Louisville v Memphis

Weekend Preview: Memphis is on double-upset alert

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Who’s Getting Upset?: Memphis (Fri. 8:00 p.m.: Oral Roberts at Memphis and Sun. 8:00 p.m.: Loyola (MD) at Memphis)

The Tigers have a pair of tough games this week, as they host both Oral Roberts and Loyola (MD). ORU has already knocked off Oklahoma this season and has one of the stronger mid-major programs in the country. The Greyhounds, on the other hand, are led by one of the nation’s most entertaining coaches in Jimmy Patsos who also just so happens to be leading a team that returned quite a bit of talent from last year’s NCAA tournament squad.

But the bigger issue here isn’t simply who Memphis is playing. It’s Memphis. It’s whether or not this team is actually built to compete at the national level. Because every time it seems like the Tigers have figured out how to play together, they take another step back. They played great down the stretch of last season only to revert to their old issues at the beginning of this year. They seemingly turned things around with the addition of Geron Johnson and a couple of big wins, but then Memphis blew a 16 point lead against Louisville and struggled to knock off a Lipscomb team that lost to Belmont by 34.

Who else is on upset alert?

  • Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Santa Clara at No. 1 Duke (ESPN2): Duke is the best team in the country, but Santa Clara is actually pretty good this season. Marc Trasolini is healthy, Kevin Foster is eligible and Evan Roquemore is back again. That’s as good of a 1-2-3 punch as you are going to find at the mid-major level. If the Broncs are shooting well, they have a chance. Maybe they should have scheduled this game for Christmas Day.
  • Sat. 4:30 p.m.: Air Force at No. 14 Florida (FSN): Is Florida for real? That’s the question that everyone is going to be asking after the Gators lost to Kansas State and Arizona. And that answer is probably a ‘yes’, but only when Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton aren’t playing terribly. Boynton’s made just 4-32 from three in the last six games. Air Force is a good team. If the Gators don’t come to play, the Falcons can win.
  • Sat. 8:00 p.m: Harvard at Cal (Pac-12): When Harvard lost Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, many thought that their season would be all but over. And while the Crimson clearly aren’t the same team that they would have been, the play of Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers have been impressive. If Harvard can slow down Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, they’ll have a chance to win.
  • Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Ohio at Oklahoma: Ohio made the Sweet 16 last season and came within an overtime against North Carolina of the Elite 8. The Bobcats have lost four of their last six games, however. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has been a bit of a disappointment this season as well. Can this be the game that DJ Cooper and company turn their season around.
  • Sat. 8:00 p.m.: No. 19 Butler at Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt is a young team that has had their fair share of struggles early on this season, but the Commodores went into Cincinnati and knocked off Xavier in overtime earlier this month. Butler proved a lot with their win over Indiana, but the Bulldogs also can struggle when the threes aren’t dropping. Can Vandy capitalize?

Former Michigan State star arrested for third time in four months

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Photo via Wayne County Prosecutor's Office
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For the third time since May, former Michigan State star Keith Appling has been arrested in an incident involving a loaded gun.

According to police, Appling was the driver of a car that was pulled over on Sunday night in Detroit. After an officer detected the scent of marijuana and requested Appling’s license, Appling rolled up his window sped off. He was stopped a short time later, but officers noticed that a Gucci bag that was in the back seat his car was missing. As they went over the route of the pursuit, they found the bag, which contained a loaded handgun and paperwork with Appling’s name on it.

In June, Appling was arrested when, during a traffic stop, he was in the back seat of a car where a handgun was found in the floorboard. That happened a month after he was arrested in the parking lot of a Dearborn, Michigan, strip club when a handgun and a loaded AK-47 were found in his car.

Tennessee football to honor Pat Summitt with helmet sticker

KNOXVILLE, TN - JULY 14:  Flower wreaths line the wall at Pat Summitt Plaza before the start of a ceremony to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt at the Thompson-Boling Arena on July 14, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Summitt died June 28 at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (Photo by Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics - Pool/Getty Images)
Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics
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Tennessee’s football team will be wearing a commemorative sticker on their helmet this season to honor the late Pat Summitt.

Summitt coached the Lady Vols for nearly four decades, building the women’s basketball program into a goliath in the sport and simultaneously doing more than just about anyone to advance women’s athletics in this country while becoming the winningest Division I college coach of all-time.

“We’re excited about wearing a commemorative sticker on the back of our helmet to honor the late Pat Summitt,” football coach Butch Jones said. “We know everything she stands for. I think it’s very fitting that Tennessee football and Team 120 recognize her and everything she means to the University of Tennessee and state of Tennessee.”

The stickers will look like this:

Tennessee athletics
Tennessee athletics

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.