Today's Specials: All-day schedule includes Drexel-Illinois State, UTEP-Arizona
There are no Top 25 match-ups on Thursday, but there are several quality games between teams that we could see come March.
|Frantz Massenat and Drexel need to bounce back after its season-opening loss to Kent State. (US Presswire)|
More daytime college hoops? Count me in. Tournaments in Charleston and Puerto Rico will feature basketball from morning to night. Overall, it’s a better slate than Wednesday despite no truly marquee game.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: Illinois State Redbirds at Drexel Dragons (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Both teams could be on the NCAA tournament bubble come March, so a win here would be a nice addition to the resume. Drexel lost its opener to Kent State, and the Dragons need more than 14 points from Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee. Keep an eye on the battle inside between Illinois State star Jackie Carmichael and Drexel’s defensive-minded Daryl McCoy. If Drexel can slow down Carmichael, Illinois State could be in some trouble.
Second-best game: Texas-El Paso Miners at Arizona Wildcats (10 p.m., FSN). Arizona didn’t look great for the majority of the season opener against Charleston Southern, but Sean Miller has four newcomers to work into the lineup. Brandon Ashley was the most impressive of the three freshman bigs. The Wildcats will get another test, going against UTEP’s size. The Miners can counter with 7-footer John Bohannan and the versatile Washburn brothers.
Another one to watch: This might not be a great game, but it will be interesting to see what Murray State Racers is going to bring to the table this season. The Racers head on the road to face Auburn Tigers (8 p.m, ESPN3). No one expects Murray State to be the last remaining unbeaten team this season, but a dominant performance on Thursday would be a nice start.
Guaranteed win: Kansas Jayhawks dropped its opener to Michigan State on Tuesday, but we knew the Jayhawks would go through some growing pains with so many new players. Those growing pains shouldn’t be much of a factor against Chattanooga Mocs on Thursday (8 p.m., ESPN3). Indiana Hoosiers against Sam Houston State Bearkats and Louisville Cardinals vs. Samford Bulldogs should also cruise through their respective matchups.
Potential upset: Trips to Utah State Aggies are never fun or easy, and St. Mary's Gaels will get to experience that (9:05 p.m., Regional TV). The head-to-head battle between Matthew Dellavedova and Preston Medlin should be terrific. Both players have the ability to take over a game if their outside shot is falling. Utah State isn’t as good as it has been in years past, but this game should still be good.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- The 2K Classic doesn’t have the pop it sometimes has, but four rebuilding teams will look to get early-season momentum. Alabama Crimson Tide faces Oregon State Beavers (7 p.m., ESPN2) and Villanova Wildcats goes against Purdue Boilermakers (9:30 p.m., ESPN2).
- The Puerto Rico Tip-Off could feature some fun semifinal games, but the best of the opening-round contests could be Akron Zips vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10:30 a.m., ESPNU).
- The Charleston Classic has some under-the-radar games, led by potential bubble dwellers Dayton Flyers and Colorado Buffaloes battling (12:30 p.m., ESPN3).
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Michigan, Marquette, California, LSU and VCU are also in the 34th annual field