Today's Specials: Parker's decision overshadows on-court action

On Thursday, Jabari Parker will announce between Duke, Michigan State, Florida, Stanford and BYU. (US Presswire)

It was nice to get back to normalcy in college basketball this week, with plenty of action on Tuesday and Wednesday -- as well as the Myck Kabongo news Wednesday night. What will Thursday bring? A battle of explosive backcourts will be fun to watch, although the biggest news of Thursday comes in the recruiting world. Top-five prospect Jabari Parker will make his college announcement at 4 p.m. on ESPNU, when he will choose between Duke, Michigan State, Florida, BYU and Stanford. My gut feeling is Duke.

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

Best game: Iona at La Salle (7 p.m.). If you like exciting guards, this is the game to watch. Iona has Lamont Jones and Sean Armand, two players averaging at least 20 points per game. La Salle counters with the duo of Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren, plus Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland just became eligible. Iona also picks up the services of David Laury, a transfer forward that has people in New Rochelle excited. It’s tough not to get excited for the backcourt battle in this one.

Second-best game: Robert Morris at Arkansas (8 p.m., ESPN3). With LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd out for the season with a torn ACL, does Robert Morris become the favorite in the Northeast Conference? The Colonials have won five in a row, including home wins over Ohio and Duquesne. Arkansas has been up and down, but does have a victory over Oklahoma. Look at the head-to-head matchup between Arkansas’ BJ Young and Robert Morris’ Velton Jones. Arkansas will look to push tempo.

Another one to watch: Lehigh at North Texas (8 p.m.). North Texas has been something of a disappointment this season, but the ability to watch two of the best players in the country -- Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and NT’s Tony Mitchell -- is reason enough to check in. Mitchell hasn’t been as dominant this season as he was a year ago, but he needs to step up against the Mountain Hawks. Moreover, North Texas needs to guard the perimeter -- Lehigh will light it up from 3.

Guaranteed win: Duke’s first big moment Thursday could come at 4 p.m., when Parker announces. Will the Blue Devils land Parker? Three hours later, the No. 1 Blue Devils host Elon (7 p.m., ESPNU). Duke put on a tremendous performance in the second half against Cornell on Wednesday night, and will look to carry that over against Elon.

Potential upset: It’s been a rough week for Wichita State. First, the Shockers suffered their first loss of the season, to Tennessee. Then, it was announced that leading scorer and rebounder Carl Hall would miss a month with a thumb injury -- and now Rob Baker will miss six weeks with a stress fracture. Can Charleston Southern take advantage of a depleted Wichita State unit (8 p.m., ESPN3)?

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. It looked like Memphis was going to come up with a big win over the weekend against Louisville, but the Tigers fell short. They face Lipscomb on Thursday (8 p.m.).
  2. Stephen F. Austin sent a message to the rest of the Southland by beating Oklahoma on Tuesday; the Lumberjacks face Grambling State (8 p.m.)
  3. No. 2 Michigan is in action Thursday, hosting Eastern Michigan (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
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