Who said mid-major basketball isn't important? Today on "Sizzling in the Spotlight," VAVEL US' Tyler Bennett and Peyton Wesner predict some of the biggest mid-major showdowns of the day.
1:30 PM EST
2-1 Belmont @ 2-0 Evansville (ESPN3)
Belmont: 90-85 Win - Western Kentucky
Evansville: 84-59 Win - Marian
Players to Watch:
Craig Bradshaw (SR)
---14.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, & 2.3 SPG.
D.J. Balentine (SR)
----18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, & 1.0 BPG.
In one of the best mid-major contests of the 2015-16 season, the Evansville Purple Aces welcome the Belmont Bruins to town in what should be a game filled with a ton of offense. While Evan Bradds and Craig Bradshaw know how to put the ball in the net for the Bruins, D.J. Balentine is one of the premier scoring guards in the country, making the duel between him and Bradshaw can’t-miss television. On their home court, Evansville comes away victorious.
---Evansville 88, Belmont 83
Not only will two of the most talented mid-majors of the 2015-2016 season take the floor this afternoon at the Ford Center, but two of the most prolific scorers in Belmont's Craig Bradshaw and Evansville's D.J. Balentine. Last season on their home floor, the Bradshaw-less Bruins were dropped by the Purple Aces for their first home loss of the season. Time for some revenge! Although Marty Simmons' squad has 6'11" Egidijus Mockevicius manning the middle, Evan Bradds will pull the big man away from the paint with his accurate shooting from outside, which will lead to Bradshaw and Taylor Barnette to getting to the rim for two. While "Giddy" has the potential to dominate on the offensive end, he gets flustered easy causing him to miss some of the easiest shots in basketball. There is a reason this matchup is our "spotlight game," so tune into ESPN3 and enjoy an exciting game.
---Belmont 82, Evansville 67
2:00 PM EST
2-1 North Carolina @ 1-1 Northern Iowa (ESPN3)
North Carolina: 78-58 Win - Wofford
Northern Iowa: 70-60 Win - Stephen F. Austin
Players to Watch:
Brice Johnson (SR)
---16.0 PPG, 11.7 RPG, & 1.3 BPG.
Jeremy Morgan (JR)
---17.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, & 1.5 SPG.
The Tar Heels scheduled Northern Iowa because it’s close to Marcus Paige’s hometown. The senior guard won’t play in the game due to a broken bone in his non-shooting hand, but the Tar Heels shouln’t need him on this afternoon. North Carolina has plenty of offensive firepower to overcome the Panthers. Jeremy Morgan has been sensational for the Panthers, but they will need others to step up for a W. The Tar Heels roll to the victory.
---North Carolina 83, Northern Iowa 72
The fact that Tar Heels' star Marcus Paige won't play in this homecoming game is very saddening. Though, besides Paige being ruled out, North Carolina is not in for a sad day. Without Seth Tuttle (graduation), Northern Iowa simply has no one to guard Kennedy Meeks or Brice Johnson in the post. However, today's game will naught be for not for UNI. Ben Jacobson's team will gain valuable experience from this afternoon's contest, which will help them when facing Wichita State and Evansville in conference play. Nevertheless, the today's results will not be pretty.
---North Carolina 75, Northern Iowa 60
3-0 William & Mary @ 2-0 Dayton
William & Mary: 70-59 Win - Washington Adventist
Dayton: 80-48 Win - Alabama
Players to Watch:
William & Mary:
Omar Prewitt (JR)
---18.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, & 1.3 SPG.
Charles Cooke (JR)
---14.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, & 2.0 BPG.
The William & Mary Tribe rolled over NC State in their opener, and have kept the momentum going so far this season. They will enter Saturday looking to push their record to 4-0, but will be taking on an extremely tough Dayton team who has adjusted to life without Dyshawn Pierre rather well. Ryan Mikesell has stepped up for the Flyers in Pierre’s absence, and will help lead Dayton to victory on Saturday afternoon.
---Dayton 90, William & Mary 73
William & Mary jumped onto the map this season with a very impressive 85-68 win at NC State. Unfortunately for the Tribe, the time to come down from "Cloud 9" has come as they travel to Dayton. Although the Flyers are still without Dyshawn Pierre, Archie Miller's team have received huge lifts from "fab freshman" Ryan Mikesell as well as sophomore Darrell Davis. Though this will not be the last time we hear from William & Mary this year, Dayton is not their next victim.
