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Pregame Shootaround: The Maui finals and the opener of the Battle 4 Atlantis

T.J. McConnell, JJ O'Brien

AP Photo


Game of the Day: No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 15 San Diego State, 11:30 p.m.

This is what the Maui Invitational is all about. This game will tip at midnight on the east coast, but it will also feature two of the best teams from out west in what should be a thrilling -- but ugly and physical -- rematch of last year’s Sweet 16. The Wildcats have not yet looked like the team that is ranked in the top three as they are trying to figure out their perimeter rotation. SDSU, on the other hand, has played like a team that doesn’t miss Xavier Thames all that much.

The Other Game of the Day: Oklahoma vs. No. 22 UCLA, 2:30 p.m.

This may be the most interesting game of the day. I’m not sure I’m confident commenting on just how good either of these two clubs are, which is what should make their matchup so intriguing. Are the Sooners actually a Big 12 contender with Tashawn Thomas in the mix? Has this high-powered UCLA offense been evidence of what is to come this season, or has it been a by-product of their weak schedule to date?

Who’s getting upset?: Georgetown vs. No. 18 Florida, 9:30 p.m.

Florida has six scholarship players healthy right now. They might get Dorian Finney-Smith back for this one, but he’s still dealing with a fracture in his left hand. Georgetown is better than people realize this year, as D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has back court help from freshman L.J. Peak and Josh Smith looks like he may have turned a corner.

Mid-major Matchup of the Day: Florida-Gulf Coast vs. Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.

You like good guard play? Don’t miss this. Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes squaring off against FGCU’s Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Five things to watch for:

1. Georgia vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 9:30 p.m.: With the way the SEC is shaking out, it looks like Georgia could end up being a top four team in the league. Gonzaga might be a top four team in the country.

2. No. 5 North Carolina vs. Butler, 12:00 p.m.: The opener of the Battle 4 Atlantis will feature the Tar Heels giving Chris Holtmann’s Bulldogs their first test of the season.

3. Kansas State vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.: Just how good are the Panthers this year? And, for that matter, just how good is Kansas State? Both teams have ugly early season road losses on their resume already.

4. St. John’s vs. Minnesota, 7:00 p.m.: Two teams that have something to prove this year. Neither team can afford an 0-2 weekend at the Preseason NIT.

5. VMI at No. 21 West Virginia, 7:30 p.m.: The Mountaineers are pressing quite a bit this season, which should make for a fun game as they take on one of the nation’s fastest-paced teams in VMI.

The rest of the top 25:

  • UAB at No. 2 Wisconsin, 7:00 p.m.
  • Furman at No. 4 Duke, 5:00 p.m.
  • Cleveland State at No. 6 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.
  • Campbell at No. 16 Ohio State, 7:00 p.m.


  • Northeastern vs. UMass, 2:00 p.m.
  • Denver at Belmont, 2:00 p.m.
  • Richmond at N.C. State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State, 11:00 p.m.
  • Northwestern vs. Northern Iowa, 10:00 p.m.