Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday's Pregame Beat: Afternoon hoops, ya'll

2K Sports Classic:

- 7:00 pm: No. 18 Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State: This game lost a bit of its luster when Khris Middleton, the star wing for the Aggies, injured his knee in the opener. In his absence, the Turners -- big man Ray and sharpshooting Washington transfer Elston, no relation -- have picked up their game. Ray, along with David Loubeau, will be a key for the Aggies in this one as they go up against the Mississippi State front line of Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, if his "groin injury" is healed. that battle along the front line should be fun, as will watching defensive stopper Dash Harris go up against Dee Bost, who may be the most underrated point guard in the country.

- 9:30 pm: St. John's vs. No. 15 Arizona: Two of the youngest teams in the country, they have had the opposite starts to the year. Both are 3-0, but the Johnnies have out-performed expectations. Nurideen Lindsey has proven that he can score, God'sgift Achiuwa is a load on the block and Moe Harkless has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the country. Arizona, on the other hand, has struggled. Josiah Turner has been benched and may not play tonight and the rest of the freshmen -- Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol, in particular -- have shown flashes but are not ready to dominate. As much as I like Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg, its not necessarily a good thing when they are your two best players.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off:

- 10:30 am: Temple 69, Western Michigan 53: All five of Temple's starters scored in double figures in this one. Michael Eric added 15 boards. Is he the new Lavoy Allen?

- 1:00 pm: Purdue vs. Iona: This may be the most intriguing game of the day. We're still trying to get a gauge on just how good these two teams are. Iona has one of the best back courts at the mid-major level in Scott Machado and Arizona transfer Momo Jones while Michael Glover, an athletic combo-forward nicknamed Optimus Prime, is a double-double machine that is a matchup problem at any level. For the Boilermakers, there are a lot of new faces and players in expanded roles. Robbie Hummel is back and averaging 19.5 ppg, but it will be interesting to see him matchup with a player like Glover today. Purdue has been a bit inconsistent this season. They won their first game by 62 points and then held on against High Point, winning by only two.

- 5:00 pm: Maryland vs. No. 15 Alabama: The Terps could very well have the best player on the floor tonight in Terrell Stoglin, a bull-dog of a point guard that can put up a lot of points in a hurry. The problem? Maryland will have no size up front to matchup with JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Trevor Releford is one of the most underrated point guards in the country, and I'm interested in seeing how he plays along side Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph, Anthony Grant's talented freshmen wings.

- 7:30 pm: Wichita State vs. Colorado: The Shockers were quite impressive in their first game of the season, knocking off Charleston Southern -- a team that nearly upset Kansas State -- by 28 points. With arguably the best perimeter attack in the Missouri Valley, Wichita State needs an impressive performance in this tournament to have a chance of earning themselves an at-large bid. Colorado, on the other hand, is in a bit of a rebuilding season after losing Cory Higgins and Alec Burks last year. They do have a sophomore named Andre Roberson, who is one of the most entertaining players in the country to watch.

Charleston Classic:

- 12:30 pm: Tulsa vs. Western Kentucky: I like Tulsa this year. I think they have a shot to compete for the Conference USA title. The early tip means they are playing as I write this post.

- 3:00 pm: LSU vs. Northwestern: Northwestern is still searching for that elusive first NCAA Tournament bid. The field at this year's Charleston Classic is very weak. If Northwestern doesn't win the tournament, that's bad news for their resume. If you like three pointer's and spread offenses, the Wildcats are a team you'll want to watch.

- 5:30 pm: VCU vs. Seton Hall: This will be our first real look at VCU this season. They lost four of their five starters from that Final Four team and the only returning starter -- Brad Burgess -- shot 0-12 in the Ram's first game of the season. Seton Hall certainly isn't a team I would consider "loaded", but this is a Big East program and they do have a couple of talented players in Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore.

- 8:00 pm: Georgia Tech vs. St. Joseph's: The Yellow Jackets will still be without Glen Rice Jr. in this one, as he's suspended for violating team rules. St. Joe's is an interesting team to keep an eye on this year. They have a number of talented youngsters -- namely Langston Galloway and CJ Aiken -- but the Hawks look like they are still a year away.

The rest of the top 25:

7:00 pm: Maine @ No. 4 UConn: UConn has been labeled my many folks as one of the few teams that may be able to compete with Kentucky and UNC for the national title. They haven't shown it yet, however, beating two completely overmatched opponents by a total of 25 points.

8:00 pm: North Florida @ No. 8 Florida: I finally had a chance to watch the Florida-Ohio State game late last night. The Gator's back court is absurdly talented, but the key to that team is going to be the play of Erik Murphy at the four. He spreads the floor and allows space for the guards to penetrate.

8:30 pm: Western Illinois @ No. 17 Michigan: The Wovlerines looked terrific in the first ten minutes against Towson, taking a 21-0 lead, but they slowed up and allowed them to make the final score look respectable. If Michigan really is a top 20 team, they need to be able to put those teams away. Can they do it against WIU tonight?

8:00 pm: Niagara @ No. 25 Missouri: Missouri is still waiting for a chance to prove that they deserve this ranking without Laurence Bowers. They'll have a tough time doing that against Niagara.

Other notable games:

- 7:00 pm: Fairfield @ Minnesota
- 7:00 pm: Alcorn State @ West Virginia
- 8:00 pm: Northern Illinois @ Iowa
- 9:00 pm: Lipscomb @ Illinois
- 10:00 pm: Canisius @ UNLV
- 10:00 pm: USC @ San Diego State
- 10:00 pm: Sacramento State @ Washington State

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