Clemson-UNC? Kentucky-Florida? A lot to watch this weekend with conference

  • Myron Medcalf, ESPN Personnel WriterJan 5, 2024, 09:11 AM ET Close Covers college basketball

  • Joined in 2011
  • Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato

At this phase of the guys’s college basketball season, absolutely nothing is ever genuine. While the sport has staged a multitude of prominent matchups, most groups took their foot off the gas in December. The schedules were easier. There were larger spaces between games. Players got time off– a break they all deserved.But this weekend marks the very first true weekend of conference play, and you can’t hide in conference play.That conversation will begin in Clemson, South Carolina, where North Carolina wishes to extend its three-game winning streak. If Clemson beats UNC, it will get rid of any doubt that it’s a genuine ACC contender, maybe more.The SEC? Who knows what’s genuine because league? Ole Miss has actually been playing the game on” simple” for the last 2 months. Unbeaten, yes. But the résumé is full of sub-100 challengers. If Chris Beard’s team goes on the road and beats Tennessee, nevertheless, the discussion will change.Iowa State is great. We’ll discover if the Cyclones are a Huge 12 group to fear when they go to Oklahoma on Saturday.

Illinois aims to show it is still a Big Ten risk without Terrence Shannon Jr. That objective will begin in West Lafayette versus the No. 1 team in America.The real play time is here. This weekend, a few of the frauds will be exposed.All odds from ESPN Bet. No. 9 Illinois(11-2, 2-0 Big 10)at No. 1 Purdue(13-1, 2-1 Huge Ten)Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1 Editor’s Picks 2 Associated In the final month of his last season at Utah Valley in 2022-23, Justin Harmon averaged 18 points per game. In wins over Fairleigh Dickinson and Northwestern after moving to Illinois, he used his scoring touch to register a combined 38 points, a welcome contribution off the bench with the loss

of Terrence Shannon Jr.– who is facing a rape charge and is suspended forever. In those 2 games without Shannon Jr., Illinois has actually connected on 44% of its 3-point attempts.But Purdue is 4-0 versus Top-50 KenPom squads. Zach Edey is America’s finest player. And the Boilermakers’ margin of triumph at home this season is 30.8 PPG. Still, this Illinois squad will be, by far, the toughest opponent Matt Painter’s squad has dealt with in their building in 2023-24. Medcalf’s choice: Purdue, 86-77; Versus the spread:

Purdue (-10.5 ) No. 8 North Carolina (10-3, 2-0 ACC)at No. 16 Clemson(

11-1, 1-0 ACC)Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN2 In the first 5 minutes of the Tigers’93-58 win over Radford on Friday, PJ Hall struck a number of 3s, saved an errant hand down the standard, made crucial defensive stops and scored on several post-ups. He is among the most versatile players in the country today. With a combination of size(6-foot-10)

and range (40%from the 3-point line ). On movie, you can see the

way he produces space for Joseph Girard III, the former Syracuse star, and the rest of his teammates.UNC will need to chase him all afternoon to come out with the road win. In the three games because suffering back-to-back losses to UConn and Kentucky, nevertheless, the Tar Heels’protective pressure has enhanced(their challengers have connected on just 39 % of their efforts inside the arc, per They have actually also struck 39 %of their 3-point efforts throughout that span. Need to be a terrific game.Medcalf’s choice: Clemson, 82-79; Versus the spread: Unavailable

sometimes of publication No. 6 Kentucky (10-2, 0-0 SEC)at Florida(10-3, 0-0 SEC)Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN It’s obvious freshmen Rob Dillingham(14.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 45%from 3)and Reed Sheppard(12.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 56 %from 3) might be Kentucky’s best players, despite the fact that they’re coming off the bench. But Antonio Reeves has been the steadying, experienced existence for a Kentucky team with national title aspirations.Top stories of the week from Get exclusive access to thousands of premium short articles a year from top writers. – Defects for 9

Super Bowl contenders”- MLB: Grading the Montas pickup”- MVPs for every leading 25 football team”More ESPN +content “During their existing six-game winning streak, nevertheless, Walter Clayton Jr. and Co. have excelled in manner ins which might help them challenge the Wildcats. Over that span, Florida has actually thrived off second-chance chances (offensive rebounding rate of 41.2 %)while likewise updating its protective efficiency(opponents have shot simply 41.7%from inside the arc). Can the Gators continue that sort of efficiency versus a nationwide powerhouse? We’ll see.Medcalf’s pick: Kentucky, 87-80; Against the spread: Not available at time of publication< img alt =""src=" "width="

50″/ > No. 22 Ole Miss(13-0, 0-0 SEC)at No. 5 Tennessee (10-3, 0-0 SEC )Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network On Rotten Tomatoes, the website that examines movies and television shows, sometimes the audience and critics highly disagree. In college basketball, Ole Miss advocates (citizens)and critics (analytics)have various views of Chris Beard’s undefeated program.At 13-0, Ole Miss entered this week’s AP survey ranked No. 22. On KenPom, nevertheless, Ole Miss is 79th. The internet rankings? 60th. A home win over Memphis is its best success to date. A road win over a battle-tested Tennessee squad– the Vols are second in adjusted protective efficiency on KenPom with wins over Wisconsin and Illinois– would confirm the pollsters who are bullish on the Rebels.Medcalf’s choice: Tennessee, 79-72; Versus the spread: Not available at time of

publication Iowa State (11-2, 0-0 Big 12 )at No. 11 Oklahoma(12-1, 0-0 Big 12) Saturday

, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+I n 2018, Tyrese Haliburton was an Iowa State freshman who averaged just 6.8 PPG in his Division I debut. A year later, he made a dive and balanced 15.2 PPG and 6.5 APG before entering the NBA draft. This previous summer, the Indiana Pacers star signed a$260 million extension.Current Cyclones star Tamin Lipsey may not necessarily have the very same NBA future, however his leap in Year 2 and the numbers connected to it are strikingly similar to Haliburton’s college profession. A year after he balanced 7.3 PPG, the 6-1 guard has actually gone to a new measurement: 15.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.1 APG, 3.6 APG, 43%from the 3-point line.He hasn’t hit the national radar yet, however a huge efficiency and a road win over a top-15 Sooners team would change that and toss Lipsey in the national player of the year conversation.Medcalf’s pick: Iowa State, 75-72; Versus the spread: Not available sometimes of publication SEASON TOTALS Medcalf’s choices directly: 20-9 Against the spread: 15-14

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