Big Games in the Big 8 This Weekend
This weekend there are a handful of games in the Big 8 Conference that could have possible conference championship implications come seasons end. Though it is still early in the season, it is really never too early for a team to start and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. The match ups this weekend could possibly dictate who has the upper hand as the season progresses and result in more and more teams beginning to assert themselves as top dogs in the conference. I have picked out the two match ups, one from Thursday night and one from Saturday night, that stand out as some of the best games of the weekend.
Madison Memorial Spartans vs. Sun Prairie Cardinals at Sun Prairie High School
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 13
Why This Matchup Matters: It’s quite simple really, the winner of this early season contest will hold the upper hand in the conference moving forward and will remain undefeated on the season. The Spartans enter this game with a spotless 5-0 record in the Big 8 as well as a 5-0 record overall. The Cardinals also enter Thursday nights matchup with a perfect record at 5-0 overall with a 4-0 mark in conference play. The top spot in the conference is up for grabs as well as bragging rights moving forward until these two teams meet again on February, 1. Madison Memorial has scored over 50 points in every single game this season and is coming off back-to-back 64 point outings in the teams last two games. Sun Prairie has also had no trouble with the early part of the teams schedule and has arguably looked like the most impressive team in the conference. The Cardinals have scored over 70 points in each contest this year and have scored over 80 points two of the teams last three games. Sun Prairie could have made it three for three but a 79-61 victory over Madison La Follette in last weeks game prevented them from doing so. Oh so close...
Players to Watch: Sun Prairie enters this game with two of the conferences top players. Nick Fuller, last years conference MVP, is averaging 26.2 points per game and sophomore teammate Nick Noskowiak adds another 16.6 ppg. This duo has been the main reason why the Cardinals have dominated the competition so far this season and head coach Jeff Boos would not have it any other way. On Memorial, Jester Weah and Tyler Lindquist are the standouts for the Spartans. Although Weah and Lindquist do not put up the gaudy numbers that the two Cardinals do, averaging 12 points per game each, Memorial employs a much more balanced attack that has gotten the job done so far this season. Julian Walters and Brendan Ortiz also add to the offensive fire power by adding 11 and 8.2 ppg respectively as well.
Interesting factoid that may interest me only: Sun Prairie defeated Madison Memorial not once, but twice this past season in football, with the last victory for the Cardinals coming in round one of the WIAA State Playoffs. I’m sure the Spartan players and fans would love nothing more than to earn some sweet revenge and beat Sun Prairie on the Cardinals home court.
Madison West Regents vs. Madison East Purgolders at Madison East High School
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Saturday December 15
Why this Matchup Matters: Is there really a better story line than East vs. West? Ok, so maybe the game that will kickoff around 20 hours after this contest will tipoff in Chicago as the Bears will welcome in the Green Bay Packers to Soldier Field, but thats maybe about it. Madison East and West are right around the top of the Big 8 Conference standings and will need this game to gain some ground on the leaders like Madison Memorial or Sun Prairie. As the standings sit right now before the Thursday night games, East is in third place in the conference, with a record of 4-1 in conference play and 4-3 overall, and West is 2-2 in conference and 2-4 overall. Depending on what happens on Thursday night with these two teams, this could vary well be a battle for soul ownership of third place in the conference. A very important place to be sitting this early in the season and moving forward. So far Madison East has scored over 60 points in all four of the Purgolders victories, so that number will definitely be a goal to reach in this contest. Every game East has not scored at least 60 points has been a loss.
Players to Watch: For East, Miles Kietzer leads the way with scoring an average of 12.6 points per game and is perfect from the free throw line. De’Shawn Burks and Emani Brathwaite are also key contributors to the team scoring just under ten points per game each as well. Madison West features the second highest scorer in the conference as Malik Clements has shined early this year averaging 22.6 points per game. The Regent offense is heavily dependent on this young man getting going early and often in ball games. His success on the court hasn’t translated directly into wins for West, but his 37 point outburst against La Follette earlier in the year was definitely Clements coming out party.
Interesting Factoid that may interest me only: The distance from Madison East High to West High is about 5.1 miles. Thats approximately 26,400 feet, or 26,400 Subway footlong sandwiches. I only mention this because as I wrap up this article, I am also finishing my last few bites of a sub. And yes, in case you were wondering, I had to pick lettuce off my keyboard a number of times while typing this...
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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