Photo: Jarrett Culver
Source: Getty Image North America

Preview: Texas Tech vs. Duke

No. 11 Texas Tech is one of nine remaining undefeated teams in the country, and if it still is among that group after Thursday, it will have earned it. The Red Raiders attempt to maintain their untarnished record when they face second-ranked Duke in a marquee matchup at Madison Square Garden.

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The Red Raiders are off to their best start since going 12-0 to begin the 1929-30 season, but they’ve played one of the weakest schedules in the nation heading into Thursday’s matchup. “We don’t shy away from this,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard told reporters. “It’s a great opportunity on national television, historic Duke, sellout, Madison Square Garden, future NBA players. We don’t shy away from that. … This is a great opportunity for our program.” The Blue Devils have had a much more challenging slate – this will be their fourth game against a ranked opponent – and their only loss was a two-point setback against Gonzaga. Duke has won its last five games by an average of 39.8 points, including a 101-50 rout of Princeton on Tuesday.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

ABOUT TEXAS TECH (10-0): The Red Raiders top the nation in field-goal defense (32.2 percent) and are tied for the lead in scoring defense (51.2 points per game). Reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Jarrett Culver (19.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists), who poured in 30 points in Saturday’s 82-48 win over Abilene Christian, leads the way at the offensive end. Matt Mooney (11 points) is the only other double-digit scorer, but the Red Raiders have six players who average at least 7.4 points.

ABOUT DUKE (10-1): The Blue Devils lean on the most dynamic freshman duo in the nation in RJ Barrett (24.5 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Zion Williamson (20.1, 9.1, two blocks) – and that’s only half of their outstanding first-year group. Classmates Cam Reddish (14 points) and Tre Jones (8.3, 5.6 assists) also are playing big roles for the team, which averages 93.6 points and is shooting better than 50 percent. Duke defends the perimeter well, holding opponents to 28.1 percent from 3-point range, and forces 16.9 turnovers per game.

TIP-INS

1. Duke is 34-18 all-time at Madison Square Garden, including a 29-11 record under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

2. Texas Tech ranks second in the Big 12 with 11.5 turnovers per contest.

3. The Blue Devils lead the nation with an average of 8.1 blocked shots.

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Preview: Iowa State at Iowa

Iowa State faces its first true road test of the season when it visits 19th-ranked Iowa on Thursday in the annual Cy-Hawk series. The Cyclones have won four consecutive games, including an 81-59 victory against North Dakota State on Monday, to move on the cusp on the national rankings after receiving the second-most votes (33) outside the Top 25, and hope to continue their upward trajectory by knocking off the Hawkeyes for the fifth time in the last six years.

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“We know Iowa is a very good team and they have won some big games, but we have to go in there and take care of business,” Iowa State forward Michael Jacobson told reporters. “We need to move the ball and try to be versatile and hopefully come out with a win.” Iowa turned some heads by racing out to a 6-0 start, but expectations have been tempered after they suffered back-to-back losses in Big Ten play – including a 90-68 setback to No. 10 Michigan State on Monday. The Hawkeyes averaged 85.3 points during their six-game winning streak, but have been held to fewer than 70 while being outscored 86-46 in the paint over their last two defeats, and hope to bounce back by avoiding its first home loss to the Cyclones since 2014. “We didn’t expect things to go perfectly for the whole year,” Iowa forward Tyler Cook told reporters. “It’s a hiccup and it doesn’t change the way I look at this team.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT IOWA STATE (7-1): Marial Shayok scored 20 points and matched a career high with three steals in the win against North Dakota State to finish in double figures for the eighth time in as many games. Jacobson added 15 points and 10 rebounds to notch his second consecutive double-double as the Cyclones posted their fourth win of 20 or more points this season. Cameron Lard, who averaged 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 2017-18, scored two points and blocked two shots in 10 minutes during his season debut Monday after missing the previous seven games due to suspension.

ABOUT IOWA (6-2): Cook scored 15 points and collected eight rebounds in the loss to Michigan State to move within 40 points of reaching 1,000 for his career. Isaiah Moss added 13 points while Jordan Bohannon drilled a pair of triples en route to 11 points against the Spartans to move within two 3-pointers of becoming the seventh player in program history to reach 200 for his career. Highly-touted freshman Joe Wieskamp produced eight points and four rebounds before suffering an ankle injury in the second half against Michigan State and his status for Thursday’s clash is unknown.

