Today's Specials: Light slate provides break before conference challenges

Jarnell Stokes will do his best to stop Tennessee from losing its third in a row to Oakland. (US Presswire)

After a jam-packed extended weekend of college basketball, we get something of a break on Monday. Only one ranked team is in action, and it’s a light slate overall. With some conference challenges coming this week, though, things heat up after Monday.

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

Best game: Oakland Golden Grizzlies at Tennessee Volunteers (7 p.m., ESPN3). Oakland has knocked off Tennessee in each of the last two seasons, and the Golden Grizzlies do have the potential to make it three. They have lost a couple close games, to Boise State and Pittsburgh, and also hung with Michigan State for most of the game. The key against Tennessee could be sophomore big man Corey Petros going against Jarnell Stokes on the inside. The Volunteers have been up and down so far, but they are still waiting for Jeronne Maymon to return from injury.

Second-best game: East Carolina Pirates at Georgia State Panthers (7 p.m.). Yes, it’s a very light slate for Monday night. East Carolina is off to a 4-0 start, although two of those wins were against non-Division I teams. Georgia State got off to an 0-2 start but has since bounced back with three straight wins. East Carolina has a solid inside-outside tandem in Maurice Kemp and Miguel Paul, while Georgia State counters with the backcourt of Devonta White and R.J. Hunter.

Another one to watch: Robert Morris Colonials at Savannah State Tigers (7 p.m.). A couple of teams we could see fighting for automatic bids come March. Robert Morris got off to a rough start, but Andy Toole has the Colonials winning three of their last four. Savannah State doesn’t score much, but the Tigers don’t allow much, either. In their six games against Division-I opponents, no team has scored 60 points in any of those games.

Guaranteed win: There are a few candidates for this category on Monday night, but it’s tough to go against Chicago State Cougars visiting Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7 p.m., ESPNU). Chicago State is one of the worst teams in Division I, while Notre Dame is 5-1 with the lone loss coming in overtime against Saint Joseph’s. And, no, the Fighting Irish won’t be caught looking ahead to Kentucky on Thursday.

Potential upset: Heading into the season, this game wouldn’t have even been on the radar. However, South Florida Bulls has been blown out at home by UCF and also dropped one at home to Western Michigan. Now, the Bulls head on the road to face Stetson Hatters (7 p.m.). Whichever team wins the tempo battle should have the edge. Stetson likes to push it; South Florida, not so much.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Morehead State Eagles hosts Norfolk State Spartans on Monday night (7 p.m.). Remember, Morehead coach Sean Woods is suspended for one game after his outburst last week.
  2. The Battle for Baltimore takes place when Towson Tigers takes the four-mile trek down York Road and North Charles Street to Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds (7:30 p.m.). Loyola forward Erik Etherly is out with a shoulder injury.
  3. The lone ranked team in action on Monday is No. 12 Kansas Jayhawks , which hosts San Jose State Spartans (9 p.m., ESPNU). The Jayhawks have been solid but, not surprisingly, still have things to work out with so many young players in the rotation. 
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