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Pregame Shootaround 2.20.13: CO St. visits UNLV, a Big 12 showdown

Feb 20, 2013, 3:51 PM EDT

Markel Brown, Perry Ellis

Game of the Night: No. 9 Kansas at No. 14 Oklahoma State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The Big 12 has turned into a three-team race for the league title, and with Kansas State beating West Virginia at home last night, the Wildcats have taken a half-game lead (in the win column) over both the Jayhawks and the Cowboys. The winner of tonight’s game will move into a tie with KSU, a game ahead of the loser. This is significant because all three teams have an easy schedule down the stretch, with the exception of Kansas State’s trip to Stillwater in the regular season finale.

In other words, if Oklahoma State wins and there are no surprises throughout the rest of Big 12 play, KSU and OSU will play on the final day of the regular season for the Big 12 title. Kansas has won at least a share of the Big 12 title in each of the past eight years, and a lost tonight would mean that they no longer control their own destiny in that regard.

Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the best college basketball atmospheres with the arena is full, and with Kansas in town, it should be packed. The Jayhawks will be looking to exact revenge for a loss they suffered in Phog Allen earlier this month.

Who’s Getting Upset? No. 22 Colorado State at UNLV (10:15 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Net)

The Rebels have their issues this season, but the one thing that we know for sure is that UNLV is a tough team to beat at the Thomas & Mack Center. I also think that UNLV will be able to matchup with the Rams well. The biggest issue that Dave Rice has run into this season is that Mike Moser gets lost in the shuffle thanks to the play of Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch, but given CSU’s size and their ability to hit the glass, Moser may be a viable weapon tonight.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Santa Clara at No. 3 Gonzaga (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Santa Clara is a fun, dangerous team this season. Kevin Foster is as dangerous of a shooter as you are going to find in the country, Marc Trasolini has the kind of size to be create matchups problems and Evan Roquemore is a hidden gem at the point. Gonzaga is a tough team to beat at the Kennel, but there should be plenty of scoring and a lot of threes fired up tonight.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Providence has won four straight games and is playing the best basketball the program has seen in recent memory. They visit Syracuse tonight. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

2) Ohio State really needs a win to turn around some of the skepticism of their resume. They host Minnesota, a team that has been sputtering as well, tonight. (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten)

3) I guess we shouldn’t have been too surprised that Kentucky got smacked in their first game without Nerlens Noel. It was on the road against a tough, solid Tennessee team. Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt tonight. We should get a better gauge of whether or not it’s time to pack in the season for Wildcat fans. (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

4) The sneaky-good game of the night: Iowa State at Baylor. Athletes, threes, zero conscience, bubble implications. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

5) Is Joel Smith healthy? When he is, Northeastern is far and away the best team in the CAA. But he’s missed time the last two games — he sat out against Delaware and only managed to play 16 minutes against UNC-Wilmington. The Huskies lost both games, and they host James Madison tonight. (7:00 p.m.)

Top 25

  • Santa Clara at No. 3 Gonzaga (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Providence at No. 8 Syracuse (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 9 Kansas at No. 14 Oklahoma State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • DePaul at No. 11 Georgetown (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Washington at No. 12 Arizona (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Minnesota at No. 18 Ohio State (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • No. 19 Wisconsin at Northwestern (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • Houston at No. 21 Memphis (9:00 p.m. ET)
  • No. 22 Colorado State at UNLV (10:15 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Other Notable Games

  • Ole Miss at South Carolina (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • South Florida at St. John’s (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Oklahoma at Texas Tech (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Charleston at Western Carolina (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • Air Force at Boise State (8:00 p.m. ET)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.