TIP-INS

1. The home team has won 13 of the last 15 meetings in the rivalry.

2. Iowa State is 16-4 in December games under Steve Prohm.

3. Iowa has won 55 of its last 59 non-conference home games since 2012.

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Preview: Maryland at Purdue

No. 24 Purdue looks to recover from back-to-back losses when it hosts 23rd-ranked Maryland on Thursday in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers dropped a 73-72 decision to No. 11 Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge before they were routed 76-57 by fifth-ranked Michigan on Saturday to slide down the national polls and hope to avoid their fourth straight loss to a ranked opponent in the last three weeks by knocking off the Terrapins for the fifth consecutive time.

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“We have to go back to the drawing board and work on doing our jobs better,” Purdue guard Carsen Edwards told reporters. “Doing the small things on defense and the offensive end.” Maryland bounced back from its first loss of the season to fourth-ranked Virginia (76-71) with a 66-59 win against Penn State in its Big Ten opener on Saturday. The Terrapins’ dynamic frontcourt duo of Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith, who are both projected to be NBA draft picks, combined for 28 points and 21 rebounds against the Nittany Lions, and hope to lead the Terrapins to their first win against Purdue since Feb. 6, 2016. “Our biggest thing that we wanted was to come out 1-0 as I think that does a lot for our momentum in the Big Ten,” Maryland guard Anthony Cowan Jr. told reporters. “It’s going to be a crazy game up at Purdue and we can just get ready for that now.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

ABOUT MARYLAND (7-1, 1-0 Big Ten): Smith continued his stellar start to his college career as he led the way with 16 points to go along with eight rebounds in the win over Penn State. Cowan scored 15 points and dished out four assists while Fernando added 12 points and 13 rebounds against the Nittany Lions to become the first Terrapins player to register three straight double-doubles since Jordan Williams in 2011. Aaron Wiggins continued to provide some timely production off the bench as he added nine points while fellow freshman Eric Ayala tallied eight points and four rebounds.

ABOUT PURDUE (5-3, 0-1): Edwards scored a team-high 19 points to go along with three assists against Michigan to finish in double figures for the 28th consecutive time. Ryan Cline drained three 3-pointers en route to 15 points against the Wolverines and is 27-of-53 (51 percent) from beyond the arc over his last six games. Aaron Wheeler provided a spark off the bench as he made all three of his shots from the field to finish with eight points and collected five rebounds in 17 minutes while Evan Boudreaux was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting after averaging 13 points in his previous three games.

TIP-INS

1. Purdue is 32-4 at home in Big Ten play since 2014-15.

2. Cowan needs 25 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

3. Edwards leads the Big Ten in scoring at 24.4 points per game.

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Preview: Ohio State vs. Illinois

Any concerns that No. 17 Ohio State might struggle after losing freshman Luther Muhammed to a dislocated shoulder were eased with a Big Ten-opening victory over Minnesota on Sunday. The Buckeyes will try to win their second straight conference game when they travel to Chicago to face Illinois on Wednesday night.

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Muhammed was averaging the second-most minutes on the team at 27.9 per game and his absence forced Ohio State to change its rotations against Minnesota in its first game without him. The Buckeyes used nine new lineup combinations and went with three guards on the floor at the same time for only 5 1/2 minutes after playing with three guards together for more than 25 minutes in the first seven games. Ohio State responded with six players scoring in double figures against a team that entered the game on a roll. Illinois is certainly not on a roll, having dropped six of its last seven games, including Sunday’s 75-60 loss at Nebraska.

TV:
7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

ABOUT OHIO STATE (7-1): Junior Andre Wesson stepped up with Muhammad out and turned in arguably the best game as a Buckeye against Minnesota with a career-high 16 points. C.J. Jackson, Musa Jallow and Duane Washington Jr. were also significant contributors with 11, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Sophomore Kaleb Wesson, the team’s leading scorer and Andre’s younger brother, continued to produce with 15 points against the Gophers and fellow forward Kyle Young also reached double figures with 10 points and added a game-high eight rebounds.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-6): The Fighting Illini dug themselves into a big early hole at Nebraska and never could escape in their Big Ten opener. Freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili (14 points), Kipper Nichols (12) and Ayo Dosunmu (10) combined for 36 of Illinois’ 60 points. Dosunmu (13.1 points per game) and Bezhanishvili (10.0) are two of the four players averaging in double figures for the season along with Trent Frazier (14.7) and Aaron Jordan (11.1) for the Illini, who are struggling with turnovers and putting opponents on the foul line.

