Weekend Preview: Maryland’s on Upset Alert against Stony Brook

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Who’s Getting Upset?: Fri 8:00 p.m.: Stony Brook at Maryland (ESPN3)

The Seawolves are one of the better mid-major teams in the country this season. They have a pair of good guards in Dave Coley and Anthony Jackson and one of the nation’s preeminent glue guys in Tommy Brenton, who averages 7.7 points, 8.5 boards, 4.8 assists and 2.2 steals. And while we can talk about a myriad of different matchups with Maryland in this game, the key is going to come down to one thing: the paint. Can freshman Jameel Warney hold his own against future lottery pick Alex Len? Can Stony Brook keep the nation’s second-best offensive rebounding team off the class? If they can, they have a shot at winning this thing. If they can’t, they don’t. It’s quite simple, actually.

Who else is on Upset Alert?

  • Fri. 9:00 p.m.: Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (ESPNU): Frankly, I’m not even sure if this should truly count as an upset, but since it’s a mid-major program playing at an SEC program, I’ll allow. MTSU is a grizzled, veteran team while Vandy is young and learning how to cope with the talent they lost last year.
  • Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Florida State at Charlotte (CBS College Sports): Will Michael Snaer play? That might be the biggest question for the Seminoles heading into this game. Snaer was held out of a game last week, which is a big problem; FSU doesn’t have the kind of depth or perimeter talent to survive losing a preseason all-american. Especially if Ian Miller’s not healthy yet. Charlotte got a reality check last weekend when they lost by 31 to Miami, but there is a reason this team only has one loss on the season.
  • Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Bradley at Virginia Tech: The Hokies started out the season so well, but they’ve come back to earth a bit in their last three games, losing two of them to the likes of West Virginia and Georgia State. They are also now dealing with having an even shorter bench, as Marshall Wood is sidelined with a foot injury. Bradley is no pushover this year. Ask Michigan, who struggled to get control against the Braves. If Jarell Eddie has another off night, James Johnson’s team could be in trouble.
  • Sat. 8:00 p.m.: No. 8 Florida vs. Kansas State in Kansas City (ESPN2): Kansas State is going to have their hands full with the Gators, who have proven to be one of the nation’s best defensive teams this season. But the Wildcats can matchup them pound-for-pound on the front line, even if those bigs aren’t great at defending pick-and-roll actions. The key is going to end up being Rodney McGruder. He started the season slowly but had 26 points the last time out. Has he finally found his rhythm in Bruce Weber’s offense?
  • Sat. 10:00 p.m.: Canisius at No. 21 UNLV: Canisius is coming off of a win at Temple. That win at Temple came just a couple of days after the Golden Griffins gave Syracuse all they could handle in the Carrier Dome. Canisius has a couple of really good guards, led by Rhode Island transfer Billy Baron, that can get hot. They will have no answer for UNLV’s front line, but if the Rebels overlook Canisius and don’t come out with the kind of energy they need to — something UNLV has done in the past — we could be looking at an upset in the making.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.