Pregame Shootaround 12.2.12: Getting you ready for Sunday’s lineup of games

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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:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: Valparaiso vs. Saint Louis (4:30 p.m. ET)

This game won’t be about what happens on the court, but rather the circumstances surrounding the game itself. Former coach Rick Majerus passed away Saturday and the Billikens will have less than 24 hours before taking the floor against Valparaiso. Expect an emotional pregame and words from players and coaches postgame about their desire to play in Majerus’ memory after his passing.

The fact that the game takes place in St. Louis is likely another factor that could make for an especially emotional night Sunday.

Who’s getting upset?: California against Wisconsin (4:00 p.m. ET)

Considering that Cal has to visit the Kohl Center, this might not actually be an upset, were it to happen. But, with the Badgers at 4-3 and Cal at a perfect 6-0, this might be the only legitimate upset call we can make on a dry Sunday. Cal’s scoring is concentrated at the top with Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs (both averagin 20+ points per game), while Wisconsin has four players averaging in double figures.

Mid-Major Match-Up of the Day: Wichita State vs. Air Force (5:00 p.m. ET)

Wichita State showed that they are a legitimate threat when they beat Virginia Commonwealth earlier this season. They sit at 7-0, but face an Air Force team, led by Michael Lyons, that is 6-1. The frontcourt of Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall will provide a good chunk of the scoring for the Shockers, but keep an eye on what Lyons can do. The senior is averaging just over 20 points per game.

Five Things to Watch For:

1) It’s a slow day in college hoops, likely because many will have an eye on NFL football, but the few games above and below should be able to hold you over until Monday.

2) The Battle for South Carolina is the game today with the most significance, as Clemson takes on South Carolina. Clemson is coming off a loss to Purdue, while South Carolina dropped its last game to St. John’s.

3) Florida State was a borderline Top 25 team coming into the season, with help from guard Michael Snaer, but the Seminoles now sit at 4-2 after a loss to a tough Minnesota team. They’ll look to bounce back against Mercer.

4) Mike Montgomery has the Cal Bears off to a 6-0 start, but walking into the Kohl Center is no easy task. Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers will be waiting.

5) Boise State surprised many by beating No. 11 Creighton this week, and they’ll look to keep the momentum rolling against Seattle.

The Rest of the Top 25:

No Top 25 Games

Other Notable Games:

Clemson vs. South Carolina (12:00 p.m. ET)

George Mason vs. Maryland (2:30 p.m. ET)

California vs. Wisconsin (4:00 p.m. ET)

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

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.