Legends Classic - UCLA v Georgetown

Pregame Shootaround 1.8.2013: Pitt-Georgetown, OSU visits Purdue

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Game of the Day: 9:00 p.m.: Pitt at No. 19 Georgetown (ESPNU)

Both Pitt and Georgetown were thought to be top five teams heading into the season, but a week into January, both teams are still winless in league play. For Georgetown, that’s not a huge problem, as their one game in Big East play came at Marquette where they lost by one point when Greg Whittington missed a free throw with 2.3 seconds left.

The Panthers, however, are a different story. They not only lost at home to Cincinnati, but they followed that up by dropping a roadie at Rutgers. Coming off of a season where they won just five Big East games, and after a non-conference schedule where they beat a steaming pile of mid-major dreck, Jamie Dixon’s club is in desperate need of a victory to hang their hat on.

And, quite frankly, the Hoyas are in the same boat. They are currently riding on taking Indiana to overtime, beating UCLA in Shabazz’s first game and (hideous) wins over Texas and Tennessee.

Who’s Getting Upset?: 9:00 p.m.: No. 15 Ohio State at Purdue (ESPN)

The road is not a friendly place to be in the Big Ten. Ohio State knows; they got poleaxed by Illinois in Champaign. Purdue knows, too; they beat that same Illinois team in West Lafayette. The Big Ten will be won by the team that can win their road games, and I’m simply not convinced that the Buckeyes are good enough to do that. But where they do have an advantage is that Purdue is going to have a tough time matching up with Deshaun Thomas defensively.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: 7:00 p.m.: Vermont at Boston U.

Vermont is at the top of the America East standings, and by the end of the season they will likely be joined there by Stony Brook. But BU is one of the most storied programs in that conference, and in recent years, this matchup has been one of the best of the year in that league. Throw in the fact that it’s the last time the Catamounts will be visiting the Terriers (who are leaving the conference next year), and this should end up being an entertaining game.

Five Things

1. It’s tough to have a must-win game in early January, but that is certainly the case for Alabama tonight at No. 10 Missouri (7:00 p.m.). The Tide are 8-5 with losses to Dayton, Mercer and Tulane. And in a very weak SEC, they only get Missouri, Kentucky and Florida once.

2. There may not be a more disappointing team in the country than Drexel, even when you factor in the injury to Chris Fouch. This was a borderline top 25 team heading into the season. They host a promising Northeastern team — who is 2-0 in the CAA — tonight.

3. Missouri State was horrid in non-conference play, going 2-11 and losing to Alabama A&M with both wins coming against non-Division I opponents. Of course, once MVC play started, the Bears won two of their first three games, with the loss coming to Evansville in overtime. And since the MVC makes so much sense all the time, Illinois State — who most believed was the second or third best team in the conference — has started off 0-3. MSU takes on ISU at 8:05 p.m. tonight.

4. Baylor looks to get their second Big 12 win of the season against Texas Tech.

5. Lehigh will play their first game since CJ McCollum’s injury, hosting Muhlenberg tonight.

Other Top 25 Games

  • 7:00 p.m.: Clemson at No. 1 Duke (ESPNU)
  • 8:05 p.m.: Drake at No. 13 Creighton (ESPN3)

Other Notable Games

  • 7:00 p.m.: DePaul at UConn (ESPN3)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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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)
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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.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.