GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Florida vs. No. 15 Memphis, 9:30 p.m.
The nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic is one of the more intriguing games left before we get into league play. Both Florida and Memphis has enough talent on their roster to be considered a top ten team and a challenger to make the Final Four. But the narrative with these two teams couldn’t be more different. Florida has a reputation for being a team that wins big games, particularly in the NCAA tournament where Billy Donovan is perpetually outperforming his seed. Josh Pastner, on the other hand, finally picked up a “big” win earlier this season when his Tigers got revenge for a beatdown they took at the hands Oklahoma State.
Honestly, there is so much intrigue in this matchup it’s hard to put it all in a few paragraphs. The key to Florida’s team is how their back court plays, while it’s the Memphis back court that is one of the most talented in the country. On the other hand, Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols are the difference-makers for Memphis and they’ll have their hands full with the massive front line of the Gators.
I’ll be there tonight. I’m pumped. Obviously.
WHO’S GETTING UPSET? No. 11 Wichita State at Alabama, 9:00 p.m.
Let me get this out of the way off the bat: I am as big of a fan of the Shockers as you’ll find in the media. Ron Baker as firmly entrenched himself on my all-Man Crush team, and the combination of Fred Van Vleet, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early and a handful of serviceable big men makes WSU, in my mind, as legitimate as anyone. That said, they’re heading on the road to take on an SEC team with a talented, senior point guard and a desperate need for a marquee win. Hopefully, Baker’s ankle is healthy.
MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Belmont at Denver, 10:00 p.m.
This is the kind of game that make junkies like me salivate. Two thoroughly well-coached teams, two completely contrasting styles of play, two excellent mid-major programs. Neither team may be destined to reach the Sweet 16, but this will be a good basketball game.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1) Pittsburgh is undefeated in mid-December, which isn’t a surprise for anyone that follows the college basketball. The Panthers have a rep for not playing anyone before league play. They’ll get Cincinnati in the Jimmy V opener tonight.
2) Dominic Artis and Ben Carter were suspended for the first nine games of the season for selling shoes. They return tonight, although they’ll come off the bench. UC-Irvine isn’t a pushover, either. They went into Seattle and whipped up on Washington earlier this season.
3) You like rivalry games? Check out New Mexico State at New Mexico tonight.
4) Charlotte has been one of the more impressive teams in Conference USA this season. They head to Tallahassee tonight to take on Florida State.
5) Three top ten teams take the floor tonight, as No. 5 Michigan State hosts North Florida, No. 6 Louisville gets a visit from Missouri State and No. 7 Oklahoma takes on Delaware State.
- Florida-Gulf Coast at South Florida, 7:00 p.m.
- Manhattan at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
- Elon at Georgetown, 7:00 p.m.
- Wofford at VCU, 7:00 p.m.
- UT-Arlington at Oklahoma, 8:00 p.m.
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Creighton, 8:00 p.m.
- Ball State at Marquette, 9:00 p.m.