Southern Methodist and Gonzaga officially begin the round-the-clock day of college basketball for the season’s first Super Tuesday. And while the two teams tip on November 17 on the East, they will finish on the 18th. The New Kennel hosts the first game between a pair of ranked teams on the season and Spokane will be live for a game between two of the finer mid-majors in the country. The Bulldogs sit at nine-point favorites against an incomplete Mustang side.
Like just about every good team in the country, this will be the first real game for both SMU and Gonzaga because, like about every good team in the country, they each blew out their cupcake-bearing opponent last week. And this game will probably hit each team in a way it doesn’t expect to get hit. The first big game against a competitive opponent often impacts a team early and, because of that, the team that often starts out in front ends up realizing that it didn’t pace itself. It’s tough to say how this game will go for either team. But I figure that one team will start out in front and will start to run out of steam midway through the second half. Either team could play either role, but the key detail in the thought process is that this game should be close. And fun!
Personnel-Wise, the most important thing to know about this game is that SMU will be without the young man who should probably be considered its best player based on what we know now. Markus Kennedy remains ineligible for SMU, which has the ‘Stangs in a bit of a tough situation, but not one that they haven’t known about for at least a few weeks now. Kennedy would certainly help against the ‘Zags, but SMU is not a mid-major predicated on one star player. Larry Brown has built the program up and has talent to replace his best big man, which hasn’t been the case for an SMU Basketball roster in year’s past.
That doesn’t mean Kennedy’s absence doesn’t mean anything against Gonzaga’s size and skill. There are some incredibly talented teams at the top of the class this year in college hoops, but I still think Gonzaga has to be considered a title contender. Mark Few returns one of the best guards in the country in Kevin Pangos. From an intangibles standpoint, Pangos has to remind some elderly Gonzaga enthusiasts of their old buddy John Stockton. And he has a few running mates. Gary Bell Jr. returns for his senior season after one of the most efficient double-digit scoring seasons in the country last year. The ‘Dogs also add Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer after sitting out a season to play up front with 7’1″ Polish center Przemek Karnowski. Gonzaga has it all and they’re the better team playing at home in this matchup. But I trust Larry Brown’s ability to make his team competitive in a game it will get up for after their NCAA Tournament snub last season.
Free Pick: SMU +9
2014/2015: 0-0 +0.00