Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: Oklahoma, No. 2 Wisconsin meet for Battle 4 Atlantis title

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GAME OF THE DAY: Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Wisconsin, 4:30 p.m. (NBC)

The championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis should be an interesting contest, with the Badgers having held off Georgetown on Thursday and the Sooners limiting Butler to 46 points. Wisconsin’s starting guards, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser, will have quite the challenge in front of them with Oklahoma’s deep perimeter attack being led by Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins. On the other end of the floor, facing the trio of Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes will be a good test for Oklahoma’s front court tandem of TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler, with the Sooners still working Thomas into their offensive system. The individual matchups make this an interesting contest, and the winner will return home with a trophy in tow.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Boise State at NC State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

Mark Gottfried’s Wolfpack are off to a 5-0 start, with guards Trevor Lacey, Anthony Barber and Ralston Turner being the scoring leaders and BeeJay Anya making noticeable strides in the paint. However the Broncos have some talented perimeter scorers as well, with seniors Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks combining to average more than 32 points per game and junior Mikey Thompson adding 11.5 ppg. The question for the Broncos: how well can their front court, led by freshman David Wacker, perform against NC State’s deep front line? The answer will determine the outcome in Raleigh.

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT: Providence (vs. Yale, 4:00 p.m. FS1)

Given the way in which last season’s meeting played out the Friars shouldn’t have any problems focusing on the Bulldogs, as Justin Sears scored 31 points in a game Ed Cooley’s squad won by just two points. But, there’s also Providence’s upcoming schedule to consider. Following today’s game the Friars are headed to Lexington to take on No. 1 Kentucky. Looking past Yale, a team pegged by many as a serious threat to Harvard in the Ivy League, would not be the best idea.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. The Barclays Center Classic tips off with two semifinals, as Vanderbilt takes on Rutgers at 7:00 p.m. and No. 8 Virginia plays La Salle in the nightcap. Both games can be seen on NBC Sports Network.

2. Earlier this week our Rob Dauster wrote about St. John’s win over Minnesota, and a question that remains to be answered about this group is whether or not they can string together 40 minutes of sound basketball. With No. 10 Gonzaga being the opponent in the title game of the NIT Season Tipoff, the Red Storm better be focused from the start. If not, they’ll get blown out.

3. No. 5 North Carolina and No. 18 Florida meet in the fifth place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, with the Gators still struggling offensively. Injuries have been a factor for Billy Donovan’s team, and it remains to be seen if Eli Carter can play. Carter sat out their 56-47 win over UAB with soreness in his foot.

4. No. 23 Creighton is back in action, as they take on Ole Miss at the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida. The Bluejays are off to a 5-0 start that may have surprised some people, with guard Isaiah Zierden leading the way offensively for a team that has six players averaging between 8.0 and 13.8 points per game. The Rebels will counter with one of the nation’s best guards in senior Jarvis Summers.

5. Two 5-0 teams meet in the title game of the Las Vegas Invitational, as Illinois and Baylor meet at the Orleans Arena. Both won comfortably on Thursday, with the Fighting Illini making short work of Indiana State and Baylor beating Memphis by 24 in a game they trailed by three at the half.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:

  • Tennessee vs. No. 11 Kansas, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Butler vs. Georgetown, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN) note: this does not count as a conference game
  • UTEP vs. Xavier, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Minnesota vs. Georgia, 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Middle Tennessee vs. Cincinnati, 6:00 p.m.
  • North Texas at No. 25 Arkansas, 9:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • Mississippi State vs. Saint Louis, 9:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

OTHER TOP 25 GAMES

  • James Madison at No. 16 Ohio State, 4:00 p.m. (BTN)
  • South Alabama at No. 17 Miami, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • No. 20 Michigan State vs. Marquette, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • No. 22 UCLA vs. UAB, 10:30 p.m. (AXS TV)