After two days of lean schedules and fodder for major-conference teams we've finally got some games on the schedule that can hold one's interest for more than a half. A game that will likely have long-lasting effects is UTEP taking on Ole Miss at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss. The Miners will have Louisville transfer Derrick Caracter for his second game and you've got to wonder how this will pay off for head coach Tony Barbee when it comes to team chemistry. UTEP inexplicably fell to New Mexico State on Sunday night just twelve days after beating the Aggies in Las Cruces by 21 points. The Miners have five players scoring in double figures right now with the high-flying Randy Culpepper (18.0 ppg) leading the way.
As for the Rebels they're also led by guards and that should make for an entertaining contest. Guards Chris Warren (17.8 ppg) and Terrico White (16.3 ppg) lead four players averaging double figures currently and as a team Andy Kennedy's squad is scoring just over eighty-two points per contest. Both teams rank in the top 30 of the nation in turnover margin and with a fast tempo being the preferred style for each look for those averages to play a role in the outcome. Both teams will have chances down the line to pick up resume-building wins but that doesn't mean that either can afford to pass up this opportunity, especially with a hoops-starved nation looking for a reason to put down the books.
Other games of interest include Oral Roberts visiting a Louisville team that's in need of a win following losses to Charlotte and Western Carolina, UCF visiting USF in a winnable game for the Knights and Cincinnati taking on UAB. Conference USA has something to gain from Wednesday's games and with the limited schedule their good fortunes will have a larger audience.
7p ESPN2 Wright State at Mississippi State
7p ESPNU Wake Forest at UNC Wilmington
7p CBS-College Cincinnati at UAB
7p BTN Presbyterian at Ohio St
7p CSS Clemson at ECU
9p ESPN2 Arkansas-Little Rock at South Alabama
9p ESPNU North Florida at Northwestern
11p FSN Oklahoma St at Stanford
7p UCF at USF
7p Oral Roberts at Louisville
7p Illinois State at Ohio
7p Richmond at South Carolina
8p UTEP at Ole Miss
8p Belmont at Saint Louis
8p Santa Clara at Rice
8:05p Loyola (IL) at Bradley
Ole Miss over UTEP: I expect this game to be close throughout but the presence of Warren and White makes the pick Ole Miss. Why did UTEP fall to New Mexico State? The answer could be found in the defense, which allowed the Aggies to shoot 50% from the field after holding them to 28.6% in the first meeting. Look for the Rebels to shoot closer to 50% on the night.
The second slow night in a row, here's three quick picks for games and players of the night.
1. Seattle 82, UC Irvine 81 Charles Garcia led the Redhawks with 29 points and thirteen rebounds and made a pair of free throws with eleven seconds remaining to provide the winning margin. Michael Hunter led the Anteaters with twenty-three.
3. Rutgers 80, Rider 70 (OT) The Scarlet Knights outscored the Broncs 10-0 in the extra session and win thanks to 21 points off the bench from JUCO transfer James Beatty. Ryan Thompson led the Broncs with 26.
3. Tennessee State 80, Alabama A&M 77 Jeremiah Crutcher's 25 points and five assists led the Tigers to a three-point win over the Bulldogs. A&M was led by Cornelius Hester, who finished with nineteen points.
1. G Jon Scheyer (Duke): 36 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in the Blue Devils' 113-68 win over Gardner-Webb.
2. F Charles Garcia (Seattle): 29 points, 13 rebounds in the Redhawks' 82-81 win over UC Irvine.
3 (tie). G Ryan Thompson (Rider): 26 points and eight rebounds in the Broncs' 80-70 overtime loss at Rutgers.
3 (tie). G Blake Hoffarber (Minnesota): In just 22 minutes of action Hoffarber made eight of ten threes, scoring 26 points to go with six rebounds and four assists.