NC State vs Miami

NC State vs Miami: North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts likes where his team stands as it prepares to open Atlantic Coast Conference play at Miami on Thursday night. The biggest key for the Wolfpack, if they want to earn a road win to begin conference play, will be their ability to knock down shots from all over the floor.

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:Match Info:
Event: College Basketball
Team: NC State vs Miami
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Game Time: 7:00 PM ET

The No. 18 Wolfpack (12-1) will be seeking its best start since the 1973-74 national championship team won 13 of its first 14 games.

“I’m excited about our team,” Keatts said after N.C. State beat Loyola-Maryland 97-64 last week for its sixth consecutive victory. “I just told the team that I thought we did a tremendous job in our nonconference play. If you had told me that we would be 12-1, I would’ve taken it. Obviously, we had our chances to be 13-0.

“This team has grown in a lot of areas, and I’m proud of these guys because we have gotten better. We have been able to develop our depth. Some guys have gotten some playing time lately that I think will really help us when we get into ACC play.”

The Hurricanes (8-4) have won their last three outings, but none matches the Wolfpack’s 78-71 victory over then-No. 7 Auburn on Dec. 19. North Carolina State also has wins by 15 over Vanderbilt and 11 over Penn State, with the team’s only loss being a 79-75 setback at Wisconsin.

“What I like about our team is the versatility we have,” Keatts said. “We can play a lot of guys at a lot of different positions.”

Keatts basically plays 10 players a game, while Miami’s Jim Larranaga has been limited to a seven-man rotation. Guard Torin Dorn leads the Wolfpack in scoring (15.1 points per game) and rebounding (6.5 per game).

Keatts, however, is concerned about his team’s recent issues with turnovers — 56 in the past three games. But N.C. State also is forcing an average of 19.2 per game, which was the fifth-best mark in the country heading into Wednesday night’s games.

“They pick you up full court for 40 minutes every game, mostly in different defenses,” Larranaga said. “They play full-court man-to-man, they’ll trap you out of a zone trap full court, and then they also go three-quarter court.”

That could be a concern for the Hurricanes. Point guard Chris Lykes (16.6 points per game) had six turnovers against Campbell in Miami’s last game and was charged with 19 during the Hurricanes’ four-game losing streak. Miami is averaging 12.6 turnovers per game.

“We’ve had games where we’ve turned the ball over very infrequently,” Larranaga said, “and then we’ve had games where we’ve turned it over far too often, even when the opponent wasn’t pressuring us.”

The other issue for Miami is the status of veteran forward Dewan Hernandez (formerly Huell). The team’s leading returning scorer (11.4 points per game last season) hasn’t played since a preseason exhibition because the NCAA is sorting out his eligibility status.

“Dewan is practicing,” Larranaga said. “If they turn around and say he can play tomorrow night, then he’s going to dress and play.”

Penn State vs Michigan

Penn State vs Michigan: Michigan looks to stay perfect on the season as they host Penn State to kick off the new year. Michigan basketball is about to restart Big Ten play as one of four unbeaten teams left in America and a No. 2 overall ranking.

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:Match Info:
Event: College Basketball
Team: Penn State vs Michigan
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Game Time: 7:00 PM ET

It is officially 2019 and with the new year brings some conference play in college basketball. One of the most intriguing and power packed conferences in the nation right now is the Big Ten. After an extremely down year for the conference last season and seeing only four teams make the tournament and two of them make a quick exit, it was inevitable that those teams that under performed would bounce back this season.

Most of those teams have played better this season and are looking like possible tournaments teams which will make for a fun next couple of months. However, one of the ones that still has not quite found their identity is the Penn State Nittany Lions. They missed the tournament last year after playing well at times (defeating Ohio State three times) but playing inconsistent all around and finishing 21-13 and 9-9 in conference.

Even though they lost star guard Tony Carr, they brought back Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins and then added promising guard Rasir Bolton, which led many to believe they would make a tournament run this season.

As we head into what will be a gauntlet for everyone in the Big Ten in conference play, Penn State sits at 10th with a 7-6 record and 0-2 in conference. Lamar Stevens is leading the way for the Nittany Lions in scoring and rebounding at 18.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg, but they only have three players averaging double digits in scoring and they have not had the consistency from role players to win important games. After Michigan, the slate does not get any easier as they play five ranked teams to open conference play and will be in danger of starting 0-7 after their early 0-2 start.

Warriors vs Rockets

Warriors vs Rockets: After advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 39 years, only the Houston Rockets remain in the Warriors way of a trip to the NBA Finals. The Houston Rockets will face the Golden State Warriors in the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals series starting Tday, Jan 03 at Toyota Center.

