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.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of tonight’s bubbly action in one place

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie calls to his team during an NCAA college basketball game against Central Florida, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 at the CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
(Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
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Tonight’s schedule. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

UConn (KenPom: 19, RPI: 46) at Temple (KenPom: 95, RPI: 69), 7:00 p.m.
Florida State (KenPom: 37, RPI: 38) at Syracuse (KenPom: 39, RPI: 44), 7:00 p.m.
VCU (KenPom: 32, RPI: 40) at UMass, 7:00 p.m.
Arkansas-Little Rock (KenPom: 41, RPI: 63) at Louisiana Monroe, 8:00 p.m.
Northern Kentucky at Valparaiso (KenPom: 22, RPI: 48), 8:00 p.m.
No. 4 Iowa at Indiana (KenPom: 24, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
No. 11 Oregon at Cal (KenPom: 44, RPI: 32), 9:00 p.m.
Washington State at Colorado (KenPom: 56, RPI: 29), 11:00 p.m.
Gonzaga (KenPom: 33, RPI: 66) at Portland, 11:00 p.m.
Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s (KenPom: 26, RPI: 52), 11:00 p.m.
Oregon State (KenPom: 81, RPI: 31) at Stanford (KenPom: 104, RPI: 71), 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Big Ten showdown and key bubble battles

Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff (20), Christian Williams, center, and Adam Woodbury, second from left, and Michigan State's Deyonta Davis (23) and Eron Harris (14) reach for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 4 Iowa at Indiana, 9:00 p.m.

As a result of their surprising loss at Penn State Saturday night, Tom Crean’s Hoosiers enter this pivotal contest a game back of the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten standings. And with their backloaded conference schedule, this is a game Indiana has to get if they’re to entertain thoughts of winning the Big Ten title. Two of the Big Ten’s best players will be on display in Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, but both have plenty of help behind them offensively.

Iowa’s Peter Jok has been one of the conference’s most improved players, and the Hoosiers can counter not only with forward Troy Williams but with freshman center Thomas Bryant as well. The key in this one: turnovers, as Indiana has lost the ball on more than 20 percent of their possessions in conference play. That can’t happen tonight if they’re to win.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 11 Oregon at California, 9:00 p.m.

The Ducks have been the class of the Pac-12 to this point, but a win in Berkeley won’t come easy. The Golden Bears may not be enjoying the success many expected before the season began, but Cuonzo Martin’s team has won all 14 of its home games this season, most recently whipping rival Stanford last weekend.

The problem for Cal: Tyrone Wallace is still out due to injury, and given Oregon’s many versatile scoring options that’s a problem. Pac-12 POY candidate Dillon Brooks leads the way, but Chris Boucher has emerged as one of the conference’s best big men in recent weeks. Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb and Jordan Mathews will need to come up big, as this is a huge contest for Cal’s NCAA tournament hopes.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  • The top two teams in the Big West get together in Honolulu, as Hawai’i hosts UC Irvine (1:00 a.m.) in the first of their two meetings this season. This will be a matchup of strengths when the Bows have the ball, as they lead the Big West in two-point field goal percentage (54.7) while UC Irvine leads the conference in two-point percentage defense (38.9) thanks in large part to 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye. Hawai’i forward Stefan Jankovic (15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) has been a much-improved player under first-year head coach Eran Ganot, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding.
  • Two ACC teams with matching 6-5 league records meet at the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse hosts Florida State (7:00 p.m.) in a game both teams need for their respective NCAA tournament résumés. Jim Boeheim’s team should be well-rested, as they haven’t played in nine days, and they’ll need that energy to slow down FSU guards Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon. The Seminole backcourt is young but talented, and they’ll face two fifth-year seniors in Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney.
  • Picking up a home sweep of Utah and Colorado may have given Oregon State’s NCAA tournament hopes some life, but they really need to go on a run here. Tonight’s game at Stanford (11:00 p.m.) represents a good opportunity for Gary Payton II and company to win their third straight, but the Cardinal did win the first meeting in Corvallis back on January 6. In that game rebounding was the deciding factor (Rosco Allen finished with 21 and eight boards, too), as Stanford grabbed half of their available missed shots. OSU can’t let that happen again.
  • With SMU ineligible for postseason play, the other American Athletic Conference teams are jockeying for position in next month’s conference tournament. Tonight UConn looks to avenge its home loss to Temple January 5 with a win in Philadelphia (7:00 p.m.). Since Amida Brimah’s return the Huskies have played much better basketball, as they have their rim protector and a finisher for Daniel Hamilton’s alley-oop passes back on the court. The Owls have won their last three games, and tonight is their second-best remaining opportunity for a quality win (they play No. 1 Villanova next Wednesday).
  • At this point, no one’s catching Wichita State for the Missouri Valley regular season title without the Shockers collapsing in epic fashion. But when it comes to who can earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, both Illinois State and Evansville have a shot. The two teams meet in Evansville tonight (8:00 p.m.), with three of the Valley’s best players on display in ISU’s DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Evansville’s D.J. Balentine and Edigijus Mockevicius. Evansville won the first meeting by 11 in mid-January, as the Redbirds shot 6-for-31 from three on the night.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Mercer at Wofford, 7:00 p.m.
  • Hofstra at William & Mary, 7:00 p.m.
  • High Point at Coastal Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
  • James Madison at College of Charleston, 7:00 p.m.
  • Milwaukee at Oakland, 7:00 p.m.
  • Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s, 11:00 p.m.