Sizzling in the Spotlight: Bennett & Wesner's College Basketball Picks For November 20

For eight teams, four from the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and four from the Charleston Classic, hopes of holding the championship trophy on Sunday evaporated. Nevertheless, loser bracket games matter, for a simple but big reason: They still are considered resumé wins, depending the opponent, when March comes. So with matchups of the variety holding importance, VAVEL US' college basketball prediction artists Tyler Bennett and Peyton Wesner have added games from the aforementioned tournaments to their pick'em slate.

10:30 AM EST
2-1 Minnesota - 0-2 Missouri State (ESPNU)
---Consolation Semi-Final of Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Coming In:
Minnesota: 75-70 Loss - Temple
Missouri State: 93-59 Loss - Butler

Player to Watch:
Joey King (SR)
---17.3 PPG & 4.3 RPG.
Missouri State:
Dequon Miller (JR)
---9.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, & 2.5 APG.

Minnesota lost a close contest to Temple in their opener, while Missouri State didn’t stand a chance against the Butler Bulldogs to open the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. So, the quest for 5th place begins today. The Golden Gophers and Joey King have played well in their opening three games, and will look for a quick turnaround after their loss. Richard Pitino will have his guys ready, and they’ll tame the Bears on Friday morning.
---Minnesota 81, Missouri State 72

10:30 in the morning? Essentially, 9:30 AM since these two squads are normally on Central Standard Time? Wow, talk about cruel and unusual punishment for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Missouri State Bears! While the Bears were put into the middle of a ring and attacked by Butler yesterday, the Golden Gophers rallied from a nine-point deficit just to give away the game during a 15-2 Temple run. Though Joey King (3 of 9 from field for 10 points) and Nate Mason (4 of 11 from field for 20 points) struggled overall for Minnesota in the loss, this morning will bring a renewed success similar to the first two games of their season because Missouri State doesn't have a player they can count on to get needed buckets. 
---Minnesota 70, Missouri State 60

1:00 PM EST
1-1 Oral Roberts - 0-2 Tennessee-Martin 
---Men Against Breast Cancer Classic

Coming In:
Oral Roberts: 84-66 Loss @ South Carolina
Tennessee-Martin: 86-79 Loss - Bethune-Cookman

Players to Watch:
Oral Roberts:
Obi Emegano (JR)
---23.0 PPG & 4.5 RPG.
Jacolby Mobley (JR)
---18.0 PPG & 3.0 RPG.

The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks are still looking for their first win of the 2015-16 campaign, while Oral Roberts is coming off their first loss of the season. Twymond Howard and Jacolby Motley have put together back-to-back strong performances for the Skyhawks, bit the results for the team simply have not’t come. In the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Skyhawks will limit Oral Roberts’ star Obi Emegano and come away with a slim victory.
---Tennessee-Martin 82, Oral Roberts 80

Obi Emegano, learn and memorize the name because he can ball! Emegano, who dropped 31 points against South Carolina of the SEC on Monday, is a bona fide scorer, which can stroke from beyond the arc as well as take the ball to the rim. If the Gamecocks couldn't contain him, will the Skyhawks really stand a chance today? In this game, anyone could come away with! Although Tenneessee-Martin is 0-2, their record is truly deceiving. Led by a pair of scorers in Jacolby Mobley and Twymond Howard (enter today's action combining for 33.0 PPG), the Ohio Valley contender will hang their own against the Golden Eagles. Though, Emegano and 6'9" center Albert Owens will combine for forty plus in an exciting victory.
---Oral Roberts 75, Tennessee-Martin 72

3:30 PM EST 
2-1 Ole Miss - 1-2 Towson (ESPN3)
---Consolation Semi-Final of Charleston Classic

Coming In:
Ole Miss: 68-62 Loss - George Mason
Towson: 69-52 Loss - Oklahoma State

Players to Watch:
Ole Miss:
Stefan Moody (SR)
---23.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, & 1.0 SPG.
William Adala Moto (JR)
---16.3 PPG & 8.0 RPG.

In the upset of the first day of early season tournaments, the Ole Miss Rebels were outplayed from start to finish by George Mason. Therefore, they now find themselves in the consolation bracket taking on Towson. The Tigers shouldn’t be taken lightly, as they are another strong mid-major program capable of pulling off an upset. However, Stefan Moody and the Rebels will bounce back and take down Towson.
---Ole Miss 72, Towson 64

There is absolutely no excuse for Ole Miss to be playing in this game. None whatsoever! Yesterday to open up the 2015 Charleston Classic, the Rebels allowed George Mason take a 13-point lead before trying to mount a comeback, which ultimately crashed and burned. Today, they SHOULD be able to come out and obliterate the Towson Tigers. Yet, who knows maybe William Adala Moto dominates from the opening tip and brings home a tournament victory for the CAA school. All in all, Stefan Moody and Sebastian Saiz SHOULD have big performances to get their team back in the win column.
---Ole Miss 79, Towson 66

5:00 PM EST
1-2 Mississippi State - 1-1 Texas Tech (ESPNU)
---Consolation Semi-Final of Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Coming In:
Mississippi State: 105-79 Loss - Miami (FL)
Texas Tech: 73-63 Loss - #16 Utah

Players to Watch:
Mississippi State:
Gavin Ware (SR)
---19.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, & 1.0 BPG.
Texas Tech:
Devaugntah Williams (SR)
---19.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, & 1.0 SPG.

