Pregame Shootaround 1.6.13: Upset-minded Temple travels to meet No. 6 Kansas

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.

Game of the Day: No. 6 Kansas vs. Temple (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Temple already has one major upset under its belt, having beaten then-No. 3 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in December. They now face another non-conference challenge as they travel to Allen Fieldhouse to take on No. 6 Kansas.

Khalif Wyatt and Anthony Lee were the catalysts in the win over Syracuse, Wyatt on the perimeter and Lee cleaning up down low. Against Kansas, Temple finds a team that has won ten straight games and rolled over then-No. 7 Ohio State on the road. Temple should be most concerned with two players, freshman Ben McLemore and senior Jeff Withey.

The Owls likely won’t have the same opportunities on the interior as they did against Syracuse, thanks mostly to the shot-blocking ability of Withey and the solid team rebounding of the Jayhawks. That means that Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson will have to work harder on the boards to get Temple second-shot opportunities and keep Kansas at bay.

But that still leaves the problem of McLemore. He has scored in double figures in 10 of Kansas’ 12 games, including 22 points in the Jayhawks’ big win over Ohio State. His athleticism naturally creates a matchup problem on the perimeter, something that Temple coach Fran Dunphy will have to account for Sunday afternoon.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Virginia against North Carolina

The Cavaliers are favored by one or two points Sunday, being that the Tar Heels are traveling to Charlottesville for this ACC matchup. The key, though, will be the return of Reggie Bullock. After missing UNC’s win over UNLV due to a concussion, Bullock will return to the lineup Sunday, according to the school. This gives North Carolina more help on the perimeter defensively and also reinserts the team’s second-leading scorer into the rotation.

James Michael McAdoo will battle with Virginia’s Akil Mitchell down low, but the Tar Heels should be able to get an ACC win on the road.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Wichita State vs. Bradley (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

The Shockers were rolling before a loss to Tennessee on Dec. 13, but are now back on track with four straight wins. Bradley is hurt by the loss of Will Egolf, who was arrested on a drug possession charge this week and did not play Jan. 2 in a win over Southern Illinois.

Leading scorer Carl Hall has missed the last four games for the Shockers, but they have not missed a beat. That is due in large part to Cleanthony Early, who is averaging over 14 points per game in his absence. Wichita State will have the advantage on the backboards, especially without Egolf, which could be the difference on Sunday. Look for Bradley’s Tyshon Pickett (11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) to try to change that.

Five Things to Watch

1) Iowa ran Indiana to the wire in their Big Ten opener, and now have another chance at an upset Sunday on the road at No. 2 Michigan. The Hawkeyes are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and will need to beat the Wolverines on the boards to limit second-shot opportunities for Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke, and Glenn Robinson III.

2) Andre Hollins had 22 points and six assists in a statement win over No. 18 Michigan State on New Year’s Eve. Expect something similar from him Sunday against Northwestern at home.

3) Colorado had its heart broken when a game-winning three-pointer was waved off against No. 3 Arizona and the Buffalos eventually lost in overtime. They return to the floor Sunday against tough freshman point guard Jahii Carson and Arizona State.

4) In what otherwise would be just another C-USA game on the schedule, Tulsa vs. Southern Methodist is special for one reason Sunday–the coaching matchup. First-year coach Larry Brown leads SMU against his former star player, Danny Manning, now the head coach at Tulsa.

5) The annual Civil War erupts in Oregon Sunday, as Oregon meets Oregon State in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. The Beavers are still trying to work past their loss to Towson in late December, but face a tough test against Arsalan Kazemi and Oregon.

Top 25 Games

No. 2 Michigan vs. Iowa (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 6 Kansas vs. Temple (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 7 Syracuse vs. South Florida (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 9 Minnesota vs. Northwestern (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 13 Florida vs. Yale (5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Other Notable Games 

Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (4:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Colorado vs. Arizona State (8:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Tulsa vs. Southern Methodist (8:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

North Carolina vs. Virginia (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Oregon vs. Oregon State (10:00 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)

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

Diallo withdrawing from draft, returning to Kentucky

Leave a comment

It took plenty of time for the news to make its way public, but it was a wait that proved welcome for Kentucky fans.

Wildcat freshman Hamidou Diallo will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Kentucky, the school announced

Diallo’s situation was one of the more interesting in college basketball as he became an incredibly intriguing pro prospect despite being on a college roster and never playing a minute.

The five-star recruit enrolled at Kentucky in January after attending a semester of prep school with the plan to redshirt the season and then play for the Wildcats in 2017-18. There were rumblings and rumors about Diallo potentially playing for John Calipari’s group last year, but ultimately they stuck to the plan to keep him on the bench and preserve his eligibility. Throughout it all, there was always the specter that Diallo could just decide to go the professional route anyway.

That possibility moved fully into the forefront earlier this month when Diallo showed off a 44.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. The 6-foot-5 guard also recorded a wingspan that nearly measured 7-feet. With those types of physical traits, he makes for an awfully interesting professional prospect, regardless of refinement or experience.

Given Diallo’s lack of high-level experience, though, there was no guarantee he’d be a first-round selection as teams would be wary of drafting solely on potential, rather than the mostly they typically do.

“I hope to play in the NBA one day — just not this season,” Diallo said in a statement. “Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it’s in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title.

“I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can’t wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

Going back to Lexington to play college basketball gives Diallo a chance to showcase his skills against competition the NBA will be able to evaluate him against. It also makes Kentucky – surprise, surprise – extremely formidable this season as they, once again, restock the roster with potential lottery- and first-round picks. With Diallo officially in the fold, Kentucky is a no-doubt top-five team that will be among the favorites to cut down the nets in April 2018.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” Calipari said in a statement. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship.
“I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know.  He’s a special player and a special person.”

LaVar Ball selling “Stay In Yo Lane” shirts

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
5 Comments

Create controversy. Profit from controversy.

It’s not an especially new or original strategy, but it’s one that LaVar Ball continues to try to exploit.

The infamous basketball dad is at it again, looking to capitalize on the uproar/kerfuffle/news cycle/debate/ickiness he created when he belittled FS1’s Kristine Leahy, telling her to “stay in your lane” on multiple occasions when claiming the Big Baller Brand didn’t need to market to women.

Well, they are now, with a nod to Ball’s proclamation, selling “STAY IN YO LANE” tees, for both men and women.

Marketing misogyny. Isn’t that nice.

It’s clear that LaVar Ball isn’t going to shy away from the public spotlight anytime soon, especially with eldest son Lonzo looking destined for the Lakers and middle son LiAngelo set to join UCLA, and he’s going to do his best to use that light to push the BBB franchise that scared away the world’s biggest apparel companies.

This plan has no mystery, subtlety or taste. Which might as well be the Big Baller Brand slogan.

Mykhailiuk returning to Kansas for senior season

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kansas’ attempt for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title, and run for Bill Self’s second national title, got a shot in the arm Wednesday.

Svi Mykhailiuk announced that he will return to Lawrence for his final season of eligibility. “Senior year going to be fun,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

Senior year gonna be fun😈👌🏼🤘🏼 #KUCMB

A post shared by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (@sviat_10) on

The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.

Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.

Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.

Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.

Caleb Swanigan to stay in NBA draft

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.