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Rothstein Files: 5 Questions Heading Into A Busy Wednesday Night In College Hoops

(credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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By Jon Rothstein
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1. IS MIAMI REALLY A LEGITIMATE CONTENDER IN THE ACC?

We’ll find out after they play Duke.

The Hurricanes have been brilliant defensively this season and even though they’re playing the Blue Devils without Reggie Johnson, we still like their chances since they’re playing in Coral Gables.

Duke is a different team without Ryan Kelly and the Hurricanes have the size to control the backboards with Julian Gamble and Kenny Kadji.

Jim Larranaga’s team already has beaten Michigan State at home this season. Beating the Blue Devils tonight would almost ensure that Miami would be playing meaningful games in March for the first time in a long time.

2. CAN LA SALLE BEAT BUTLER?

Without question.

The Explorers are a bit of a sleeper in the Atlantic 10 but enter this week at a crossroads.

La Salle is 2-2 in conference play and will host the Bulldogs tonight before traveling to VCU on Saturday.

Any hopes this team has of reaching the NCAA Tournament will hinge on whether or not they can earn a split this week.

John Giannini’s squad has the talent to compete with the top tier teams in the Atlantic 10, but will need strong performances on the glass from big men Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack to have a chance against Butler.

3. WHICH GAME IS UNDER THE RADAR?

Colorado State at New Mexico.

We love the Rams more and more each time we watch them play. Larry Eustachy’s team has experienced guards in Dorian Green and Wes Eikmeier along with a terrific big man in Colton Iverson.

Colorado State is known for dominating opponents on the boards and it will be interesting to see how the Lobos’ front court of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow fares against the physicality of the Rams up front.

This could be the game of the night. It tips off at 8 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.

4. HOW WILL ST. JOHN’S HANDLE THE RAC?

It all depends on the tempo.

When the Red Storm played Rutgers a few weeks ago at Madison Square Garden, the Scarlet Knights grinded their way to a 58-56 win. For St. John’s to turn the tables, they’re going to have to speed up the pace — and that may be easier than it was when these teams played the first time.

After the loss to the Scarlet Knights, Steve Lavin made a decision to go with a three-guard lineup featuring Jamal Branch, D’Angelo Harrison, and Phil Greene. The move has drastically improved this team’s spacing and decision making.

The Red Storm have played well in their first three Big East road games and clearly have the conference’s third most talented roster after Syracuse and Louisville.

This will be a pivotal game for both teams, who are both trendy picks to elevate themselves in the league standings.

5. WHICH TEAM IS MOST DESPERATE FOR A WIN?

Oregon State.

The Beavers had hoped to make a jump this year in the PAC-12 but have started out league play with an 0-5 record.

This team has talent and will hope to change their fortunes against a Washington team that’s surprised many with a 4-1 mark to start conference play.

There is no time like the present for Oregon State. The Beavers host the Huskies tonight and then will entertain Washington State on Saturday.

This team needs to win both games this week if they hope to return to relevancy in the PAC-12.

Think you’ve got the answers? Be heard in the comments!