Mark Lyons

Pregame Shootaround 12.23.12: Diamond Head Classic highlights Sunday’s action

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will 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. 4 Arizona vs. Miami (Fla.)

Arizona and Miami meet up in Hawaii in what some expect could be the most likely upset to keep us from a San Diego State-Arizona final. The Wildcats took care of East Tennessee State Saturday behind a double-double from freshman Brandon Ashley of 16 points and 10 rebounds. They face a Miami team that handled host school Hawaii with help from Durand Scott’s 20 points.

The Miami backcourt of Scott and Shane Larkin vs. Arizona’s Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson will be at the center of the  matchup Sunday night. Also keep an eye on what Miami’s Reggie Johnson can do on the interior against the young front line from Arizona.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Virginia Tech against Colorado State (11:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

It might not be your quintessential idea of an upset because these teams have identical records, but the Hokies began the season 7-0, including a big win over then-No. 15 Oklahoma State. They have since gone 2-2, including a loss to Georgia Southern at home. Colorado State, on the other hand, is riding a three-game winning streak. The biggest battle will be on the backboards between CSU’s Pierce Hornung and Colton Iverson and Tech’s Jarell Eddie.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: St. Mary’s vs. Northern Iowa (2:00 p.m. ET)

Don’t be fooled by Northern Iowa’s 6-5 record. All five losses have come against quality high-majors (Louisville, Stanford, Memphis, Iowa, UNLV) and UNI has beaten a solid mid-major in George Mason. St. Mary’s comes into Sunday’s game having shaken off two disappointing losses in late November to win four straight. Matthew Dellavedova continues to prove that he is one of the best point guards in the country, averaging 19.5 points and 6.1 assists per game. He’ll face off against Deon Mitchell, who leads UNI with 12.4 points and 3.6 assists per game.

Five Things to Watch

1. San Diego State is expected to be in the Diamond Head Classic final, but they have to get by Indiana State first. The Sycamores upset Ole Miss on Saturday.

2. Clemson traveled on the road to Coastal Carolina and got beaten soundly, 69-46, earlier this week. They now return home to take on South Carolina State Sunday.

3. Ole Miss is in the Top 10 nationally in both points and rebounding, yet lost to Indiana State in overtime on Saturday. They face San Francisco in the Diamond Head Classic.

4. Pittsburgh hasn’t gotten a whole lot of national recognition, despite the fact that the Panthers are 11-1. A win over Kennesaw State on Sunday will likely push them into the Top 25 when polls are released Monday.

5. Boise State is one of the upstart darlings of the early season under coach Leon Rice. Wins over Creighton and LSU have the Broncos on the maps. They face New Orleans Sunday.

The Top 25 

No. 4 Arizona vs. Miami (Fla.) (11:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 18 San Diego State vs. Indiana State (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Other Notable Games

Ole Miss vs. San Francisco (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Pittsburgh vs. Kennesaw State (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

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

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.