This Friday, November 9, ushers in the 2012-13 season and with that comes the Big East minus one as the league lost West Virginia in the off-season. Now, with Pitt and Syracuse moving to the ACC for perceived stability reason and Notre Dame not far behind, the league will evolve as restructuring with Memphis, SMU, Houston, Central Florida, and Temple will reconfigure the dynamics of the league. Four of the following games are part of the Armed forces Classic Showdown as these look like the top five games on the initial weekend which sees:
1) Syracuse vs. San Diego State – The Orange and the Aztecs participate in the “Battle on the Midway” as the USS Midway Museum is the host to the game. The Aztecs, who could be a Sweet 16 threat or better, have an experienced returning team led by the leading scorer and rebounder from a year ago in Jamaal Franklin. Meanwhile, the Orange restructure, but with the nucleus of Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, and Michael Carter-Williams, Jim Boeheim will have another contender throughout the 2012-13 campaign.
2.) UConn vs. Michigan State (Germany) – Kevin Ollie opens up as the Huskies new head coach as he replaces the recently retired legend, Jim Calhoun. He will welcome back a dynamic back court of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Tom Izzo can counter immediately with elusive Keith Appling. The Game will be played at the Ramstein Air Force Base as it is part of the Armed Forces Classic.
3.) Florida vs. Georgetown (Jacksonville, Fla.) – The Gators and Hoyas will play on the USS Bataan in the Jacksonville harbor. Coach Billy Donovan’s Gators will be led again by the heightened all-around play of Kenny Boynton. Florida will also have a depth advantage as it is once again a favorite in the SEC to challenge the youth of Kentucky. John Thompson III has no seniors, but a tough post in Otto Porter, who should be an interesting matchup in the middle for the three-point minded Gators.
4.) Marquette vs. Ohio State – (Charleston, S.C.) – The temperatures in Charleston are expected to dip into the 40s aboard the USS Yorktown before this game ends. Marquette coach Buzz Williams has his work cut out in replacing Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, his top two scorers from a year ago. Vander Blue and Davante Gardner should be ready to assume those starring roles after being role players a year ago. There’s no J.J. Sullinger for Ohio State, but Thad Matta has an effective trifecta of Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., and Deshaun Thomas as a catalyst for a team many feel is a Top 5 selection.
5.) Louisville vs. Manhattan – (Sunday) – This game is the only matchup of the five that is not part of the Armed Forces Challenge. Rick Pitino takes on former assistant coach Tom Masseillo as the iconic coach has had 25 assistants move into head coaching jobs. The Cardinals, who have been picked number one in several preseason publications, face a Jaspers squad that returns it’s five starters.
- Ken Cross