TIP-INS

1. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Muhammad’s status is “day-to-day, week-to-week,” and was noncommittal about him being back for the Illinois game.

2. Ohio State is preparing to face its third straight different style of defense (Syracuse zone, Minnesota conventional and Illinois ball pressure).

3. Illinois, which has four players from the Chicago area on its roster, has played 52 games in the United Center with a record of 37-15.

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Preview: Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame

Two 6-1 teams face off in the Jimmy V Classic as Oklahoma and Notre Dame meet on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Sooners enter the week winners of two straight, while the Fighting Irish are aiming for a fifth consecutive win.

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With Trae Young moving on to the NBA, Oklahoma has become a defensive team and has held its opponent to 60 points or fewer in three of the last four, including North Texas in a 73-57 win on Nov. 27. “When we defend like that and we have that stretch in the second half where we lock in defensively and stop, score, stop, score – I don’t know if (there are) too many teams in the country that can play 40 minutes with us,” senior guard Miles Reynolds told reporters after the game. Notre Dame earned its fourth consecutive win on Wednesday – a 76-74 victory over Illinois as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge – as Juwan Durham had what coach Mike Brey called a “coming-out party.” Durham had a career-high 10 points and added five blocks – all in the second half – as the 6-11 sophomore was leaned on more than usual after teammate John Mooney fouled out early.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT OKLAHOMA (6-1): Reynolds had a team-high 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes off the bench versus North Texas. Christian James had nine – his lowest output of the season – but leads the team with 19.1 points per game and is the only Sooners player averaging more than 10. Oklahoma held the Mean Green, a team shooting 48 percent on the season, to 27.5 percent from the floor and are ranked 19th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (37.1) on the season.

ABOUT NOTRE DAME (6-1): Guards T.J. Gibbs and D.J. Harvey both notched season highs with 19 points, with Gibbs pushing his team-leading scoring average to 13.7 points and Harvey edging his season average into double-digits at 10. Freshman point guard Prentiss Hubb added 10 points and has reached double figures in scoring in four straight, surpassing the 30-minutes played mark in each of those games as continues to be a key contributor in Notre Dame’s youth movement. Mooney, the ACC’s leader in double-doubles with three, played just 10 minutes against Illinois because of foul trouble – his lowest mark of the season.

TIP-INS

1. Tuesday marks the first meeting between these two schools.

2. The Sooners made just 17-of-33 free throws against North Texas and are shooting 65.8 percent from the free-throw line on the season.

3. This is Notre Dame’s first game away from home in 2018-19.

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Preview: Iowa at Michigan State

Michigan State looks to stay unbeaten in Big Ten Conference play when it hosts Iowa on Monday. The eighth-ranked Spartans won their league opener Friday night at Rutgers 78-67, while 15th-ranked Iowa comes into the contest looking for its first Big Ten victory after falling to No. 22 Wisconsin 72-66 Friday at home.

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The Hawkeyes have a balanced scoring effort, led by the interior duo of junior forward Tyler Cook (15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds) and 6-11 sophomore center Luka Garza (13.9 points). Iowa is aggressive with the ball, ranking first in the country in both free throw makes per game (25.3) and in attempts (32.7) entering Sunday, with the Hawkeyes having made 19 or more free throws in six of seven contests. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo relies on his backcourt for offense and leadership, with junior guards Cassius Winston (17.9 points, 7.1 assists) and Joshua Langford (17.5 points) ranking 1-2 on the team in scoring. Junior forward Nick Ward is the third double-figure scorer at 14.6 points, but at 6-9, he struggles a bit against bigger defenders, so how well he handles Iowa’s front line will be a key for the Spartans.

TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT IOWA (6-1, 0-1 Big Ten): Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon came into the 2018-19 season having hit over 41 percent from 3-point range in each of his first two campaigns with the Hawkeyes. But the junior has struggled this season, hitting just 30.6 percent and posting his lowest scoring average at Iowa – 10.1 points per game. Bohannon continues to play and try to find his stroke – he hit three 3-pointers in the second half against Wisconsin – but he has yet to shoot consistently this season, and coach Fran McCaffery can only wait so long before going with other options.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (6-2, 1-0): One big problem for Michigan State in its losses has been turnovers, especially the unforced variety, though Izzo told reporters he continues to harp on his team about taking care of the basketball. After totaling 53 turnovers in its previous three contests, the Spartans were able to hold onto the ball against Rutgers, committing just seven miscues, including none from point guards Winston and Foster Loyer. Michigan State will need more of that against Iowa, a team that loves to apply pressure and get out on the break off an opponent’s turnovers.

TIP-INS

1. Garza is fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (60.7).

2. Michigan State G Matt McQuaid has missed the last two contests with a thigh injury and Izzo said he wasn’t optimistic the senior would play against Iowa.

3. The Spartans hold a 73-55 advantage over the Hawkeyes in their all-time series, having won 11 of the last 13 meetings.

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Preview: Wisconsin at Iowa

No. 15 Iowa looks to keep its perfect record intact when it hosts 22nd-ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener for both teams on Friday. The Hawkeyes, who were picked to finish ninth in the preseason Big Ten media poll, edged Pittsburgh 69-68 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2013-14, and hope to continue their encouraging start by beating the Badgers for the third consecutive time.

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“We’ve done some things we didn’t think we’d be able to do and that’s the kind of team we have,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told reporters. “The only game that matters is the next one and that’s how we handle it.” Wisconsin is exceeding expectations after an impressive start to the new campaign. The Badgers, who saw their streak of NCAA Tournament appearances end at 19 in a row last season, have won six games, with their only blemish a 53-46 setback to fourth-ranked Virginia. They hope to build on their 79-75 victory against North Carolina State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday by knocking off the Hawkeyes for the first time since Feb. 24, 2016. “We’ve been able to find different ways to win and that’s usually the sign of a good team,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard told reporters. “They understand as they have grown through last year and what it took when you had to dig a little deeper.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

ABOUT WISCONSIN (6-1): Ethan Happ scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the win against North Carolina State to record his seventh double-double in as many games this season. Happ also blocked four shots against the Wolfpack to move into a third-place tie with Rashard Griffith (124) on the program’s all-time list. D’Mitrik Trice drilled four 3-pointers en route to 19 points as the Badgers went 11-of-21 from beyond the arc to finish over 50 percent for the third time this season, while Brad Davison was the third Badgers player to finish in double figures with 12 points.

ABOUT IOWA (6-0): Freshman Joe Wieskamp led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win against Pittsburgh to register the first double-double of his career. Nicholas Baer provided a spark off the bench as he scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including 11 straight Hawkeyes points during a three-minute stretch, as the Hawkeyes held off the Panthers despite shooting a season-low 36.5 percent from the floor. McCaffery confirmed that Cordell Pemsl, who has averaged 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 67 career games, will be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign as he gets set to undergo knee surgery in December.

TIP-INS

1. Wieskamp is averaging 19 points and eight rebounds over his past two games.

2. Happ leads the nation in double-doubles.

3. Trice is 24-of-40 (60 percent) from 3-point range this season.

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Preview: Purdue at Florida State

It may only be November, but No. 18 Purdue and No. 14 Florida State are ready to be tested Wednesday in Tallahassee in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Both schools went on rolls to start the season but ran into trouble in their biggest games, as the Boilermakers fell to No. 12 Virginia Tech 89-83 in the championship game of the Charleston Classic in their only contest against a ranked foe, while the Seminoles came up short 66-60 against No. 23 Villanova in the Advocare Invitational championship their last time out.

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The Boilermakers will have plenty of chances to redeem themselves as their visit to the Seminoles begins a daunting five-game run that also includes trips to No. 5 Michigan and No. 17 Texas along with a neutral site matchup with rival Notre Dame. “I think this is one of the stretches that can define how our season goes,” Purdue forward Evan Boudreaux said. “It’s not going to be the end-all, be-all, but if you look at these next four games, they’re games we definitely want to win and will look good if we win them come March.” While Purdue coach Matt Painter will certainly have a good idea what kind of team he has after this brutal stretch, Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton already knows what he has after Florida State embarked on a tough run of its own, culminating with the loss to Villanova. The Seminoles can score, but the backbone of their team is their intense defense that creates pressure and forces mistakes.

