PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Kansas-Iowa State and Duke-Miami
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 3 Kansas at No. 19 Iowa State, 9:00 p.m.
Let’s put aside Hilton Magic and this budding rivalry and the pressure that’s on Steve Prohm to win with a team that was expected to be a title contender in the preseason: This is a massive game for the Big 12 title race, the race that Kansas has won at least a share of each of the last 11 years. Oklahoma has already played five games against the other top five teams in the conference, including on the road against Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor. They have the most favorable schedule down the stretch. Kansas, if they lose this game, will already be a game behind the Sooners in the standing with a trip to Norman still left on their schedule. And that ignores the fact that Oklahoma might actually be the better team. So while this is a huge game for Iowa State, it’s also a critical game for a Jayhawk team that is still trying to sort themselves out right now.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 20 Duke at No. 15 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
The early game tonight will feature the Blue Devils, fresh off of snapping their three-game losing streak, heading down to Miami to take on Jim Larrañaga’s good Miami team. The Hurricanes have the pieces to be a real contender in the ACC this season, but they’ve yet to put together the kind of consistency we want to see out of them. Last year, they went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off Duke on the strength of their ability in ball-screen actions. Duke isn’t great defending ball-screens again this season, but the area where they can really be beaten is on the offensive glass and with dribble penetration. Miami is not a great offensive rebounding team, but they can certainly make plays off the bounce with their back court. It certainly should be an entertaining game.