I am excited about Tuesday night's Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Big Apple will be rocking and rolling as four ranked teams battle.
Three of the four come into New York undefeated -- Syracuse, Kansas and Memphis. The fourth, Michigan State, has lost to a pair of teams currently ranked in the top 10 (Connecticut and Duke) by a total of eight points.
My friends, this should be an awesome doubleheader. I know Jimmy V will be smiling, looking down from heaven, catching the action.
I am calling the game between the Spartans and Orange. It is no secret that Michigan State will have to attack the Syracuse 2-3 zone. A key player will be Durrell Summers, and he cannot disappear like he did against the Dukies. Summers and Kalin Lucas are going to have make shots against that tough zone. Lucas was held scoreless for the second time in his career when he took just one shot from the floor in 15 minutes against Bowling Green on Saturday. That was not the real Lucas and we will see a better version on Tuesday night.
The Spartans will try to beat the Syracuse zone by getting the ball down court quickly in transition for easy layups.
On the other side, Syracuse needs to get the transition game going as well. The Orange struggled from 3-point range in a hard-fought win over NC State last weekend, hitting just 2-of-16.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim needs a strong effort from Kris Joseph. Defensively, it is important to contain Michigan State's perimeter shooting.
This should be a classic. Michigan State and Syracuse are both looking for a signature win. You have a Hall of Fame coach, Jim Boeheim, and a future inductee in Springfield, Tom Izzo.
The other game features a young and talented Memphis team facing Bill Self's Kansas club. The Jayhawks won a Maalox masher against UCLA in Lawrence, a contest decided on a controversial call. Kansas has a lot of strength up front in the twins Marcus and Markieff Morris. Tyshawn Taylor has been playing very well in the Jayhawks' backcourt. This is a rematch of the national championship game of a few years ago.
It should be a super doubleheader, supporting the V Foundation for Cancer Research. It will be an emotional night as we reflect back on Jimmy V.