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Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Kicking off the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 22 Michigan at No. 10 Duke, 9:15 p.m. ET

The highlight of tonight’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge slate was supposed to pit two top ten teams against each other. Instead, both the Blue Devils and the Wolverines head into Tuesday night’s matchup with a pair of losses. Duke has been beaten by Kansas and Arizona this season, which is hardly a cause for concern for this group. What is concerning, however, is Duke’s front court, which isn’t big enough to handle the likes of Mitch McGary.

It’s not all peaches and cream for Michigan, however, as their three best players — McGary, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III — have all been dealing with injuries this season. The story line that is going to be too overhyped here: McGary’s decision on where to go to school came down to Duke and Michigan.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: UC-Santa Barbara at No. 18 UCLA, 11:00 p.m. ET

UCLA has looked really good through the first month of the season, with their three wings — Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine — making up one of the nation’s most potent perimeter attacks. That said, UCSB is pretty good. They beat UNLV by 21 at UNLV and lost to Colorado and Utah State by single digits despite missing Alan Williams, who is currently averaging 29.0 points and 11.7 boards.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Belmont at Middle Tennessee State, 8:00 p.m. ET

Nothing but a pair of really strong mid-major programs in Tennessee. Both the Bruins and the Blue Raiders have put together strong starts to the season despite losing key pieces to graduation. Methinks Rick Byrd and Kermit Davis know what they’re doing.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) The Big Ten/ACC Challenge kicks off tonight. Our preview can be found here.

2) The best game of the night not including Duke or Michigan? Notre Dame’s visit to No. 23 Iowa.

3) But you’ll want to keep an eye on Pitt and Penn State as well. The Nittany Lions are a much-improved team, but I think Pitt can legitimately contend for the ACC title this season.

4) No. 21 UMass pays a visit to Eastern Michigan, a team that might be able to give them some trouble. EMU is coached by a Jim Boeheim disciple in Rob Muprhy. He plays zone and has some length and athleticism. Don’t be shocked to see UMass struggle against that kind of defense.

5) No. 2 Arizona takes the court again tonight as Texas Tech pays a visit to the McKale Center.

NOTABLES:

  • USC-Upstate at Cincinnati, 8:00 p.m.
  • Colorado at Colorado State, 9:00 p.m.
  • Creighton at Long Beach State, 10:00 p.m.
  • Utah at Boise State, 10:05 p.m.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.