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Pregame Shootaround 1.29.13: Marshall Henderson, Coming To America

Jan 29, 2013, 2:45 PM EST

Marshall Henderson AP

Game of the Day: Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

By now, you’ve seen the GIF. If you haven’t, than you’ve probably seen the picture of him double-fisting Coors Light or somehow convincing one coed that it’s romantic to have his tongue in her face. At the very least, you’ve had to have seen someone on your facebook or twitter feed mention one of these three things and the name “Marshall Henderson” in the same sentence?

But have you actually seen him play, beyond the occasional highlight that they manage to sneak into Sportscenter between segments praising Ray Lewis for being this generation’s Gandhi?

Because not a lot of people have, which, as Gary Parrish pointed out in his column today, is why tonight becomes so important for Henderson. Let’s forget the fact that it’s a chance to the Rebels to solidify a wholly-inflated resume and ranking by knocking off one of the three other good teams in the SEC. After all the attention that he has garnered and all the buzz that his off-the-court (well, and on-the-court) shenanigans have created, now is the chance for the nation-at-large to actually watch Henderson play.

He’s as entertaining as anyone we’ve seen since Jimmer Fredette turned his first name into a verb. He shoots from anywhere on the court, he’s liable to go off for 25 in any given half, and he’s not afraid to let anyone — his teammates, the other team, the other team’s fans, the announcers, the television audience — know about it afterwards.

They’ll be tuning in tonight. Let’s see if he can live up to the hype.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 19 NC State at Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

There is quite a bit riding on this game. NC State has now beaten both Duke and North Carolina at home, but with road losses to the likes of Maryland and Wake Forest, the nation trusts the Wolfpack about as much as they trust A-Rod when he says he stopped using HGH. The Cavs, on the other hand, would actually have a pretty good-looking tournament profile if they hadn’t lost to Old Dominion — who is 2-17 on the season. According to Andy Glockner, that loss probably cost UVA more than 30 spots in the RPI. That’s a lot of ground to make up in a conference that won’t provide them many chances. Throw in the fact that a loss to Delaware in the Preseason NIT cost the Cavs a shot at Pitt and Michigan or Kansas State — instead giving them a disappointing North Texas team and — and you get a feel for just how dire the straits are for the Cavs.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Indiana State at No. 15 Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

The Sycamores actually have a chance to play their way into the NCAA tournament discussion thanks to a couple of solid non-conference wins — beating Ole Miss and Miami in the Diamond Head Classic is certainly paying dividends — but they still need more on their resume. Winning at Wichita State certainly wouldn’t hurt matters, especially considering the three losses that ISU has in league play have all come on the road.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Every night we’re going to have a Big Ten battle. On Tuesday, it’s Wisconsin heading to Columbus to take on No. 11 Ohio State. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

2) No. 23 Minnesota looks to snap their four-game losing skid as they host Nebraska. (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

3) After getting drubbed on the road by NC State, North Carolina looks to bounce back against Boston College, who has been feisty at home this season. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

4) Intriguing matchup out in the Mountain West as Nevada will be heading to the Thomas & Mack Center to take on UNLV. (10:00 p.m. ET)

5) Tommy Brenton is one of the nation’s most potent stat-sheet stuffers. He had 15 points, 14 boards and 11 assists – Stony Brook’s first triple-double — on Saturday. The Seawolves will take on Albany at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The Top 25

  • Wisconsin at No. 11 Ohio State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 19 NC State at Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Indiana State at No. 15 Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Nebraska at No. 23 Minnesota (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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