---Dayton 80, William & Mary 68
3-0 Southern Illinois @ 1-1 Sam Houston State
The play of guard Anthony Beane has the Southern Illinois Salukis flying high to start the 2015-16 season, and it’s exactly the type of momentum they need with them heading down to Huntsville, Texas. Year after year, the Bearkats find themselves contending in the Southland Conference, making them a dangerous team each time they step onto the court. This year, they don’t look like they have the talent of recent years, making them much more vulnerable to home losses. The Salukis will go on the road and return to Carbondale with a 4-0 record.
---Southern Illinois 78, Sam Houston State 68
This afternoon the Southern Illinois Salukis will receive their first road test of the young season as they travel to Sam Houston State. Since both teams have bona fide scorers in Anthony Beane and Dakari Henderson, who each come into today's matchup averaging over 20 points per game, one should expect a very high scoring contest. Actually, whoever scores the most out of the two superstars will lead his team to victory. Watch the "star senior" Beane build on his 32 point performance on Wednesday with a very good shooting day.
---Southern Illinois 77, Sam Houston State 73
4:00 PM EST
2-1 Ohio - 1-2 Norfolk State
---Consolation Semi-Final of Paradise Jam
The Ohio Bobcats were on the brink of upsetting the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Friday, but they blew a double-digit lead in the second half, ultimately falling by 2. Norfolk State lost a tough game to Indiana State, and both are looking to get back in the win column. Jeff Short struggled against the Sycamores, but he should find his groove against the Bobcats. The Spartans bounce back with a nice win over Ohio.
---Norfolk State 78, Ohio 76
How? How do you blow a 19 point lead?! Granted, Tulsa has one of the best backcourts in the country but still! Today, the Ohio Bobcats will attempt to bounce back from their 90-88 loss to the Golden Hurricane against a good Norfolk State Spartans team. Captained by 2015-2016 MEAC Player of the Year candidate Jeff Short, Norfolk State is also looking to salvage a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands following a 70-61 to the Indiana State Sycamores. Which squad will get back on the right track? As good as "stud sophomore" Jaaron Simmons is, this journalist loves what Short does for the Spartans. And right now he hasn't even played his best! Though Simmons and Kenny Kaminski will get their points, Norfolk State will get the victory over a demoralized Ohio team.
---Norfolk State 75, Ohio 71
6:30 PM EST
2-1 Florida State - 1-2 DePaul
---Consolation Semi-Final of Paradise Jam
In the opening round of the Paradise Jam, the Seminoles were upset by a strong Hofstra team. Now, the Seminoles are looking for a big time bounce-back performance at the expense of the DePaul Blue Demons. Now, the Blue Demons can hang with the Seminoles, but they can’t keep up with them if Florida State gets hot on offense. The Seminoles have too many weapons to lose two straight games in which they’re the favourites. Xavier Rathan-Mayes and the Seminoles make a statement after their loss on Friday.
---Florida State 88, DePaul 72
Was Hofstra over Florida State really an upset? C'mon? The Pride had a starting five of experienced scorers while the Seminoles are fairly young. Therefore, it wasn't an upset per se, but the Blue Demons over Florida State would be. DePaul, also defeated yesterday, has the potential to knock off their ACC opponent if Billy Garrett Jr. and Myke Henry play to their ability. But, it will not transpire, for the great guard trio of Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes will come ready to advance to the consolation championship with 47+ points.
---Florida State 75, DePaul 63
8:30 PM EST
2-0 Chattanooga @ 1-2 Illinois (BTN)
---Emerald Coast Classic
Chattanooga upset the Georgia Bulldogs to open the season, and the Illini suffered a loss to North Florida to open their campaign. Illinois, welcome back to the upset alert report because the Mocs have the talent to knock off yet another power conference opponent in the early parts of 2015-16. Justin Tuoyo and Casey Jones will have the Mocs soaring high, and their depth will help them take down an injury-stricken Illinois team in the Emerald Coast Classic.
---Chattanooga 81, Illinois 78
Do you hear that Springfield, Illinois? It's the sound of an upset alert because the Mocs are coming at full force. Chattanooga, who do not have one great scorer but rather five good scorers complemented by a second five that can put the "biscuit in the basket," already has one upset victory under their belt thanks to a 92-90 win at Georgia. But tonight it will not happen! Yes, the Fighting Illini are missing three key contributors in Tracy Abrams, Kendrick Nunn, and Jaylon Tate, but Malcolm Hill and Mike Thorne Jr. are still fighting. There is no doubt tonight will be a down to the wire fight, yet John Groce's team will come out on top.
---Illinois 77, Chattanooga 75
1. Wesner 58 pts (55-22)
2. Bennett 58 pts (54-23)
***The Spotlight Game is worth two points while the rest are only worth one.