. Tyler Kalinoski is a senior 6’4″ guard currently averaging 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. There other main scorer is Jack Gibbs, a 5’11” sophomore who is averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. I believe these two go off and Davidson pulls a massive, tournament resume building win, 87-75 as Dayton simply cannot slow down their offensive attack.