Breaking down Thursday's college basketball schedule ...
* Illinois at Michigan State (7). Not really a bubble-centric game at the moment, but the Illini is going to have to snag something in the next couple weeks. Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota are up next, so a victory would prevent some scrutiny from really building in Champaign.
* Penn State at Iowa (8): The Hawkeyes are still on the periphery of the postseason discussion, and that won't change if they beat the Nittany Lions. But losing in Iowa City --- especially to a Penn State bunch winless on the road --- would be a serious black mark.
* Butler at Saint Louis (9): It's certainly a chance for the Billikens to collect a validating win, especially with Butler remaining atop the Atlantic 10 in its first year in the league.
* Arizona at Washington (9): It's a great opportunity for the Huskies to distinguish themselves from some of the other teams populating the middle of the Pac-12 pack.
* Arkansas at Alabama (9): The Razorbacks are 1-16 away from Fayetteville in two seasons under Mike Anderson. That's one way of saying the Crimson Tide probably shouldn't fritter this one away.
* Brigham Young at Pepperdine (10): Just like Saint Mary's last night, the advice for BYU is simple: Don't lose a game to the bottom two-thirds of the league, and things have a solid chance of working out come March.
* Arizona State at Washington State (11): The way for the Sun Devils to obscure their shaky nonconference schedule strength issues are to pile up wins. Doing so on the road is even better, especially against nondescript teams like the Cougars.
--- Patrick Stevens