ESPN Staff Writer
4 Minute Read
College basketball is a realm in which time always seems to be an infinite resource. However, teams can falter in the nonconference season but later flourish in league play. Sometimes, the best teams reserve their finest performances for March. The 2022-23 UConn squad captured the national title despite finishing fourth in the Big East standings. This illustrates the college basketball mantra of embracing second, third, and fourth chances.
Nevertheless, the belief that time is the universal remedy can be perilous. It’s just the second weekend of the 2023-24 season, but the sense of urgency is palpable for several teams and coaches.
One notable team facing early challenges is No. 18 Michigan State. After a tough loss to Duke, the team has been struggling from beyond the arc. The defeat has raised concerns about a recruiting class that needs time to develop before becoming effective on the court. The upcoming matchup against Butler presents new challenges in light of these issues.
On the other hand, Maryland, which has lost two of three games, and Villanova, coming off a recent defeat, are also gearing up for tough matchups this weekend. Louisville similarly finds itself in a situation desperate for a signature win under Kenny Payne’s leadership.
Although it’s just Week 2, the upcoming games have higher stakes than expected.
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Empire Classic, Madison Square Garden, New York
Sunday, ESPN, 1 p.m. ET
The UConn Huskies are on a winning spree since their last loss on March 17, 2023. However, the absence of star freshman Stephon Castle poses a challenge. The Indiana squad, led by Xavier Johnson and Oregon transfer Kel’el Ware, will face a significant test against the reigning national champions. Despite the obstacles, Connecticut remains the favorite in this matchup.
Medcalf’s pick: UConn 75-71. Against the spread: Line unavailable (will update)
Baha Mar Hoops – Bahamas Championship, Nassau, Bahamas
Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Miami returns with a strong squad, including stars Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier, following their previous Final Four appearance. They will face a resilient Georgia team that is showing signs of improvement under Mike White’s leadership.
Medcalf’s pick: Miami 78-72. Against the spread: Georgia (+6.5)
Friday, FS1, 6:30 p.m. ET
Michigan State’s recent loss to Duke has raised concerns about their 3-point shooting. Posh Alexander’s standout performance has propelled Butler early in the season. Despite Michigan State’s talent, they cannot afford to underestimate any opponent due to their inconsistent play.
Medcalf’s pick: Michigan State 73-64. Against the spread: Michigan State (-8.5)
Friday, FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Villanova and Maryland enter the weekend with challenges following recent losses. Villanova has to avoid another letdown, while Maryland aims to improve their 3-point shooting. Despite the obstacles, Villanova is favored to clinch the win.
Medcalf’s pick: Villanova 70-67. Against the spread: Maryland (+5.5)
Medcalf’s picks straight-up: 2-1. Against the spread: 2-1
Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.