What you need to know for Thursday, Nov. 30:
1. Seton Hall vs. Texas Tech: The Pirates are back in the city after playing last week in the NIT Season Tip-Off with another chance for a quality win. The Pirates couldn’t get one against Rhode Island, losing in the last possession. Now here comes No. 22 Texas Tech, a surprise ranked team out of the Big 12. The Red Raiders walloped Northwestern earlier this month at the Mohegan Sun. Texas Tech’s defense has been sensational so far this season.
So, the onus is on the Pirates to push in transition and create easy baskets — something they have the personnel to do. This has the look and feel of a 8-9 or a 7-10 type of game come March.
2. Notre Dame at Michigan State: This is the crown jewel of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge this week. The Irish won in Maui while the Spartans won one of the two titles in Portland. Both teams have Final Four capabilities and have player of the year candidates in Bonzi Colson and Miles Bridges. The Irish have the experience to not get rattled in what should be a crazed Breslin Center.And yet the question will be can Michigan State defend Notre Dame the way it did North Carolina? The Tar Heels scored just 45 points and were lost offensively last Sunday. Notre Dame hasn’t stalled offensively like that this season. The Irish also showed it can win a grinder by knocking off Wichita State. Both teams can go either way — make it tough or get out and go.
3. Missouri vs UCF: This is one of those games that won’t register nationally, but could prove critical later. The Tigers lost to West Virginia in the final at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando last Sunday. Mizzou could be a pest in the SEC and has the personnel to be a factor in the SEC, even without Michael Porter Jr. UCF has been battling injuries all season and struggled to score against West Virginia and St. John’s in the same tournament. UCF needs this home win before going to Alabama, maybe the most critical stretch in the season. The Knights need a momentum shift desperately.
4. Duke continued to show its resiliency Wednesday night in Bloomington. The Blue Devils shot just 3 of 17 on 3s and yet beat Indiana by 10 on the road. Duke’s Grayson Allen marveled after the game how the freshmen of Marvin Bagley III, Trevon Duval and Wendell Carter Jr., don’t get rattled at all. The environment at Assembly Hall was as crazy as Duke will see this season and yet the Blue Devils withstood multiple runs and surged ahead. Indiana post players Juwan Morgan, De’Ron Davis, Collin Hartman and even Freddie McSwain Jr., more than held their own against Carter and Bagley.
But Duke continued to make the timely play or more likely the demoralizing basket. It didn’t help that Indiana missed 10 free throws. They got to the line 26 times, so Duke's 29 free-throw attempts were nearly a wash. Allen played all 40, scored 21 and complimented his bigs (23 for Bagley and 18 for Carter). The point play of Duval (15 points and six rebounds and ZERO turnovers) is yet another example of the Blue Devils have the right leader, even as a freshman, to guide this squad toward a potential title.
Now, maybe the poor shooting will catch up with Duke this season, but having the bigs to toss it into and bail them out is something few teams own.
5. Miami’s win over Minnesota wasn’t just a statement by the ACC (which will dominate the ACC-Big Ten Challenge this season with the only Big Ten wins being Purdue over Louisville and Nebraska over Boston College at home heading into tonight’s MSU-ND game).
The Canes picked up a win in a place where no one else may this season. Miami also won its first challenge game of the season. And the Canes showed they have a deliverable forward in Dewan Hall, who scored 23 points in 17 minutes. Miami’s schedule is not strong power-rating wise at all prior to the ACC. This was a must win for their overall strength of schedule.