TV: 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT PURDUE (4-1): The Boilermakers will challenge Florida State’s ability to cover long-range shots as they rank fifth in the nation in that department after hitting 41.6 percent of their 3-pointers over the last four games. Junior guard Carsen Edwards has scored 152 points, seventh most in school history through the first six games of a season, and he leads the team with 25.3 points and 4.2 assists per game. Ryan Cline (14.2) and Boudreaux (11.2) are the only other players to average in double figures, while Boudreaux (6.0) is one of the team’s top rebounders and he has tallied more offensive boards (20) than defensive (16).

ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (5-1): The Seminoles’ high-intensity defense needs fresh bodies and the team often goes deep into its bench, with nine players averaging at least 15 minutes per game. The team relies heavily, though, on Terance Mann, who tops the team in both points per game (12.8) and rebounds (7.0), although six players average at least 7.5 points per game. Sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele has emerged as a scoring threat, coming off the bench to score in double digits in all three games of the AdvoCare Invitational, including 15 in an OT win over then-No. 21 LSU.

TIP-INS

1. The teams have met just twice before, with the Seminoles winning both meetings, including a 97-57 decision in 2005 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

2. The Boilermakers and Seminoles are both giving up just 65.8 points per contest.

3. Purdue has won three of its last four road games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

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Preview: North Carolina at Michigan

Fifth-ranked Michigan looks to stay unbeaten when it hosts No. 13 North Carolina in one of the marquee matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. The Wolverines have shot up the national rankings on the strength of their defense, holding five of their six opponents to 55 or fewer points, including then-No. 8 Villanova in a 73-46 road win on Nov. 14, and hope to cement their place in the Top 5 by shutting down a prolific Tar Heels’ offense which averages 96.6 points per game.

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Michigan has won 15 consecutive non-conference home games and hopes to extend their streak while avenging an 86-71 road loss to North Carolina in the conference challenge last season. North Carolina bounced back from its first loss of the campaign with a 94-78 victory over UCLA in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Tar Heels, who opened the tournament with a 92-89 loss to No. 17 Texas before matching their season high with 11 3-pointers en route to a comfortable win over the Bruins, hope to notch their first signature win of the season by knocking off the Wolverines for the third consecutive time. “Michigan may be playing better basketball than anybody,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams told reporters. “Michigan is the number one defensive team in America.”

TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (6-1): Coby White was named to the Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team after averaging 26 points, including a team-high 19 in the win against UCLA. Luke Maye added 16 points and eight assists while Kenny Williams scored a season-high 15 points, as five players finished in double figures for the Tar Heels. White was also named the ACC Freshman of the Week after averaging 22.6 points and four assists against Saint Francis, Texas and UCLA while point guard Seventh Woods is set to return to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a concussion.

ABOUT MICHIGAN (6-0): Canadian forward Ignas Brazdeikis continued the impressive start to his college career, scoring a team-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds in an 83-55 win over Chattanooga on Friday. “I think he’s very coachable and he wants to be a great player,” Michigan coach John Beilein told reporters. “He is going to have a doozy of a matchup with Luke Maye that’s for sure as Maye just killed us last time.” Jordan Poole added 14 points and six rebounds while Isaiah Livers tallied 12 points in a reserve role as the Wolverines held the Mocs to 36.1 percent shooting from the floor.

TIP-INS

1. Michigan leads the nation in scoring defense (48.3).

2. North Carolina is ranked third in offensive efficiency.

3. The Tar Heels are 10-5 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge under Williams.

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Preview: Michigan State vs. UCLA

Michigan State has won preseason tournaments in three of the last five seasons including the Victory Bracket of the prestigious PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore., last season, rolling past North Carolina in the championship game. The 11th-ranked Spartans are focused on bringing home another trophy this week, but it won’t be easy as they open the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic with a semifinal game against No. 17 UCLA on Thanksgiving night.

