Inside the SEC: August 2

2 Aug

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

Believe it or not but college basketball is right around the corner. To get you ready for the SEC, we look at the top 10 best non-conference games in the league. Also, news about a huge transfer for the conference and which SEC players are still in the mix for the World University Games. 

Top Non-Conference Games

1. Kentucky vs. North Carolina (December 3) – It is always fun when the two traditional blue-bloods get together, but when you add in the fact that the battle could be for the top spot in the country and that the Wildcats narrowly defeated the Tar Heels last season in the Elite Eight and this year’s battle could be one of the best in recent memory.

2. Florida at Ohio State (November 15) – The Buckeyes got the best of Florida last year in Gainesville, and Billy Donovan’s squad will have to gel early in order steal a victory on the road from a top 5 team. The young Gator frontline will have its hands full with potential Player of the Year candidate Jared Sullinger.

3. Kentucky vs. Louisville (December 31) – The rivalry between the two Bluegrass state teams runs deep, but this year’s will be even more exciting because for the first time in a while both sides will likely be ranked in the top 10. With both teams bringing in highly touted recruiting classes, the game very well could be decided by which set of youngsters can handle the pressure.

4. Florida at Syracuse (December 2) – Florida may have one of the most deep and talented back courts in the country, and they are going to need all their outside shooters to come out on fire if they want to take down the Orange and their 2-3 zone at home in the Big East/SEC Challenge. Transfer Mike Rosario may be able to help the coaches game plan for the matchup as he faced Syracuse several times in the past while he was with Rutgers

5. Vanderbilt at Louisville (December 2) – If you are in the mood to see some three pointers, then this is the game for you. Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins is arguably the best shooter in the county and his back court mate Brad Tinsley is no slouch either. Those two along with the rest of the Commodores will have plenty of good looks from distance against the Cardinals full-court pressure defense. The Cards can also knock it down from distance, led by Kyle Kuric.

6. Florida vs. Arizona (December 6) – The Gators will have already played two top ten opponents on the road, when a probable third top ten foe Arizona comes to town. Both teams are coming off Elite Eight performances a year ago, and will both be eager to bolster their NCAA resume with a quality win. The game could prove pivotal to Florida if they struggle in their first two high profile games.

7. Vanderbilt vs. Marquette (December 29) – For the second straight season the Commodores will play Marquette on the 29th of December, and when they do they will look to make it two straight wins. Last year Vanderbilt narrowly defeated the Golden Eagles 77-76 in Nashville, but it will be a much tougher task this season in Milwaukee.

8. Kentucky vs. Kansas (December 15) – Had the Morris twins returned to the Jayhawks and the Wildcats held on to Brandon Knight, this could be one of the premier matchups of the entire year, but even without the star power it still should be a great game in New York as part of the Champions Classic. It will just be UK’s freshman class’s second game, so if will be fun to see how fast they can adjust to the bright lights.

9. Alabama vs. Georgetown (December 1) – While the Hoyas will not be as good nor talented as recent years, Alabama doesn’t have many  other marquis non-conference matchups, so it will be imperative that the Crimson Tide take care of business at home.

10. Mississippi State vs. West Virginia (December 3) – If Rick Stansbury’s club wants to make the NCAA tournament, a win over the Mountaineers would go a long way. The Bulldogs have talent in Dee Bost, Renardo Sydney, and freshman Rodney Hood it will just being playing together and with consistency.

3 SEC Players Remain at World University Game Trials

Of the 14 players to make it past the first cut at the for the USA team that will travel to China for the World University Games, three are from the SEC.

Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins, Kentucky’s Darius Miller, and Alabama’s JaMychal Green are all still in the hunt to make the final 12-man roster that will be named August 8th.

Alabama forward Tony Mitchell was the only player from the conference invited to tryout, to not make the cut.

Former Arkansas Guard to Butler

After taking more than a month to decide on his next move, former Razorback Rotnei Clarke has decided to play out his last season for Brad Stevens and Butler.

Clarke, who will have to sit out next season and will have one year of eligibility remaining, chose the Bulldogs over Oklahoma.

“It just felt like the best fit for me,” the guard told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com “It was a tough decision, especially with me being from Oklahoma.”

In his final season at Arkansas he averaged better than 15 points a contest, while shooting 44 percent from 3-point land.

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