Today's Specials: All eyes on the Volunteer State

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
Tennessee looks to make a statement on Thursday night with Top-25 Wichita State coming to town. (US Presswire)

Despite the Big East news on Thursday, there are still games to be played -- and the top two games both take place within the state of Tennessee's borders. One features a Top-25 team heading on the road, while the other is a mid-major showdown between two talented teams with the potential to win plenty of games.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.

Best game: No. 23 Wichita State at Tennessee(7 p.m., Fox Sports Regional). Heading into the season, Wichita State was expected to take a step back, while Tennessee was poised to develop into an SEC contender. After a little over one month, not much has changed since last year. Wichita State is 9-0,with wins over VCU and Iowa as the highlights. Tennessee (4-3) has lost two in a row, not cracking the 50-point mark in either game. The battle on the inside should be interesting, with Jarnell Stokes going against Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall.

Second-best game: Middle Tennessee at Belmont (7 p.m., ESPN3). Combined, these two teams won 54 games last season -- and could push to match that this season. Middle Tennessee is coming off a win over Mississippi, and it has also defeated UCF this season. Belmont has a bad loss to Northeastern, but the Bruins have Stanford and sit at 6-2. For Middle Tennessee (7-2), the key will be to take advantage of Belmont's defensive rebounding issues. On the other side, Belmont has to knock down its perimeter shots. Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson vs. Marcos Knight.

Another one to watch: Florida International at Florida Gulf Coast (7:05 p.m.). There's really not much to see here, aside from a couple in-state low-major schools going at it. Florida Gulf Coast (6-4) has been solid this season, beating Miami and Loyola (Md.). The Eagles could win the Atlantic Sun. Meanwhile, Florida International is 3-3 under first-year coach Richard Pitino. Malik Smith has been the go-to guy for the Golden Panthers.

Guaranteed win: Jackson State has the pieces to win the SWAC this season, despite its 0-6 start. The Tigers likely won't get their first win against 6-4 Washington State (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Dundrecous Nelson and Kelsey Howard can score with the best of them, but Jackson State has no one to slow down Brock Motum on the inside.

Potential upset: Washington has struggled to open the season, going 4-4 with losses to Nevada and Albany on the docket. Now, the Huskies play Seattle (10 p.m., ROOT) and face a Redhawks side that is no pushover. Seattle (3-3) has the fastest tempo in the country and will look to outgun the Huskies. Interestingly, former Washington transfer Clarence Trent leads Seattle in scoring.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Toccoa Falls lost by 102 points to Western Carolina last season. It plays at Coastal Carolina on Thursday (7:30 p.m.).
  2. Louisiana-Monroe is coming off its first win of the season, and it will look to get its second in a row against Southern (8 p.m.).
  3. NJIT has been a thorn in the side of some solid groups this season; it should take care of North Carolina A&T (7:30 p.m.)
 
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