Kentucky picked to win SEC, Phil Pressey tabbed preseason POY

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Ah, the glorious days that are the preseason, where everyone fawns over media and coaches polls. Preseason all-conference teams and players of the year.

Today, the Southeastern Conference released their preseason media poll. And in the biggest non-shocker of the day, Kentucky was tabbed to repeat as regular season champions.

The Wildcats received 17 of a possible 24 first-place votes, with Florida coming in second with five. Missouri and Tennessee received one each.

In probably the biggest shocker of the day (kinda), Mizzou’s Phil Pressey was tabbed as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year. He was joined on the all-conference team by Arkansas’ B.J. Young, Florida’s Kenny Boynton, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes. None of which are surprising.

The six-player second team featured Marshawn Powell from Arkansas, Florida’s Patric Young, Alex Poythress of Kentucky, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia and Missouri’s Michael Dixon, Jr.

I’m still not understanding why there’s no love for Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway. The senior forward averaged 11.2 points and nine rebounds last season for an NIT team that returns a ton of talent and could make an NCAA Tournament run. He’s a bonafide second-teamer.

It also speaks to Mizzou’s team that they have two returning players that played last season, and both made the all-conference team. Laurence Bowers returns, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Other that that, this is a blatant representation of the look of the SEC in 2011-12. Besides Caldwell-Pope, who is probably playing in his final college season, all selected for awards and honors are players on teams at the of the conference. Alabama is a wild card, but for the most part, it’s a top-heavy league.

Texas A&M has to deal with the loss of Khris Middleton. Darrin Horn left the the program empty at South Carolina. Mississippi State is depleted from transfers after Rick Stansbury “retired”. Vanderbilt was blasted by graduation and John Jenkins going pro. Auburn is still on the uptick, but Tony Barbee still has a long way to go and LSU is incredibly young in Johnny Jones’ first season.

John Calipari’s bunch are holding court again, and it’s going to be fun to look at these picks in March and see how it played out.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

CBT Podcast: 2018 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview, Picks and Predictions

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Sam Vecenie of the Athletic and the Game Theory podcast stopped by to chat with Rob Dauster about the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. The two went through each of the eight Sweet 16 matchups, detailing how each one of those eight games projects to play out and going over which lines — spread and over-unders — they like.

Dan Hurley will accept UConn head coaching position

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Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley will be the next head coach at UConn, replacing the 2014 national title winner, Kevin Ollie.

Hurley will be signing a six-year deal, according to multiple reports, that could be valued as much as $18 million. Hurley picked UConn over Pitt, who had also offered him a similar amount of money.

Hurley turned the Rhode Island program around during his six-year tenure, capped off with a pair of seasons where the Rams won a game in the NCAA tournament. UConn, which is one of the best jobs but has not been one of the best teams in the AAC in recent years, should be a place where he can continue to recruit talent. Under Ollie, the Huskies have been able to get players. The issue has been the performance and development of those players once they get to campus.

The Huskies finished 14-18 this past season.

Dan Hurley is the son of New Jersey high school coaching legend Bob Hurley and the brother of former Duke guard and current Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley.

VIDEOS: Villanova team bus stuck on icy roads trying to leave campus

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Villanova’s road to the Sweet 16 hit its roughest patch yet on Wednesday as the team attempted to leave campus for the team’s flight to Boston.

Since the Philadelphia area has been slammed with a snowstorm, the Wildcat team bus had issues leaving to get to the team’s chartered flight.

A struggle between team bus and ice ensued. The bus was delayed by 30 minutes before finally being able to leave.

Villanova continues its NCAA tournament journey on Friday when the No. 1 seed Wildcats play No. 5 seed West Virginia in Boston.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.