College basketball: An armchair guide to Thanksgiving men's action
One of the busiest travel weekends of the year is here, and whether you're heading home for a family fix or jetsetting away for some alone time, there's plenty of college basketball to keep you busy and satiated this holiday weekend.
But going through the rigmarole of making a schedule to keep track of the mishegas, leave that to NCAA.com. Besides, fans need time to put together their list of goodies for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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(College tipoff tournaments continue to run amuck of any potential scheduling around the festivites, so this is by no means an all-encompassing list — but it should keep some from the doldrums of channel-surfing).
No. 20 Baylor vs. No. 24 Michigan State, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Baylor point guard Manu Lecomte (16.7 ppg, 7.0 apg) leads the upstart Bears into a battle with Tom Izzo's Spartans on Thursday in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Baylor has three solid wins so far (Oregon, Florida Gulf Coast and VCU) and will try to pick up its fifth win overall to start the season when it squares off against Michigan State. Get the pumpkin pie ready. It's going to be a busy day y'all.
Indiana State vs. No. 21 Iowa State, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The Sycamores of Indiana State travel to face the Cyclones of Iowa State in this matinee tilt in Ames, Iowa. Indiana State's lead guard Brenton Scott (22.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 apg) will likely draw the assignment of sticking Iowa State floor general Monte Morris — and vice versa.
Morris' production (18.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 8.0 apg) has been as steady as any lead guard in the nation. Add in two more scorers for the Cyclones averaging 15+ points (Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas) and this is a potent squad for any team to check offensively.
Illinois vs. No. 19 West Virginia, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
A Big Ten/Big 12 matchup on Saturday will feature two of the highest scoring teams in the nation. Sure it's only a few weeks into the 2016-17 college basketball season, but the numbers don't lie. These two squads can score the rock, plain and simple. Illinois ranks 33rd in the nation (88.2 ppg), while West Virginia is averaging the fifth-highest tally in the land (98 ppg). Those stats may change going forward, but look for a little added oomph in this one. Malcolm Hill (20.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.6 apg) paces things for the Illini. Nathan Adrian (13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.3 apg) sets the tone for the Mountaineers.
New Mexico vs. Virginia Tech, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
A win over rival New Mexico State has the Lobos riding high into a bout with the Hokies of Virginia Tech. New Mexico's Tim Williams has led the way with two double-doubles to start the season, but he will have his hands full with the likely assignment of guarding Tech's Zach LeDay — who also has a pair of double-doubles on the year. Virginia Tech's 3-point shooting could be the difference in this one, given the team's collective mark, which nears 40 percent on the year.
Seton Hall vs. Florida, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez lead the Seton Hall Pirates into this matchup with the Florida Gators. Florida has won all four of its games by double-digits this year, while the Pirates come off a tough victory over Iowa. Needless to say, one of these teams will leave the floor with their streak intact. The other will be looking to regroup.
An extremely athletic Florida squad, led by defensive stalwarts KeVaughn Allen and Devin Robinson, is only giving up 60 points a ballgame. Seton Hall shot over 50 percent on the road in their win against the Hawkeyes.
Dayton vs Nebraska, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
After a tight loss against last week against No. 17 Saint Mary's, the Dayton Flyers get right back to work when they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Thursday. Dayton head coach Archie Miller has three players he can lean on to lead his squad, including the senior guard tandem of Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke. For Nebraska, Tai Webster and Jack McVeigh show just as much potential to dominate a game.
No. 7 Virginia vs. Iowa, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network :
A battle of conflicting styles will be the main focus on Friday when the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers square off with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Virginia head coach Tony Bennett has seen his team allow less than 60 points in every contest this season. The team's average for points allowed is tops in the country, 38.8 ppg. On the flip side, Iowa has scored 80+ in each game this year. This Hawkeyes team makes a living by outgunning its opponents on offense. One style will reign supreme on Friday.
Marshall vs. Ohio State, 7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network :
Marshall's junior guard Jon Elmore (19.0, pts, 4.3 reb, 5.8 apg) leads the Thundering Herd into Columbus to take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State. OSU feaures five players at or near double figures in scoring, and the team is currently riding a five-game winning streak. Not too shabby if you ask Ohio State faithful.
|7.3 rpg||1.5 apg||1.5 spg|
|Kam Williams||12.5 ppg||2.3 rpg||0.0 apg||0.8 spg|
|JaQuan Lyle||11.5 ppg||3.3 rpg||4.0 apg||0.5 spg|
|Keita Bates-Diop||10.3 ppg||6.7 rpg||2.0 apg||1.3 bpg|
|Trevor Thompson||9.8 ppg||7.3 rpg||0.5 apg||2.3 bpg|
SMU vs. USC, 7:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network :
USC's junior guard Elijah Stewart (18.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 apg) leads the undefeated Trojans into their bout on Friday with the SMU Mustangs. SMU's only blemish on the year came in a lopsided 22-point loss to the Michigan Wolverines. That outcome aside, the Mustangs have looked quite good in the early-season slate. Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye has adapted nicely to his role with a new team, which allows more freedom for point guard Shake Milton to operate and facilitate on offense. USC will need a solid team effort to keep the Mustangs at bay.
