Viewer's Guide: Can BC get on the right track against UConn?

Olivier Hanlan can score with the best of them, but can BC slow down UConn's offense? (USATSI)
Olivier Hanlan can score with the best of them, but can BC slow down UConn's offense? (USATSI)

Wednesday was highlighted by a marquee battle between Iowa State and BYU – and the speed and tempo of that game was riveting. (Not to mention the hostility and one-possession score.) Thursday is going to be a long day of hoops, with the first tip coming at 10:30 a.m., and the last tip not coming until midnight. It’s like a mini-maration.

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

Best game: No. 18 Connecticut vs. Boston College (7 p.m., ESPN2). This game looked a lot better before the season. Since then, Boston College has started 1-3 – with the lone win coming by three points at home against a not-very-good Florida Atlantic team. Can the Eagles get back on the right track against UConn? Olivier Hanlan will have to carry the offense, but the defense has been a huge issue. They are having a lot of trouble guarding quick perimeter players – and UConn has a slew of them. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are very difficult to handle, and DeAndre Daniels is capable of being a star. It’s a chance for BC to start building its resume again, but a lot needs to go right for the Eagles.

Second-best game: Florida State vs. No. 10 VCU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU). It wasn’t a great offseason for Florida State, missing out on Andrew Wiggins and then having star recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes be declared ineligible. However, the Seminoles are 3-0, including a decent road win at UCF. Okaro White is finally developing into a go-to player. As for VCU, the new rules have not slowed down the Rams’ defense whatsoever. They are still preaching HAVOC, still forcing turnovers, and still getting points in transition. Florida State needs to take care of the ball.

Another one to watch: Nebraska vs. Massachusetts (12:30 p.m., ESPN3). This is going to be a very, very interesting clash of styles. Massachusetts plays one of the fastest tempos in the country, and they have used that style to beat Boston College and LSU this season. Meanwhile, Nebraska ranks in the 300s nationally in tempo – and the Cornhuskers will look to slow it down. Nebraska is 3-0 this season, including a surprising blowout of Florida Gulf Coast in the season opener a couple of weeks ago. Can the Cornhuskers corral Chaz Williams? That will be the key.

Guaranteed win: Let’s go to the Badger State for a couple of likely blowouts. First, No. 12 Wisconsin looks to move to 5-0 against Bowling Green (8 p.m., ESPN3). I think the biggest question could be whether Frank Kaminsky can keep his hot streak going – even if he doesn’t go for 43 points again. Also, No. 25 Marquette plays host to New Hampshire (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network). The Golden Eagles scored 35 points against Ohio State last time out; I think they’ll at least double that number on Thursday.

Potential upset: College hoops starts early on Thursday, with Charlotte and Kansas State facing off in Puerto Rico (10:30 a.m., ESPNU). And I think we’re going to see Charlotte get the win. The 49ers are 2-1, but they have five guys averaging at least 13 points and six boards a game. Kansas State has struggled a bit this season. Next up, an intrastate battle between UCF and Miami (7 p.m., ESPN3) could feature a surprise. The Hurricanes have won three in a row since beating St. Francis Brooklyn, but I’m going with UCF on Thursday. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. It’s going to be a big-time battle on the boards between UAB and No. 19 New Mexico (3 p.m., ESPNU). The Blazers need to knock down perimeter shots, though.
  2. Indiana has had some tougher-than-expected tests early on, and now the Hoosiers travel to NYC to face Washington (9 p.m., ESPN2).
  3. Minnesota was expected to struggle this season, but the Gophers are 4-0 heading into a home game against Wofford (7 p.m., Big Ten Network).

Other games to watch:

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