Pregame Shootaround 12.22.12: Ohio State vs. Kansas highlights loaded Saturday

Leave a comment

Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will 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.

Games of the Day:

No. 9 Kansas vs. No. 7 Ohio State (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

This game has a very different feel to it than the last time these two teams met on Dec. 10, 2011. No Jared Sullinger or William Buford for Ohio State. No Thomas Robinson or Tyshawn Taylor for Kansas. Instead, we have a more mature Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith, back with point guard Aaron Craft vs. Jeff Withey and star freshman Ben McLemore.

Ohio State will be cognizant of Withey around the rim, being that he’s leading the nation with 5.4 blocks per game. They’ll also be looking to Craft to lock down defensively on the perimeter to neutralize Kansas’ three-guard set of McLemore, Elijah Johnson, and Travis Releford.

Kansas is the favorite in the Big 12 this season, but this will be only the Jayhawks’ second game against a ranked opponent this season. Their first ended in a loss to Michigan State.

No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 10 Illinois (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

In Saturday’s other matchup of ranked opponents, newly legitimized Illinois faces Missouri. This will be a battle of the backcourts, with Illinois featuring D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams, and early Player of the Year candidate Brandon Paul vs. Phil Pressey, Keion Bell, and Oregon transfer Jabari Brown.

Brown had 12 points and three assists in his first game with the Tigers, now paired with Pressey after Michael Dixon’s days with the team came to an end. He saw 20 minutes in his first game, but look for his numbers to increase as he gets more into the fold. Laurence Bowers is still the go-to option for Frank Haith’s team.

Illinois will have to make a concerted effort to control what happens on the glass, as Missouri is second in the nation in rebounds per game. That duty will fall to everyone on the floor for the Illini, who don’t have just one dominant rebounder.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Miami against Hawaii (12:30 a.m. ET, ESPNU)

Hawaii pushed Illinois to overtime earlier this year and lost by only one point. Now, Miami travels all the way to our beautiful 50th state for a matchup with a team that rebounds well and puts a lot of points on the board. Sometimes the effects of traveling can be overstated, but the Hurricanes have traveled to Hawaii, then tip off at 12:30 a.m. ET. Not an easy task. I’ll take Hawaii in the upset.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Murray State vs. Dayton (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Isaiah Canaan, Ed Daniel, and Murray State meet a tough Dayton team Saturday at noon ET. This matchup gives Dayton guard Kevin Dillard (15.0 points, 4.1 assists per game) a chance to face a nationally recognized player like Canaan. The Flyers narrowly missed out on beating Illinois State in overtime, but Daniel (16.1 points, 10.7 rebounds) will be a controlling force on the block.

Five Things to Watch

1. Temple suffered an upset to Canisius earlier this week, but there’s no rest for the weary. The Owls face No. 3 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden at noon ET, which might as well be a Syracuse home game.

2. Jabari Brown will continue to work himself into the Missouri rotation Saturday against Illinois, coming off a debut in which he put up 13 points in 20 minutes on the floor.

3. Keep an eye on No. 16 New Mexico against South Dakota State. Any time Nate Wolters is on the floor against a ranked opponent, there is a chance for an upset. It’ll be made tougher because SDSU is traveling to Albuquerque, but never count out the Jackrabbits

4. Texas inexplicably dismantled North Carolina without Myck Kabongo this week, which likely says more about UNC than it does the Longhorns, but Texas returns to the floor Saturday to face No. 20 Michigan State.

5. Whereas it was mentioned that Temple fell to Canisius this week and will have no rest, a fired-up Canisius team faces No. 21 UNLV Saturday. They might be in upset mode, but I don’t see the Runnin’ Rebels falling.

The Top 25 

No. 3 Syracuse vs. Temple (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 4 Arizona vs. Tennessee State (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 5 Louisville vs. Western Kentucky (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Kansas (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS) (See Above)

No. 8 Florida vs. Kansas State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 10 Illinois vs. No. 12 Missouri (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 11 Cincinnati vs. Wright State (4:00 p.m. ET)

No. 13 Minnesota vs. Lafayette (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 15 Georgetown vs. American (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 16 New Mexico vs. South Dakota State (2:30 p.m. ET)

No. 18 San Diego State vs. San Francisco (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 19 Butler vs. Evansville (2:00 p.m. ET)

No. 20 Michigan State vs. Texas (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 21 UNLV vs. Canisius (10:00 p.m. ET)

No. 23 North Carolina vs. McNeese State (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 24 Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee Tech (1:00 p.m. ET)

No. 25 NC State vs. St. Bonaventure (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Other Notable Games

Murray State vs. Dayton (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

LSU vs. Marquette (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Florida State vs. Charlotte (2:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

George Mason vs. Richmond (3:00 p.m. ET)

Kentucky vs. Marshall (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Fresno State vs. UCLA (11:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Miami (Fla.) vs. Hawaii (12:30 a.m. ET, ESPNU)

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

Kentucky fans flood Facebook page of official John Higgins’ company with negative reviews

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Unhappy with how John Higgins performed at his part-time job, Kentucky fans did their best trash him at his full-time gig.

