It's Christmas week, and in addition to the last of the pre-holiday tournaments set to take place in places like Puerto Rico, Arizona, and Hawaii, there are a number of high-profile matchups on the slate to keep an eye on as you complete those last-minute shopping trips. Though it's technically not a tournament like some of the rest, this Thursday's gathering of teams in Oklahoma City will certainly be interesting to watch. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, and West Virginia all appear capable of making a run at conference titles this spring. If one of those two battles doesn't catch your interest, perhaps Friday evening's throwdown between Cincinnati and LSU out in Las Vegas will.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...
A look back at last week's highlights: Monday saw Wisconsin make a late comeback and survive a scare from UNC-Wilmington ... On Tuesday, DePaul pulled a shocking upset on the road at Wake Forest, making big shot after big shot down the stretch to haul in the victory ... Cincinnati spanked in-state rival Ohio, while South Carolina got past Winthrop with ease on Wednesday ... For the second time this week, Wisconsin fought hard and survived a close game, this time against in-state foe Wisconsin-Milaukee ... Also on Thursday, Arkansas got a big win over Missouri State, holding off a late Bears rally to preserve the victory ... Michigan State had to come from behind in the second half but topped Cleveland State Friday evening ... UCLA got the weekend started with a big win at previously-unbeaten Michigan ... In a pair of games with national interest, Tennessee went on the road and spanked a banged-up Texas team, while Kentucky prevailed at home against in-state rival Louisville ... Also on Saturday, Arizona topped Utah, Oregon State hung on against Georgia, South Alabama upset nationally-ranked Houston, Gonzaga fended off Virginia, surging Ohio State picked up a huge win at Iowa State, Iowa downed Arizona State, New Mexico continued Oregon's woes, and Virginia Tech picked up a win over struggling Stanford ... On Sunday, an improving Auburn squad ran over Temple, while Creighton gave Xavier their second loss of the season ... NC State opened their ACC schedule with a victory over Miami Sunday evening.
MUST-SEE THIS WEEK
Northern Iowa at LSU
Improving Tigers meet Panthers, recent winner over Iowa, before both squads head to Las Vegas later this week.
Indiana at Charlotte
Hoosiers hit the hardwood for first time since win over Kentucky, take on disappointing 49ers.
Pacific at UTEP
Great matchup between two teams who expect to be at or near the top of their conference standings this year.
St. Joseph's at Bucknell
Two of the better teams in the Northeast get together; just as with matchup above, both are conference favorites.
Missouri vs Illinois (St. Louis)
Unbeaten Illini take on a Missouri squad who is again having a very disappointing season.
Oakland at Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Pair of Tournament teams from 2005 hit the hardwood, both hoping for a return trip to the Madness in '06.
Arkansas at Texas Tech (Dallas)
Young Red Raiders have struggled, while Heath's Hogs, riding six-game win streak, appear ready to contend in the SEC.
Georgia at Nevada
Dawgs have won seven of their last eight, but Wolfpack is one of the top teams on the West Coast.
North Carolina at Southern Cal
Tar Heels struggled out West last year against Santa Clara. USC has won six straight since losing their first two.
DePaul at California (Oakland)
Demons shocked everyone with win at Wake but then lost at ODU. Bears need to win to prove they're ready for Pac-10.
Tennessee at Oklahoma State (Oklahoma City)
Vols destroyed Texas in Austin last Saturday. Cowboys have shown both their talent and inexperience already this season.
Wake Forest at Richmond
Deacons' first road test after loss to DePaul comes as they visit a struggling Spider squad in Richmond.
Florida at Miami
In-state rivals get together to celebrate the holidays. Gators appear to be one of nation's best, while Canes are struggling.
South Carolina at Temple
Owls are 1-1 against the SEC thus far, the win coming at home. Home game this week welcomes SEC's Gamecocks.
Gonzaga at St. Louis
Zags play on an opponent's home court for just the second time this season. The first time ended in a loss at UW.
West Virginia at Oklahoma (Oklahoma City)
Mountaineers are still looking to find their footing but better do so quickly against one of America's most athletic teams.
NC State at Alabama
Pack got first ACC victory of the year on Sunday, now visit a Tide team that has struggled against quality competition.
Auburn at Texas A&M
Improving Tigers whooped up on Temple Sunday, now pay visit to the only team in the Big XII without a loss.
Dayton vs Cincinnati (Las Vegas)
Strangely, this is the second meeting of the season between these two. Flyers came away with earlier win in Cincinnati.
Utah at Washington State
Bogut-less Utes showed little life against Arizona on Saturday, now trip to 6-2 Washington State.
Indiana vs Butler (Indianapolis)
In-state rivals meet as Hoosiers play their fourth straight game away from home.
Iona at Kentucky (Louisville)
Gaels, 7-0 to this point, have already won on the road at Iowa State and now get shot at up-and-down Wildcats.
Northern Iowa vs Dayton (Las Vegas)
Fabulous showdown between two of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 (Flyers) and Missouri Valley (Panthers).
LSU vs Cincinnati (Las Vegas)
SEC vs Big East showdown out West looks to be a good one. Tigers have already beaten WVU, while Bearcats bit Vandy.
San Juan Shootout
Holy Cross meets Chattanooga in Monday's most interesting matchup. Meanwhile, both Clemson and Mississippi State should have easy first round victories on day one, but Tuesday's matchups could provide a bigger challenge. Assuming both win, the Tigers will take on either the Mocs or Crusaders on day two, while the Bulldogs will likely take on Akron. Organizers set the event up for a CU-MSU matchup in the final, which would be a very interesting battle between a pair of teams with a combined two losses thus far.
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