Duke huddle

Pregame Shootaround 11.28.12: Getting you ready for Wednesday night’s slate of games


Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will be posted at 2 p.m. ET and lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Game of the Night: No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Duke

Duke was impressive in the Battle 4 Atlantis and is certainly deserving of the No. 2 seed nationally. If it weren’t for the impressive performance by Indiana last night against North Carolina, one could even have made the case that they’re No. 1. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry are key tonight, as is the Quinn Cook-Aaron Craft match-up at the point guard spot.

Deshaun Thomas has put up some gaudy numbers so far this season, but we’ll see what he’s able to do against Duke. In the Buckeyes’ closest contest this season, a double-digit win over Washington, Ohio State turned the ball over 17 times. They’ll need to make sure to limit turnovers as they have in other games to put themselves in the best position Wednesday night.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 24 UNLV against UC-Irvine

It’s a combination of factors in this game that could make for an upset for UCI. Firstly, Irvine nearly beat then-ranked UCLA in regulation, but a few key missed free throws pushed the game into overtime, where the Bruins ultimately prevailed. Secondly, UNLV showed in its loss to Oregon and its near-loss in an exhibition to Dixie State that the supremely talented youth it features can sometimes be its downfall. We could have a competitive game in Vegas tonight.

Mid-Major Match-up of the Night: Tulsa vs. Wichita State

Wichita State is undefeated and showed its toughness in an early-season with over Virginia Commonwealth this month. The Shockers also have two wins over BCS-conference schools–DePaul and Iowa. The Shockers are favored in this one, but I’m interested to see Danny Manning’s team as he continues his first year as the head coach of the Golden Hurricane.

Five Things to Watch For:

1) The Aaron Craft-Quinn Cook match-up at point guard will be important for the winner of Duke-Ohio State. Read some more about it in CBT’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge preview. Click here.

2) Doug McDermott has been who we expected him to be this season (21 points, 7.8 rebounds per game) but they face a pesky Boise State team Wednesday that came within four points of beating Michigan State. Boise does not rebound the ball particularly well, so it is McDermott’s time to take over.

3) West Virginia is off to a disappointing 1-3. They face high-scoring VMI Wednesday night. We’ll see what adjustments Bob Huggins has made to make sure his team doesn’t start out 1-4 in their first season as members of the Big 12.

4) Penn State lost star guard Tim Frazier for the season after he tore his Achilles tendon against Akron. In their first game without him, they narrowly defeated Bucknell. Tonight they have a shot at Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

5) With UCLA quickly fading into the background, Arizona is looking stronger and stronger in the Pac-12. Sean Miller’s team is 3-0, having won its last two games in dominating fashion. Expect another big-time performance tonight against Northern Arizona.

The Rest of the Top 25:

Northern Arizona at No. 9 Arizona

Boise State at No. 11 Creighton

No. 13 Michigan State at Miami

Georgia Tech at No. 22 Illinois

Mercer at No. 25 New Mexico

Other notable games:

Virginia at Wisconsin

VMI at West Virginia

Purdue at Clemson

Boston College at Penn State

Cal State Northridge at UCLA

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of Scout.com reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.