Stopping Olivier Hanlan
The undefeated UConn Huskies square off against the Boston College Eagles in the 2K Classic that will be played at Madison Square Garden tonight. While Connecticut has a balanced attack led by Shabazz Napier, B.C. is a team that possesses one of the best guards in the country in Olivier Hanlan.
In order for Boston College to have any chance in this neutral site game, Hanlan must take over. This will be easier said than done against a Huskies defense that allows a mere 48.5 points per game.
Hanlan is coming off of a huge 38 point performance as Boston College slipped by Florida Atlantic University, 82-79, to earn their first win of the season. Ryan Anderson (16.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) and 3-point specialist, Joe Rahon (43.8 % from 3-point range) will give Hanlan much needed support against a team with great depth in the Huskies. In addition, Anderson will have to shake off a very poor outing against a sub-par FAU squad.
Jason Kidd-like Numbers
This is definitely not a Hanlan vs. Napier game, but senior Shabazz Napier has many more options and uses them well as he averages a near triple double on the season. Napier is averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game. At 6 foot 1, the rebounding numbers clearly stand out as Napier is coming off of a huge 12 point, 12 rebound, and 6 assist game in a victory over Boston University.
He hasn’t had to look for his offense as much this season with various options to defer to. Napier’s high basketball I.Q. and athletic ability separate him from most players in the country and expect the Massachusetts native to make an impression on the Garden fans and his friends and family at home.
We may see a lot of junior guard Ryan Boatright in this game. He keeps improving every game and much like Napier, has had to be less selfish with the basketball this season in order to stay undefeated. That said, Boatright is a major 3-point threat.
Connecticut is clearly the better team, and even though defending against Hanlan will pose a major test for the Huskies, I think that the college basketball odds have been set too low.
Washington State (2-0) at #13 Gonzaga (3-0)
An Ugly Win?
A win is a win in most people’s book, but the Gonzaga Bulldogs will need to play much better against Washington State if they expect to win tonight. The Bulldogs are coming of a poor display in a 82-67 victory over Oakland. This was an opponent that was winless, short-handed, and got destroyed in their first three games of the season, but kept the game competitive against Gonzaga as the Bulldogs only had a single-digit lead with 8 minutes to play. Needless to say, Gonzaga was too strong in the end as their offense was strong as usual.
Gonzaga averages 92 points per game offensively and relies on their “Big 3” in Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos, and double-double machine Sam Dower. Even in a poor effort against Oakland, all 3 players managed to shoot nearly 50% apiece as Pangos came up huge in this game with 21 points and 5 for 9 from 3 point range. Their offense is nearly unstoppable and Washington State will have to put up their best performance of the season in a season which has included two victories over very weak opponents.
The Cougars don’t have nearly the same amount of offensive depth that Gonzaga has, but the Bulldogs will have a huge test in stopping the offensive machine known as Davonte Lacy. It’s only been 2 games, but Lacy has started his junior season with a bang, averaging 24.5 points and 5 rebounds per contest. This is a guard with great size, athleticism, and is not afraid to shoot the basketball.
Washington State has looked good thus far, but the level of opposition has skyrocketed for the Cougars as they face the Bulldogs. Gonzaga is too deep a team for the Cougars to deal with. That said, 16 points are a lot and Gonzaga didn’t play defense in their last game.