DI College Basketball Preview

College basketball is coming back to the spotlight as local teams begin their seasons, with some starting this past weekend. University of Cincinnati The University of Cincinnati Bearcats hosted the Jim Thorpe Classic Nov. 10 and 11 at the Fifth Third Bank Arena. They defeated Howard University 70-39 in Game One. Junior forward John Williamson had a strong performance while leading the team with 18 points in limited play in the first half. Senior Ron Allen contributed 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The second night of the Jim Thorpe Classic, UC faced the University of Tennessee Martin, defeating them 67-49. Williamson had another big night, leading the team with 23 points. Senior center Marcus Sikes celebrated his birthday with his first-career double, scoring 18 points and 10 rebounds. Things are looking good for UC as they enter the 2006-2007 season in the Big East Conference under first-year coach, Mick Cronin. Xavier University The Xavier Musketeers ended its 2005-2006 season by winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament to get back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year hiatus. Now, with the Musketeers returning Head Coach Sean Miller and seven starters back from last year, they look to become a marquis team in college basketball. With the leadership of senior’s Justin Cage and Justin Doellmann, they are the preseason pick to win the A-10 Conference. Xavier defeated Coastal Carolina University 79-46 Nov. 11 at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The Musketeers struggled during the first 10 minutes of play, trailing by four points with 11:21 to go in the first half. Junior forward Josh Duncan, who attended only two practices before the game due to back spasms, helped spur the team on to victory. Junior guard Stanley Burrell led Xavier with 19 points; 15 points being in the first half. XU’s defense came in full force in the second half, as they held Coastal Carolina to only 22 points. Nov. 17, Xavier heads to the U.S. Virgin Islands to face Virginia Commonwealth University in the Paradise Jam. University of Kentucky The Kentucky Wildcat fans have been wondering when their team will head back to the top of college basketball’s powerhouse. After its past struggles, Kentucky has to face the 2006 National Champion, University of Florida, in the Southeastern Conference to win its division this season. Top scorer, junior forward Randolph Morris, returns as they look to finish first in the SEC East Division. The season begins Nov. 15 against Miami University (Ohio) at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Ohio State University To start the new season, Ohio State Buckeyes are nationally ranked No. 4 in ESPN/USA Today Poll, and No. 7 in Associated Press poll. They have brought in top recruit, 7-foot Greg Oden from Indianapolis, to help out this season. Head Coach Thad Matta looks to lead the Buckeyes to the top of the Big Ten Conference. OSU returns five players from last year’s team. The Buckeyes have started the season with two victories over Loyola Chicago University and Virginia Military Institution. Freshman guard Daequan Cook scored 23 points in his first college game. Cook also contributed 18 points against Loyola Chicago. The future looks good for the Buckeyes with the additions of Cook and Oden. The real season for OSU begins when they play the University of North Carolina Nov. 29 at Chapel Hill, NC. Indiana University The Indiana Hoosiers have a new coach and a new outlook as they head into the 2006-2007 season. Returning starter junior D.J. White looks to provide the leadership as he helps Head Coach Kelvin Sampson get acquainted with “Hoosier land”. Sampson looks to lead Indiana back to its glory days as one of the top basketball programs in the country. The first regular season game was Nov. 13 against Lafayette University in the preseason National Invitational Tournament in Indianapolis. University of Louisville The Louisville Cardinals only return four starters from last season’s loss to South Carolina, 78-63). Head Coach Rick Pitino will have a young squad to lead into the 2006-2007 college basketball season. Pitino will look to junior forwards Juan Palacios and David Padgett to lead the team in the BEC, throughout the season, and return back to the NCAA Tournament in March. Louisville’s first game of the season is Nov. 18 against Northwestern State University at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. With the upcoming season of college basketball, it looks like it will be an exciting season to watch on the television or in the stands.