Pregame Shootaround: Underrated rivalry, Horizon League showdown highlights Friday slate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Green Bay at Valparaiso, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Phoenix and Crusaders meet for the second time this season, with Green Bay having held serve at home January 23 by the final score of 51-50. A key for Brian Wardle’s team on that night was their defending of Valparaiso sophomore forward Alec Peters, who finished with nine points on 4-for-11 shooting. Keeping Peters in check will once again be key for Green Bay, but in that second meeting they defended everyone well in the second half as Valparaiso shot 5-for-27 from the field. Valparaiso will need to slow down Green Bay senior guard Keifer Sykes, which they were able do in the first meeting (11 points, 4-for-17 FG). A key back in January: Green Bay shot nearly 49 percent inside of the arc, with Valparaiso making 37.5% of its two-point attempts.

DON’T MISS THIS ONE EITHER: Iona at Manhattan, 10:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Not sure this rivalry gets the attention it deserves nationally, with the two schools separated by just over nine miles, and the game rarely (if ever) lacks for entertainment. That should once again be the case tonight, with the first-place Gaels visiting the team that beat them in last year’s MAAC tournament final. While Iona’s reputation is that of a free-wheeling offensive team led by A.J. English, David Laury III and Shadrac Casimir, they enter tonight’s game with better numbers in both field goal and three-point percentage defense than Steve Masiello’s Jaspers. Veterans Emmy Andujar and Rashawn Stores are among the leaders for Manhattan, which will also look to push the pace. This is a late tip time (NBA All-Star Weekend likely has something to do with that), but it’s a game true hoops fans won’t want to miss.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. No. 7 Arizona looks to rebound from its loss at Arizona State last weekend, as they take on Washington in Seattle (9:00 p.m., ESPN). With the struggling Huskies lacking depth inside, it would be nice for Arizona’s sake if junior center Kaleb Tarczewski could get going. He’s struggled recently, and Arizona needs him to be effective if they’re to play deep into March/early April.

2. Two of the best teams in the MAC meet, as Kent State visits Toledo (6:00 p.m., ESPNU). After starting conference play 6-1 the Golden Flashes have lost three of their last four, with the injured Jimmy Hall missing the last three. If the Golden Flashes are to win they’ll need to slow down one of the best offenses in the MAC, with guard Juice Brown leading the way for a Toledo squad that has four double-digit scorers.

3. Albany, which is 12-0 in America East play, hits the road for a non-conference affair as they visit NJIT. Jim Engles’ Highlanders, the lone independent in Division I college basketball, are¬†looking to add another win to what it hopes is a resume worthy of inclusion in a postseason tournament (CBI or CIT possibly).

4. Both Harvard and Yale enter tonight’s action 5-1 in Ivy League play. The Crimson host Columbia while Yale visits Penn at The Palestra. A game behind them in the loss column is 3-2 Princeton, which hosts Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow.

5. Washington State hosts Arizona State (10:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) in a game that will impact seeding for next month’s Pac-12 tournament. And it’s also an opportunity to watch the conference’s most improved player in Washington State sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson.