Today's Specials: Mizzou-Louisville highlight loaded slate

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 vs. No. 2 Louisville (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 vs. VCU (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 vs. No. 4 Michigan (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 isn’t in that group. The Buckeyes get to play UMKC 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 over Pittsburgh (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 vs. No. 17 Gonzaga (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:

  1. Two disciplined, well-coached teams will square off when No. 14 Creighton and Wisconsin battle (10 p.m, ESPN2). What will Bo Ryan have up his sleeve for Doug McDermott?
  2. The Global Sports Classic is an underrated four-team tournament this season. On Friday, the matchups are Iowa State vs. No. 22 Cincinnati (6:30 p.m., CBS College Sports) and Oregon at No. 18 UNLV (9 p.m., CBS College Sports).
  3. Davidson couldn’t pull it out against New Mexico during the 24-hour marathon, but the Wildcats can send another message by beating West Virginia (12:30 p.m. ESPN).
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