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Pregame Shootaround 1.7.2013: Notre Dame plays … Cincinnati?

Jan 7, 2013, 12:27 PM EST

Eric Atkins

Game of the Day: 6:30 p.m.: No. 21 Notre Dame at No. 14 Cincinnati (ESPN2)

We know how good Louisville is and we think we know how good Syracuse is, but what we don’t quite have a firm handle on yet is where Notre Dame and Cincinnati fall in the Big East’s pecking order. We should get a chance to gauge that on Monday evening, as the Irish visit the Queen City to take on the Bearcats. (Note the 6:30 tip!)

I think Notre Dame is a better team than the Bearcats this season. I love their back court almost as much as I love Jack Cooley. The problem, however, is that Cincinnati matches up particularly well with Notre Dame. The Bearcats can really pressure the ball defensively — watching Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins go up against Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick may be the best back court battle we get in the league this year — and they play four perimeter players, just like the Irish. They also have enough size inside to potentially negate Cooley.

How does Cincinnati respond to losing their last two games at home?

Who’s Getting Upset?: 7:00 p.m.: No. 5 Indiana at Penn State (Big Ten)

Ranked Big Ten team on the road in league play. That’s usually my standard for picking an “upset”. The problem here? Penn State isn’t all that good and Indiana is really, really good. We’ll call this the exception that proves the rule.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Illinois-Chicago at Cleveland State

UIC has been one of the nation’s most pleasant surprises after putting together wins against the likes of Mercer, Iona, Northwestern and Colorado State. A recent three-game losing streak aside, the Flames look to be a serious contender in the Horizon. Cleveland State was a favorite to win the league in the preseason, but after a series of injuries — including one to stud sophomore Anton Grady — the Vikings have fallen back to the pack.

Five Things

1. Parker Smith of North Florida went for 33 points and hit nine threes on Saturday. The last two times he’s suited up against Florida-Gulf Coast, he went for 23 points, combined for 11 threes in those two games. How many can he hit tonight?

2. Southern Utah is currently sitting at 3-0 in the Big Sky, two games ahead of the teams behind them but a half-game behind Weber State and Montana at the top of the league. SUU travels to Sacramento State tonight. Can they keep pace with the Big Sky favorites?

3. Afternoon hoops! Florida International and Bethune-Cookman tip-off at 1 p.m.

4. The Southland title will likely go through Oral Roberts or Stephen F. Austin, but neither Northwestern State not Sam Houston State have a league loss yet. They play tonight at 8:45 p.m.

5. Lipscomb’s Stephen Hurt and USC-Upstate’s Torrey Craig are two of the better forwards in the Atlantic Sun. They go toe-to-toe at 8:15 p.m.

No Other Top 25 games scheduled

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.