(St. Louis, MO) – Forget ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’, this is ‘Gold Saturday’! Our two Valley conferences have golden opportunities to make another big splash today. There are fifteen games to be be played by the Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley Conference teams.
Two MVC teams (Drake & Southern Illinois) are participating in the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge, while Illinois State hosts an AAC team, Missouri State visits Summit favorite South Dakota State and Loyola entertains cross town rival UIC.
Five of nine OVC teams play at home today, and there are significant challenges as Belmont hosts Horizon League foe Green Bay, Tennessee Tech travels to 2017 CIT semifinalist Furman, Tennessee State entertains a Lipscomb team that has already defeated Belmont and Morehead State visits in-state rival Northern Kentucky.
1:00 PM – Green Bay (2-3) @ Belmont (4-4) – OVCDN
The Bruins have lost three straight and still seem to be figuring out roles and rotations, but Rick Byrd’s team is 3-1 at home, and Belmont rarely loses four straight. Dylan Windler is off to a great start, averaging a double-double (15.9 ppg & 10.6 rpg).
1:00 PM – Oakland City @ Evansville (5-2) – ESPN3
This is one of those games against lower division teams that I just don’t understand, but the Aces should pick up a win with the injured Ryan Taylor on the bench.
3:00 PM – Tulsa (4-3) @ Illinois State (3-4) – ESPN3
Illinois State desperately needs a signature win. The Redbirds are an injury-laden team in need of a shot in the arm. With an American Athletic Conference team visiting Redbird Arena, Dan Muller’s team could spring board from this game with some momentum as they slowly get players back in the lineup.
3:00 PM – San Jose State (2-4) @ Southern Illinois (3-2) – ESPN3
Did I say injury-laden? No team has sustained more injuries than the Salukis. Today they host the Spartans as part of the MW/MVC challenge. Each of the first seven games have been won by the home team. SIU needs to hold serve. Most likely they will still be without Marcus Bartley and Thik Bol, and Jonathan Wiley is a game time decision.
3:00 PM – UIC (2-4) @ Loyola (7-1) – ESPN3
This is another Horizon League match up, but it is so much more. With the Chicago sports pages cluttered with so many things, defeating an in-city rival is gigantic for head coach Porter Moser and the Ramblers. How they bounce back from their one-sided loss at Boise State is incredibly important. The Flames have lost three straight games.
3:30 PM – Alabama A&M (0-7) @ Austin Peay (3-4) – OVCDN
Reigning ‘Freshman of the Week‘ Dayton Gumm and the Governors played well in a loss at Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Gumm scored 19 points in the defeat. APSU is 3-1 at home.
4:00 PM – Tennessee Tech (7-1) @ Furman (4-3) – ESPN3
With wins over New Mexico and Lipscomb under their belt the Golden Eagles have a chance to make another statement today. To win at Furman, a 20-win team from last season and a CIT semifinalist, would be their third significant, non-conference win of the season. For a team that won 12 games all last season, to earn their eighth victory this in early December would be huge.
4:00 PM – UT Martin (1-6) @ Chattanooga (3-4) – ESPN3
The Skyhawks are off to a dreadful start and travel to Chattanooga, where the Mocs nearly defeated Jacksonville State earlier this season. Anthony Stewart knew his team would take a while to find itself, but the transition has taken longer than most would have anticipated.
5:00 PM – Jacksonville (3-5) @ Eastern Kentucky (3-4) – OVCDN
The Colonels have lost three of their last four games, with two of those defeats coming by more than 20 points.
5:00 PM – Drake (4-2) @ Wyoming (5-2) – Mountain West Network
This is another of the MW/MVC Challenge games. Drake is coming off a two-point loss at previously winless Omaha, in their only true road game this year. How they play on the road today is critical to evaluating the rest of the season. These two teams can really score. Take ‘the over’.
6:00 PM – Southeast Missouri (3-4) @ North Carolina Central (4-5)
In a weird scheduling event, SEMO is playing NCCU for the second time in three games. They dropped a home game to the Eagles 77-70. The Redhawks are a team we are still trying to figure out. They took Louisiana Tech into overtime, but have struggled against weaker competition.
6:00 PM – Morehead State (2-5) @ Northern Kentucky (5-2)
Another regional rivalry game. If you think there is clutter for attention in Chicago over college basketball, you don’t know Kentucky or Indiana. The Eagles are yet to win on the road (0-5) and they’ve played more than their fair share away from home. Another Horizon League opponent, the Norse were NCAA Tournament qualifiers last season.
7:00 PM – Florida A&M (1-8) @ Murray State (4-1) – OVCDN
This is an important ‘don’t stub your toe’ game for the Racers. Four of their next five games are huge resume builders. They travel to Illinois State and Saint Louis University, and host Auburn before traveling to Detroit. So slapping A&M down quickly is key today.
7:00 PM – Lipscomb (4-3) @ Tennessee State (4-2) – OVCDN
The Bisons might as well be in the OVC. They’ve defeated Belmont and Morehead State and lost to Tennessee Tech prior to this contest and still have a return engagement with the Bruins. The Tigers have won three straight. Their two losses are to Kansas and Middle Tennessee.
7:00 PM – Missouri State (6-2) @ South Dakota State (7-2) – ESPN3
Paul Lusk’s team needs this win. They’ve won four straight and took care of business in the ‘the Challenge’, but their earlier home loss to North Dakota State (who they will play next) is a glaring smudge on the report. Playing back-to-back Summit League teams on the road is a big test for the Bears. At least a split is mandatory, a sweep would elevate Missouri State.