Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Arizona hosts Colorado, lots of key mid-major games

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Colorado at No. 1 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.

It’s a shame that Spencer Dinwiddie went down with an ACL injury, but the ineptitude of everyone in the Pac-12 these days, the Buffaloes could very well still be the second best team in the conference. I’m not sure that’s actually saying much at this point, but Colorado does have a front line that can matchup with Arizona size-wise.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 6 Florida at Alabama, 7:00 p.m.

The Gators are one of the best teams in the country, I truly believe that, but they have this annoying tendency of going through bouts of what I like to call ‘offensive inability’. In other words, they have too many bad scoring stretches. Alabama is a middle-of-the-pack SEC team, but they’re tough and physical defensively and they do have one of the nation’s most underrated point guards in Trevor Releford.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Florida-Gulf Coast at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.

#DunkCity was the biggest story in college basketball for a week last year, when they made their run through the the first weekend and into the Sweet 16. They were everywhere, but they weren’t the even the reigning regular season champion of the Atlantic Sun. That title belongs to Mercer, who, like FGCU, sits at 6-1 in league play.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) You may not want to actually watch the game, but Illinois will be visiting No. 17 Ohio State tonight. The Illini and the Buckeyes are both really, really good defensively but struggle — mightily — to score. Take the under, I don’t care what it is.

2) A pair of ranked American teams take the floor at home tonight, with No. 17 Cincinnati hosting Central Florida and No. 23 Memphis welcoming Houston.

3) If Colorado isn’t the second best team in the Pac-12, who is? Well, Cal lost to USC last night. So that leaves UCLA, who hosts Stanford, and Oregon, who will pay a visit to Washington.

4 and 5) There are a number of key games in mid-major leagues tonight:

  • Belmont takes on Morehead State in a battle for first place in the OVC East.
  • Old Dominion is 3-0 in Conference USA, with all three wins coming on the road. They’re the only undefeated team in the conference. They’ll host league favorite Southern Miss tonight.
  • Chattanooga is 6-0 in the SoCon, but Davidson and Western Carolina, who play tonight, are both sitting one game back in the loss column.
  • Georgia State is undefeated in the Sun Belt. They’ll host Louisiana-Lafayette tonight. NBA scouts will be in attendance. Ryan Harrow, R.J. Hunter, Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long all take the floor.
  • Stephen F. Austin is three games into a five-game road stretch. They are 5-0 in the Southland, but pay a visit to 4-1 Oral Roberts tonight.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.