Friday , Jan , 06 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

The Weekend College Picks

This weekend is big. The NCAA madness can officially begin as conference play starts. Here’s a look at the top match-ups this weekend:

Clemson @ UNC Women, Today 7 p.m.
~My Vote: Tar Heels all the way. The Heels are 13-0 and have maintained a 21 game winning streak at home. As they come off their largest scoring game against Charleston (they put up 101 points), don’t expect them to back down anytime soon. The last time UNC and Clemson met, the Heels routed the Tigers 99-55. 
N.C. State @ UNC Men, Saturday 3 p.m.
~My Vote: It’s going to be close, no doubt. But in the end, I think the Wolfpack will walk away victorious. State is 12-1 so far this season, just trailing Duke in the conference standings, and is 13th in the AP poll. Carolina, on the other hand, is eighth in the ACC and barely makes it on the AP poll at No. 25. The Pack player to watch is Engin Atsur. The guard is not a highlight player, but he puts up impressive stats with 51 assists 23 steals on the season. Not to mention he shot 55.6 percent from three-point range in his team’s last six games. However, it will be interesting to see how the Wolfpack handle the fast tempo and high intensity game of the Heels. If Roy Williams can set the tempo at the start of the game, N.C. State may have trouble keeping up with their so called “Princeton” offense.
LSU @ UConn Men, Saturday 4 p.m.
~My Vote: It’ll be an easy start for UConn. The Huskies are second on the AP Poll and LSU is only 8-4 in the SEC Western conference. I wouldn’t expect this to be a tough battle for UConn.
UConn @ Tennessee Women, Sunday 2 p.m.
~My Vote: Probably one of the biggest games in Women’s college hoops. Not just because of the talent on the floor, but also because of the history of the coaches. Pat Summit and Geno Auriemma can arguably be considered the top coaches in the sport. I’m gonna have to go with Tennessee. They’re 14-0 and are at the top of AP Poll. The Huskies just came off an impressive win against Georgetown, but Summit and her Vols seem simply unstoppable. The matchup between UConn guard Ann Strother and Tennessee’s Shanna Zolman will be impressive, though. Both averaging around 16 points a game are the top players in their respective conferences. Come Sunday, it’s on.
Duke @ Wake Forest, Sunday 8 p.m.
~My Vote: Cancel all your plans for Sunday evening. This is gonna be good. If Wake Forest can pull off a win here, it could be a major turning point in their season. They have a decent record of 11-2, but they’ve been struggling putting numbers up and their top players, Eric Williams and Justin Gray, haven’t been producing like they’re capable of. However, if J.J. Redick has his way, this could be a major blowout. My prediction: J.J. Redick will have his way. The Deacons have not been playing with enough confidence and Redick, with sidekick Greg Paulus and big man Shelden Williams have been fairly consistent. Most likely, Duke will use their top play for the entire game – the one called “give Redick the damn ball and get out of the way.”