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There’s only one game on tap for Thanksgiving day, and it’s at 1:00 a.m. CST out in Alaska versus a non Division I.

I can just skip today, right?

No, I can’t. And it’s not because I’m loyal, or because my readers demand it, or anything like that.

It’s because Eastern Illinois went and lost to NAIA Rochester College yesterday, throwing my entire philosophy of “don’t worry about non-Division I teams” out the window.

So thanks, Eastern Illinois. As a result, here is most detailed First Word for a non-Divsion I opponent ever.

 Belmont (3-0) at Alaska-Anchorage
1:00 a.m. CST – CBS Sports Network

The “official” start time on this day is 11:59 p.m. on October 21st, meaning I probably should have put this in yesterday’s First Word. But since the game is being played after midnight back home, I’m counting this as a Thanksgiving Day game.

The OVC begins it’s quest for back-to-back Great Alaska Shootout championships much like last year’s champions Murray State, as Belmont opens against the tournament hosts, Division II Alaska-Anchorage.

The Seawolves are undefeated on the season, coming off back-to-back win over Washington Adventist. They also have win over Colorado Christian and Colorado State at Pueblo as part of the AT&T Jamboree. Their only Division I competition came in an exhibition, a win over Troy out of the Sun Belt, a team that recently beat Southeast Missouri.

Anchorage is led by 6’0″ guard Kyle Fossman, an 18 point a game scorer shooting 57% from 3-point range this season. Teancum Stafford adds 13-points a game, and the Seawolves have size too in 6’10” Liam Gibcus.

Alaska like the shoot the three, taking more than 20 attempts a game, and are unselfish on offense, averaging 19 assists a game, especially impressive when you consider they average just over 24 field goals per contest.

The Seawolves have a history of causing trouble for at least one team at the Great Alaska Shootout, and have won at least once during the shootout each of the past four seasons. Last season, Alaska-Anchorage pushed Murray to the edge, falling by just two in a first round matchup, before beating UC Irvine in the third. Two years ago, they won two games at the shootout, beating Houston Baptist and Division I Ball State. They beat Nicholls State in ’09-10, and Louisiana Tech in ’08-09.

Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson are off to a good start in the Bruins three wins, both averaging over 17-points a game, and seniors Trevor Noack and J.J. Mann are also averaging double-digits in scoring. The Bruins are know for their quick offensive pace, and this season is no different, averaging over 72 possession a game, 18th most in the nation on the young season. They’re also shooting 44% as a team from behind the three-point arc.

The Bruins defense has been especially impressive, forcing more than 20 turnovers a game, and holding opponents to 35% shooting on the season.

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OVC Ball
Final Word (11/13): Jacksonville State stands alone…in basketball too.

2017-18 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 0-0 2-0
Tennessee Tech 0-0 1-1
Murray State 0-0 1-1
Southeast Missouri* 0-0 1-1
Belmont 0-0 1-1
Eastern Kentucky 0-0 1-1
Tennessee State 0-0 1-1
Eastern Illinois 0-0 0-1
SIUE 0-0 0-1
Austin Peay 0-0 0-2
Morehead State 0-0 0-2
UT Martin 0-0 0-2

*Ineligible for postseason (APR)