Finals week for many schools is approaching its end, meaning that the matchups will get a little better with the best coming on Saturday. Thursday's game of import is Oral Roberts (7-3) visiting Gonzaga (5-2) in hopes of winning in front of one of the best student sections in the country. Thursday marks the 100th game that Gonzaga has played in the McCarthey Athletic Center and they've gone 92-7 in the 99 games prior, so winning will be a tough task for Dominique Morrison (16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and company.
With suspensions ruling out two of their key interior players for the next six games, many wondered what Mick Cronin's Cincinnati Bearcats would do to make up for the absence of Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj. Without a consistent scoring option in the paint the strategy was to let the guards go to work, and that they did in the Bearcats' 78-58 win at Wright State. Sean Kilpatrick, who was a non-factor in their loss at Xavier on Saturday, scored a game-high 20 points (6-12 3PT) while JaQuon Parker added 14 points and all five starters finished in double figures.
With the first matchup between Belmont and Middle Tennessee going to double overtime the rematch on Tuesday was expected to be just as tight. Sure enough the game didn't disappoint, with the Blue Raiders locking up the 65-62 win with a pair of blocked shots in the final 22 seconds. LaRon Dendy led the way for Middle Tennessee with 20 points, and the Blue Raiders haven't reached the ten-win mark in a season this fast since 1990-91.
Thanks to the events of Saturday afternoon and their aftermath a dangerous road trip is now even tougher for Cincinnati (5-3), who will be shorthanded on their trip to Wright State (4-6). Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis are all suspended six games for their roles in Saturday's brawl at Xavier while Ge'Lawn Guyn sits one game, meaning that even with the Raiders having lost five of their last seven they've got every chance to defend their home floor successfully. So who steps up for the Bearcats?
In the days leading up to Indiana's game against#1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall there weren't too many people who thought that the Hoosiers could knock off the Wildcats. There were a few outside of the Indiana fan base who picked Tom Crean's team to win, but the majority of the predictions ranged anywhere from a close loss to a Kentucky blowout with IU's schedule to date being the main reason why.
In their first-ever game as a ranked team, the Harvard Crimson drew the task of playing the Connecticut Huskies at Gampel Pavilion, a building in which the Huskies have been near unbeatable for non-conference opponents. UConn had won 36 straight non-conference games at Gampel, and under Jim Calhoun the Huskies were 115-4 against New England non-conference opponents. Feel free to add another win to those marks, as the Huskies proved to be too much for Harvard in their 67-53 win.
The schedule for Thursday is light in terms of the number of games, but there's an excellent matchup between ranked teams in Storrs to keep an eye on. #9 Connecticut (7-1) hosts #24 Harvard (8-0) with Tommy Amaker's team looking to remain undefeated and retain the program's first Top 25 ranking in school history for another week. An interesting fact regarding this contest is that they could have played in the Battle 4 Atlantis over the Thanksgiving holiday, but UConn's loss to UCF prevented that and Harvard went on to win the tournament.