Kevin O'Neill, Jio Fontan

Pregame Shootaround 12.3.12: A quiet Monday night

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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: USC at Nebraska, 8:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network): This is how you know it’s a quiet night: the best game of the night pits a 3-3 USC team against Nebraska, who you can probably pencil in as a double-digit seed in the Big Ten tournament. The intrigue here lies with USC. The Trojans were a team that a lot of people thought could make some noise in the Pac-12 this season, but with a month of the season gone, they have wins over a Long Beach State team that is missing three players, a Texas team without Myck Kabongo, and Coppin State. Throw in a home loss to San Diego State in a game the Aztecs were essentially missing two starters and a 30 point loss to Illinois out in Maui, and the Trojans could really use a win on the road tonight.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 23 San Diego State: I have to pick someone, and I don’t think that Syracuse is losing at home to Eastern Michigan, so the Aztecs it is. Chase Tapley and Deshawn Stephens are banged up and Texas Southern is fresh off of taking Colorado to double-overtime last week. Keep an eye on Omar Strong. He had 39 points in that loss to Colorado.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Long Beach State at Fresno State: Eight days ago, Peter Pappageorge scored 23 points to give the 49ers a win over the Bulldogs, and while it will be interesting to see if Fresno State can put together a rebuttal, this matchup is nothing but a tease. Braeden Anderson, the former Kansas-signee, still isn’t eligibile for Fresno State, while LBSU is waiting on Keala King and Tony Freeland to get eligible.

Five things to watch for:

1. Syracuse hosts Eastern Michigan, who is coached by former Cuse assistant Rob Murphy and counts former Syracuse player Da’Shonte Riley as their leading rebounder.

2. That Syracuse-EMU game also happens to be the only one of the night that features two teams above .500.

3. MEAC plays gets started! Defending champ Norfolk State heads to South Carolina State.

4. There are five teams — Tennessee Tech, Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville, VMI and McNeese State — playing non-Division I opponents. Will we see any upsets?

5. Long Beach State and Fresno State have now played twice in eight days after going 20 years without playing each other.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?