CSTV's Top Five Games

Eagles, Wolf Pack and Tigers will light up CSTV screen in 2006-07

Oct. 17, 2006


By Doug Kroll




Doug Kroll is an editor for CSTV.com, focusing on baseball.
E-mail here!

Boston College at UMass - Saturday, Dec. 2


After a humiliating 91-62 loss to the Eagles last year at Conte Forum, UMass welcomes Boston College to the Mullins Center this time around. Second-year head coach Travis Ford brought in four transfers before his first season in Amherst, and will have those players available to him in '06-07, in addition to four starters returning from last year's squad. With the additions, the Minutemen perhaps have the most talented roster in the Atlantic 10.  Boston College looks to move on after losing in the Sweet 16 to Villanova in heartbreaking fashion, and the Eagles will have to do so without leading scorer Craig Smith. It will be up to seniors Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall to get the Eagles back there. Many believe that these two teams should play more often than they already do, even with UMass heading to Boston every year, alternating between BU and BC. The Eagles may have their hands full with what should be a much improved Minutemen squad in front of its home crowd, hoping this UMass team can bring back the feel of the early `90's to Amherst, and perhaps break out the "Refuse to Lose" t-shirts once again.


Nevada vs. Cal at San Jose (Pete Newell Challenge) - Sunday, Dec. 3


The 10th annual Pete Newell Challenge will feature a matchup between two teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament in '06. Nevada has made it to the tournament the last three years, and is the reigning WAC champion. During that span, they have won 77 games, including 27 a season ago. The Wolf Pack should be on its way to another great season, as four starters return, including 6-foot-11 All-American Nick Fazekas, who can knock down the 24-footer with ease. Fazekas passed up the NBA Draft and returns for his senior year after averaging 21.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in last season. Nevada head coach Mark Fox also chose to return, signing a new contract after contemplating taking the Nebraska job. Cal, meanwhile, will certainly suffer a dropoff with Leon Powe preparing for his rookie season with the Boston Celtics. After a 20-win season and a disappointing loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to N.C. State, combo guard Ayinde Ubaka is the player to watch on the Golden Bears. The top returning scorer averaged over 37 minutes per game and is a classic workhorse, and that's not likely to change this season. Cal leads the all-time series 18-7 over Nevada, but the two teams haven't met since 1991.


UAB at Memphis - Tuesday, Jan. 16


In what will be the first of two meetings between these Conference USA rivals, UAB will look to avenge an ugly 57-46 loss to Memphis in the C-USA Tournament finals last season. The Blazers then went on to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Kentucky. But it was also the Blazers who handed the Tigers their first and only C-USA loss last season, only the third overall for Memphis. Former Indiana head coach Mike Davis joins the Blazers, after Mike Anderson led them to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, winning 68 games in the process. UAB loses seven seniors from a season ago, but the Blazers do return three starters and a slew of healthy recruits and transfers. The win against Memphis last year looked even bigger once Memphis' season came to an end, 33 wins and a trip to the Elite Eight later. It was the best season in school history for the Tigers, and even with the losses of stars Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams and Darius Washington, hopes are still high in Elvis' hometown. Head coach John Calipari is able to reload, and that is certainly what they have done. These two squads should be the class of the conference, and this early conference matchup could go a long way to determine if Memphis is still the top dog.


Temple vs. Saint Joseph's (at the Palestra) - Thursday, Feb. 22


Not much has to be said about any game that will take place in one of college basketball's most storied venues. The Palestra, celebrating its 80th birthday, will play host once again to a heated Philadelphia Big 5 rivalry between the Owls and Hawks. Last year saw Saint Joseph's take two of the three games between the schools, and maybe most importantly, the Hawks defeated Temple in the A-10 Tournament to advance to the championship game. The Hawks return only one starter to a team that finished the year 9-2 after suffering a disheartening loss in February to Temple. After just missing out on the NCAA Tournament, but making the NIT, head coach Phil Martelli hopes to bring his Hawks to the postseason for a seventh straight year.  6-foot-8 junior Rob Ferguson is the best returning player, and is exciting to watch, with the ability to connect from behind the arc (38.9-percent).  Temple loses one of the sport's most legendary coaches in John Chaney, and it will certainly be strange not to see him on the Temple bench after 19 seasons, but his replacement is no stranger to the Big 5. Former Penn head coach Fran Dunphy takes over, becoming the first to be the head coach at two Big 5 schools. The Owls will be without their top two scorers from last season, Mardy Collins and Antywane Robinson. Look for Temple's strength to be their backcourt, especially senior guard Dustin Salisbery. 


Utah at BYU - Saturday March 3


It may be one of the least known rivalries in all of college sports, at least when it comes to how intense it is.  Unlike other rivalries that focus on a single sport, the Utes and Cougars are heated rivals in every sport, including in 2004 when eight Utah baseball players painted the BYU symbol that lies on a hillside red. It has been called the "Church vs. State" battle because of BYU's religious affiliation, and through the years on the basketball court, starting in 1909, each side has seen its share of stars come and go. Whether it was NBA lottery pick Rafael Araujo with BYU or No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut with the Utes, each year the two seem to battle for supremacy in the Mountain West Conference. This season should be no different, as both schools should be at or near the top of the MWC. This battle will be the final game of the regular season for both schools. BYU second-year head coach and MWC Coach of the Year Dave Rose hopes to build on a 20-win season last season, which was the second biggest turnaround in the nation  coming off of a nine win season in 2004-05. Utah coach Ray Giacoletti finally has this year's team to himself, full of his own players. Gone are the players whom Rick Majerus recruited to Salt Lake City, and the Utes will look to get back to the NCAA Tournament after a Sweet 16 appearance two years ago. They will return four starters on a team that hopes to rebound after the first losing conference record the school had seen since 1993-94. 

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