NCAA BK

Weekend preview: College basketball is back!

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Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Check out his Yardbarker blog. MORE>>
 
   
 
The college basketball season officially began this past Monday, but the slate truly gets going on Friday night. Here's a look at what you need to be paying attention to on the first full weekend of the college hoops campaign. Almost everyone is playing, but there aren't exactly a ton of quality, intriguing matchups.

2009-10 preview

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: I was all set to go with Wright State against Washington before I remembered that Wright State's star guard, Vaughn Duggins, won't play due to a suspension dating back to last year and also starting forward John David Gardner (hip). Now it's an easy pick with the game that also rhymes — Dayton vs. Creighton. These are two of the best mid-major teams in America. DEBUTS: Many of the top freshmen in the country make their collegiate debuts this weekend. On Friday night, Xavier Henry (Kansas), Kentucky's duo of Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, Abdul Gaddy (Washington), Alex Oriakhi (UConn) and Dante Taylor (Pittsburgh) will all begin their college careers. Saturday I'll be watching to see how Oklahoma's Tommy Mason-Griffin and Tiny Gallon fare as well as Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech). Sunday it'll be the Texas trio of Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown that get their first taste of college basketball. BYSTANDERS: John Wall will miss Kentucky's season opener against Morehead State after being hit with a two-game suspension from the NCAA, while fellow highly touted frosh Renardo Sidney still waits and hopes to be cleared by the NCAA. Sidney, a talented 6-foot-10 freshman at Mississippi State, has amateurism issues looming over his head and is unlikely to be cleared before the Bulldogs' opener on Friday night. LEXINGTON CRAZE: Despite being without Wall, the rabid fans in Lexington will finally get to see their new coach, John Calipari, in the season opener. Calipari and Kentucky are a match made in heaven. CALLING THE UPSET: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi over Oregon State — The President's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, led the Beavers to a terrific season a year ago — but they won't be able to sneak up on anyone this year. Corpus is led by Player of the Year candidate Kevin Palmer.
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF: Wofford gives Pittsburgh a serious run. Remember, the Panthers lost four starters from last year's Elite Eight team and will also be without the only returning starter, Jermaine Dixon (foot) and veteran reserve Gilbert Brown (academics). I'LL SMILE WHEN I SEE: BYU head coach Dave Rose, who battled pancreatic cancer in the offseason, on the sidelines coaching the season opener against Bradley on Friday night. BRAND NEW: Xavier doesn't just have a rookie coach in Chris Mack, but the Musketeers also have a brand-new backcourt with Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford and redshirt freshman Mark Lyons. Xavier opens Friday with Youngstown State, and this guard duo will be as exciting to watch as any in the nation. WONDER KID: Memphis takes to the floor for the first time without John Calipari at the helm. Josh Pastner makes his debut as the Tigers head coach as they go up against Jackson State Friday night at 9 p.m. ET. LIFE WITHOUT STEPH: Not exactly an easy start to the Life Without Stephen Era for Davidson coach Bob McKillop. The Wildcats will face Butler, which returns just about everyone from last year's NCAA tournament team, and is a legitimate Final Four club. NEW DIGS: Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli should be smiling as the Hawks open their new building, Hagan Arena, on Friday night. BINGO: Binghamton made the NCAA tournament a year ago, but I wonder if they can get past Bloomsburg University on Saturday after the offseason drama in which coach Kevin Broadus was placed on leave and the team's three top players were dismissed.
Tagged: Kansas, Youngstown State, Wright State, Jackson State, Georgia Tech, Butler, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Utah State, Bradley, Morehead State, Xavier, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Lehigh, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Washington, Davidson, Oklahoma, Binghamton, Brown, Oregon State, Wofford, Texas, Indiana

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