(Sporting Alert) — No. 1 Indiana will take on Illinois in one of the many games on the college basketball schedule list for ESPN3 and ESPN on Thursday night.
Indiana (20-2), who sits on top the NCAAB Big Ten conference standing at 8-1, has won its last five games, including a narrow 75-70 victory over then No. 13 Michigan State, who have since moved up No. 12.
The Indiana Hoosiers started the season as the top ranked team, but a defeat the unranked Butler on Dec 15, saw them dropping to No. 6. But 11 wins from 12 games and hiccups by several of their rivals opened the door for Cody Zeller led team to return to pole position. Indiana start at 147.5 O/U in the opening line – currently at +149 O/U and +330 on the money line.
Meanwhile, despite acknowledging that it’s always good to get proper recognition, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean has told his team not to read too much into the ranking system, but rather to concentrate on playing good basketball.
“That’s not what they play for,” said Crean. “I think they truly are learning that those things are nice, but playing to improve, to win games like this, to face some adversity and fight through it, that’s what matters.
“When we were not No. 1 in December they heard those things. Were we any worse because we lost by two? We didn’t play very well that day.”
Illinois coach John Groce also praised the Indiana team, but added that Thursday night’s game will be about his Fighting Illini (15-8, 2-7).
“Obviously, they bring several challenges. They’re a really good basketball team, they’re well coached,” Groce said.
“They’ve got size, they’ve got depth, they’ve got shooting, they’ve got point-guard play.
“But to be honest, as we approach this week, it’s more about us. … We’ve got to get recommitted and be more difficult to score against, regardless of who we play.”
Three other ranked teams, #4 Duke, #21 Missouri and #19 Oregon will also see action on the ESPN network.
The Duke Blue Devils (19-2) are second in the ACC, open with a -10.5 O/U line, and they face a confident North Carolina State team with a +152 O/U current line.
Duke have won three in a row, but one of its two defeats in six recent games came at the hands of the then No. 20 Wolfpack, which have dropped three of its last four and have fallen outside of the top 25 rankings.
Again, the Blue Devils will be without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who continues to be out with a foot injury he suffered against Clemson on January 8.
“We’re a new team, whether you want to write about it or not,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recalled last month.
“This is a huge adjustment for us right now with Ryan being out.”
Elsewhere, on ESPN3, ESPN and ESPNU, Colorado will take on No. 19 Oregon, while No. 21 Missouri will tip-off against Texas A&M.
College Basketball ESPN3 and ESPN Fixtures
2/07 7:00 PM EST #1 Indiana vs. Illinois
2/07 7:00 PM EST St. Francis (NY) vs. Bryant University ESPN3
2/07 7:00 PM EST Canisius vs. Manhattan (ESPN3 Exclusive)
2/07 7:00 PM EST Clemson vs. Virginia ESPN2
2/07 8:00 PM EST Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee State (ESPN3 Exclusive)
2/07 8:00 PM EST Belmont vs. Murray State ESPNU
2/07 8:45 PM EST McNeese State vs. Sam Houston State (ESPN3 Exclusive)
2/07 9:00 PM EST Washington vs. UCLA (ESPN3 SPA)
2/07 9:00 PM EST #21 Missouri vs. Texas A&M ESPN2
2/07 9:00 PM EST Idaho vs. New Mexico State ESPN3
2/07 9:00 PM EST Maryland vs. Virginia Tech ESPN3
2/07 9:00 PM EST NC State vs. #4 Duke ESPN3
2/07 9:00 PM EST Washington vs. UCLA ESPN
2/07 10:00 PM EST Colorado vs. #19 Oregon ESPNU
2/07 11:00 PM EST St. Mary’s (CA.) vs. Santa Clara ESPN2