Legends Classic - UCLA v Georgetown

Pregame Shootaround 11.30.12: Three ranked teams playing on Friday

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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: Tennessee at No. 20 Georgetown (6:30 PM)
This should be an entertaining contest in the nation’s capital, and the Volunteers still without the services of power forward Jeronne Maymon. That means Jarnell Stokes and Kenny Hall will be asked to lead the way in the paint for Tennessee, who will be a tough team to handle inside once Maymon returns. Georgetown will call on Otto Porter and Markel Starks offensively, and Whittington has been solid with an average of 13.6 points per game.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 6 Syracuse at Arkansas (8:30 PM)
With Georgetown at home and Kansas taking on Oregon State in Kansas City, the Orange are the Top 25 team most ripe for the picking. Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks dropped both of its games in Las Vegas last weekend and they’ve had some time to let the defeats fester. In front of what should be a spirited crowd at Bud Walton Arena do B.J. Young and company have enough to knock off a very good Syracuse team? They’ll need to force point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has played well to start the season, into some hurried decisions in order to do so.

Mid-Major Match-Up of the Night: Montana at San Francisco (10 PM) 
Two very good wings will be on display in this one, as the versatile Kareem Jamar leads the Grizzlies into War Memorial to take on the Dons’ De’End Parker. Parker’s averaging 20.2 points per game for San Francisco, which has won three straight after dropping its season opener to Stanford. Another individual match-up to keep an eye on is Montana’s Mathias Ward, reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, and one of the country’s best rebounders in San Francisco’s Cole Dickerson (13.8 ppg).

Five Things to Watch For:

1) Oregon State takes on Kansas. The Jayhawks are coming off of a “closer than it should have been” victory over San Jose State, and while Bill Self’s team should win tonight the Beavers have the potential to be dangerous. If Oregon State’s front court (Joe Burton, Eric Moreland and Devon Collier) can hold their own with Jeff Withey they’ve got a shot.

2) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) and Victor Rudd Jr. (South Florida) on the same court. One of these two, if not both, will produce an above the rim highlight tonight.

3) More late-game heroics from Deonte Burton? The Nevada point guard knocked down his second game-winning shot of the season earlier this week in the Wolf Pack’s 84-83 win over UC Davis. With Ben Simons and the Drake Bulldogs in town, Nevada may have to call on Burton again.

4) Who guards Cleveland Melvin? Tough to find too much quality in that DePaul/Auburn match-up but don’t sleep on Melvin. It will be interesting to see who Auburn head coach Tony Barbee asks to guard the versatile junior, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Melvin posted 22 or more points for the fourth time this season.

5) Louisiana State looking to move to 7-1. The Bulldogs, led by one of the WAC’s best guards in Raheem Appleby, have won six straight and visit Georgia State. Michael White’s team has limited opponents to 58.4 points per game and 38.4% shooting from the field, and while they haven’t taken on college basketball’s answer to a “Murderers Row” (their lone defeat came at Texas A&M) Tech’s fast start shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Rest of the Top 25:

Oregon State vs. No. 10 Kansas (8 PM; in Kansas City)

Other Notable Games:

Georgia at South Florida (7 PM)

Tennessee Tech at Lipscomb (7:30 PM)

DePaul at Auburn (9 PM)

Drake at Nevada (10 PM)

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

WEEKLY AWARDS: Denzel Valentine’s big week, Kansas makes a statement

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

In the title game of the Wooden Legacy, a game that was billed as a matchup between the two best players in college basketball — Valentine and Kris Dunn — Valentine was downright bad …

… by his standards. He finished with “just” 17 points, six assists and five boards. I say “just” because, in the previous two games of the tournament, the Spartan superstar averaged 30.5 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 assists. He’s been, hands down, the best player in college basketball this season, and that didn’t change this week.


  • Ben Bentil, Providence: Kris Dunn is the guy that is going to get all the national praise, but it was Bentil’s emergence that was critical for the Friars. He averaged 21.7 points and 6.0 boards in three games in the Wooden Legacy, carrying PC when Dunn was battling foul issues.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: The highlight of Selden’s week was scoring 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the Maui title game win over No. 19 Vanderbilt. For the week, he averaged 19.3 points and shot 12-for-17 from three.
  • Justin Robinson, Monmouth: Robinson averaged 25.7 points in three games for Monmouth at the Advocare Invitational. The Hawks beat No. 17 Notre Dame and USC in the process, only losing to Dayton by three.
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina: Remember when Justin Jackson was struggling? He averaged 21.5 points, 9.0 boards and 5.0 assists in wins over Northwestern and Kansas State. That came on the heels of a 25-point performance in the loss at Northern Iowa.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson notched three straight double-doubles for the Golden Eagles this week, which included 16 points and 11 boards in a win over Ben Simmons and LSU.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas headed out to Maui as a team that many weren’t really sure what to make of. They looked good against Michigan State for 30 minutes, then they blew that game as Denzel Valentine went bananas. They had as much depth as anyone in the country, but Brannen Greene was suspended, Cheick Diallo was ineligible and Wayne Selden was the most notable of a handful of talented players that had been somewhere between inconsistent and ineffective this year.

That all changed in Maui — well, other than Greene’s suspension — as Kansas rolled over Chaminade, UCLA and Vanderbilt to bring home the tournament title. Blowing out Chaminade was to be expected. But beating down a talented UCLA team? Dominating a very good Vanderbilt squad? That’s the Kansas we’ve been hoping to see show up for a few years now. The question is whether or not it’s sustainable, and at least on paper, it appears to be. Selden’s shooting percentages will come back to earth, but his raw numbers are less important than his confidence and aggressiveness. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham are going to continue to take pressure off of each other in the back court. Perry Ellis isn’t going anywhere.

I questioned whether or not Kansas was truly one of the nation’s elite when the season started. I think they answered that question for me.


  • Xavier: The Musketeers not only won the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, they blew out in-state — and former Atlantic 10 — rival Dayton in the finals.
  • Syracuse: The Orange are going to be a factor in the ACC this season. How much? I don’t know. But after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis by knocking off No. 18 UConn and No. 25 Texas A&M, it’s clear they’re going to be involved all season.
  • Northeastern: The Huskies picked up a road win against No. 15 Miami on this buzzer-beating jumper.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock: The Trojans picked up their second huge road win of the year, going into Tulsa and knocking off the Golden Hurricane. They’re now 5-0 on the season, having also won at SDSU.
  • Tournament winners: West Virginia knocked off Richmond and San Diego State to bring home the Las Vegas Invitational title, No. 24 Cincinnati beat Nebraska and George Washington in the Barclays Center Classic and Marquette knocked off LSU and Arizona State to win the Legends Classic.


Tuesday: No. 2 Maryland at No. 9 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Butler at No. 24 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday: Louisville at No. 3 Michigan State, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday: No. 13 Indiana at No. 6 Duke, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday: No. 11 Arizona at No. 10 Gonzaga, 3:15 p.m.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.