Thursday is the day where early season conference tournaments tip-off in earnest, as the Charleston Classic and Puerto Rico Tip-Off get going. Here’s what to expect from the day’s action.
Best game — Boise State vs. No. 12 Arizona (-12.5) — 8:30 ET, PAC12
The Broncos dropped their first game of the season to Montana (in part due to less than stellar officiating), but that doesn’t diminish their standing as one of the better teams in the Mountain West. They can play both big and small, and Anthony Drmic has returned with the same ruthless efficiency as he had when he was injured. On the other side, Arizona is clearly among the most talented teams in the country, but it’s still trying to figure out its rotation and identity. The Wildcats likely win, but this could end up a bit closer than the 12.5-point spread it’s listed at.
Second-best game — Creighton at No. 14 Indiana (-13) — 7 ET, BTN
This will be the first test for the Hoosiers after a couple of warm-up games. Can the defense stand up to what will likely be a pretty well-schooled offensive team? Can it slow down newcomers Mo Watson and Cole Huff from the Bluejays? It remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: you can expect points in this one, as the Hoosiers might be the most explosive offensive team in America due to the fact that they’re athletic and everyone on the floor can shoot. The floor-spacing is exceptional, and is tough for any defense to game plan against.
Another game to watch — Miami (FL) (-8.5) vs. Mississippi State — 5 ET, ESPN2
The third game of the day in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, this is one that the Hurricanes should have no problem with given that the Bulldogs just lost to a SWAC team this weekend. However, the Canes a borderline Top 25 team, and the Bulldogs at least have Malik Newman on the roster, which makes this one at least worth sitting down and checking out if you’re hanging out in the afternoon on the west coast or just getting home from work on the east coast.
Matchup to watch — Stony Brook C Jameel Warney vs. Vanderbilt C Damian Jones
This one comes from Stony Brook’s trip to Vanderbilt, as it’ll be a matchup of centers. Warney is the big-bodied, undersized, space-eating type of center who relies on tremendous instincts and touch. Jones is the terrific athlete who is about as explosive and mobile as a 7-1, 250-pound big man can be. It’ll be fun to watch these two players match wits against each other. The Commodores should win this one easily, but if Warney can get Jones in foul trouble it could be fun for a while.
Pick of the night — Over 163 in Indiana vs. Creighton
Like I said, these two teams are offensive-minded with very little in the way of defense. Creighton gave up 70 and 78 respectively to Texas Southern and UTSA. Indiana is still an offensive juggernaut that has questions to answer defensively. Both of these aren’t afraid to get out and run if the opportunity presents itself. I think we’re looking at around a 90-80 Indiana win, so that gives us a bit of a cushion.
- The rest of the games in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off: Temple-Minnesota early, followed by Butler-Missouri State. Utah-Texas Tech finishes up the slate, and that should be worth watching to see what kind of growth Jakob Poeltl continues to show.
- The Charleston Classic also kicks off, featuring Ole Miss-George Mason,
Oklahoma State-Towson, Long Beach State-Seton Hall, and Virginia taking on Bradley.
- Ben Simmons alert! The LSU Tigers take on South Alabama at 9 ET on SEC Network.
- Pepperdine-UCLA could be a fun game, as the Waves are a bit more of a finished product at this point than the Bruins are.
- SMU travels to Stanford to take on a Cardinal team that is also still trying to find its identity. However, it’s still always tough to go on the road and win games like this.
- In what might be a matchup of the two worst power conference teams in the country, St. John’s takes on Rutgers. St. John’s lost by 32 in the preseason to a Division-II team, Rutgers struggled a bit in its opener with Rutgers-Newark. So yeah, that’s where these two are at.
- Finally, Iowa takes on Marquette in what should be a pretty fun game. Marquette’s built around its offensive prowess, and Iowa has never been afraid to get out and run. Plus, there’s a nice little matchup at the power forward spot with Henry Ellenson and Jarrod Uthoff. Worth tuning in there.