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BRAGGIN' RIGHTS HEADLINES WEEK OF HOLIDAY HOOPS
December 21, 2010

SCS.comGAME OF THE WEEK

Illinois vs. Missouri (in St. Louis)
Wednesday 8 p.m.

It’s Christmas time, which means it’s another edition of the Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis between two border states. This game will have the feel of a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight match-up, but both teams have their own set of problems right now. Missouri point guard Mike Dixon has missed the past two games due to suspension, and coach Mike Anderson hasn’t decided whether he’ll play yet. To make matters worse, his backup, freshman Phil Pressey, will miss two weeks with a broken finger. On the Illinois side, Brandon Paul may not play with an injury—and the Illini just lost at Illinois-Chicago this weekend. Dixon’s status for the game is imperative, but with or without him, this one may come down to the wire.

Prediction: Missouri 76, Illinois 75

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE

USC at Tennessee
Tuesday 6 p.m.

After a shaky start, Kevin O’Neill’s squad has life after rolling Texas and nearly upsetting Kansas in Lawrence. In a weak Pac-10, who says USC can’t finish in the top-3? And who says the Trojans can’t upset a reeling Tennessee team that’s now lost two straight to Oakland and Charlotte?

Prediction: USC 67, Tennessee 62

BYU at Weber State
Tuesday 8 p.m.

The Big Sky and SCS.com favorite hasn’t fared very well against in-state rival BYU lately. In fact, you need to go back to an overtime loss in 2006 to find the last time Weber State was even competitive with the Cougars. With one of the West Coast’s top talents in Damian Lillard, Weber State has a chance to knock off BYU in only its second home game of the season against a Division I opponent.

Prediction: Weber State 73, BYU 71

UNLV at Kansas State
Tuesday 8 p.m.

Lon Kruger will bring his stumbling UNLV team to Manhattan to face the program he used to coach Tuesday night, and although he can’t be happy with recent losses at Louisville and to UC-Santa Barbara, his anger won’t compare to Frank Martin’s. He’s got to find a way to motivate a team that looked anemic offensively against Florida this weekend; a UF team that lost at home to Jacksonville today, mind you.

Prediction: Kansas State 76, UNLV 66

Texas at Michigan State
Wednesday 6 p.m.

Nobody’s ever accused Rick Barnes and Tom Izzo of not playing anyone. This year’s no different, with both programs playing challenging non-conference schedules in the first two months of the season. It’s resulted in a few bumps in the road for both teams, but Michigan State hasn’t lost at home yet—and historically, it rarely does lose in East Lansing. Freshman guard Cory Joseph looked right at home in the Dean Dome on Saturday by making the game-winner against North Carolina, but his Texas team also fell apart on USC’s home floor earlier this month.

Prediction: Michigan State 67, Texas 62

Georgetown at Memphis
Thursday 7 p.m.

We know Georgetown’s good. The Hoyas won in Kansas City against Missouri and dominated North Carolina State and Utah State. But what about Memphis? Josh Pastner’s team has needed overtime to knock off both Austin Peay and Arkansas State this season, and it wasn’t able to keep up with Kansas in the second half in the Jimmy V Classic. We’ll find out a lot about Memphis’ young studs Thursday night.

Prediction: Georgetown 68, Memphis 66

Diamond Head Classic: Baylor, Butler, Florida State, Washington State, Mississippi State, Utah, San Diego and Hawaii
December 22, 24th and 25th

You could do worse than spend Christmas in Hawaii. An extra bonus for these teams would be picking up a few quality wins. Nobody needs quality wins more than Butler, a pre-season top-25 team that has failed in opportunities at Louisville and Xavier. The Bulldogs draw Utah in the first round and should face FSU in the next round, assuming the Seminoles knock off host Hawaii (and that’s not a given). Butler’s chances at an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament depend on the Diamond Head Classic, especially after losing to Evansville at home in November. The most intriguing first-round match-up pits Mississippi State and Washington State against each other. There’s no doubt MSU is the SEC West favorites when Dee Bost becomes eligible. Without him and Renardo Sidney, though, it’s been a difficult first ten games. MSU lost at Virginia Tech by 31 points this weekend in Sidney’s much-anticipated debut, but he could be a difference-maker against Wazzu. And as for Bost—he’s supposed to be ready by SEC play. Rick Stansbury scheduled four consecutive games from December 11th to December 14th in an effort to squeeze in second-semester games and lessen the impact of his suspension. The plan backfired a bit, as MSU lost the first of those games against East Tennessee State at home.

Last week’s prediction record: 3-4
Overall prediction record: 36-15

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