10 things you must to do prepare for Kentucky – Louisville

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source:  Sorry Ohio State and Kansas. As good as your game might be, there’s just not enough hype to go around for everyone leading up to this weekend.

Even if you don’t carry an allegiance to Kentucky or Louisville, that’s no excuse to not  fully envelop yourself in the first of two Final Four games this Saturday night, so you better get educated on all things Cats and Cards before tip-off.

On the court this one may end up a lopsided victory for Big Blue, but everything surrounding this game is what makes it so special.

Here’s 10 things to help you get prepared for the Bourbon State invading Bourbon Street.

1)  Learn everything about Russ Smith, and also be sure to follow @FakeRussSmith on Twitter. You won’t find a more lovable rascal in this year’s Final Four than the Cardinals offensive-minded guard.

2)  Set up an RSS feed in your Google Reader for www.KentuckySportsRadio.com and www.CardChronicle.com. They’re the two best UK/UL for-the-fan blogs, and they’re run by two mildly famous people who double as “get it guys”.

3)  Follow this link, then explore. The Pitino – Calipari passive-aggressive relationship/rivalry goes way back, beginning in New England and now spreading its roots in the Bluegrass State. The more you know about these two, the better off you are at 6:09pm on Saturday night.

4)  Watch videos from The Rivalry, which was produced by WHAS in Louisville.

5)  Remind yourself just how little this rivalry means to most of the players, as the six 2011 McDonalds All-Americans threw light jabs and laughs at each other exactly one year ago this week. “They’re still going to be our boys for life,” Anthony Davis said when the discussion turned to their regular season match-up at Rupp Arena. That’s right, no venom here between these talented 18-year old kids.  Also please note how hot Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comes in and takes control of the conversation. Just like on the court, MKG does random YouTube videos with ferocity.

6)  Watch this Gorgui Dieng GIF….a lot. It is a quintessential example that GIFs are funny almost solely because of the element of repetition. I love this GIF so much.

7)  We would not be here today if it weren’t for this. While it looked bizarre and problematic for the Wildcats at the time, the firing of Billy Gillispie set into motion the start of a new regime in Lexington.

8)  But we must be bipartisan here: Louisville, although it was short-lived, recently had to deal with their own shameful moment.

9)  Understand that it’s completely normal for no fan of either of these two proud fan-bases to ever graduate.

10) Find a Kentucky– or Louisville-centric viewing party in your city and immerse yourself to fully appreciate one of college basketball’s best rivalries.

Follow Nick Fasulo on Twitter @billyedelinSBN

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.