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Saturday’s Pregame Shootaround: Villanova and Iowa Battle 4 Atlantis

Nov 30, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT

Roy Devyn Marble, Justin Martin, Jalen Reynolds

GAME OF THE DAY: Villanova vs. No. 23 Iowa (9:30 p.m., NBCSN)  

Saturday’s best game features two undefeated teams as the No. 23 Hawkeyes (7-0) will face the Wildcats (6-0) for the championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Villanova upset Kansas last night to make the championship game while Iowa knocked off UTEP. It appears as though Villanova head coach Jay Wright has some of the grit and toughness of past Wildcat teams and it will be interesting to see how they matchup with a deep Iowa team that has a lot of experience.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: UTEP vs. No. 2 Kansas (7:00 p.m., NBCSN)

In the third-place matchup of the Battle 4 Atlantis, UTEP (4-3) meets up with the No. 2 Jayhawks (5-1), who suffered their first defeat of the season in Friday night’s semifinal loss to Villanova. Although UTEP fell to Iowa in the other semifinal, they will surely get a boost knowing that they get to face the No. 2 team in the country, so although Tim Floyd’s team won’t win the Battle 4 Atlantis, they can at least get a shot at playing a top team tonight. The Miners have the size to matchup with the Jayhawks at most positions, but Kansas has superior athleticism.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Eastern Kentucky vs. North Carolina State, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

There aren’t many games going on tonight, but one to keep an eye on for a potential upset is Eastern Kentucky visiting North Carolina State. The Colonels are a potent 6-1 team without a true road test, but with four double-digit scorers led by guard Glenn Cosey. Cosey has scored 20 points in four straight games and is averaging 19.6 points a game this season while he would also act as Eastern Kentucky’s closer, having going 41-for-44 from the free throw line this season. The Wolfpack have a lot of talent, but lost at home earlier this season in overtime to North Carolina Central, so they can slip-up from time-to-time. North Carolina State rebounded nicely after that loss with a 20-point win over Dunk City, but Eastern Kentucky can score enough to potentially upset the Wolfpack on the road if North Carolina State gets to a slow start.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: New Mexico State vs. Colorado State 6:00 p.m. (ROOT)

The Aggies have won seven straight games since dropping their season opener to Western Michigan and they’ll be tested today as they face host Colorado State in the Colorado State Challenge. With the WAC being down this season after conference re-alignment completely changed the look of the conference, New Mexico State has a chance to test itself in the next four games as they face the Rams, in-state rival New Mexico, Gonzaga and Arizona in their next four games. Colorado State finds itself at 5-2 on the season and is hoping to win their own challenge as they continue to figure out their rotation after last season’s Round of 32 appearance.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW: 

1) After a surprising 6-1 start, Penn State faces Ole Miss (5-0) in the Barclays Center Classic today. The Nittany Lions knocked off St. John’s in overtime to advance to face Ole Miss and will look to build on their strong start.

2) Virginia had a nice win over SMU last night in the Corpus Christi Classic and now they face undefeated Missouri State. The Bears knocked off Texas A&M and are 6-0 this season as they’ll be a team to watch in the always tough Missouri Valley Conference.

3) BYU and Utah State will square off tonight in a neutral site contest in Salt Lake City in what should be a really good game. The Cougars have lost two of their last three games — to Top 25 teams Iowa State and Wichita State — and will look to right the ship against 5-0 Utah State. Utah State started the season with a solid victory over USC and also own a big win over Mississippi State early this season.

4) If you’re up for some late-night hoops, TCU and Harvard will meet for the Great Alaska Shootout title tonight. TCU has made a nice run to the title game with a win over host Alaska Anchorage and Tulsa after starting the season 0-2. Harvard is one of the premier mid-major teams in the country and a win at the Great Alaska Shootout would look positive for potential seeding purposes in the NCAA Tournament.

5) In the consolation of the Corpus Christi Challenge, nonconference in-state rivals SMU and Texas A&M meet. This game doesn’t have many implications on the floor except for being a solid match-up of high-major teams at this point in the season. Texas A&M hasn’t had a lot of tests this season, but blew a halftime lead over Missouri State yesterday, so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back.

THE TOP 25: 

  • UTEP vs. No. 2 Kansas, 7:00 p.m. (NBCSN)
  • North Dakota vs. No. 14 Oregon, 6:30 p.m. (PAC 12)
  • Villanova vs. No. 23 Iowa, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

NOTABLES: 

  • Lipscomb vs. Georgetown, 12:00 p.m. (FSN)
  • Xavier vs. USC 1:00 p.m. (AXS)
  • St. John’s vs. Georgia Tech 2:00 p.m.
  • San Diego vs. New Mexico 3:00 p.m. (ROOT)
  • Tennessee vs. Wake Forest 3:30 p.m. (AXS)
  • Rhode Island at George Mason 4:00 p.m.
  • Penn State vs. Ole Miss 4:30 p.m.
  • New Mexico St. vs. Colorado State 6:00 p.m. (ROOT
  • SMU vs. Texas A&M 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
  • BYU vs. Utah State 9:00 p.m.
  • Virginia vs. Missouri State 9:00 p.m. (CBSSN)
  • TCU vs. Harvard 12:30 a.m. (CBSSN)

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