Well, we've reached the first Friday night in January. Until Championship Weeks roll around in March, this night of the week will typically be the slowest, meaning it's a good opportunity to get out of the house and do something not basketball-related. In the not too distant past, Fridays were characterized by an absolute dearth of TV action, but in the past few seasons, the Horizon League, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Atlantic Sun Conference have decided to fill the void. However, those three leagues really don't move the interest needle of more casual fans.
Those folks may need to make an exception this evening because of Cleveland State's visit to Butler (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET), This game is the big highlight of the night, with the added bonus of taking place early enough that you can still head out while the night is still young (at least on the East Coast...out West, you have the whole thing ahead of you still).
The Vikings (4-0 in the Horizon) can really throw the Bulldogs (2-1) an anchor in the league race and potentially to their at-large hopes with a win at Hinkle. Remember, the regular season winner gets to host the bulk of the conference tournament, including the final, provided they advance that far. CSU would love to bring the event to the Wolstein Center, since it hasn't been there since the Horizon adopted this format in the last decade. However, you can't expect Butler to play as badly as they did in Milwaukee on Monday, especially considering their recent resurgence, particularly on defense.
KenPom.com pick: Butler 69-64, 64 poss.
In other action this evening...
Southern Illinois at Creighton (CBS 3/ESPN3/Full Court, 7 p.m. ET)
Both the Salukis and Bluejays sit at 2-1 in the Missouri Valley, and neither really wants to drop further behind Wichita State and Missouri State. As usual, the bulk of the Valley schedule tonight will only air regionally.
KenPom.com pick: Creighton 63-62, 62 poss.
Kennesaw State at Campbell (CSS/CST/ESPN3/Full Court, 7 p.m. ET)
Since beating Georgia Tech on November 15, the Owls have won just once, on Monday against USC Upstate. They were back to their losing ways Wednesday against ETSU. At one point, the Camels won seven of eight, but they've since dropped three in a row, all in the A-Sun.
KenPom.com pick: Campbell 76-62, 64 poss.
Rider at Niagara (ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET)
The Purple Eagles enter this one on a five-game losing streak (having dropped 10 of 11). Meanwhile, the Broncs have won four in a row, but are looking for their first MAAC win over a team not named Manhattan. (Curiously, they played two consecutive league games against the Jaspers, albeit a month apart.
KenPom.com pick: Rider 80-64, 71 poss.
For broadcast information for games slated to be aired regionally, like Siena at Canisius, Northern Iowa at Indiana State, Bradley at Drake, and Illinois State at Wichita State, 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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