Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekend Predictions

I apologize for the posting hiatus. I have been readjusting to the tempo of life as a Davidson College student, and it sure does take some time to readjust. But it is Friday afternoon and we have a great weekend ahead of us with plenty of great action in the world of sports. Let's kick things off in the Southern Conference:

Appalachian State at Davidson
The crowd is expected to reach near capacity as Davidson faces off against the North Division heavyweight, Appalachian State. Although the Mountaineers are a team that have knocked off the likes of Virginia and Vanderbilt, they have also lost two games in conference so far, the most recent a 80-76 defeat at the hands of UNC-Greensboro on Thursday evening. Although the Mountaineers will be looking for revenge on Saturday afternoon, conditioning will factor into this one as the Mountaineers will be on their fourth game of the week. Appalachian State has been led this season by jitterbug point guard D.J. Thompson. Thompson is averaging 14.1 ppg and 5.4 apg. Another name that Mountaineer fans love is Jeremy Clayton who leads the conference by shooting 60% from the field and averages 7.7 rebounds per game.

For Davidson, the pace of this game will be totally different from last week's game against The Citadel. With speed and pressure, App State will try to push Davidson out of its half-court sets and force them to play transition ball. Unfortunately for most Southern Conference teams, Davidson is one of the best transition teams around. No longer a team that is content to sit back in the half-court, Davidson will push the court as Jason Richards penetrates and big men like Boris Meno and Andrew Lovedale create mismatches for Appalachian's forwards. Expect to see various zone looks from Davidson as 6'6" Max Paulhus-Gosselin will be pressuring the passes of the 5'8" Thompson.

If Davidson gets separation early, this game could get ugly for an Appalachian State team that had NCAA At-Large thinking going on at the end of last week. They now sit in second place in the conference and after this game they might fall even further. Look for Davidson to move to 8-0 in the conference and extend their second-longest winning streak in the country.

Prediction: Davidson 82 ASU 70

Western Carolina at Furman

Western Carolina has quietly climbed to a 4-2 record in the Southern Conference with a team that has drawn fairly little media attention. They have wins over Chattanooga and UNC-Greensboro and are currently right behind Appalachian State in the North standings. The Catamounts are led by Nick Aldridge and Antonio Russell. They will be playing against a very talented Furman squad that is still trying to find its identity under new head coach Jeff Jackson. If the Paladins can make it rain from downtown, this game could be very closely contested.

Prediction: Furman 76 Western Carolina 72

Boston College at Clemson

This game could be one of the best matchups this Saturday when Boston College travels down to Clemson to take on the 16th-ranked Tigers. The Eagles are currently in first place in the ACC with a perfect 5-0 spot, but they will be playing without the services of 6-10 center Sean Williams who ranked 3rd in the nation in blocked shots (5.0 per game). Williams and a walk-on teammate were kicked off the team during the week for repeat violations of team rules.

Clemson is coming into the game after enduring an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of the UNC Tar Heels on their home court in front of a capacity crowd. The Tigers were shown to be a team that simply could not shoot the basketball, whether from 3-point range, the foul line, or 3 feet from the basket. Even without their star forward, the Eagles will be able to push the Tigers to their limits if they can break Clemson's press and not allow easy-run out baskets. The Tigers will have to find ways to score in a half-court situation or else be prepared to steal the ball every time down the court.

Prediction: Boston College 78 Clemson 68

Other predictions for the weekend:

UNC-Greensboro 80 Citadel 65
Elon 50 College of Charleston 72
Chattanooga 62 Wofford 67
New England Patriots 21 Indianapolis Colts 38
Chicago Bears 24 New Orleans Saints 17

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