Here is what to know in college basketball for Friday, December 8:
1. Army at Wake Forest: Yes. I’m serious. Here’s why: The Black Knights have won five of their last seven and are averaging 81 points a game. This is an Army team that can score. Meanwhile, quietly, Wake Forest, as predicted, is starting to figure itself out.The Demon Deacons have won four in a row since I last saw them at Liberty at the relocated Paradise Jam. They’ve scored 80 or more in each game. They shut down Richmond and Charlotte, the latter on the road, on the defensive end. Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods are scoring and becoming the go-to players. Danny Manning is starting to shorten the minutes on his bench, playing essentially four off the bench the majority of minutes. Part of the problem is his bigs still get in foul trouble, but he has more options than most inside.
2. St. John’s vs. Arizona State at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was not on the list of must-see games prior to the season. But the Red Storm are off to start worthy of reflection. St. John’s has lost once, to Missouri, in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. Beating Nebraska, Oregon State, and Grand Canyon, the latter in Phoenix, all sound good in name, but the most significant win was knocking off UCF in a grinder, 46-43. That showed the Red Storm can win in a variety of ways.
Now comes the real test of playing Arizona State, which has been one of the hottest teams in the country. The Sun Devils have a crazy weekend flying from L.A. to Kansas for a game Sunday. ASU is averaging 92.7 points a game. And they’re playing in L.A., meaning this could be a showtime type of game for the Sun Devils if the Red Storm aren’t ready to defend.
3. Oklahoma vs. USC is the sandwich game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will give the L.A. fans a chance to see Trae Young, one of the best players, not just one of the top freshman, in the country. Young is averaging 28.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 2.4 steals and is shooting 47.6 percent for the Sooners.
Oklahoma has just one blemish — against Arkansas in the PK80, while USC has dropped its past two games against Texas A&M at home and at SMU. In each, the Trojans struggled to score, failing to get to 60 in either game. This would qualify as a must win for the Trojans since its their last non-conference game against a potential NCAA team.
4. Nevada vs. TCU at Staples Center in Los Angeles may not move the meter but it’s a great nightcap to this tripleheader. Nevada lost its first game of the season, at Texas Tech in overtime. But the Wolf Pack have been road tested four true road wins prior to losing in Lubbock. TCU is coming off a win over rival SMU at home. The Horned Frogs won a two-game neutral-site tournament in Florida with wins over New Mexico and St. Bonaventure. Both teams are building solid resumes for the selection committee to endorse.
Same week, new city, same goal.— Nevada Basketball (@NevadaHoops) December 8, 2017
Los Angeles, CA pic.twitter.com/MN7xz1cJra
5. Colorado State at Oregon is another opportunity for the Mountain West tonight (see: Nevada above) to show that it's deeper than most projected. The Rams already have a win at home over the Pac-12’s Colorado. Get one on the road at Oregon, where fellow MWC team Boise State won at the buzzer, and that could do wonders for the overall strength of schedule rating for the conference. But the Rams have been inconsistent, following up that Buffalos win with an expected loss at Arkansas. They come in at 4-5 against a 5-3 Oregon team whose best win was over Ball State, a team that just won at Notre Dame. Whoever wins this game will have some much-needed momentum as they see if they can be relevant in their respective conferences.