Night Watch: College Basketball's Biggest Games Tonight

By michaelcronin
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well we’ve already had a great day of college hoops. There will be a new number one after the Indiana Hoosiers fell in Indianapolis to the Butler Bulldogs. Indeed, the Butler did do it again. Meanwhile at the FedEx Forum, the Louisville Cardinals hung on to beat the Memphis Tigers in a crazy game with momentum shifts all over the place. Let’s get you set for some great action this evening…

7 PM Eastern- Belmont Bruins at Kansas Jayhawks

This should be an interesting one at Allen Fieldhouse. This Belmont squad is another formitable one from Rick Byrd. They already knocked off a good Stanford Cardinal team at Maples Pavilion, made it interesting against the VCU Rams after an awful 1st half and finally took down a solid Middle Tennessee State team that should be close to the bubble come “Selection Sunday”. You may recall that the Bruins return senior guards Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson. These guys can flat out score.

For Kansas, Ben McLemore is starting to find his groove against solid competition. At home I expect his success to continue and Jeff Withey should have a big game as the Bruins have little size inside. It’ll be close for a half. Kansas 80 – Belmont 62.

8 PM Eastern- West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Michigan Wolverines (Neutral)

I don’t think this one will be close at all. In year’s past Michigan could be pushed around and they would wear down late in the game. Enter freshman Mitch McGary. He’s already shown himself to be one of the best rebounders in college basketball. That, in turn, has taken pressure off Jordan Morgan and he’s thrived. The back court is one of the best around with Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III.

The only intrigue I see in this one is the John Beilein connection but he coached West Virginia ages ago. If you like missed shots, check out the Mountaineers! Michigan 75 – West Virginia 55.

9 PM Eastern- Kansas State Wildcats vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (Neutral)

The Zags are looking to get back on track after their loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini last Saturday. The Illini’s defense really stifled their inside game down the stretch and they couldn’t hit some “hero” 3s. In this one they’ll play another tough defense.

Bruce Weber‘s squad isn’t exactly a great watch for entertainment purposes but they play hard. Watch Jordan Henriquez vs. Kelly Olynyk inside. That matchup is a test of styles. Henriquez is more of bruiser while Olynyk is the athlete. Rodney McGruder‘s going to have to have a huge game for his Wildcats to overcome the Zags depth. Gonzaga 74 – Kansas State 62.

10 PM Eastern- Florida Gators at Arizona Wildcats

Now we’re talking. This should be the best matchup of the non conference slate to this point. Two teams that are on the cusp yet I want to see more.

I really think Florida needs to get Patric Young back involved. He was suspended briefly for some issues relating to practice but hopefully that got his attention going forwrd. His athleticism and strength should be on display in this one as Arizona doesn’t really have much size to deal with him.

What I’m really watching for is the back court battle. Florida’s still trying to work Scottie Wilbekin into their rotation. He was supposed to be the starting point guard coming into the season. However, Kenny Boynton has done a solid job filling his place, as he realizes to make it at the next level he’ll have to.

Arizona meanwhile is led by sophomore Nick Johnson and transfer Mark Lyons. The former Xavier Musketeer saved them against the Clemson Tigers but needs to be more efficient. Both these teams have boatloads of talent but really haven’t beaten anyone. I like the Gators on the road. Florida 73 – Arizona 67.

11 PM Eastern- Creighton Blue Jays at California Golden Bears

Don’t go to sleep after that Florida/Arizona game! This one should be a fun watch. Both teams don’t play a ton of defense and have two of the best scorers in the country in Doug McDermott and Allen Crabbe. The difference in this one should be size.

I don’t think Richard Soloman will be able to contain Greg Echnique enough. Of course, Greg is prone to get into foul trouble and that could be huge especially on the road. Creighton will be without 6th man Josh Jones due to a heart issue. If the Blue Jays start cold, they won’t be able to turn to him off the bench. Still I think Creighton gets it done. Creighton 77 – California 71.

Enjoy the games!

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.

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