The fight against cancer has received quite the boost from college basketball over the years, from the Jimmy V Classic to Coaches vs. Cancer’s many fundraising projects including its “Suits and Sneakers” weekend during the regular season.
On Wednesday it was announced that there will be a doubleheader at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on December 21, with the National Association of Basketball Coaches and American Cancer Society collaborating on the event.
The two games on that Saturday will feature four teams expected by many to at the very least reach the NCAA tournament, with Marquette taking on New Mexico and former Big 12 foes Oklahoma State and Colorado meeting in the nightcap.
All four programs reached the NCAA tournament last season, with Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles being the lone team to advance to the second weekend. Marquette lost to former Big East rival Syracuse (they’re now in the ACC) in the Elite 8.
The battle between the Golden Eagles and Lobos matches two programs that won at least a share of their respective regular season conference titles last season, with New Mexico winning both the regular season and tournament titles in the Mountain West.
As for the Cowboys and Buffaloes, both are expected to be contenders in the Big 12 and Pac-12 respectively, and the point guard matchup between Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado) has the potential to be one of the best on the college basketball schedule this coming season.
“Many thanks to MGM Grand for its commitment to helping us launch this annual event benefitting a cause that college basketball passionately supports,” said Brooks Downing, president of event promoter bd Global Sports said in the release. “With four of the nation’s top teams for next season, it will definitely have a March Madness atmosphere that day at MGM Grand.”
In addition to the newly formed MGM Grand Showcase, MGM Grand Garden Arena also hosts the Pac-12 tournament in March.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: