Before I look at a Wednesday that's Christmas week's busiest day and night by far, here are two things you may have missed (but probably didn't) and three that you likely did.
No. 19 Tennessee dropped their third straight game, as they fell to USC, 65-64, at Thompson-Boling Arena, continuing their spiral. Maybe Bruce Pearl (if he is allowed to stay on once the NCAA has its say) needs to schedule all Big East teams on the road in the non-conference next season. On the flip side, it looks like the Trojans are coming alive at just the right time, as this victory follows a win over Texas and a close loss at Kansas. Lehigh is their last non-conference opponent before Pac-10 play begins next week, and Kevin O'Neill's team should have a chance in the league, especially as won't be thrown under the bus to appease the NCAA this season.
The biggest story of the night though broke in Kansas City, where Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly missed 11th-ranked Kansas State's 63-59 loss to UNLV. Pullen is out for three games and Kelly for at least that amount after they received clothing from a department store. This led Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star to blog about an NCAA compliance-related quote Pullen made when the Wildcats won at Loyola-Chicago hours before former K-State star Michael Beasley's Minnesota Timberwolves played at the Bulls. It's an odd statement now to say the least.
Previously unbeaten Northwestern's NCAA chances took a serious hit in New York, where they fell to St. John's, 85-69, in the Holiday Festival final. Yes, that's the Red Storm team who dropped consecutive games to the worst of the A-10, Fordham and St. Bonaventure, last week. The Wildcats needed that win for a resume, that's just a bit thin. Now, they'll need to exceed expectations in a difficult Big Ten to have a shot.
Oakland hasn't defeated a Division I opponent since upsetting Tennessee on December 14. On Saturday, the Golden Grizzlies fell at Michigan. Yesterday, they lost a thriller at home to Valparaiso, 103-102, in the final of the Lou Henson Award tournament, which Oakland hosted in honor of last year's recipient Keith Benson, who only scored 5 and grabbed one rebound. Valpo's Brandon Rose and Cory Johnson were the night's stars, scoring 35 and 33 respectively. The Grizzlies are at .500 overall now, but only 6-7 against Division I opponents, since they beat non-D1 Rochester in Monday's semifinal.
Finally, we have a new blog to check out on the SB Nation network, BT Powerhouse, which is focused exclusively on Big Ten basketball. So, if you're a Big Ten fan (or even if you're not), head on over there and give Chris a nice welcome.
Today's action sees the quarterfinal round of the Diamond Head Classic, and all eight teams involved (six in particular) have to make a run at the title to get themselves in better position in the national conversation. I'll have more on that after the jump.
The inaugural Cancun Governor's Cup also tips off this afternoon; however, none of the four quarterfinal contests (Northeastern-Saint Louis, ETSU-Southern Miss, Texas State-Mississippi, Appalachian State-Colorado State) will be televised. You'll just have to wait for tomorrow's semifinals.
After the jump, a look at today's TV slate, starting with the two televised tournaments.
Diamond Head Classic Quarterfinals at Honolulu
Mississippi State vs. Washington State, ESPNU (3 p.m. ET): The last time we saw the Bulldogs (or didn't, since the game wasn't televised), they were in the process of being thrashed by 31 at the hands of Virginia Tech. That was in Renardo Sidney's first game. His second won't come until Thursday, as he was suspended for today's matchup after an outburst in practice on Monday. That opens the door for Ken Bone's Cougars, who will cause Miss. State plenty of problems on the defensive end.
San Diego vs. Baylor, ESPNU (approx. 5:30 p.m. ET): The Bears lost their first game outside of Waco, falling to the Toreros' WCC rivals Gonzaga on Saturday. Expect to see Baylor not make it two in a row, however, as 2-8 USD has yet to defeat a Division I opponent.
Utah vs. Butler, ESPNU and ESPN3 (11 p.m. ET): Memo to Matt Howard: The Utes are really good at getting opportunities at the foul line, so you'll need to play smart defense. If the Bulldogs play as well as they did against Stanford on Saturday or Duke a couple of weeks back, they'll romp. If they play down to the Utes' level, they're going to have serious issues staying in the winners' bracket.
Florida State at Hawai'i, ESPNU (approx. 1:30 a.m. ET): The Seminoles' KenPom ranks in both Adjusted Efficiency and eFG%: 2nd. Sure, the Warriors rank 37th in eFG% on offense, but they're found down at 250 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, and are ranked a downright scary 342nd in turnover percentage. Nearly 27 percent of their possessions result in a giveaway (something the Noles understand, they rank 308th themselves). It could be a long night for the hosts if they revert to type, but if they play smart basketball, they could pull an upset, especially considering FSU's offensive issues.
Las Vegas Classic Semifinals
Indiana vs. Northern Iowa, CBS College (7:30 p.m. ET): Did you know the Panthers rank 300th in the country in 3-point FG percentage? That fact is going to be a problem against a Hoosier team that does far better from beyond the arc.
Colorado vs. New Mexico, CBS College (approx. 10 p.m. ET): The last team with the ball in this one may very well win it. The Buffaloes need a good run in this event to live up to their somewhat unjustified preseason expectations, while the Lobos will be looking for a couple of good tests before MWC play begins.
Here are tonight's standout non-tournament games.
Texas at Michigan State, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET): The Longhorns look to continue their typical strong start by picking up a second straight victory in a hostile environment, after they nipped UNC in Greensboro on Saturday. On the other hand, the Spartans will treat this one as a dress rehearsal for Big Ten play, which opens with a home game against Minnesota on New Year's Eve. The good news for Tom Izzo's team is that Texas isn't especially adept at creating turnovers.
Harvard at Connecticut, Big East Network/SNY/Altitude 2/MASN/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET): The Huskies are looking to move to 10-0 before conference play opens at Pitt next Monday. In 2009, the Crimson, then featuring Jeremy Lin, nearly stunned UConn, falling by six in the end.
Drexel at Syracuse, Big East Network/TWCS/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET): The Dragons will look for their second win over a Big East team in the span of a little more than a week. The unbeaten Orange on the other hand, will hope to avoid a repeat of December 19, 2006.
USF at Cleveland State, Horizon League Network (7 p.m. ET): The Bulls have already been the victim of five Red Line Upsets this season. The Vikings, fresh off a loss at West Virginia Saturday, will attempt to make it a half dozen.
Dayton at Seton Hall, ESPN3 (7 p.m. ET): Two of the country's more befuddling teams meet in Newark. Maybe we'll have more clarity on both of them when this one is over, but probably not.
Missouri vs. Illinois at St. Louis, ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET): The Tigers get point guard Michael Dixon back from a two-game "indefinite" suspension tonight, which is a good thing as his backup/replacement Phil Pressey is out for two weeks with a broken finger. This is the first time Mizzou and Illinois enter this game ranked since the 2003 edition. Of course, it's amazing the Illini still are after Saturday's loss to a poor UIC squad. Bruce Weber's team will need to rebound tonight, otherwise they could be in trouble heading into Big Ten play next week.
Xavier at Gonzaga, ESPN2 (11 p.m. ET): The Bulldogs took care of the hard part of sweeping this week's schedule, as they beat Baylor in their backyard Saturday. Tonight, they'll attempt to enter a week-long break on a high note by topping a Musketeer team that could still cause an upset, despite their personnel issues.
Kansas at California, FSN/Comcast SportsNet (11 p.m. ET): This will be the Jayhawks' fourth game against the Pac-10 this season. Given how close UCLA and USC played them in Lawrence this season, Mike Montgomery's team is probably wishing they were heading on the road for this contest.
But there are still other TV games available on this Wednesday...
Winthrop at Kentucky, Big Blue Sports/FS South/ESPN3/Full Court (1 p.m. ET)
Radford at Florida, SEC on CSS/CSN California/BHSN/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
American at Pittsburgh, ESPN3 (7 p.m. ET)
UT Arlington at Texas Tech, Red Raider Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
Texas Southern at Arkansas, ARSN/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
Robert Morris at Arizona, KWBA/FS Arizona/FCS Atlantic (8:30 p.m. ET
Nevada at Washington, FSN Northwest/FCS Pacific (9 p.m. ET)
For information about games that will be aired regionally, like Clemson at College of Charleston, Georgia Tech at Siena, UCF at Massachusetts, North Texas at LSU, visit Matt Sarz's College Sports on TV site. Another good resource is the schedule page at BB State.
Please share your thoughts about today and tonight's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.
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