Rick Pitino

Who will be new No. 1 in the college basketball polls on Monday?

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With four undefeated teams teams losing for the first time this week (Duke, Wyoming, Arizona, Michigan), there will be some shuffling at the top of the polls when they are released Monday. Who will be the new No. 1? We take a look at the top contenders and some longshots below:

Louisville?

Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, coming into the week ranked No. 3 and getting decisive wins over South Florida and Seton Hall, are the most likely to move into the No. 1 spot when polls are released. The main argument against the 15-1 Cardinals, though, is that Louisville’s one loss of the season came to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a team also in the running to retain the No. 1 spot. But, in fairness, Louisville was without shot blocker Gorgui Dieng in its loss to Duke, who was sitting out with a wrist injury. Louisville has won 10 games in a row since the loss.

Duke?

Of the four undefeated teams that lost this past week, Duke’s future is the most uncertain. The absence of Ryan Kelly played a role in the Blue Devils’ loss to No. 20 NC State on Saturday, but the timeline for his return is not clear. There have been reports that he could be out as little as two weeks, or perhaps as many as six. The Duke offense changes without him in the lineup because of his ability to spread the defense out and score the basketball, so are the Blue Devils really the nation’s best team if he can’t be on the floor for the foreseeable future?

Michigan?

Michigan is at a disadvantage having to play in the nation’s best conference, but missed out on an opportunity to be the undisputed No. 1 team in the country with its loss to Ohio State on Sunday. Despite that loss, Michigan will be dangerous because of its ability to shuffle in one of four legitimate scorers to carry the offensive load. Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Nik Stauskas can all be the centerpiece on any given night, which makes the Wolverines dangerous. Depth and youth continue to be concerns.

Arizona?

The Wildcats lost to a tough Oregon team on the road this week, putting them out of play for the No. 1 spot, but they are still likely the class of the Pac-12. With UCLA creeping up from behind, though, the Wildcats might be looking over their shoulder. Coach Sean Miller will continue to work through senior leader Mark Lyons, but much like Michigan, youth will continue to be an area of concern that only time can fix. The young interior of Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, and Brandon Ashley is talented, but efficiency and experience will come as Pac-12 play goes along.

Indiana?

Indiana looked like it was going to dominate No. 8 Minnesota on Saturday, but lost a large lead to make it interesting at the end. The Hoosiers still got the victory, but likely don’t have enough to jump four spots and grab the No. 1 ranking. Though it has long been the conventional wisdom that Cody Zeller is the most important part of this Indiana team, forward Victor Oladipo is quickly showing that he could be just as important. The junior is shooting an astounding 68 percent from the field on the year, including 8-of-10 FG for 20 points against Minnesota.

Kansas?

Ben McLemore saved Kansas with a bank-shot three-pointer against Iowa State this week to continue the Jayhawks’ 13-game winning streak. McLemore’s continued emergence, along with All-American numbers from center Jeff Withey, makes Kansas the runaway favorite in the Big 12, but likely not the No. 1 team in the land. That doesn’t mean Kansas can’t make noise in March, as it did last season in its run to the Final Four.

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

Malik Newman to return to school, considering transfer

Mississippi State guard Malik Newman (14) dribbles past a Northern Colorado player during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/15712769/mississippi-state-malik-newman-withdraw-draft-transfer
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Malik Newman will withdraw his name from consideration and return to school for his sophomore season.

Newman was a top 10 recruit in the Class of 2015, a high-scoring combo-guard that opted to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead of enroll at one of the blue bloods that was recruiting him. He averaged 11.3 points as a freshman, but it was a largely disappointing season as he spent the year off of the national radar playing inefficient basketball.

Put another way, the fourth-leading scorer on a 14-17 SEC team isn’t exactly a lock for the lottery.

But here’s the catch: he may not be returning to Mississippi State, as Newman is considering a transfer, according to a report from ESPN. That report quotes a source close to the situation saying “unhappy with his role and how he was utilized.”

It will be interesting to see what happens from here. Newman would have to sit out a year if he transferred to another Division I program, and for a kid that thought he was destined to be a one-and-done star, locking himself into a three-year college career would be an odd move.

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.