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No. 6 North Carolina and Texas are on the other side of the bracket so it could take two top-20 wins within the span of 24 hours for the Spartans to take home the hardware. Either way, it figures to help toughen up Michigan State for the battles that lie ahead in a very deep Big Ten Conference race. “It’s just building that championship mentality, learning what it feels like to win a championship,” guard Cassius Winston, who took home MVP honors last year at the PK80 Tourney, told the Detroit News. “That’s the mindset we’re trying to get this week.” That means first getting past a UCLA squad that has won its first four games by an average of 22 points and presents a big problem in 7-1 freshman center Moses Brown, who is averaging 17.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (3-1): The Spartans have bounced back from a 92-87 loss to then-No. 1 Kansas in the Champions Classic to win three straight games over Florida Gulf Coast (106-82), Louisiana-Monroe (80-59) and Tennessee Tech (101-33) without breaking much of a sweat. Winston leads the team in scoring (17.3) and assists (7.0) after averaging 12.6 points and a Big Ten-best 6.9 assists last season. Junior guard Joshua Langford is second in scoring (17.0), while 6-8, 245-pound junior forward Nick Ward, considered an NBA prospect, is averaging 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds.

ABOUT UCLA (4-0): The Bruins surprisingly struggled in an 80-65 win over Presbyterian on Monday night, watching a 24-point second half lead dwindle to just three points thanks to a pair of 11-0 runs by the Blue Hose and 21 turnovers. “Really disappointed with the first 15 minutes of the second half,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “I thought we were making growth in the first half and then we took about two steps back in the second half.” Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands scored 19 points to lead the Bruins, while 6-10 freshman forward Jalen Hill grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds.

TIP-INS

1. UCLA leads the series 6-2, although this marks the first meeting between the schools since the Bruins edged the Spartans 78-76 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

2. Brown is the first UCLA freshman to record double-doubles in his first three games.

3. Winston, Ward and Langford have combined to start 168 games in their career at Michigan State and are averaging a combined 49.6 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.5 assists so far this season.

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Preview: Marquette vs. Kansas

Kansas is ranked second in the nation and undefeated through three games entering Thursday’s matchup with Marquette in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, N.Y., but coach Bill Self wants to see more from his squad. The Jayhawks have allowed 77 points per contest so far and needed 33 points from Lagerald Vick Friday to hold off Louisiana 89-76, and Self noted Monday the need for improvement on defense.

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“I think that attention to detail and activity, more active hands and deflections, more things that are created by guys playing with activity would help us a lot,” Self told the media. The Golden Eagles rebounded from a 96-73 defeat against Indiana to defeat Presbyterian on Saturday, 74-55, but they needed a 29-8 run midway through the second half. Graduate transfer Joseph Chartouny scored 16 points off the bench and helped Marquette find itself down the stretch with 13 second-half points. “I just thought his poise and his presence really settled our team down when we were rattled,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski told reporters afterward.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

ABOUT MARQUETTE (3-1): Chartouny, who led the nation in steals per game at Fordham last season, hit three 3-points and finished 6-for-7 from the field, after scoring just four points total in the Golden Eagles first three games. Guard Markus Howard leads Marquette in scoring at 20 points per game, shooting 18-for-21 from the free-throw line. Marquette has been strong on the defensive end, as well, holding opponents to 35.6 percent shooting from the field.

ABOUT KANSAS (3-0): Vick earned Big 12 player of the week after scoring 32 points on 8-of-8 shooting from 3-point range against Vermont, then hit 7-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc against Louisiana. Vick is one of four Jayhawks starters averaging in double figures for an offense averaging 88.3 points per game and ranked sixth in the nation in 3-point shooting (46.9 percent). Center Udoka Azubuike averages 19 points per game on 67.6 percent shooting from the field.

TIP-INS

1. Marquette is averaging more turnovers per game (15.5) than assists (15.3).

2. Kansas seeks its eighth 4-0 start in Self’s 16 seasons at the helm.

3. Marquette freshman F Joey Hauser has averaged 15.5 points and six rebounds over his past two games.

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Preview: Syracuse vs. Connecticut

No. 14 Syracuse and Connecticut renew acquaintances when they face off on Thursday in the opening round of the 2K Empire Classic at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The former Big East rivals met in New York last season as well with the Orange posting a 72-63 victory.

