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

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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_

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.