Dec 31, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT
GAME OF THE DAY: Marquette at Creighton, 10:00 p.m.
Creighton kicks off their tenure as a member of the Big East as they host Marquette, who entered the season as the favorite to win the league. The Golden Eagles have struggled this season, however, as they have spent much of the first two months looking for someone to provide a consistent perimeter scoring punch. The key to this matchup will be in the front court. Can Creighton handle Marquette’s size inside? Can the Golden Eagles keep up with Ethan Wragge and Doug McDermott on the perimeter?
WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 11 Villanova at Butler, 7:30 p.m.
Yeah, I’m calling it. And I like Villanova, too. But there’s just something about this Butler program, isn’t there? Kellen Dunham and Khyle Marshall have made the jump this season, and even though the Bulldogs are missing Roosevelt Jones, this is still a team that is good enough to win some games. It will be Butler’s first as a member of the Big East conference, and they will be playing the game in Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year’s Eve. Magic is in the air.
MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Kent State at Princeton, 12:00 p.m.
Kent State is perennially one of the nation’s best mid-major programs, but Princeton has been one of the biggest surprises this season. The Tigers look like they might actually have a chance at contending with Harvard in the Ivy League.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1. I mentioned two of the games above, but the Big East will be featuring five games today as all ten league members take the court. The third-best game of the day? St. John’s heading to Xavier at noon.
2. League play kicks off in the American today as well as two ranked teams take to the road. No. 14 Louisville heads to Orlando to play their first game since Chane Behanan got the boot (that tips at 5:00 p.m.) and No. 17 UConn is in Houston to take on the Cougars in a 9:00 p.m. tip.
3. No. 5 Michigan State heads to State College to square off with Penn State. The Nittany Lions picked off Michigan at home last season, and this group that Pat Chambers has assembled is better than most people realize. Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill are the truth.
4. That’s not the only Big Ten game on the schedule today. Illinois and Indiana kick off their conference schedule today in a game at Illinois that could have some bubble implications down the road.
5. George Washington has been quite impressive this season. They head to Manhattan, KS, to take on Kansas State at 2:30 p.m.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25:
- Eastern Michigan at No. 2 Syracuse
- No. 3 Ohio State at Purdue
- No. 7 Duke at Elon
- Northern Illinois at No. 13 Iowa State
- No. 18 Memphis at South Florida
- UNC-Wilmington at No. 19 North Carolina
- No. 3 Notre Dame knocks off No. 7 Wichita State to get to the Elite 8 13
- Tradition of success through change raises expectations at Xavier 1
- Sweet 16 Preview: The top 16 players left in the tournament 10
- Sweet 16 Preview: The x-factor in each game this week 1
- Ranking the Sweet 16 matchups 8
- Kentucky’s John Calipari is the National Coach of the Year, and it’s not close 36
- Sweet 16 Power Rankings: Reseeding the NCAA tournament field 15
- Kentucky’s John Calipari is the National Coach of the Year, and it’s not close (36)
- Updated tournament records: Kentucky moves SEC above .500 (22)
- West Virginia freshman on Kentucky: ‘They’re going to be 36-1′ (20)
- Reports: Indiana coach Tom Crean said ‘you suck’ to referee after loss to Wichita State (19)
- Sweet 16 Power Rankings: Reseeding the NCAA tournament field (15)