Today’s matchup features a battle of top ten teams in our latest college basketball rankings. #4 Duke will go on the road to face #7 Notre Dame in our national game of the day. Duke is coming off a Coach K’s 1000th win at MSG over St. Johns and could be in for a let down game. We also have a couple of decent battles in the Big 12 and the Pac 12, with teams vying for the last few bids come March competing.
National Game of the Day: #4 Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC) @ #7 Notre Dame (19-2, 7-1 ACC)
We already provided a little preview of this game above but lets take a look at this in more detail. As we all know, Duke is led by Freshman phenom Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is the best big man to play college basketball in a long, long time and is in all likelyhood going to be the number one pick in the NBA Draft. He is averaging 18.5 points, 9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while playing remarkably efficient basketball. However, Duke is not a one man show. They are an explosive offensive team with a plethora of good guards. Often criticized the past three years, senior guard Quinn Cook is playing great basketball. The senior has hit some huge shots this year in big moments on the way to averaging 14.3 points per game. He is excelling because this year he is playing off the ball due to another freshman phenom, Tyus Jones. Jones is averaging 10.1 points and 5.7 assists per game. Duke plays great team basketball with six guys who can beat you on any given night, averaging slightly under 82 points per game, good for 12th in the country. Notre Dame is no slouch offensively either, averaging slightly 82 points per game as well, good for 10th in the country. Notre Dame shoots an incredible 52% from the field, which puts them number two. They have an incredible four players averaging over 13.4 points per game but are led by arguably the best guard in the country, senior guard Jerian Grant, who averages 17.1 points and 6.2 assists per game. Junior forward Zach Auguste is arguably the most efficient player in the country, averaging 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in just over 24 minutes per game. Neither of these teams beat themselves and both teams play incredible offense. I say Notre Dame defends its home court in an instant classic, winning 85 to 79, hitting some huge free throws down the stretch.
This game features two teams going in decidedly different directions right now. Stanford has hit its groove and is starting to gel while Washington has lost 5 of its last 8 after starting 11-0 and just kicked starting center Robert Upshaw off the team. Stanford has one of the best trio’s of players in the country. Chasson Randle has become one of the best pure scorers in the country this year, averaging 20.2 points per game. After Randle, Stanford is led by a plethora of big men. Anthony Brown, a 6’6″ combo forward, is averaging 15.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his senior year. Stefan Nastic, Stanford’s senior center, is averaging 14 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. These two are the heart and soul of their team and have taken over many games lately. Washington is going to have a hard time dealing with them without Robert Upshaw in the paint anymore. However, they do possess one of the best two way point guards in the country in sophomore Nigel Williams-Goss. Goss is averaging 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game while also getting 1.4 steals per game. There other guard is junior Andrew Andrews who can heat up in a moments notice and is averaging 12.9 points per game. This game figures to be a defensive struggle but I see Stanford continuing its winning ways, pulling out a 67 to 59 road victory.
#3 Game of the Day: #12 Kansas (16-3, 5-1 Big 12) @ TCU (14-5, 1-5 Big 12)
Kansas started off the year slow but is starting to roll while TCU played 13 cupcakes out of conference and is beginning to regret it. TCU will have to win some of these big conference games if they have any hope of going dancing. Both these teams have respectable offenses but they both win with their defense. Kansas has five guys averaging over 8.6 points per game but their best player is Perry Ellis. Ellis, a junior forward, is averaging an efficient 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He and guard Frank Mason are the engines that make this team run. TCU only has one double digit scorer and that is Kyan Anderson. Anderson, a senior point guard, is averaging 13.7 points and 3.9 assists per game. However, this TCU team has incredible depth and balance, having ten players who play between 8.7 and 30 minutes a game and 11 players who average between 3.4 and 13.7 points per game. You cannot beat this team by taking one player out of the game and have to defend all five guys on the court. I think Kansas does that and scores a road conference win, by the margin of 73 to 56.