College basketball on the first Monday of the new year provides nearly sixty games to whet the appetite with key contests in the Big East and WAC grabbing the headlines. Pittsburgh, fresh off of their win at Syracuse on Saturday, takes on Cincinnati in the Queen City in a matchup of teams undefeated in conference play. The return of Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown has added much-needed experience and depth of Jamie Dixon's rotation, something they were in need of in order to navigate the Big East.
The Missouri Tigers hadn't beaten rival Illinois since 1999, losing games in which they've been favored as well as those they weren't expected to win. Wednesday's game was more of a toss-up with a slight edge going to Bruce Weber's team, who had already won at Clemson thus far. But the Tigers were able to control the flow of play, forcing 22 Illinois turnovers on their way to an 81-68 win. While Illinois outrebounded the Tigers 44-32 and all five starters reached double figures Missouri forced 22 turnovers and held the Illini to 39.7% shooting from the field.
Betting odds are a great guide to college basketball action. Unlike fans, who often ride the wave of media predictions, betting lines tend to be a bit more focused and can give you an objective picture of how teams matchup (though lines too can get caught up in the wave of human emotion).
Wednesday sets up to be a light day in regards to games of national interest but there are two games out west that you should pay attention to. Nevada makes the trek from Reno to Las Vegas, taking on in-state rival UNLV in arguably the game of the night while Utah State visits Utah. A pair of Top 10 teams are in action as well with Texas hosting Western Carolina while Butler visits Northwestern in Evanston.
Nevada has perhaps the league's best player in Luke Babbitt, but a lack of depth should help keep the likes of Utah State and NMSU in the midst of the league race. .
CollegeHoops.net's Preseason High-Major All-America Team is led by Tulsa big man Jerome Jordan, a potential First Round NBA pick. Jordan, along with the likes of Luke Babbitt and Chris Wright, is part of an impressive forward crop in this year's High-Majors. BYU, Illinois State, Memphis, Nevada, and Tulsa are the only schools with multiple players on the list.