Today's Specials: Mizzou-Louisville highlight loaded slate
The NFL got the attention on Thursday, but college hoops should be front and center on Friday. There are tons of games from noon until after midnight.
|Missouri's Laurence Bowers, Alex Oriakhi and Phil Pressey might find it difficult to solve Louisville's defense. (US Presswire)|
Hope everyone is recovered from their Thanksgiving feast and ensuing slumber -- because Friday has a loaded slate of games. There’s a top-15 showdown, along with several ranked teams who will be tested. The NFL had Thursday; college hoops gets Friday.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: No. 13 Missouri Tigers vs. No. 2 Louisville Cardinals (9:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Big-time showdown in the Bahamas. My colleague, Jeff Goodman, will be there to cover it live -- if he decides to get off the beach at some point. Both teams are still looking to hit on all cylinders, as Missouri is meshing returnees, newcomers and guys coming back from injury. Louisville’s offense was typically anemic against Northern Iowa on Thursday night, but the Cardinals’ defense is as good as ever. Missouri has a lot of offensive weapons, but Louisville forces teams to knock down shots from the perimeter and doesn’t allow easy shots inside the arc. Phil Pressey can get out of control some times -- and Louisville loves forcing turnovers. This should be a good one.
Second-best game: No. 5 Duke Blue Devils vs. VCU Rams (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Could have gone with Minnesota and No. 19 Memphis in this slot as well (1:00 p.m., NBC Sports Network), but it’s better to go with the winner’s bracket games. Duke pulled away down the stretch against Minnesota on Thursday to win by 18, with Mason Plumlee dominating the interior. VCU doesn’t have a ton of size, but their length and athleticism will need to slow down Plumlee. On the other side, VCU harassed Joe Jackson into a horrible day -- will they do the same to Quinn Cook?
Another one to watch: Kansas State Wildcats vs. No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (4:30 p.m., ESPN). Neither team looked great on Wednesday, but they both did what they needed to do to advance. Kansas State’s offense is still predicated upon getting offensive rebounds or scoring off turnovers in transition. The Wildcats didn’t let Delaware run anything in the half-court. Meanwhile, Michigan showed a newfound physicality and toughness, and also demonstrated it could win games without lighting it up from 3-point range.
Guaranteed win: Most of the ranked teams have tough tests on Friday, but No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes isn’t in that group. The Buckeyes get to play UMKC Kangaroos in a game they should easily win (6 p.m., Big Ten Network). The Kangaroos lost by 39 to Seton Hall -- and Ohio State is a heckuva lot better than Seton Hall.
Potential upset: I know everyone expects me to go with Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens over Pittsburgh Panthers (2:30 p.m., ESPN), but I can’t be a homer every night. So I’m going to say to keep an eye on Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs (7:30 p.m., ESPN2). Gonzaga didn’t look great in its win over Clemson on Thursday night, and Oklahoma has a lot of solid pieces this season. Steven Pledger was the go-to-guy a year ago, but he’s taking on less of a role this season with guys like Buddy Hield picking up the slack.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Two disciplined, well-coached teams will square off when No. 14 Creighton Bluejays and Wisconsin Badgers battle (10 p.m, ESPN2). What will Bo Ryan have up his sleeve for Doug McDermott?
- The Global Sports Classic is an underrated four-team tournament this season. On Friday, the matchups are Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 22 Cincinnati Bearcats (6:30 p.m., CBS College Sports) and Oregon Ducks at No. 18 UNLV Rebels (9 p.m., CBS College Sports).
- Davidson Wildcats couldn’t pull it out against New Mexico during the 24-hour marathon, but the Wildcats can send another message by beating West Virginia Mountaineers (12:30 p.m. ESPN).
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