Today's Specials: Set your DVR if you have Valentine's Day plans
Despite the 'holiday,' college basketball isn't going on any dates. It's got plenty of work to do tonight.
|Kelly Olynyk is playing some of the best ball in the country; Saint Mary's needs to slow him down. (US Presswire)|
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! For those without plans, there is plenty of basketball to watch Thursday. For those with plans, make sure you DVR a few of these games. As for me, I’m heading to Indianapolis for the NCAA mock selection committee -- and, yes, many of the following teams will be discussed.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs at St. Mary's Gaels (11 p.m., ESPN2). One of the better “new” rivalries in college basketball, a late-night Thursday game between these two is so February. This game means a ton for both teams. To start, Saint Mary’s is only a half-game behind Gonzaga in the WCC standings, with the Gaels’ lone loss coming by five on the road to the Bulldogs. Furthermore, Saint Mary’s needs a marquee win to boost its at-large resume. On the other side, Gonzaga is quietly fighting for a potential No. 1 seed if it runs the table -- at worst, a No. 2 seed. Losses in the WCC won’t help matters. Can the Gaels slow down Kelly Olynyk inside? Can Gonzaga guard Matthew Dellavedova ?
Second-best game: No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers (7 p.m., ESPN). Minnesota seemed so comfortable just one month ago. The Gophers were 15-1 overall, off to a 3-0 start in the Big Ten. Since then, they have lost six of their last eight games and are below .500 in league play. While not yet on the bubble, a couple more losses could spell doom. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is coming off a home win over Michigan. A road victory would help the Badgers keep pace at the top of the standings. Can Minnesota get interior points and rebounds on a consistent basis? And will the Gophers guard the perimeter effectively enough?
Another one to watch: No. 9 Arizona Wildcats at Colorado Buffaloes (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Remember the first time these two teams played? Arizona escaped in overtime after Colorado should have won it in regulation on a buzzer 3-pointer from Sabatino Chen? I think the Buffaloes would like to finish the job this time. Colorado has won five of its last six games, with the lone loss coming at Utah two weekends ago. A win here would put them in good shape heading down the stretch. Arizona could have taken sole possession of first place last weekend -- but lost at home to California. The Buffs need to win the inside battle.
Guaranteed win: The Summit League race is heating up, with three teams within a half-game of each other at the top of the standings. But while two of those teams face off Thursday night -- Western Illinois Leathernecks visiting North Dakota State Bison (8 p.m.) -- South Dakota State Jackrabbits gets to play IUPUI Jaguars (8:05 p.m.), which has one win in conference play. The first time the two teams met, South Dakota State won by 15. Expect a bigger margin.
Potential upset: Davidson Wildcats holds a two-game lead on College of Charleston Cougars in the Southern Conference, but the Wildcats have to trip to the Cougars on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN3). Charleston has won six in a row since losing to Davidson in mid-January. Meanwhile, Davidson has pulled off eight wins a row and could get a three-game lead with only four remaining with another victory. Charleston needs to neutralize Davidson’s inside play with perimeter shooting.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- One of the more entertaining games of the month will take place when Massachusetts Minutemen visits VCU Rams (9 p.m., CBS Sports). Speed vs. HAVOC.
- St. John's Red Storm has been hovering around the bubble for a few weeks, but a win at No. 12 Louisville Cardinals could go a long way toward getting it an at-large bid (9 p.m., ESPN).
- The top two teams in the Big Sky go head-to-head when Montana Grizzlies visits Weber State Wildcats (9:05 p.m.). The Grizzlies have won 27 straight games against league competition.
Other games to watch:
-- Ranked teams
- Northwestern Wildcats at No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes (7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
-- At-large implications
- Duquesne at Temple (7 p.m.)
- UCLA at California (9 p.m., ESPN2)
- Louisiana Tech at Seattle (10 p.m.)
- USC at Stanford (11 p.m., ESPNU)
-- Conference races
- Florida Gulf Coast at Northern Kentucky (7 p.m.)
- Bryant at Mount St. Mary’s (7 p.m.)
- Robert Morris at Quinnipiac (7 p.m.)
- Belmont at Tennessee State (7 p.m., ESPNU)
- Canisius at Loyola (Md.) (7:30 p.m.)
- Murray State at SIU-Edwardsville (8 p.m., ESPN3)
- Northwestern State at SE Louisiana (8:15 p.m.)
- Stephen F. Austin at Nicholls State (8:30 p.m., ESPN3)
- Mercer at USC-Upstate (9 p.m., ESPN3)
- Denver at Utah State (9:05 p.m., ESPN3)
- New Mexico State at San Jose State (10 p.m.)
For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello
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