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?
Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long gets hardship waiver to play additional year
“Everything happens for a reason and although it hurt to not be able to play for a group of guys I loved last year, my body needed time to recover and that time off allowed me to feel the best I’ve felt since my freshman year,” Mitrou-Long said in the release. “I’m glad I’ll be able to play for the best fans in the country and represent the name on the front of my jersey, Iowa State, one more year. Words can’t describe this feeling. Cyclone Nation, be ready for a special year.”
The 6-foot-4 Long played in eight games last season for Iowa State as he averaged 12 points per game. He missed the rest of the season to deal with pain in his surgically repaired hips. Mitrou-Long has been a very effective three-point shooter during his career at Iowa State and he should be a nice option to have for next season if he’s healthy.
CIAA will stay in North Carolina despite state’s LGBT law
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won’t move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina, despite the state’s controversial new LGBT law.
The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.
The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to “monitor the issues,” as it has since House Bill 2 passed.
VIDEOS: Stephen Curry’s personally invites athletes to his select camp
John Calipari has a goal this offseason: to lose some weight.
“Mid-50s, I let it go a little bit,” Calipari said as he worked out on an elliptical. “Had a heck of a year. But going forward, gotta get in better shape. Gotta get the body right. Started a week ago. What I will say to you is really simple. I’m not showing you my body for a month.”
The reason why Cal needs to get into shape?
He’s going to have to coach this year, because Tyler Ulis is heading to the NBA.
“I shoulda got some of his salary,” Ulis joked.
Cal won’t have to coach too hard. He’s got one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming into the program, including three top ten players and five of the nation’s top 30 prospects.
Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.
“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”
Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.
After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.
As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.