Pregame Shootaround: Tournament play kicks off around the country

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Game of the day: The 2K Sports Classic

Things kick off at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night with No. 10 Texas and their massive front line squaring off with an Iowa team that is better than most people will realize. This will be the first chance for most people to get a look at star freshman Myles Turner, who actually comes off the bench for this group, but Iowa is flying a bit under the radar right now. We have them ranked in our top 25.

The nightcap will feature No. 23 Syracuse against Cal, who is loaded with talented wings. The Orange are a bit overrated at this point in the season, as I’m not quite sure where they are going to get scoring from. David Kravish vs. Rakeen Christmas is a nice battle between under-the-radar big men.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 22 SMU at Indiana, 8:00 p.m. (Big Ten)

The Mustangs got absolutely worked at Gonzaga on Monday night, but that doesn’t mean that SMU can’t play. While Indiana does get three players back from suspensions on Thursday night, they don’t have much strength inside. SMU is without Markus Kennedy, but they will still have an advantage in the paint.

Mid-major matchup of the day: Florida Atlantic at Harvard, 8:00 p.m.

I’m not quite sure how good FAU is going to be this season, but I do know what Harvard should be one of the best mid-major teams in the country. Should. They lost to Holy Cross over the weekend. Is tonight their bounceback, make-a-statement game?

Five things to watch for:

1. Drexel vs. Miami, 3:00 p.m.: The last time we saw Angel Rodriguez, he was hitting threes on threes on threes to spark a thrilling, come-from-behind win over Florida.

2. Charleston vs. No. 17 UConn, 12:30 p.m.: The Cougars underwent a dramatic coaching change during the offseason. UConn? They have Ryan Boatright, who did his best Shabazz Napier impression in UConn’s opener.

3. Bucknell at No. 12 Villanova, 7:00 p.m.: The Wildcats have looked every bit the part of the Big East favorite through two games.

4. Nicholls State at UCLA, 11:00 p.m.: I’m not sure just how good the Bruins are this season, but they have been dominant early on.

5. Detroit at No. 24 Michigan, 6:00 p.m.: A little in-state rivalry? Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert will be too much.

The rest of the top 25:

  • Maryland-Eastern Shore at No. 15 VCU, 7:00 p.m.
  • Cal St.-Bakersfield at No. 16 SDSU, 10:30 p.m.

Notables:

  • New Mexico vs. Boston College, 5:00 p.m.
  • Navy vs. Providence, 7:00 p.m.