No. 6 West Virginia Tops No. 15 Ole Miss; Missouri Beats Illinois For First Time Since '99

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No. 15 Ole Miss At No. 6 West Virginia, Braggin' Rights Highlight Cupcake Wednesday

Twas' two nights before Christmas and all 'cross the land
Power conference teams were loading up on cupcakes
Except for four who chose to make a stand.

Wednesday is the last busy day of college basketball action of the week. (There will be no televised games on Christmas Eve and just three total on Christmas and the day after.) Unfortunately, many power conference teams scheduled a holiday present for themselves on December 23, an opponent all ready to be torn up, like so many carefully-wrapped packages on the morning of December 25.

Four teams elected not to go this route, which means college basketball fans should receive an evening full of holiday treats, thanks to two exciting matchups.

To start the night, No. 15 Mississippi visits sixth-ranked West Virginia. SB Nation's Rebel blog, Red Cup Rebellion, examines the ramifications of a Ole Miss win or loss in one of their preview posts. A win could lead to big things nationally for an often-ignored Rebel program.

... the Rebels, a nationally ranked team, are being given an excellent opportunity to play on a national stage against another nationally ranked team on Wednesday night. A win would mean an all-but-guaranteed jump into the Associated Press' top 10-12 range, if not into the top-10 altogether. The national exposure which would be brought with that would only cause the program to appear favorable in the eyes of talking heads, recruits, and the NCAA tournament selection committee.

As someone who got to see the Mountaineers three times in Anaheim over Thanksgiving, I can say the Rebels' face a very stiff test tonight, especially as WVU will be looking to improve on their lackluster 80-78 win over Cleveland State Saturday.

The second game of the doubleheader pits Illinois against Missouri in the Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis. You may find this hard to believe, but the Tigers have not beaten the Fighting Illini since 1999. Our Missouri blog, Rock M Nation, expects this to continue tonight, but can't really make peace with this thought.

Here's the problem: every time I've ever decided I've come to grips with a loss beforehand, we end up losing in the most annoying, grating way possible. AJ blocks a shot right to Brian Boddicker for an open 3 against Texas in 2004. Kansas makes two ridiculously stupid 25-foot 3-pointers to win at Hearnes in 2003. Keon Lawrence slips and dribbles the ball off his foot against Illinois in 2007. Et cetera. So now that I've officially accepted that we're probably going to lose this game ... I'm fired up about not losing this game.

Over at SB Nation's Illini blog, Hail To The Orange, Joe Kustunis isn't feeling overconfident, despite the 9-game win streak in the series.

... I can't even take the perennial free win of Mizzou for granted anymore. With the Illini losing to a team that lost to Wofford (WOFFORD SRSLY!?!?) we must once again be reminded that the Illini can be classified as "mercurial" "moody" and "roller-coaster-ish" and many other over used sports terms. Or you could just call it inconsistent, skinny, and easily-pushed-around. The Illini have the tools to beat just about anyone, but apparently can be pushed out of their game all too easily, and I mean that quite literally.

In other words, if the Tigers are going to grab their first win in the series in the 21st century, 2009 looks to be as good of a time as any.

You can follow and discuss both of these contests here on SB Nation.

FINAL: No. 6 West Virgina 76, No. 15 Mississippi 66
The Mountaineers handed the Rebels their second loss to a ranked team on the season.
Rebel game preview and discussion at Red Cup Rebellion
Mountaineer game preview and discussion at The Smoking Musket

FINAL: Missouri 81, Illinois 68
The Tigers broke a decade long losing streak against the Illini by forcing 22 turnovers.
Fighting Illini game preview and discussion at Hail To The Orange
Tiger game preview and discussion at Rock M Nation

For a complete rundown of Wednesday's televised action, including the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, visit Blogging the Bracket.

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