Kevin Ware, Rick Pitino

Saturday’s Pregame Shootaround: Quiet Saturday follows a loaded opening night

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GAME OF THE DAY: Charleston at No. 3 Louisville, 1:00 p.m.

Charleston is one of the stronger mid-major programs out there but that doesn’t change the fact that it will be tough for the Cougars to hang with Louisville. It’s worth noting, however, that Charleston big man Adjehi Baru was actually a more highly-touted recruit coming out of high school than Montrezl Harrell, which means that the matchup between the two big boys should be fun to watch.

What makes this game worth noting is that not only will it feature the return of Kevin Ware to an actual basketball game, but it we might also see the suspended Chane Behanan dress.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: St. Joseph’s at Vermont, 7:00 p.m.

St. Joe’s isn’t exactly a mid-major team, but for all intents and purposes, we’ll count them here. The Catamounts will be a favorite to win the America East this season, as they are every year, while the Hawks have a dangerous inside-outside duo in Langston Galloway and Ronald Roberts.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 11 Ohio State kicks their season off at noon as the host Morgan State. We’ll get our first glimpse at how the Buckeyes are going to find the scoring to replace Deshaun Thomas.

2) Bryant was one of the most improved programs in the country a year ago and will once again be a favorite in the NEC. It will be interesting to see what happens when they visit No. 15 Gonzaga (7:00 p.m.) on Saturday evening.

3) No. 16 Wichita State couldn’t find a partner to play them in the Tip-Off Classic in Dallas on Friday, so they start their Final Four defense off against … Emporia State?

4) No. 23 New Mexico kicks off the Craig Neal era by hosting Alabama A&M at 10:00 p.m.

5) Indiana State will be the biggest challenger to Wichita State in the Missouri Valley this season, and their season will begin at 1:05 p.m. against Ball State.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Manhattan at La Salle, 2:00 p.m.
  • Temple at Penn, 5:00 p.m.
  • Lamar at Butler, 8:00 p.m.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.