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Rothstein: Providence, UNLV And 5 Questions Heading Into Busy Night In College Hoops

Vincent Council (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Vincent Council (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

By Jon Rothstein
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1. JUST HOW GOOD IS PROVIDENCE?

We’ll know after they play Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

Ed Cooley’s team has won four straight games, and looks like a squad that can make a move during the last few weeks of the regular season.

The Friars have are getting terrific guard play from Vincent Council as well as Bryce Cotton, and Kadeem Batts is starting to perform like he’s one of the better interior players in the Big East.

Can Providence compete with the Orange on their home floor?

We can’t wait to find out.

2. CAN OKLAHOMA STATE SWEEP KANSAS?

Without question.

The Cowboys have quietly been playing brilliant basketball and haven’t lost a game in nearly a month.

Oklahoma State has a star in freshman point guard Marcus Smart, and Michael Cobbins is one of the more underrated players in the Big 12.

Kansas may have tradition on their side, but the Cowboys are the more talented team.

3. WILL MEMPHIS LOSE A GAME IN CONFERENCE-USA?

We can’t see how.

The Tigers host Houston tonight and like usual, are clearly the best team in their league.

Josh Pastner’s team has won 16 games in a row and sits at 22-3 overall.

Memphis has yet to win a game in the NCAA Tournament since Pastner was promoted to head coach, but there’s something we really like about this group.

The Tigers have balance, athleticism, and experience. Keep an eye on this team as we inch closer to Selection Sunday.

4. WHAT GAME WILL HAVE THE MOST NCAA IMPLICATIONS?

Iowa State-Baylor.

Both these teams have identical 7-5 records in the Big 12, and the winner of this tilt will have a distinct advantage in terms of advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

Baylor has really struggled in close games since conference play has began, while the Cyclones have failed to capitalize on several crucial opportunities.

Iowa State led on the road late against both Kansas and Oklahoma State, but ultimately lost in the game’s closing moments.

This is a huge showdown between two teams squarely on the bubble.

5. HOW WILL UNLV HANDLE THE PHYSICALITY OF COLORADO STATE?

Well, because they’re playing in Las Vegas.

The Runnin Rebels have been a different team in Sin City, and there’s been plenty of evidence to support that notion in the past few weeks.

UNLV has beaten both New Mexico and San Diego State at the Thomas & Mack Center in the past ten days, and we expect the same trend to continue against Colorado State tonight (10 PM, CBS Sports Network).

Oh yeah, there’s another thing we forgot to mention.

It’s time to start regularly setting our DVR’s just to watch Anthony Bennett.

The Runnin Rebels’ freshman power forward was downright scary against the Aztecs last Saturday, scoring 21 points and ripping down 12 rebounds with absolute ease.

The more and more I watch this guy, the more and more he reminds me of another Larry Johnson.

What’s your prediction for Providence-SU? Be heard in the comments…