Northern Iowa vs. No. 9 Xavier, 12:00 p.m., ET
No. 9 Xavier and Northern Iowa face off for for the second time in a week when they meet on Saturday. Jeremy Morgan leads the Panthers of UNI, while the Musketeers have three players averaging at least 15 points a night — a group that includes Edmond Sumner, J.P. Macura, and Trevon Bluiett.
Morgan stuffed the statsheet in the first meeting (20 points, 11 rebs, four assists, four blocks, four steals), but the Panthers came up on the short end of 67-59 finish. Maybe second time is the charm for UNI.
South Carolina vs. No. 18 Syracuse, 2:00 p.m., ET, ACC Network
Fresh off their defeat of No. 25 Michigan, Sindarius Thornwell and the Gamecocks travel to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY to take on Syracuse. The confidence has to be riding high for South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, but a loss would surely do away with some of that momentum. Andrew White III and 'Cuse will try to take down South Carolina on Saturday.
Penn State vs. George Washington, 4:00 p.m., ET
Penn State will visit the defending NIT Champion George Washington Colonials for an afternoon affair over the weekend. PSU freshman Tony Carr and Shep Garner have combined for more than 30 points and seven assists a night, while Tyler Cavanaugh is averaging a near double-double 18.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg to pace GW.
Two straight losses for the Colonials adds a bit of anxiety to the air surrounding this contest. In a similar vain, two of Penn State's losses have come against high-profile opponents. Both teams are looking for an opportunity to make a statement.
Another barnburner is sure to be in the making when these two teams link up. Charlotte has topped 100 points on three occassions, while Davidson is renowned around college basketball as a team with some real offensive prowess. Both teams boast a tandem worth watching out for: Charlotte's Jon Davis and Braxton Oguebe; and Davidson's Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge. Charlotte as a team is shooting the 3-point shot at almost 50 percent, which could spell trouble for the hometown Wildcats.
North Dakota vs. Wright State, 7:00 p.m., ET, ESPN3
The nation's current leading scorer — Wright State's Mark Alstork — leads four double-digit scorers into battle against the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota. But North Dakota will have some firepower of its own with five double-digit scorers led by Quinton Hooker (19.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.0 apg). Another pair of teams averaging 90+ points a game could mean a big offensive display is in the works. North Dakota's Drick Bernstine had a triple-double his last time out, while the Raiders of Wright State made a baker's dozen (13) from beyond the 3-point arc in the team's most recent win.
A weekend of digesting leftovers and unnecessary extra helpings finishes up with a tempting slate of games that are likely to be a bit overlooked.
The guard-heavy Red Wolves of Arkansas State will host two-time Patriot League Player of the Year — Tim Kempton Jr. — and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Arkansas State is paced by three double-digit scorers (Devin Carter, 14.5 ppg; Donte Thomas, 11.3 ppg; Rashad Lindsey, 10.3 ppg).
North Florida vs. Wright State, 4:30 pm ET, ESPN3
A solid matchup of backcourt standouts pits Dallas Moore of the North Florida Ospreys against Mark Alstork of the Wright State Raiders. Both have shown flashes of brilliance in the early-season slog. Moore, of the ASUN conference, tallied 37 points, five rebounds and five assists in his team's second game of the year, while Alstork continues to lead the nation in scoring (30.3 ppg). Here's hoping they take up the gauntlet of guarding one another on at least a few possessions.
By this point of the weekend, college basketball fans are sure to be running on fumes. If you can muster the strength to stay tuned for one more ballgame, heat up some of that cold turkey and don't sleep on this Evansville-Middle Tennessee tip. Both will play a pair of games against Toledo and UNC-Wilmington before they meet at the end of the week. Come season's end, these teams could compete for a top spot in their conferences, Missouri Valley Conference and Conference USA, respectively. Middle Tennessee has gotten good contributions on offense, despite the relative lack of consistent play from junior guard Giddy Potts. If Potts gets going early, this one could get out of hand.