The Facebook page of the referee’s Omaha-based roofing company was flooded by Big Blue Nation with negative comments and reviews after they were displeased with the official’s work in the Wildcats’ Elite Eight loss to North Carolina.

Not only did fans leave obviously fake and vulgar comments on the page, they also deluged it with one-star reviews to drive down its average significantly.

Once again, the Internet is struck by its proportionality problem. What could be considered a silly bit of online pranking by a small minority suddenly turns into an avalanche of nastiness that could do real damage to someone’s life, business and family, given the importance of social media for companies in 2017. It becomes cruel when it reaches a level like this.

When there’s so many general complaints about the state of officiating in college basketball, it’s also not helpful to do something like this to one of the referees generally considered to be one of the country’s best. It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for prospective future officials to follow the career path if it brings this level of negative attention to you off the court.

Report: North Carolina to miss out on NCAA events through 2022 if HB2 not addressed by Thursday

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Carolina is in danger of losing out on hosting NCAA events through 2022 if the state does not make changes to HB2, the controversial so-called “bathroom bill” by Thursday afternoon, according to the leader of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

“I have confirmed with a contact very close to the NCAA that its deadline for HB2 is 48 hours from now,” Scott Dupree, the head of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “If HB2 has not been resolved by that time, the NCAA will have no choice but to move forward without the North Carolina bids.”

“The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022.”

The NCAA, as it reminded North Carolina last week, is making its determinations on hosts for events from 2018-2022 this week. There was movement last week at the North Carolina statehouse for a compromise on the bill, but that apparently stalled out, the News & Observer reported, though there remain efforts to make progress on a pact.

Should lawmakers not reach an agreement in time, the state’s flagship basketball programs will be without an NCAA tournament home-court advantage that they have often enjoyed. HB2 just this past year moved the first and second rounds out of the state and to South Carolina, where No. 2 seed Duke lost to the seventh-seeded Gamecocks in their home state.

Clearly, there’s much more to consider here than NCAA tournament implications, but it’s another reminder of the economic impact the bill has made in North Carolina. This week, The Associated Press estimated it will cost the state $3.76 billion over a 12-year period.

Baylor’s Freeman to graduate and transfer

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

Baylor is losing one of its contributors over the past three seasons.

Al Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard, will graduate and transfer to another school, the Bears announced Tuesday.

“Al has been a tremendous student-athlete and made great contributions to our program over the last four years, and we’re thrilled that he’s going to complete his degree at Baylor,” Bears coach Scott Drew said in a statement. “He’ll always be part of the Baylor family, and we’ll be rooting for him as he continues his career.”

Freeman, who redshirted his freshman year due to a broken wrist, started 57 games during his career in Waco and averaged 8.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He was a full-time starter as a sophomore, but made just 22 this past season and saw his minutes slashed.

As a graduate transfer, the Charlotte native will be immediately eligible at his next program for his final collegiate season.

Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner declares for NBA Draft

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner has declared for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent.

“First let me start by saying these three years at Xavier have been the best of my life,” Sumner said in a statement. “I have certainly been presented with some ups and downs but they have only served to make me a stronger person. This decision was very hard for me because of the love I have for X. After weighing my options with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft, fulfilling a lifelong dream. I want to thank Coach Mack and the rest of the staff for believing in me and giving me a chance when no one did! I’ll always be grateful for that. Xavier Nation I will always love you!”

Sumner, a 6-foot-6 point guard with dynamic athleticism and first round potential that averaged 15.0 points, but he is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered in January. He’s likely to be a second round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

This is a big loss for the Musketeers, but it’s one that they planned for. After his eruption last season, most expected him to put his name in the draft this season.

Duke freshman Harry Giles III declares for NBA Draft

Chet Strange/Getty Images
1 Comment

Harry Giles III has declared for the NBA Draft after playing just one season at Duke.

“Playing in the NBA has been my goal for as long as I can remember, and I’m so excited to take the next step in that journey,” Giles said. “My time at Duke has been a dream come true. I’ve built so many strong relationships here and I have so many people to thank, from my teammates and coaches to our medical staff and strength coach. I can’t understate how proud I am to be part of the Duke Basketball program forever.”

Giles played in 26 games for the Blue Devils. He started six games and averaged 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Giles. At one point considered to be the best player in the loaded Class of 2016, Giles has dealt with a pair of devastating knee injuries already. He underwent a third surgery right before the start of the season and never seemed like he was fully able to get back to being the player he was when he was in high school.

This is the right decision for Giles to make, as there is still some uncertainty regarding the health of his knees. Were his struggles due to the fact that he was tossed right into the middle of a college basketball season after having sat out for 14 straight months, or was this simply a result of knees that no longer allow him to be the player that he used to be?

He might still end up being a first round pick this year. At the very least, he’s make some guaranteed money if he can get into a camp. Maybe returning to school could have helped vault him into the lottery in 2018, but another year like this year would’ve firebombed his draft stock.

“With his uplifting personality and love for the game, Harry Giles has been a joy to coach,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on the basketball court. Harry has an exciting NBA future ahead of him and we are here to fully support him as a member of our brotherhood.”

I know I’m not alone when I say I hope that Giles gets healthy and succeeds in the NBA.