Pregame Shootaround 12.4.12: All eyes on New York City for Jimmy V Classic

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will be posted at 2 p.m. ET and lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: No. 25 NC State vs. Connecticut

Mark Gottfried will square off against first-year coach Kevin Ollie in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at the Jimmy V Classic in New York City. We take a deeper look at this match-up in the Jimmy V preview, which you can read here, but for a pretty solid Tuesday slate, this one stands out.

The point guard match-up of Lorenzo Brown and Shabazz Napier/Ryan Boatright will be one to keep an eye on, but also watch for the impact of NC State freshman T.J. Warren. The athletic wing is leading the Wolfpack in scoring and they’ll look to him again Tuesday night. Also look for Richard Howell to work down low, averaging 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

If Howell, along with forward C.J. Leslie, is going to be a focal point, Connecticut’s Tyler Olander and DeAndre Daniels will have their hands full.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 14 Minnesota against South Dakota State

Nate Wolters has been the darling of mid-major fanatics since last season, and there aren’t many games on tonight’s schedule that could make for a good upset pick. Because of that, let’s see what Wolters and the Jackrabbits can do. Minnesota is a good rebounding team, which will be tough for SDSU, but Wolters and his nearly 21 points per game should give them a chance Tuesday night. According to recent reports, though, Wolters turned his ankle in practice and is questionable for tonight’s game.

If an upset is going to happen, the Jackrabbits need to keep guard Andre Hollins under control. He has the ability to go off for 40 points, as he showed earlier this season against Memphis.

Mid-Major Match-Up of the Day: Lipscomb vs. Belmont

The Battle of the Boulevard is one of the most underrated rivalries in college hoops. The two schools are separated by just over two miles and have already met once this season, an 89-60 Belmont victory. Lipscomb (3-3) looks for revenge behind sophomore Malcolm Smith and his 14.0 points per game.

Expect Belmont’s duo of Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson to carry the Bruins. The two together average over 30 points per game.

Five Things to Watch For:

1) No. 5 Louisville is taking on a Charleston team Tuesday night that beat Baylor earlier this season. Baylor defeated Kentucky over the weekend, suggesting that C of C might pack some punch. Andrew Lawrence leads the way with 14 points per game.

2) Without Myck Kabongo in the lineup, sophomore Sheldon McClellan has had to step up. He’s averaging 17 points per game this season, but against Georgetown, Markel Starks could match him. Consistency has been the biggest issue for Starks, but watch that match-up.

3) Coach Mike Anderson’s son, Michael, Jr., was suspended from his role as the team’s video coordinator after being arrested for DWI. The Razorbacks take the court for the first time since that incident over the weekend Tuesday night against Oklahoma.

4) Delaware has gone up against one of the toughest schedules in the country for a mid-major to begin the season. They’re 2-6, but have played Kansas State, Pitt, Temple, and Duke. They have a very winnable game Tuesday against Radford. Jamelle Hagins is a double-double machine.

5) No. 21 UNLV responded to its first loss of the season against Oregon with three straight double-digit victories. They take on Portland Tuesday night.

The Rest of the Top 25:

No. 3 Michigan vs. Western Michigan

No. 5 Louisville vs. Charleston

No. 8 Arizona vs. Southern Miss

No. 12 Missouri vs. Southeast Missouri State

No. 13 Illinois vs. Western Carolina

No. 14 Minnesota vs. South Dakota State

No. 15 Georgetown vs. Texas

No. 21 UNLV vs. Portland

No. 25 NC State vs. Connecticut

Other Notable Games:

Oklahoma vs. Arkansas

Samford vs. Kentucky

Northwestern vs. Baylor

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

Siena vs. St. Bonaventure (NBC Sports Network)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.