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First-year UConn coach Dan Hurley is concerned about the patented Syracuse zone used by coach Jim Boeheim. “We’ve got to try to weaken their zone by getting into their legs in the offensive end with our pressure,” Hurley told reporters. “That’s a big, big part of the game. Playing against their zone is probably 30 to 35 percent of what the game is.” The teams have played in each of the past four seasons but nothing is scheduled in the future and Boeheim allowed it will be tough to regularly play the Huskies with the ACC going to a 20-game conference slate next season. “We play the Big Ten game, and we play in a tournament,” Boeheim told reporters of the nonconference portion. “So it’s making it harder and harder to play teams that you used to play. You can only play so many of those kind of games.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

ABOUT SYRACUSE (2-0): Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett is off to a strong start by averaging 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds and junior guard Tyus Battle (15.5) and junior forward Elijah Hughes (14 per game) are also clicking. Boeheim said that center Paschal Chukwu is showing improvement and the 7-2 senior is averaging 10 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots. “He didn’t play his first year. He sat out a year, he got hurt,” Boeheim told reporters. “Last year was his first year playing and this is his second, to me. He’s doing some things better. He’s closing on the ball better. He’s getting in better position rebound-wise. He’s getting better.”

ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2-0): The senior backcourt of Jalen Adams (18 points per game) and Tarin Smith (17.5) is mixing well and the latter is a transfer from Duquesne who played high school basketball for Hurley’s Hall of Fame father, Bob. “He’s so versatile, he can shoot the 3, he can get to the rim, he’s so athletic, and he’s unselfish,” Adams told reporters of Smith. “He plays similar to me I think, he’s crafty in the ball screens. If his jumper isn’t falling, he can get to the paint. If his scoring is not working, he can drive and kick it out.” Sophomore guard Alterique Gilbert (13.5) and sophomore power forward Josh Carlton (13 per game) also average in double digits.

TIP-INS

1. Syracuse holds a 56-38 edge in the series.

2. UConn sophomore F Isaiah Whaley (ankle) is expected to play after a one-game absence.

3. Orange senior PG Frank Howard (ankle) recently returned to practice but isn’t expected to be available on Thursday.

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Preview: Michigan at Villanova

Villanova and Michigan are ready for their national championship rematch, but most of the familiar faces from that April showdown have moved on to the professional ranks. Still, there will be excitement in the air when the eighth-ranked Wildcats host the 18th-ranked Wolverines on Wednesday as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

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In last season’s NCAA Tournamen title game, the Wildcats topped the Wolverines 79-62 for their second championship in three years, but seven of the 11 players who logged over 20 minutes in that game will not be playing Wednesday. “We weren’t thinking about Wednesday coming into this game. We were thinking about Quinnipiac,” senior guard Phil Booth said after Saturday’s 33-point win. “That was our main focus. Now it’s time to get ready for Michigan.” As for the Wolverines’ returning players, that feeling of coming up empty on the biggest stage is one that will stay with them forever. “I’m still not over it,” Jordan Poole said earlier this month. “Being able to have that opportunity right there in our hands and have it separated is a feeling that you won’t forget.”

TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT MICHIGAN (2-0): The Wolverines have won their first two games by 19 points and have allowed a total of 81 points in the process. Only two teams in the nation are allowing fewer points on average than Michigan, which actually trailed Holy Cross 24-18 at halftime on Saturday before outscoring the Crusaders 38-13 in the second half. Charles Matthews led the way with 20 points, while Ignas Brazdeikis notched 19 in his second career game – and the duo is averaging a combined 30.5 points so far on the young season.

ABOUT VILLANOVA (2-0): The Wildcats are getting a combined 38.5 points out of senior stars Booth and Eric Paschall thus far, while they have made 24 3-pointers as a team. Paschall, who attempted 2.5 free throws per game last season, has reached the foul line 17 times through two games, while Booth has nine assists against one turnover through two outings. Joe Cremo and Collin Gillespie each have a team-high five 3-pointers for the Wildcats, who have attempted 69 shots from behind the arc in the first two contests.

TIP-INS

1. Villanova F Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree has registered three blocks in each game and has made 5-of-7 shots while pulling down 12 rebounds in 36 minutes.

2. Matthews only had six points in last season’s title game, missing both of his 3-point attempts and all four of his free throws.

3. Michigan G Zavier Simpson went scoreless in 28 minutes versus Holy Cross and is 1-of-7 from the field this season

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