Trevor Mbakwe, Elliott Eliason

Pregame Shootaround 1.17.13: Minnesota-Michigan highlight a good night

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Game of the Day: No. 5 Michigan at No. 9 Minnesota (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

It seems like every night, our Game of the Night is going to be coming out of the Big Ten or the Mountain West, and Thursday is no different as the Wolverines look to bounce back from a disappointing loss at Ohio State by going into Minneapolis and knocking off the Gophers. Minnesota is coming off of a disappointing performance themselves, as they dug out of a 23 point hole against Indiana, but ended up losing the game because Trevor Mbakwe missed a box out against Cody Zeller.

The key to slowing down Michigan is keeping Trey Burke from being able to penetrate, but I’m not sure that Minnesota has a good enough on-ball defender to do to Burke what Aaron Craft did. Expect the Barn to be rocking.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 10 Florida at Texas A&M (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Florida is banged up right now. Will Yeguete has a knee issue. Erik Murphy has a broken rib. Casey Prather is out. Scottie Wilbekin has a broken finger. Those are a lot of important pieces that are going to be limited or out of the lineup against an A&M team that just went into Rupp and won  on the strength of 40 points from Elston Turner.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Valparaiso at Detroit (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Two of the favorites square off in the Horizon League. What intrigues me the most about this game is that Valpo’s strength is along the front line while Detroit lives off of the athleticism of their perimeter plays. This game is worth watching simply to see Doug Anderson fly.

Five Things to Watch For

1) The eastern division of the Ohio Valley Conference is stacked. Sitting atop the conference is Tennessee State, who is still undefeated in league play despite being without their star Robert Covington. But right behind TSU at 4-0 are Eastern Kentucky and Belmont, two teams with excellent guard play that square off at 8:00 p.m. tonight at Belmont.

Also keep an eye on Jacksonville State, who is 4-2 in the league, tonight, as they visit Tennessee State.

2) South Dakota State has a chance to make a move on North Dakota State in the Summt League standings with Taylor Braun out. They visit Western Illinois tonight, who is tied with the Bison for first place in the conference at 6-0.

3) No. 23 Illinois looks to bounce back after losing three of their first four Big Ten games as they host Northwestern at 8:15 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

4) St. Joseph’s will be without Halil Kanacevic, but that may end up being a blessing in disguise as they are forced to play three guards against No. 22 VCU’s vaunted pressure. Tip is at 9:00 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

5) Utah State is currently tied for first place in the WAC at 5-0 in league play, but they will put that on the line as they head to New Mexico State. NMSU the kind of athleticism that could frustrate the USU back court.

The Top 25

  • Georgia Tech at No. 3 Duke (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 8 Gonzaga at Portland (10:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • No. 5 Michigan at No. 9 Minnesota (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 10 Florida at Texas A&M (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 21 Oregon at USC (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • St. Joseph’s at No. 22 VCU (9:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Net)
  • Northwestern at No. 23 Illinois (8:15 p.m. ET, Big Ten)
  • Oregon State at No. 24 UCLA (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.