Larry Brown

Unexpected storylines in SMU-Hofstra Saturday afternoon on Long Island

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If you were to have taken a look at the college basketball schedule at the beginning of the season, find Dec. 1, and run down the slate of games, I doubt you would have batted an eye at Southern Methodist-Hofstra.

On its surface, there isn’t much there. SMU, coming off a 13-19 season, travels to Long Island to take on a mid-major who also struggled last year.

But developments over the past week have made for a few interesting storylines as the Mustangs get ready to tip off against the Pride Saturday afternoon.

For SMU, first-year coach Larry Brown has accomplished the unlikely: leading his team to a 7-1 start. We saw on the recruiting trail this summer that SMU is finding small ways to insert itself into the national conversation.

Before the 2013 stars Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, chose Kentucky, SMU found its way into the final three candidates for the players’ services, though considered a longshot. Much of that credit likely goes to Brown, who has helped to change the culture in his short time with the program.

The questions arose, though, as to whether he could translate some of that momentum into wins with the players he inherited. With a small sample size so far, Brown seems to be able to have a workable group.

As for Hofstra, the Pride finds itself in the news for something it would likely rather not. No “new coach optimism” here.

Instead, four players were arrested on burglary charges this week and subsequently suspended from the team. Coach Mo Cassara announced the suspensions of Shaquille Stokes, Dallas Anglin, Kentrell Washington, and Jimmy Hall after police reported that the thefts included items totaling close to $10,000.

So the question Saturday is, how will Hofstra respond after losing two of its top four leading scorers and without the depth on the bench that they previously had?

It might be a reason to tune in to what would have otherwise been a run-of-the-mill early December game.

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

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: