Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Midweek Watch: Wednesday predictions
By Jason King
Editor's Note: Former Maryland head coach Gary Williams is overwhelmed with emotion about tonight's court-naming ceremony and talked with Andy Katz about it in today's Daily Word. In the same piece, you'll also find former coach Lefty Driesell's reaction -- let's just say he's not quite as thrilled.
The Maryland Terrapins are probably a year or two away from being good enough to compete for the ACC title again, but there will still be plenty to play for in tonight’s home game against Duke.
“We have to play for Coach [Gary] Williams,” guard Sean Mosley told reporters. “We don’t want to let him down on this big night.”
Less than a year after he resigned, Maryland is naming the Comcast Center court after the former coach. The move will become official during a pregame ceremony that’s scheduled to begin approximately 20 minutes before the 9 p.m. ET tip.
“We all know how Gary got up for the Duke game,” said Williams’ successor, Mark Turgeon, “so it’s an appropriate night for us to unveil his name on the floor.”
Williams coached Maryland from 1989-2011. The Terps went 461-252 in his 22 seasons, winning the NCAA title in 2002. Williams resigned after a 19-14 finish last season.
“It was great to have the opportunity to play for him,” forward James Padgett told assembled media. “It’s great to play in the game that they’re honoring his name.”
Revved up as the Comcast Center crowd may be, beating Duke certainly won’t be easy. Maryland is just 12-6 overall and 2-2 in ACC play. The Terps enter the game on a two-game losing streak and have lost nine of their past 10 against the Blue Devils, who fell to No. 6 in this week’s poll following Saturday’s home loss to Florida State.
Still, Turgeon told reporters there is no opponent more appropriate than Duke for tonight’s game.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Duke, in our fans’ minds, in our players’ minds, has been the rivalry game that we need to play well and be ready to play,” Turgeon said. “It will be our first game that’s sold out. From Day 1, getting out in the community, people talk about Duke.”
No one more so than Williams.
“I’m sure we’ll get a fist pump [Wednesday],” Turgeon said.
Prediction: Duke 75, Maryland 68 -- The atmosphere should be incredible tonight in College Park, but the Terrapins aren’t quite good enough -- at least not yet -- to capitalize. Duke will be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s home loss to Florida State. Austin Rivers is averaging 19.5 points in his last two games.
Some more picks for tonight's games:
Missouri at Oklahoma State -- The Cowboys have lost five of their last seven games, so it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up at the normally raucous Gallagher-Iba Arena for tonight’s showdown with second-ranked Missouri. The Tigers are coming off a huge road win at Baylor. On a neutral court, this would be a mismatch.
Prediction: Missouri 80, Oklahoma State 64
Minnesota at Michigan State -- The Gophers are on a three-game winning streak with wins against Northwestern, Penn State and Indiana, the latter two of which occurred on the road. Playing Michigan State in East Lansing, however, is a different beast. Minnesota will have trouble stopping Draymond Green, Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne, Derrick Nix and the rest of the physical Spartans in the paint.
Prediction: Michigan State 70, Minnesota 56
BYU at Virginia Tech -- This is a rather strange game to be playing in the middle of the conference season, but that doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Virginia Tech was regarded as one of the worst teams in the ACC before it shocked Virginia on Sunday. The win should provide a huge momentum boost to the Hokies entering tonight’s game. BYU has won six of its last seven contests, but all against weak competition.
Prediction: BYU 70, Virginia Tech 63
LSU at Mississippi State -- The Bulldogs need to make sure this doesn’t turn into a trap game. Mississippi State plays at Florida on Saturday, so there’s a danger that Rick Stansbury’s squad could be looking ahead. There’s absolutely no way MSU and its vaunted trio of Dee Bost, Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney should lose to LSU at home. The Tigers have dropped three of their last four games.
Prediction: Mississippi State 78, LSU 67
Villanova at Louisville -- With wins in its last two games, Villanova is finally tasting some success after a rough first half of the season. But like any team, the Wildcats will be hard-pressed to beat Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals have a little bit of momentum again after winning at Pittsburgh over the weekend.
Prediction: Louisville 62, Villanova 54
Florida State at Wake Forest -- The Seminoles have thrust themselves into the national spotlight with victories over North Carolina and Duke. The question is whether they can stay there. In past years, big victories have often been followed by shocking defeats. A loss to the Demon Deacons would certainly qualify as that.
Prediction: Florida State 78, Wake Forest 64
Providence at Pittsburgh -- The Panthers’ free fall has been shocking. One year after winning the Big East regular-season title, Jamie Dixon’s squad is 0-7 in the league standings, the only team without a conference win. Things will hit an all-time low if Pittsburgh can’t beat Providence (1-6) at home.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 68, Providence 60
West Virginia at St. John’s -- If West Virginia wants to be a serious player for the Big East title -- and the Mountaineers certainly have a chance -- it can’t afford to lose road games to inferior opponents. That certainly describes the youthful Red Storm, who have lost six of their last seven games, including five by double digits.
Prediction: West Virginia 82, St. John’s 65
Central Florida at Tulsa -- With a 5-1 league record, UCF has a half-game lead over Southern Miss, Marshall and Memphis (all 4-1) in the Conference USA standings. Tulsa (4-2) isn’t far behind. Winning on the road is never easy, but Donnie Jones’ squad surely realizes the importance of tonight’s game. Forward Keith Clanton (15.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg) needs to play well for the Knights.
Prediction: Central Florida 61, Tulsa 58
Notre Dame at Seton Hall -- Notre Dame is fresh off a victory against then-No. 1 Syracuse. Seton Hall, meanwhile, wasted the momentum gained from victories over West Virginia and Connecticut by losing to South Florida and Villanova. Can Herb Pope, Jordan Theodore and the rest of the Pirates rediscover their groove at home?
Prediction: Seton Hall 68, Notre Dame 65
Saint Louis at Xavier -- The Musketeers had won four straight games before Saturday’s 15-point loss at Dayton. Home wins are imperative if Chris Mack’s squad wants to stay in the hunt for the Atlantic 10 title, which is why I think Xavier will beat the Billikens tonight. Mark Lyons has passed Tu Holloway as X’s scoring leader by the way.