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:Match Info:
Event: NBA Basketball
Team: Warriors vs Rockets
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Game Time: 10:30 PM ET

Houston and Golden State will face each other for the second time this season. The Rockets beat the Warriors by a final score of 107-86 on Nov. 15. MVP candidate James Harden and the Rockets ended 2018 on a high note, winning their last five games of the year. Houston will look to extend its streak with a win over Golden State to kick off 2019.

The Warriors won big over the struggling Suns on New Year’s Eve, putting a nice bow on a 10-5 month. The road will be tougher in January, as eight of Golden State’s 13 games will be outside of the friendly confines of Oracle Arena.

The Rockets will be without Chris Paul, who is sidelined due to a hamstring injury with no real timetable for a return. Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins is still out with an Achilles injury, but he did participate in a scrimmage on Friday.The Houston Rockets travel to Oracle Arena to take on the Golden State Warriors, in what will be a rematch of last year’s closely-contested Western Conference Finals. After a poor start to their season.

Houston seems to be righting their rocket ship and has climbed to a 21-15 record after winning 10 of their last 11 games. Golden State is in second place in the conference with a 25-13 record, but has gone just 16-22 ATS and at times just seems to be coasting during the regular season. We break down the best ways to wager on this matchup between two Western Conference heavyweights.

Real Madrid vs Villarreal

Real Madrid vs Villarreal: Real Madrid return to league action on Thursday after their successful FIFA Club World Cup exploits, travelling to face a struggling Villarreal. Los Blancos have a game in hand, and a victory against the Yellow Submarine could temporarily see them move level on points with third-placed Sevilla.

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:Match Info:
Event: Spain – LaLiga Soccer
Team: Real Madrid vs Villarreal
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Game Time: 3:30 PM ET

Meanwhile, Villarreal find themselves in the relegation zone in 18th, and are without a league victory in their last three matches. Madrid have won 21 of their 36 encounters, with Villarreal coming out on top on just four occasions.

Madrid will continue to be without trio Marcos Llorente, Mariano Díaz and Marco Asensio for the meeting with Villarreal. Llorente is sidelined with a tear to his left abductor, with fellow midfielder Asensio out with muscular injury. Meanwhile, forward Díaz has an issue with his sciatic nerve.

Real boss Santiago Solari called up Castilla striker Cristo to train with the first team in preparation for the encounter at El Madrigal. El Submarino Amarillo will be without Mario Gaspar as a result of suspension. The right-back received a second yellow and was dismissed in their last league encounter against fellow strugglers Huesca.

Real Madrid ​Courtois; Carvajal, ​Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos; Vázquez, Benzema, ​Bale.
Villarreal Asenjo; Pedraza, Ruiz, González, Layún; Chukwueze, Cáseres, Trigueros, Fornals; Moreno, Bacca.

Villarreal came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Realthe last time out, after goals from ​Gareth Bale and current Juventus forward ​Cristiano Ronaldo had given the Champions League holders the lead. The Castellón outfit have also scored in their last three meetings at home against Real, the last time they failed to do so was back in September 2014.

Real Madrid’s participation in the Club World Cup saw its match against Villarreal rescheduled, and that game will take place on Thursday as Los Blancos look to get back into the title race.

Manchester City vs Liverpool

Manchester City vs Liverpool: Manchester City and Liverpool clash in what is the game of the season so far this evening, and Tony Cascarino has named his combined XI featuring the best players from the two teams. Liverpool currently sit top of the Premier League with Man City in third, seven points behind Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders.

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:Match Info:
Event: Premier League Soccer
Team: Manchester City vs Liverpool
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Game Time: 3:30 PM ET

It’s the biggest clash so far of the 2018-19 Premier League season. Third-place Manchester City hosts first-place Liverpool on Thursday in the first game of 2019 for both teams, and it’s a contest that could go a long way in deciding who ends up winning the league come the spring.

Jurgen Klopp’s team enters the game with an undefeated record at 17-3-0 and 54 points, while City has 48 points with a record of 15-2-3. City has led the league for most of the season, but recent results has turned the tide, putting Liverpool in the driver’s seat in the new year.

Man. City: City lost its scoring touch a bit in recent weeks. From Dec. 8 to Boxing Day, the club lost three of its four Premier League games, scoring three goals in the three losses. In the seven games leading up to the rough patch, City scored 26 goals. But the issue hasn’t been the creativity. The team has been able to consistently threaten, but there are just times when the ball won’t go in. City better hope Thursday isn’t one of those days, because a loss could see them on the verge of being too far behind in the title race.

Liverpool: No team is playing better than Liverpool. The Reds have scored at least three goals in each of their last four games, having put five past Arsenal last time out. And with a win here, the Reds would go 10 points clear of City. But on the road, getting a draw will feel like a really good point for this club.