Brandon Davies

Weekend Preview: Five storylines to follow

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Five story lines to follow this weekend

The Diamond Head Classic: This weekend will give us one of the better in-season tournaments of the year, as we could end up seeing Miami and Arizona play in a semifinal and San Diego State take on the Wildcats in the finals. Here’s Saturday’s Diamond Head schedule:

Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Ole Miss at Indiana State (ESPNU)
Sat. 6:00 p.m.: No. 18 San Diego State at San Francisco (ESPNU)
Sat. 10:30 p.m.: No. 4 Arizona vs. ETSU (ESPNU)
Sun. 12:30 a.m.: Miami at Hawaii (ESPNU)

Great individual matchups: There are some terrific games this weekend, as we already laid out for you. But in addition to those games, we will also be treated to some great individual matchups:

  • BYU will take on Baylor on Friday night, pitting Brandon Davies up against Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers. It shoud also be fun to see Brady Heslip and Tyler Haws have a shooting contest.
  • When Evansville plays Butler on Saturday afternoon, keep an eye on Colt Ryan of the Purple Aces. Butler may have Rotnei Clarke, but Ryan might be the best scorer on the floor.
  • UCSB’s Alan Williams has been a revelation on a team that’s been struggling early on this year. He’ll be going toe-to-toe with Leonard Washington.
  • Dayton and Murray State might have their day ruined. Well, the Flyers, at least, if Kevin Dillard, their star point guard, doesn’t get back from the back spasms that ended his night against Illinois State early. Murray State has a stud point guard of their own. Some kid named Isaiah Canaan or something.

Injuries ruining games: Kevin Dillard’s back spasms aren’t the only injury that could end up ruining a good game this weekend. St. Louis is taking on Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon, but since Kwamaine Mitchell isn’t back from his foot injury yet, we won’t see him against Anthony Ireland of LMU. Western Kentucky got smoked by VCU in large part because they were without their starting back court of TJ Price and Jamal Crook. They may turn the ball over 32 times against Louisville without those two. Marshall may have had a shot to upset Kentucky if Deandre Kane hadn’t broken his hand.

Tracking eligibility status: There are also a couple of eligibility cases to keep an eye on this weekend. Texas thought they lost Myck Kabongo to a season-long suspension, but they appealed to try and get their star point guard immediately eligible on Thursday night. Might he be in the lineup on Saturday at Michigan State? It’s a long shot. At Marquette, Buzz Williams got the news on Thursday night that Todd Mayo, OJ’s brother, would be eligible for the second semester after getting his academic issues taken care of. Is he the answer for a Golden Eagle team that has sputtered a bit early on this season?

UCLA playing for Ben Howland’s job?: The Bruins will take on Fresno State at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, and while the Bulldogs do have some young talent on their roster, they shouldn’t be any match for UCLA. But who knows, because if there’s anything we’ve learned about UCLA through the first month and a half of the season, it’s that we never really know what’s going to happen with them.

The most intriguing part of this game, however, is the fact that a report came out claiming that Ben Howland’s job is in jeopardy. That’s not a surprise, but according to, there’s a chance that Howland may not make it through the season. Look at the faces of the UCLA team during games. Watch the end of their bench on a big play. You tell me if it looks like that team is having fun out there. Are they going to care if Howland does get fired? Will they rally around their coach like UConn has rallied around Kevin Ollie?

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.