College basketball today: Can Indiana put up a fight against Duke at home, Minnesota to test Miami
Here's what you need to know for Wednesday, Nov. 29:
1. Duke at Indiana: So no one is giving Indiana a chance tonight, right? OK, let’s slow down. This isn’t a 16 vs. 1. This is still Duke at Indiana. Now, Duke has looked the part as the best team in the country with comeback wins over Portland State, Texas and Florida to win the PK80. They have closers, who don’t play like a traditional freshman. Marvin Bagley III is the best player in the country right now and IU doesn’t have a counter.
But...Indiana is at home and has stunned teams before in this role when it wasn’t ready for prime time yet. And can you imagine the scene if it actually happened for Archie Miller? The Hoosiers have settled down after the Seton Hall loss, beating South Florida, Arkansas State and Eastern Michigan, the latter two by scoring 87 points in each game. Hoosier fans will be out in full force to see if they can witness another historic moment against a No. 1 team.
2. Miami at Minnesota: There’s no bias here, but I’ve seen Minnesota twice and this team has the goods to challenge for the Big Ten title. The Gophers won in a hostile environment at Providence. They held off a surreal, crazy Collin Sexton rally during a 5-on-3 game against Alabama in Brooklyn. And now they are finally home for a big game.
I expect Williams Arena to be a chaotic house. How does Miami handle that? Not sure. The Canes have experience and talent returning in Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown, Jr., specifically, but they haven’t been tested this season. Get out of Minneapolis with a true road win and the Canes will have a resume win to shout about.
3. Michigan at North Carolina: The Tar Heels looked like a North Carolina team from a different era against Michigan State. UNC scored just 45 points. The Tar Heels shot 1 of 18 and 15 of 61 overall. They had 16 turnovers. They were not the same team that blew past Stanford at Maples before the PK80. How they handle a John Beilein team with time to prepare will be an intriguing test. This is not as talented a Michigan team from a year ago, but the Wolverines still can fluster teams and Beilein is getting plenty out of Charles Matthews and Moritz Wagner. Michigan has shut teams down save the 77 they gave up in a Maui loss to LSU. No one else has scored more than 66 since the first game against North Florida.
4. Penn State at NC State: Penn State coach Pat Chambers told NCAA.com that his team is connected and buying into how he wants them to defend. The offseason commitment to the weight room and conditioning has paid off. But they need to be more consistent on the backboard and must reduce turnovers.
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Losing to Texas A&M is nothing to be ashamed about in Brooklyn. The Aggies are potentially Final Four good. Now let’s see how they handle a road game at NC State (after that they start the Big Ten on the road at Iowa). The Wolfpack pulled off the Bahamas stunner over Arizona, but then lost to Northern Iowa and Tennessee. Allerik Freeman should be on display for the Wolfpack but will get pushed by the pesky Penn State guards.
5. Mercer at Tennessee: The Vols better be ready for this one. Mercer is no joke. Saw it at Liberty. Ria’n Holland can ball with any SEC guard. The size, length and athleticism of Stephon Jelks could be an issue. Desmond Ringer, if he stays out of foul trouble, can be a load in the post. Marcus Cohen and Ethan Stair are Bob Hoffman’s glue guys who will make plays when the game matters most.
Now Grant Williams can deliver for the Vols. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said after the win over NC State that the staff asks a lot of Williams. Hoffman is great at taking away the top player on the opposing team. So this will be a test for him. Mercer starts five seniors, so playing on the road won’t faze them. This will turn out to be a quality win if the Vols grab it tonight.