There was a ton of optimism around Ben Howland and the Mississippi State Bulldogs this season, but so far, they have yet to live up to expectations. The talent is there, with the likes of Malik Newman, Gavin Ware, and Craig Sword, but the results simply are not. Coming off a blowout loss to Miami, things are rocky down in Starkville. Texas Tech played Utah tight in their opener, and will do the same to the Bulldogs. However, Mississippi State will come away victorious. 
---Mississippi State 80, Texas Tech 70

If we were to go back a week from today and ask Mississippi State fans what their record would be after three games, they would say either 3-0 or 2-1. Walking into play this afternoon, the Bulldogs are 1-2 and 0-2 with Malik Newman suiting up! Seems like there is something wrong with that picture. Or, maybe Malik Newman is not who the nation thought he was. This afternoon against Texas Tech, a win is desperately coveted. Look at the facts, the Red Raiders have one great scorer and an "okay" supporting cast while the Bulldogs have two solidified college players in Gavin Ware and Craig Sword in addition to Newman. While tonight will be a very close contest, (probably will regret this) Mississippi State will come out on top.
---Mississippi State 74, Texas Tech 73

7:00 PM EST
2-1 Seton Hall - 1-2 Bradley (ESPN3)
---Consolation Semi-Final of Charleston Classic

Coming In:
Seton Hall: 80-77 Loss - Long Beach State
Bradley: 82-57 Loss - #6 Virginia

Players to Watch:
Seton Hall:
Isaiah Whitehead (SO)
---19.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, & 1.3 SPG
Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (FR)
---10.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, & 3.0 APG.

The Seton Hall Pirates were just the latest high-profile team to fall at the hands of the Long Beach State 49ers. Their second-half comeback fell short, and they find themselves in the consolation bracket taking on the Bradley Braves. Isaiah Whitehead and Angel Delgado are still one of the top inside-out combos in the NCAA, and they’ll lead the Pirates over the Braves in a game that won’t be that close after all.
---Seton Hall 84, Bradley 68

Whenever sophomores go up against freshmen, the second year players normally come away with the "W." And that's not even considering how talented Seton Hall's sophomores are! Last night, the Pirates' comeback from down 16 versus Long Beach State fell a few possessions too short as Khadeen Carrington's desperation trey was way off the mark. Though, with an opportunity to salvage the trip to Charleston with a consolation championship, expect Isaiah Whitehead, Carrington, and the gang to not mess around with the very young Bradley Braves.
---Seton Hall 80, Bradley 71

8:00 PM EST
1-1 Columbia @ 2-0 Northwestern (ESPN3) 

Coming In:
Columbia: 81-71 Loss @ Kansas State
Northwestern: 79-72 Win - Fairfield

Players to Watch:
Maodo Lo (SR)
---12.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, & 2.0 SPG.
Aaron Falzon (FR)
---16.5 PPG & 3.0 RPG.

The Columbia Lions are considered a legitimate contender in the Ivy League this season, and a win over Northwestern on Friday would go a long way in validating those claims. On the contrary, the Wildcats are looking to keep their strong start to the season going, and pick up another impressive non-conference win over a good team. Bryant McIntosh broke out in their last game, and big man Alex Olah has been steady inside. The Wildcats’ depth will help them prevail in a closer-than-expected contest with the Lions.
---Northwestern 81, Columbia 77

With Harvard's starting five taking a hit due to graduation and injuries, Columbia's Maodo Lo leads his team into a season with the time right to make their first NCAA Tournament since 1968. And while this game will have no bearing on the Ivy League standings (which decides who receives the automatic bid), tonight will reveal a lot about Columbia. On the other end of the floor, Northwestern is eyeing their third straight victory. Led by a great mixture of youth (Aaron Falzon and Bryant McIntosh) and experience (Alex Olah and Tre Demps), they will do more than eye but seize the win since the Lions lack a big man to guard Olah. 
---Northwestern 70, Columbia 68

9:00 PM EST
2-0 Xavier @ 2-0 #24 Michigan (BTN)
---Gavitt Tipoff Games
***Spotlight Game

Coming In:
Xavier: 78-66 Win - Missouri
Michigan: 88-68 Win - Elon

Players to Watch:
Trevon Bluiett (SO)
---14.0 PPG & 6.5 RPG.
Caris LeVert (SR)
---14.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, & 3.0 SPG.

Friday night’s spotlight game takes a trip to the Gavitt Tip-Off Games between Big East representative Xavier and the Big Ten’s Michigan Wolverines. Although Michigan had some struggles in non-conference play last season on their home floor, they have seemingly turned things around this season. Through two games, Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds haven’t been the Musketeers’ best players, but they haven’t needed to be. Xavier will need more from them on Friday in they want to take down Michigan. The Wolverines, with a healthy Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin in tow, will come away with another victory for the Big Ten in the Gavitt Tip-Off Games.
---Michigan 76, Xavier 73

Are the Michigan Wolverines for real? We will find out this evening! After last year's injury-plagued campaign, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. are back to change their legacy from great players to leaders of a winning team. Despite neither entering tonight's showdown with impressive stats, Jim Beilein's squad has taken care of business with blowout victories against Northern Michigan and Elon. Can they against Xavier? The Musketeers also enter Friday's contest 2-0 after a 78-66 win over Missouri. But, unlike their opponent of the night, the Big East school from Cincinnati is full of talented youth rather than experience. The following will ultimately be the issue for Xavier. Yet by March, this is the kind of game that will be won.
---Michigan 72, Xavier 69

1. Bennett 45 pts (43-15)
2. Wesner 43 pts (42-16)

***The Spotlight Game is worth two points while the rest are only worth one.