Thursday night provides a big matchup in the Big Ten, as #8 Michigan State (20-5, 9-3) looks to remain tied for first place with a win over #17 Wisconsin (19-6, 8-4). Their first meeting, a 63-60 Michigan State win in overtime on January 3rd, ended with Ryan Evans' game-tying three being ruled to have come after time had expired, so the rematch in East Lansing will likely be just as competitive.
While people didn't necessarily give up on Santa Clara when it came to discussing who could win the West Coast Conference, there weren't a lot of outside believers in Kerry Keating's team once forward Marc Trasolini was lost for the season in the summer due to a knee injury. And there were even fewer folks left in the aftermath of their 89-56 loss at UCSB just over a week ago. But if their 79-76 overtime win over New Mexico in a 76 Classic quarterfinal showed anything it's that Santa Clara remains capable of being a factor in the WCC race.
Happy Thanksgiving! And while football tends to take center stage on this day there are also four in-season tournaments playing games, with action spreading from the Bahamas to Alaska. There really isn't a marquee matchup so to speak but there are games that could become important once March arrives, with New Mexico's game against Santa Clara in the 76 Classic being one. The Lobos were the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, and with players such as Drew Gordon and Kendall Williams there's no doubt that they can win this event.
(1) Alabama (25-12, 12-4 SEC)
The series of events that would underline the Huskies' pulling away in an 85-68 victory began with Gant forcing a bad pass inside to Aziz N'Diaye, resulting in a turnover. But instead of sulking and lazily getting back on defense, Gant hustled to the other end and blocked a Kevin Parrom shot...which was then kept inbounds by a diving Thomas. Wait for one of the premier point guards in America to get back into play...give him the ball and watch him go to work.
Conference Rank: #3 West Coast Conference
Betting odds are a great guide to college basketball entertainment. 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).