Thursday’s slate and what to watch

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If the Big East does place 11 teams in the NCAA tournament, Marquette’s gonna another big win or two before the season’s over. Thursday’s the biggest one left.

A win at UConn would be the Golden Eagles’ best W since beating Notre Dame back in early January and likely ensure at least a .500 record in the Big East. That’ll mean doing a few things:

  1. Check Kemba Walker. Louisville harassed UConn’s leading scorer into a 3-for-13 shooting night last Saturday, resulting in a 71-58 UConn loss.
  2. Hit the offensive glass. Nothing signals a better result for Marquette than when they grab more than 35 percent of their misses. They’re a good shooting team, so there’s usually not much need for it, but UConn’s good at preventing foes from doing that.

West Virginia at Pitt, 9 p.m. (ESPN): The Backyard Brawl is always must-see TV. Ashton Gibbs’ knee injury forced the Panthers (24-3, 12-2) to go inside in the previous matchup, which they did to great success (42 points). This time around, the Mountaineers (17-9, 8-6) are intent on beefing up their boardwork.

Arizona at USC, 10:30 p.m. (FCS): Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill says Arizona star Derrick Williams is “the most protected dude I’ve seen since Michael Jordan.” Hm. Just because the guy shoots a lot of free throws doesn’t mean the refs favor him. Maybe it means he actually plays smart basketball. USC could try that for once.

Georgia at Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN): The Gators (21-5, 10-2) have won five straight and eight of their last nine. But this opens a brutal four-game stretch that could either bolster their chances for a Top 3 seed in the NCAA tournament or to stumble toward a seed that might be suited to their profile.

Morehead State at Murray State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU): There’s a 380-mile stretch of Kentucky that’s jacked for this game. But really, that’s not enough. The showdown for the Ohio Valley regular-season title – between two rivals – is one deserving of a national audience.

Gonzaga at St. Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPN2): The Zags’ era of WCC dominance may be over, but they can stave it off for one more season by winning in Moraga. Rest assured, they’re pumped for this game.

EAST
Boston U. at Binghamton, 7 p.m.
Marquette vs. Connecticut at the XL Center, Hartford, Conn., 7 p.m.
Bryant at Long Island U., 7 p.m.
Monmouth, N.J. at Quinnipiac, 7 p.m.
Mount St. Mary’s, Md. at Robert Morris, 7 p.m.
Fairleigh Dickinson at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
Cent. Connecticut St. at St. Francis, NY, 7 p.m.
Wagner at St. Francis, Pa., 7 p.m.
West Virginia at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m.

SOUTH
E. Kentucky at Tenn.-Martin, 6:30 p.m.
Coll. of Charleston at Appalachian St., 7 p.m.
Elon at Davidson, 7 p.m.
Georgia at Florida, 7 p.m.
Troy at Florida Atlantic, 7 p.m.
Radford at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.
Northeastern at George Mason, 7 p.m.
UNC Greensboro at Georgia Southern, 7 p.m.
Old Dominion at James Madison, 7 p.m.
Columbia Union at Longwood, 7 p.m.
VMI at Presbyterian, 7 p.m.
Carver Bible at Savannah St., 7 p.m.
High Point at UNC Asheville, 7 p.m.
The Citadel at W. Carolina, 7 p.m.
Liberty at Winthrop, 7 p.m.
North Florida at Stetson, 7:15 p.m.
ETSU at Campbell, 7:30 p.m.
Jacksonville at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:30 p.m.
Lipscomb at Kennesaw St., 7:30 p.m.
Belmont at Mercer, 7:30 p.m.
W. Illinois at Centenary, 8 p.m.
Fla. International at W. Kentucky, 8 p.m.
Ark.-Little Rock at South Alabama, 8:05 p.m.
Denver at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8:15 p.m.
E. Illinois at Austin Peay, 8:30 p.m.
SE Missouri at Tennessee St., 8:30 p.m.
Morehead St. at Murray St., 9 p.m.

MIDWEST
Wis.-Milwaukee at Cleveland St., 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Kent St., 7 p.m.
Wis.-Green Bay at Youngstown St., 7:05 p.m.
Hannibal-LaGrange at SIU-Edwardsville, 8 p.m.
Oakland, Mich. at UMKC, 8:05 p.m.
Loyola of Chicago at Valparaiso, 8:05 p.m.
Penn St. at Northwestern, 9 p.m.
N.J. Tech at South Dakota, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
North Texas at Arkansas St., 8:05 p.m.
IUPUI at Oral Roberts, 8:05 p.m.

FAR WEST
California at Oregon, 9 p.m.
Stanford at Oregon St., 9 p.m.
IPFW at S. Utah, 9 p.m.
Pepperdine at San Francisco, 10 p.m.
UC Davis at UC Irvine, 10 p.m.
Pacific at UC Riverside, 10 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at CS Northridge, 10:05 p.m.
Montana St. at E. Washington, 10:05 p.m.
Cal Poly at Long Beach St., 10:05 p.m.
Montana at Portland St., 10:05 p.m.
N. Arizona at Sacramento St., 10:05 p.m.
Idaho at Nevada, 10:30 p.m.
Arizona at Southern Cal, 10:30 p.m.
Boise St. at Fresno St., 11 p.m.
Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, Calif., 11 p.m.
Portland at San Diego, 11 p.m.
Arizona St. at UCLA, 11 p.m.
Loyola Marymount at Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Hawaii, 12:30 a.m.

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