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
As a college graduate, he's eligible to contribute immediately for the Orange
One of college basketball's best annual games could be killed off because of TV greed
Our Candid Coaches reveals that Virginia's coach is among the most respected men in the sp...
The University of Vermont women's basketball team canceled a game in Chapel Hill over HB2
Top 25-caliber teams fill the inaugural event
Calipari's decision not to suspend Derek Willis could end up backfiring on him down the ro...