Day two of the Diamond Head Classic is about to tip off from Honolulu, Hawaii, and after day one of the bracket held to form, college basketball fans are going to be treated to a pair of quality matchups that mean a lot for all the teams involved. The marquee game of the day is the semifinal contest between the No. 15 Baylor Bears (8-1) and the Washington State Cougars (9-1), but the Florida State Seminoles against the Butler Bulldogs also should be highly entertaining for hoops junkies. Although neither is ranked by the humans, each are in Ken Pomeroy's top 40.
Here are your capsule previews of each of today's four games, along with the television schedule. All times below are Pacific Standard Time, and the links on the team names will take you back to our pre-tournament previews of each squad.
This will also serve as your game(s) thread for your non-WSU discussion.
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. San Diego Toreros - 1:30 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3.com: The Bulldogs looked for a half like they might pull the upset over WSU to get into the semifinals, but their offense went cold in the second half and the Cougars' did not, sending them into the consolation bracket. The Toreros, however, were never in it against No. 15 Baylor, failing to have any kind of answer for the Bears' size.
MSU gets touted big man Renardo Sidney back after a one-game coach's suspension, and shooting guard Ravern Johnson has had no trouble going off against lesser competition. If you're looking for a wild card for San Diego, Ken Rancifer could be it. He was the leading scorer against Baylor, and is excellent from outside. MSU looks like a bit of a mess right now, but they've got enough talent to probably skate past the Toreros.
Kenpom says: No. 133 Mississippi State 72, No. 303 San Diego 59 (65 possessions, 90 percent confidence)
No. 15 Baylor Bears vs. Washington State Cougars - 3:30 p.m., ESPNU: (Note: You can find our full preview of the game here.) The Bears absolutely cakewalked through San Diego in their opener, while WSU needed a strong defensive effort in the second half to pull away from Mississippi State. There wasn't too much to learn from Baylor's opener, as they just overwhelmed the Toreros with their size and athleticism, as they've done to many opponents this year.
That size and athleticism is going to pose a challenge for WSU, which struggled with similar size and length in an earlier game against Kansas State, especially in the rebounding department. Of course, the Cougs have something going for them that no other Baylor opponent has had: A star player. Klay Thompson is controlling games right now, and he'll be key against Baylor's vaunted 1-1-3/2-3 match-up zone. This also is the best defense Baylor has faced all year, so there's a chance this could be a low-scoring affair, despite the teams' lofty offensive numbers so far.
Kenpom says: No. 8 Baylor 66, No. 24 WSU 63 (68 possessions, 66 percent confidence)
Butler Bulldogs vs. Florida State Seminoles - 7 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN3.com: Although neither the Bulldogs nor the Seminoles blew out their opponents last night, both games were comfortably out of reach for pretty much the final 30 minutes. Butler got a superlative performance from forward Matt Howard (23 points, 4 offensive rebounds), who is playing like the Horizon League player of the year he was two years ago. Derwin Kitchen led the way for FSU with 20 points on only eight field goal attemps -- he hit a trio of 3s and had 10 attempts from the free throw line.
The battle between Howard and FSU big man Chris Singleton should be something fun to watch. They are similar sizes, but do things completely differently -- Singleton's a smart player, but he's got athleticism to burn; Howard, meanwhile, relies on savvy and smarts since he won't be jumping out of the gym. Kitchen also could play a huge role, as Utah exposed Butler's weakness against the dribble drive repeatedly to the tune of a 47.2 free throw rate. Butler's offense can be a little reliant on Howard and Shelvin Mack; how they crack FSU's great defense if those two aren't getting theirs will likely tell the tale.
Kenpom says: No. 36 Florida State 65, No. 37 Butler 64 (69 possessions, 50 percent confidence)
Hawaii Warriors vs. Utah Utes - 9:30 p.m., ESPNU: Hawaii tried to hang tough against Florida State behind Zane Johnson, who hit 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range on his way to 24 points, but the Warriors just didn't have enough defensively to make a real game of it. Utah tried to hang tough against Butler behind Josh Watkins' penetration, but the inexperienced Utes just didn't have enough maturity to combat "The Bulldog Way."
Hawaii figures to still be shorthanded as its two best players, Bill Amis and Hiram Thompson, likely will continue to sit out with injuries. Utah, meanwhile, looks like a team that is starting to figure some things out. The Utes also have tremendous size on the interior with a pair of 7-footers. If the Warriors are going to have a chance, they'll have to heat it up from outside again as they did against the Seminoles.
Kenpom says: No. 111 Utah 72, No. 213 Hawaii 68 (71 possessions, 67 percent confidence)
Check out CougCenter's full coverage of the Diamond Head Classic here.