Thursday’s slate and what to watch

0 Comments

The new West Coast Conference kicks off tonight. Adding BYU came a year late to benefit from Jimmermania, but simply having the Cougars is a nice boost to its overall profile and quality of play.

Is the WCC finally a multi-bid league every year? It’s pretty close.

(All times ET; TV info from HDSportsGuide.com)

BYU at St. Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Cougars’ WCC tenure opens with one of the league’s most trying games. The Gaels have long been the conference’s second-best team (2011’s NCAA tourney run notwithstanding) who’ve been trying to dislodge Gonzaga atop the heap for years. Now winning those conference crowns is even tougher with BYU around. This is certainly a game worth staying awake for, too. Both teams feature elite offenses, filled with shooters, mobile big men and a fairly deep bench. The difference might be the Cougars’ frontcourt.

Vanderbilt at Marquette, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Dan covered the crucial Vandy details already. But here’s the part where I remind you the Golden Eagles did lose at LSU last week, a result that’s as surprising as when Uncle Eddie shows up unannounced. The chances of them overlooking the Commodores are slim. Doesn’t mean they could have issues guarding Festus Ezeli. Then again, I doubt anyone on Vandy can guard anyone on Marquette’s roster.

Oregon State at Washington, 9 p.m. (Root Sports, FCS Central)
In case you missed Rob’s Pac-10 breakdown, here’s the most crucial detail: Jared Cunningham is awesome. Maybe you already knew that after seeing any of his jaw-dropping dunks. But he’s also improved his offensive game and remains one of the sport’s premier defensive players. Even better is that his Beavers like to run, as do the Huskies. This could be the night’s most entertaining game.

Florida at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Mike Rosario will get his New Jersey homecoming after all, which is really the only notable aspect of this game. I put the chances of the Gators losing at about 5 percent.

Robert Morris at Memphis, 7 p.m. (CSS, Comcast Philly)
Conference USA’s best team (sorry Marshall) faces the NEC’s best team (sorry Wagner) in a game that will result in the city of Memphis having kittens if the Tigers lose.

And two more that aren’t on TV …

Marshall at Belmont, 8 p.m.
Once again, Belmont isn’t on TV. And once again, it’s for a game that should be friggin’ great. If it’s even close to the previous matchup last week, it’ll be worth digging up an Internet stream.

VCU at Akron, 7 p.m.
The Rams have won six straight and none have been close. But now they take that nasty defense on the road to play a familiar face (well, familiar to Shaka Smart). It’s their last game before CAA play begins and could be an important mark on their NCAA tournament résumé.

EAST
Brown at St. Francis (NY), 2 p.m.
American U. at Mount St. Mary’s, 4 p.m.
Harvard at Boston College, 7 p.m.
Iona at Hofstra, 7 p.m.
Boston U. at La Salle, 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart at New Hampshire, 7 p.m.
Florida at Rutgers, 7 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Fordham, 8 p.m.

SOUTH
Loyola NO at Southern U., 5 p.m.
Spring Hill at Louisiana Tech, 6 p.m.
Penn at Davidson, 7 p.m.
Austin Peay at E. Kentucky, 7 p.m.
NC Central at East Carolina, 7 p.m.
Grambling St. at LSU, 7 p.m.
Robert Morris at Memphis, 7 p.m.
Campbell at NC State, 7 p.m.
Elon at North Carolina, 7 p.m.
The Citadel at Tennessee, 7 p.m.
Yale at Wake Forest, 7 p.m.
Maine at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:05 p.m.
Marshall at Belmont, 8 p.m.
FIU at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m.
Alcorn St. at Southern Miss., 8 p.m.
W. Kentucky at Louisiana-Monroe, 8:30 p.m.
UT-Martin at Tennessee St., 8:30 p.m.
Jacksonville at Alabama, 9 p.m.

MIDWEST
VCU at Akron, 7 p.m.
Green Bay at Butler, 7 p.m.
William & Mary at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Penn St. at Michigan, 7:30 p.m.
S. Illinois at Evansville, 8 p.m.
Detroit at Ill.-Chicago, 8 p.m.
Howard at Kansas, 8 p.m.
Wright St. at Loyola of Chicago, 8 p.m.
Tennessee Tech at SIU-Edwardsville, 8 p.m.
N. Iowa at Illinois St., 8:05 p.m.
Milwaukee at Valparaiso, 8:05 p.m.
Oklahoma at Cincinnati, 9 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Marquette, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
UALR at North Texas, 8 p.m.
Arkansas Tech at Texas A&M, 8 p.m.
Texas-Arlington at Texas-Pan American, 8 p.m.
Kent St. at Arkansas St., 8:35 p.m.

FAR WEST
Sacramento St. at N. Arizona, 8:35 p.m.
Southern Cal at California, 9 p.m.
Troy at Denver, 9 p.m.
Coppin St. vs. San Jose St. at Key Arena, Seattle, 9 p.m.
Oregon St. at Washington, 9 p.m.
Oregon at Washington St., 9 p.m.
Idaho St. at Weber St., 9 p.m.
Hope International at Cal Poly, 10 p.m.
San Francisco at Pepperdine, 10 p.m.
UC Irvine at CS Northridge, 10:05 p.m.
UC Davis at Cal St.-Fullerton, 10:05 p.m.
Fresno St. at Pacific, 10:30 p.m.
BYU at Saint Mary’s (Cal), 11 p.m.
UCLA at Stanford, 11 p.m.
Nebraska-Omaha at Seattle, 11:15 p.m.
SC State at Hawaii, 1 a.m.

TOURNAMENTS

Cable Car Classic
At Santa Clara, Calif.
First Round
Wagner vs. Air Force, 9 p.m.
E. Michigan at Santa Clara, 11:15 p.m.

Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational
At El Paso, Texas
Third Place, 7 p.m.
Championship, 9 p.m.

Dr Pepper Classic
At Chattanooga, Tenn.
First Round
Utah Valley vs. Hampton, 4:30 p.m.
Longwood at Chattanooga, 7 p.m.

UCF Holiday Classic
At Orlando, Fla.
First Round
James Madison vs. Rhode Island, 9:30 p.m.
Stetson at UCF, 7 p.m..

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.