Trey Burke

Pregame Shootaround 1.13.13: Trey Burke, Aaron Craft highlight major Big Ten showdown

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Game of the Day: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

With Duke’s loss yesterday to NC State, Michigan will become the nation’s No. 1 team if it can get out of Columbus with a tough road victory. But, despite being ranked No. 2 in the country, Michigan is the underdog Sunday.

Two key matchups will likely decide the outcome of this one. At the point guard spot, Michigan’s Trey Burke is emerging as an early Player of the Year candidate, while Ohio State’s Aaron Craft has been the Buckeyes’ best defender and offensive facilitator with 4.9 assists per game.

At the wing spot, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is one of the nation’s best scorers and he’ll be matching up with standout freshman Glenn Robinson III. Both have the ability to carry the offensive load for their respective teams, but it will be interesting to see how the young Robinson III responds to playing against an upperclassman who can go shot-for-shot with him.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: No. 23 Wichita State vs. Evansville (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Cleanthony Early is coming off one of the most impressive performances of any player in the country this season, having dropped 39 points on 13-of-19 shooting to help Wichita State over Southern Illinois earlier this week. He and the Shockers return to the floor Sunday to meet an Evansville team that is 3-1 in Missouri Valley play so far and has hung with a number of tough teams, including Notre Dame, Butler, and Colorado State.

Wichita State will need to contain Evansville’s Colt Ryan, who has reached the 20-point mark in four of his last five games and is averaging 15.9 points per game on the year.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Miami turned some heads earlier this week when it went on the road to Chapel Hill and beat North Carolina without the services of big man Reggie Johnson. They face another tough ACC test against Dez Wells, Alex Len, and Maryland on Sunday.

2) Iowa is 0-3 in Big Ten play, but that is more a product of being in the nation’s toughest conference than any major lack. The Hawkeyes ran both Indiana and Michigan State to the wire, and played a solid first half against Michigan before the Wolverines opened it up. They’re in line for a win over Northwestern on Sunday.

3) Oregon handed No. 4 Arizona its first loss of the season and now needs to contain one of the nation’s best young point guards, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson. It’s a nice nightcap that tips at 9:00 p.m. ET.

4) Billy Baron and Canisius were the talk of the mid-major world in the non-conference season after they upset Temple, but the Golden Griffins have cooled off a bit in conference play. They have a tough matchup with Iona on Sunday.

5) Chaz Williams continues to be one of the most enjoyable mid-major point guards to watch after tallying 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds Thursday against Saint Louis. Massachusetts meets Fordham on Sunday.

The Top 25

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 22 Michigan State vs. Nebraska (6:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 23 Wichita State vs. Evansville (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Other Notable Games

Penn State vs. Purdue (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Providence vs. Seton Hall (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Iowa vs. Northwestern (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Maryland vs. Miami (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Arizona State vs. Oregon (9:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

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

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.