Since not everyone is off Thursday, here are the four of the day’s 16 games that you simply don’t want to miss:
1. 12-Oregon vs. 5-Oklahoma State (1:40 p.m.): As an indicator as to how much the mid-majors or non-BCS conferences have infiltrated the tournament, this is the only game today pitting two teams from big conferences. Oregon, the Pac-12 tournament champion, is feeling disrespected by their 12 seed and are a popular upset pick. I tend to think the disrespect card is now being used by Oklahoma State, thinking “Oh, you think we’re an easy upset victim, eh?” Final score: Oklahoma State 79, Oregon 70.
2. 13-South Dakota State vs. 4-Michigan (4:15 p.m.): Perhaps the two best point guards in the entire tournament face off. Michigan’s Trey Burke you probably have heard of, but introduce yourself to the Jackrabitts’ Nate Wolters. He scored 55 points in a game earlier this year. Think combination of Jimmer Fredette and Steve Nash. Final Score: Michigan 83, South Dakota State 71
3. 11-Belmont vs. 6-Arizona (4:20 p.m.): Another Pac-12 team takes to the court and you never know what you’re going to get with the Wildcats. They could lose today, or make a deep run. My guess is their talented guards thrive in the tournament and make a positive first impression today. Final score: Arizona 68, Belmont 60
4. 13-New Mexico State vs. 4-St. Louis (11:10 a.m.): While I’m interested to get a first look at St. Louis, a very popular and respected mid-major team from the Atlantic 10, there is one very big reason I want to watch this game 7-foot-5, 340-pound center Sim Bhullar of New Mexico State. He’s not just a novelty act, going for 15 points and 12.5 rebounds during last week’s WAC tournament. Final score: St. Louis 69, New Mexico State 55.
There you have it, a quick look at the games I’ll be focusing on Thursday. Once again, happy holidays.