Here's what you need to know in college basketball for Thursday, Dec. 28:
1. The game of the night in Newark: Creighton and Seton Hall should put on an offensive show. The Bluejays have scorers, and are led by Marcus Foster, who won’t be intimidated at all by the Hall's Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez alternating to lead the Pirates in scoring. Creighton averages over 90, the Hall over 80. Creighton has won five in a row and is teeming with confidence, but Seton Hall doesn’t wilt easily. The Prudential Center should be amped for this one tonight. If you’re searching for two teams that could really push Villanova and Xavier in the Big East, then check out this game.
2. Contender/Pretender in New York: Providence and St. John’s will let the league know who is which later tonight. Providence has had a bizarre season. The Friars beat Washington, who beat Kansas; Boston College, who beat Duke; Rider, who beat Penn State; and Stony Brook, who beat Rutgers. But this PC team also couldn’t win at UMass and whiffed on other big games against Minnesota, Rhode Island and Houston. St. John’s could proudly say they have played well enough to think they have a shot, though. The Red Storm have two losses, one to Missouri and Arizona State -- both on a neutral court. Shamorie Ponds has stood out quite a bit this season and will be difficult for the Friars to defend.
3. Two scorers getting zero pub: Kendrick Nunn and Jalen Hayes are lighting teams up for Oakland, averaging 23.5 and 21.3 points, respectively. Nunn, a transfer from Illinois, put up 31 in a win over Towson and scored 32 in a loss to Michigan State. Hayes scored 37 in a win over Eastern Michigan and 25 against Towson. Oakland has a chance to start out Horizon play on a high with a win over Milwaukee tonight. But beating the Panthers is not a sure thing, considering this team has some notable wins. Milwaukee won at Iowa State and handed Loyola-Chicago only its second loss, but lost earlier in the season to DIII Concordia-St. Paul.
4. New Mexico State as an at-large? Come on. Is that crazy talk? Well, the Aggies do have a win over previously unbeaten Miami. Beating Davidson could help their Q score, as well as the win over Illinois in Chicago and road wins at New Mexico and UTEP -- all games that will carry extra weight. But what New Mexico State can’t do is lose another game to a lower-level team and that starts with a road game at UC Irvine. The Aggies need a phenomenal record and then to get beat in the WAC title game to have a chance. But that’s all possible, especially with two-time transfer (Illinois State and Texas Southern) Zach Lofton blitzing the competition. The Aggies have the size, length and overall athleticism to be a real upset threat in the NCAA tournament — if they can land a spot.
5. LSU’s need for momentum: LSU goes to Memphis tonight for a non-conference game before easily the toughest start to SEC play. LSU plays host to Kentucky, goes to Texas A&M and Arkansas before hosting Alabama and Georgia. If our calculations are correct, that could mean the Tigers will face five-straight NCAA-bound teams to start the conference. So, that puts even more pressure on playing well at Memphis.
LSU freshman Tremont Waters is a stud and played up in the Tigers’ last big game, scoring 17 in a win over Houston. Memphis has a star of its own in Jeremiah Martin, a 6-3 guard, who could be matched up with Waters. Martin put up 26 and nine in Memphis’ last marquee game, a loss to Louisville in New York.