Many schools are now done with finals and can focus directly on basketball for the next couple of weeks. A total of nine games dot the schedule this weekend, including a few in-state battles and a basketball preview of the GoDaddy Bowl.
Alcorn State (1-6) at Ohio (2-3), 2:00
The Bobcats get a nice break after playing tough games against St. Bonaventure and Belmont with today's game against Alcorn State. The Braves are in the SWAC and have only played one home game so far this season, which resulted in their only win of the season over a non-D1 team. Ohio should cruise to a huge win, seeing at Alcorn State can't shoot (37%, 320th in the country) and can't score (59 points per game against D1 opponents).
Cleveland State (4-4) at Bowling Green (5-2), 4:00
The Vikings are an interesting team, as they came close to beating Louisville but were beaten by lowly Savannah State. For comparison's sake, Cleveland State lost to Toledo by five at home. Trey Lewis, a Penn State transfer, leads the Vikings in scoring at eighteen per game and nearly four assists per game. This will be a challenging game for the Falcons, who are coming off a tough loss to Dayton. Bowling Green is playing well and will need to continue that level of play in today's game against Cleveland State.
Arkansas State (2-3) at Toledo (4-4), 7:00
This game may (or may not) be as high scoring as the GoDaddy Bowl, which will take place in January between these same teams. The basketball Red Wolves are struggling this season as their only D1 win was over Central Arkansas, who haven't won a game yet. They've had two close losses and were blown out by Purdue, but their team statistics are pretty solid. They shoot the ball well (44%) and score at a decent rate (68 points per game). The problem has been with turnovers; the Red Wolves commit a whopping fifteen per game. If Toledo is able to pressure the ball and force those turnovers this could be a blowout.
Middle Tennessee at Akron (6-2), 7:00
We've already previewed this game, but it should be a challenging one for the Zips. Akron and Middle Tennessee have played each other a couple times over the past few years and the games have mostly been competitive. This is a different Blue Raider team than the teams of the past few years, as there doesn't seem to be as much talent. They're still a solid team though and will be a tough out.
Ball State (3-3) at Valparaiso (9-2), 8:00
We also looked at this game between in-state rivals. It's amazing that Valpo has played eleven games already, and that can be an advantage for them as they've been able to come together as a team a lot quicker than Ball State has. It's always tough to win at the ARC, and the Cardinals will have their hands full tonight.
Northern Illinois (3-2) at Eastern Illinois (3-6), 8:00
Eastern Illinois isn't a great team, but did beat Ball State earlier this year. They can't score that well as they average just 58 points per game (328th in the country). One huge advantage that Northern Illinois has on the Panthers is on the glass. NIU is 24th in the country at grabbing rebounds (41 per game) while EIU is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, collecting just 30 boards per game (318th). If NIU is to win, they'll need to dominate the glass and create scoring chances from offensive rebounds.
Kent State (5-2) at Arkansas-Little Rock (4-3), 3:00
Arkansas-Little Rock may be known as the alma mater of former Los Angeles Laker and current New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher, but it's not known as a great basketball school. The Trojans are on a two-game losing streak after winning three in a row. They haven't beaten an opponent with more than three wins this year, so Kent State should have a pretty good chance of winning, even on the road. The Trojans also lack size; they feature only two players taller than 6-foot-8. Kent State isn't big either, but has more talented guards and should come away with a win.
Miami (2-6) at Wright State (6-4), 7:00
The fourth in-state battle of the weekend comes between two schools just fifty miles from each other. Miami has struggled this year and needs a nice win to get their season back on track. It may not come today, though, as Wright State is a tough team as is even harder to beat at home. The Raiders have already beaten Belmont twice, and have also topped Charleston Southern and USC-Upstate, who just knocked off Georgia Tech. JT Yoho is the man to stop for Miami, as he leads the Raiders in scoring and rebounding. It'll take a valiant effort for the RedHawks to come out on top in this one.
Western Michigan (5-3) at Pacific (6-3), 8:00
The Broncos continue their tough non-conference schedule with a trip out west to go up against Pacific. The Tigers' record is a little skewed, as they've played three non-D1 teams so far and their best win is over 5-4 Mercer. Western Michigan has had a little bit of luck on the West Coast this year, as they beat San Diego and San Jose State in the Wooden Legacy. Pacific rebounds better than Western Michigan does, and it'll likely come down to who is able to win the rebounding battle.
This also serves as the open thread for basketball and whatever else is going on today, so have at it!