GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 3 Arizona at UTEP, 11:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
Give Sean Miller’s program credit for being willing to schedule such true road games, as very few elite programs are willing to do so. The Wildcats aren’t defending at the level they did a season ago but they’re getting better on that end of the floor, and with players such as T.J. McConnell, Brandon Ashley and Stanley Johnson amongst the major contributors they’re improving offensively as well. But this matchup will be tough, because if there’s one thing Tim Floyd can do its cook up a defensive scheme capable of bogging things down. Add in two talented options in Julian Washburn and Vince Hunter, and this late-night tip in El Paso could prove tougher than some expect.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Saint Mary’s at No. 20 St. John’s, 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
Having already gone on the road to beat one Big East team (Creighton), Randy Bennett’s Gaels will look to add the Red Storm to their list of victims tonight in Queens. The matchup between Saint Mary’s Brad Waldow and St. John’s center Chris Obekpa will be interesting to watch, especially if the Gaels senior big can get Obekpa into some early foul trouble. Also of importance is how the Saint Mary’s guards defend D’Angelo Harrison, who is one of the best scoring guards in the country.
WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?: California (vs. Eastern Washington, 10:00 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Junior Tyrone Wallace has been one of the best point guards in the country to this point in the season, and the Golden Bears will need another high-level performance from him tonight. EWU is a dangerous team that nearly beat Washington earlier this year, and with players such as guard Tyler Harvey and forward Venky Jois head coach Jim Hayford has enough talent to pull off the upset.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. Colorado State looks to move to 11-0 on the season tonight but it won’t be easy, as they visit a Denver team led by senior guards Cam Griffin and Brett Olson. The Rams have played just one true road game this season, a tight win at rival Colorado.
2. In-state rivals Clemson and South Carolina meet in Columbia, with the Tigers looking for their third straight win in the series. Also of note is the fact that Clemson has already defeated Arkansas, Auburn and LSU this season.
3. Old Dominion can move to 9-1 on the season with a win over UMES. Jeff Jones’ team has won five straight since losing to Illinois State in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam, and it’s time to consider the Monarchs a credible contender in Conference USA.
4. Minnesota hosts Seattle in a game the Golden Gophers should win, but they’ll have to slow down senior guard Isiah Umipig in order to do so. One of the best guards in the WAC, Umipig’s averaging 17.2 points per game.
5. No. 18 Miami is also in action Friday night, as they host Eastern Kentucky in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes haven’t played since December 8, so it’ll be key for them to come out of the gates ready to go against Jeff Neubauer’s team.