Sean Kilpatrick, Corey Allen Jr.

Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Memphis-Cincinnati, Iowa-Michigan State

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 20 Memphis at No. 15 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.

Earlier this season, Cincinnati made a name for themselves when they went into FedEx Forum and put a whooping down on the Tigers. Might it be time for Josh Pastner’s club to exact their revenge? At this point, the only thing on the line for Memphis is seeding. Where will they be slotted in the NCAA tournament? Can they manage to avoid the 4-5 game in the AAC tournament? Cincinnati, on the other hand, needs a win to keep pace with Louisville in the conference standing.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 24 Iowa at No. 22 Michigan State, 9:00 p.m.

Are there two teams in the Big Ten that are sputtering more than the Hawkeyes and the Spartans? The Hawkeyes can’t stop anyone lately, and the Spartans are playing like a JV team in recent weeks. They’ve lost at home to Nebraska and Illinois in the last ten days. That’s not a good sign. Will Keith Appling’s wrist ever be right again?

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

The Musketeers will be playing without Matt Stainbrook, who strained his MCL on Saturday. That’s certainly not good news, as he was their third-leading scorer and lead rebounder. Xavier needs this game badly, however, as their loss to Seton Hall over the weekend has put them in a bit of a predicament when it comes to making the NCAA tournament.


1) There are four Conference USA teams sitting at 12-3 in the league right now. They are all on the road tonight, and will all play at 8:00 p.m.: Louisiana Tech is at Rice, Southern Miss is at Tulane, Tulsa is at North Texas and Middle Tennessee State is at UAB.

2) George Mason will be squaring off with La Salle on the NBC Sports Network tonight at 8:00 p.m.

3) Who doesn’t love a good rivalry game? VCU-Richmond will be wild tonight, especially considering that Richmond’s tournament chances will be dead and gone without a win tonight.

4) UCLA caps off their season with a trip to the Washington schools. They play the Huskies tonight.

5) There are five conference tournaments taking place tonight: The Atlantic Sun semifinals, the Ohio Valley quarterfinals, and the first round for the MAAC, the MVC and the WCC.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)