Thursday’s slate and what to watch

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North Carolina’s post-Dexter Strickland time starts tonight, against a team Roy Williams doesn’t particularly like.

Sounds like a good time to be Mark Gottfried. His team can make a splash on national TV, something N.C. State had been missing the last four years.

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

North Carolina State at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
The Wolfpack (15-5) have quietly emerged as an ACC contender thanks to their efficient play through five games (they weren’t exactly the cream of the ACC crop, but what is lately, anyway?). They’ve won nine of their last 10, they’ve been running (second-fastest team in ACC) and they’ve been scoring. It should make for an offensive-centric game tonight, given the Heels no longer have a strong perimeter defender without Strickland. Doesn’t mean UNC is less dangerous, though. More playing time for guys like Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston may slightly hurt the defense, but it’s a huge boost to the offense. Kendall Marshall may have 12 assists.

Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
The other “big” game of the night, mostly because the winner stays relevant in the Big Ten title race. The loser will get to focus on avoiding any bubble issues. The Hoosiers (16-4) are just .500 in their last eight games, but did beat Penn State by 19 over the weekend. But Wisconsin has the edge here, both for the home court and how its playing. The Badgers (16-5) have won four straight, just won at Illinois and have seemingly managed to resurrect what seemed to be a moribund offense

South Dakota State at Oakland, 7 p.m. (FS Detroit)
SD State (16-5) is trying to keep pace with Summit-leader Oral Roberts and better come out gunning against the Grizzlies to do so. Oakland (11-11) loves to run (72 possessions a game), score and has one of the game’s best players in Reggie Hamilton, who’s among the nation’s leaders in scoring in assists. Not that the Jackrabbits’ Nate Wolters is a slouch …

Butler at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
The Panthers (13-8) have dropped two straight and are trying to avoid a season sweep by the Bulldogs (12-9), who have won seven of their last nine and have been boosted by the consistent play of guard Roosevelt Jones. If Butler can take both of its Wisconsin games the next two days, it’ll be important to keep an eye on Brad Stevens’ team going forward.

Florida at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
A solid back-up option if the Heels end up blowing out the Wolfpack or you don’t get FS Detroit. Billy Donovan’s team has been brutally slow during SEC play (61.6 possessions a game!), but the Gators still score as well as anyone in the nation.

EAST
Fairleigh Dickinson at Bryant, 7 p.m.
Monmouth (NJ) at CCSU, 7 p.m.
Navy at Lehigh, 7 p.m.
Mount St. Mary’s at Quinnipiac, 7 p.m.
St. Peter’s at Rider, 7 p.m.
LIU at Robert Morris, 7 p.m.
Wagner at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
St. Francis (NY) at St. Francis (Pa.), 7 p.m.

SOUTH
Davidson at Chattanooga, 7 p.m.
Furman at Coll. of Charleston, 7 p.m.
Tennessee Tech at E. Kentucky, 7 p.m.
W. Kentucky at FAU, 7 p.m.
Campbell at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.
Fresno St. at Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m.
Florida at Mississippi, 7 p.m.
NC State at North Carolina, 7 p.m.
Coastal Carolina at Presbyterian, 7 p.m.
VMI at Radford, 7 p.m.
High Point at UNC Asheville, 7 p.m.
Appalachian St. at UNC Greensboro, 7 p.m.
Elon at W. Carolina, 7 p.m.
Liberty at Winthrop, 7 p.m.
Wofford at The Citadel, 7:05 p.m.
E. Illinois at Jacksonville St., 8 p.m.
William & Mary at James Madison, 8 p.m.
Troy at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m.
Georgia Southern at Samford, 8 p.m.
Tennessee St. at UT-Martin, 8 p.m.
Boston College at Virginia, 9 p.m.

MIDWEST
N. Dakota St. at IPFW, 7 p.m.
Nebraska at Iowa, 7 p.m.
S. Dakota St. at Oakland, 7 p.m.
Valparaiso at Green Bay, 8 p.m.
Butler at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
NJIT at North Dakota, 8 p.m.
Austin Peay at SE Missouri, 8 p.m.
Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
South Alabama at UALR, 8 p.m.
South Dakota at Oral Roberts, 8:05 p.m.

FAR WEST
Washington at Arizona St., 8:30 p.m.
Arkansas St. at Denver, 9 p.m.
Nevada at New Mexico St., 9 p.m.
UMKC at S. Utah, 9 p.m.
Montana at E. Washington, 9:05 p.m.
N. Colorado at Idaho St., 9:05 p.m.
Hawaii at Utah St., 9:05 p.m.
Chicago St. at Utah Valley, 9:05 p.m.
Saint Mary’s (Cal) at Loyola Marymount, 10 p.m.
Cal Poly at Pacific, 10 p.m.
Pepperdine at San Diego, 10 p.m.
San Francisco at Santa Clara, 10 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis, 10 p.m.
Long Beach St. at UC Riverside, 10 p.m.
Cal St.-Fullerton at CS Northridge, 10:05 p.m.
San Jose St. at Idaho, 10:05 p.m.
Montana St. at Portland St., 10:05 p.m.
Weber St. at Sacramento St., 10:05 p.m.
Washington St. at Arizona, 10:30 p.m.
Colorado at Southern Cal, 10:30 p.m.
Utah at UCLA, 10:30 p.m.
Gonzaga at Portland, 11 p.m.

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