Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Charleston Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 2K Sports Classic kick off
GAME OF THE NIGHT: NO. 18 UConn vs. Boston College, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Huskies and the Eagles kick off the 2K Sports Classic with a battle of former Big East rivals. BC and UConn had a healthy hatred for each other when they shared a conference, a dislike that was exacerbated by Boston College’s decision to depart the Big East back in 2005. It’s not a secret that the decision was not a popular one in the Nutmeg State, and Jim Calhoun made it quite clear that he would never schedule Boston College again. I wonder how he feels about this game tonight?
In terms of what happens on the court tonight, Ryan Anderson is going to be the key to the Eagles avoiding a 1-4 start. UConn has some great guards -- Shabazz Napier is a Player of the Year candidate right now -- but they don’t have much interior strength. Anderson can overpower just about any one of UConn’s big men. Can he take advantage of the mismatch, particularly on the glass?
THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Nebraska vs. UMass, 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
The Huskers face off with the Minutemen in the opening round of the Charleston Classic in a noon tip-off that will help to satiate college hoops diehards. This matchup intrigues me because UMass has been impressive early on this season, with Chaz Williams leading the way to wins over LSU and Boston College. But Nebraska is better than you probably realize they are. They have a freshman from New Zealand named Tai Webster that’s the real deal. Their blow-out win over Florida-Gulf Coast was impressive. Let’s see what they can do against some tougher commpetition.
WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: UC-Santa Barbara at Colorado, 8:00 p.m. ET (Pac-12)
Colorado has not played their best basketball yet this season. When they are at their best, they are a top 25 basketball team. I’m not sure if the Gauchos have an answer for Spencer Dinwiddie, a big, physical point guard, but they do have a kid named Alan Williams in the middle who is averaging 24 points and 13 boards. They’re also coming off of a 21 point win over UNLV.
MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Oral Roberts vs. Saint Louis, 8:00 p.m. ET
I know Saint Louis isn’t technically a mid-major, but I’m running with it anyway. ORU is one of those sneaky-good mid-major clubs that wins a lot of games, from time to time, picks off a big-time opponent. The Billikens have played well early on this season, but making the trip down to the Cancun Challenge isn’t an easy thing to do.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH:
1) The freshman that no one is talking about this season is Noah Vonleh, a 6-foot-10 big man for Indiana that is averaging 14.8 points and 12.5 boards. The reason no one is talking about him? Indiana hasn’t played anyone yet. They get Washington at the 2K Sports Classic at MSG tonight.
2) There are a number of interesting tournaments kicking off today, but the best may be the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It starts with Charlotte-Kansas State at 10:30 a.m. and continues with matchups between Georgetown and Northeastern, Long Beach State and No. 14 Michigan, and Florida State and No. 10 VCU.
3) The last time out, Frank Kaminsky popped off for 43 points, outshining Marcus Smart and Jahii Carson on a day that they both were awesome. He and the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers take on Bowling Green at 8:00 p.m. ET.
4) No. 16 Florida lost Kasey Hill to an ankle injury last time out. The Gators face Middle Tennessee State tonight in their first game without him.
5) Washington won’t play Gonzaga, so the No. 13 Bulldogs have to settle for playing in-state rivalry Washington State. Tip is at 9:00 p.m. ET.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25:
UAB at No. 19 New Mexico, 3:00 p.m. ET New Hampshire at No. 25 Marquette, 8:00 p.m. ET
Georgia at Davison, 5:00 p.m. ET UCF at Miami FL, 7:00 p.m. ET Wofford at Minnesota, 7:00 p.m. ET Texas Southern at Stanford, 10:00 p.m. ET