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CBB Preview: CBS Sports Classic, Jumpman Invitational headline pre-Christmas play

December 17
14.Indiana at. 8.Kansas
12 PM ET, ESPN2
Kansas had a terrific showing against then undefeated Missouri in Columbia but face a much tougher test at home against the Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon. The Jayhawks have been playing mostly fantastic basketball with wing Jalen Wilson and guard Gradey Dick as their man scorers. The Jayhawks will be countered by none other than Trayce Jackson-Davis, one of the top bigs in the country. With how well Kansas is playing and Indiana coming off a recent loss to top ten Arizona, it will be a tough game for the Hoosiers to win. Projected Score: Kansas 78, Indiana 70

4.Alabama vs. 15.Gonzaga (Birmingham; C.M. Newton Classic)
1 PM ET, CBS
Alabama has been great this season with wins over Michigan State, then number one ranked North Carolina, last Saturday against then number one ranked Houston at their place, and most recently back home in Coleman Coliseum against a tough Memphis team. Brandon Miller, their freshman forward, has been a star but will him, Charles Bediako, Jahvon Quinerly, and others be enough to beat a veteran-led Gonzaga team for a second consecutive season just short of an hour away from the Tide’s campus? Projected Score: Alabama 87, Gonzaga 77

5.Houston at. 2.Virginia
2 PM ET, ESPN2
If Alabama had not gone into the Fertitta Center and knocked off Houston, college basketball would have gotten a number one versus number two ranked game, which don’t come often in nonconference play let alone the regular season at all. Point guard Jamal Shead was terrific for the cougars in that tough loss but if pre-season All American Marcus Sasser had scored more than nine points, maybe the outcome would have been different. Virginia has been playing terrific defense this season like they always do under Tony Bennett but have found a nice offensive game even if it is pretty balanced with the likes of veteran point guard Kihei Clark, who averages almost twelve points a game. Virginia will have to “muck it up” like Alabama did on the defensive side of the basketball to get a home win that will be very valuable come March when Selection Sunday comes around. Projected Score: Virginia 68, Houston 62

North Carolina vs. 23.Ohio State (New York City; CBS Sports Classic)
3 PM ET, CBS
Since a recent four-game losing skid and falling all the way out of the AP Top 25 after being ranked number one in the polls to start the season, North Carolina got their first ACC win against Georgia Tech and continued their winning ways against the Citadel on Tuesday with a 100-67 victory. While those may not be the most impressive wins by any stretch, the Tar Heels have begun to play together again and seem to be an ACC threat as they already have two games in the league down. Veteran forward Zed Key has been tremendous for the Buckeyes this season, averaging more than 14 points and almost 9 rebounds a game. He and fellow forward Brice Sensabaugh (14 points per game) will be tasked with dealing with a good Tar Heel front court with All-American Armando Bacot (16 points and 11 rebounds per game) and Northwestern transfer Pete Nance (13 points and 6 rebounds per game). To me, though this game is won by the guards. If UNC’s RJ Davis and Caleb Love are passing it around well and making beneficial decisions, this is Carolina’s game to lose. Projected Score: North Carolina 72, Ohio State 71

13.Kentucky vs. 16.UCLA (New York City; CBS Sports Classic)
5:15 PM ET, CBS
In the other game in Madison Square Garden, an experienced UCLA team faces an inexperienced Kentucky one, outside of reigning national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe. If Tshiebwe can be an anchor in the middle for the wildcats, they will be tough to beat. UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell (13 points and 5 assists per game) and wing Jaime Jaquez (17 points and 6 rebounds per game) make this team go. Kentucky freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston need to be big for Kentucky if they want to win this game, especially after a tough outing at home against Yale. Projected Score: UCLA 85, Kentucky 77

6.Tennessee at. 9.Arizona
10:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Both Tennessee and Arizona have had great start to the seasons. The Volunteers have wins over Kansas (in the Bahamas) and Maryland while the wildcats have grabbed wins over San Diego State, Creighton (both in Maui), and Indiana. It will be up to Arizona to stop veteran shooter Santiago Vescovi (11 points a game) and Julian Phillips (also averages 11 points per game). The Vols will be coming into a hostile Tucson environment and Arizona is led by Azulous Tubelis who averages more than 20 points per game and guard Kerr Kriisa, who shoots it well at 52% from the field. Projected Score: Arizona 76, Tennessee 72

December 20
Oklahoma vs. Florida (Charlotte; Jumpman Invitational)
7 PM ET, ESPN
In the first annual Jumpman Invitational and a future SEC match-up two teams that have some improvement to do face off. Oklahoma played top ten Arkansas tough in the first half and lost a the game to the Razorbacks but have dynamite scorer Grant Sherfield to use, who scored more than 20 points in their loss in Tulsa. Despite coach Mike White leaving to take the Georgia job, big man Colin Castelton stuck it out and again leads the Gators in points (15.2) and rebounds (7.5) a game. Oklahoma can get going shooting the basketball and I think they do in this one. Projected Score: Oklahoma 81, Florida 72

December 21
North Carolina vs. Michigan (Charlotte; Jumpman Invitational)
7 PM ET, ESPN
North Carolina was discussed in their game preview versus Ohio State so let’s talk about the Buckeyes’ rival in this one a little more. The Wolverines boast Hunter Dickinson, a trash-talking big man, that averages almost 20 points a game and almost 9 rebounds a game as well. Guard Jett Howard helps Dickinson out with scoring at just over 15 points a game while fellow guard Kobe Bufkin leads Michigan in assists. Whichever teams’ guards play better, like it was mentioned in the North Carolina-Ohio State preview, they win the game. The Tar Heels get what would be a fourth consecutive win this one. Projected Score: North Carolina 83, Michigan 74

By Carter Huff

Please enjoy all of my content :) <3-Carter.

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