Trevor Mbakwe, Elliott Eliason

Pregame Shootaround 1.17.13: Minnesota-Michigan highlight a good night

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Game of the Day: No. 5 Michigan at No. 9 Minnesota (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

It seems like every night, our Game of the Night is going to be coming out of the Big Ten or the Mountain West, and Thursday is no different as the Wolverines look to bounce back from a disappointing loss at Ohio State by going into Minneapolis and knocking off the Gophers. Minnesota is coming off of a disappointing performance themselves, as they dug out of a 23 point hole against Indiana, but ended up losing the game because Trevor Mbakwe missed a box out against Cody Zeller.

The key to slowing down Michigan is keeping Trey Burke from being able to penetrate, but I’m not sure that Minnesota has a good enough on-ball defender to do to Burke what Aaron Craft did. Expect the Barn to be rocking.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 10 Florida at Texas A&M (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Florida is banged up right now. Will Yeguete has a knee issue. Erik Murphy has a broken rib. Casey Prather is out. Scottie Wilbekin has a broken finger. Those are a lot of important pieces that are going to be limited or out of the lineup against an A&M team that just went into Rupp and won  on the strength of 40 points from Elston Turner.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Valparaiso at Detroit (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Two of the favorites square off in the Horizon League. What intrigues me the most about this game is that Valpo’s strength is along the front line while Detroit lives off of the athleticism of their perimeter plays. This game is worth watching simply to see Doug Anderson fly.

Five Things to Watch For

1) The eastern division of the Ohio Valley Conference is stacked. Sitting atop the conference is Tennessee State, who is still undefeated in league play despite being without their star Robert Covington. But right behind TSU at 4-0 are Eastern Kentucky and Belmont, two teams with excellent guard play that square off at 8:00 p.m. tonight at Belmont.

Also keep an eye on Jacksonville State, who is 4-2 in the league, tonight, as they visit Tennessee State.

2) South Dakota State has a chance to make a move on North Dakota State in the Summt League standings with Taylor Braun out. They visit Western Illinois tonight, who is tied with the Bison for first place in the conference at 6-0.

3) No. 23 Illinois looks to bounce back after losing three of their first four Big Ten games as they host Northwestern at 8:15 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

4) St. Joseph’s will be without Halil Kanacevic, but that may end up being a blessing in disguise as they are forced to play three guards against No. 22 VCU’s vaunted pressure. Tip is at 9:00 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

5) Utah State is currently tied for first place in the WAC at 5-0 in league play, but they will put that on the line as they head to New Mexico State. NMSU the kind of athleticism that could frustrate the USU back court.

The Top 25

  • Georgia Tech at No. 3 Duke (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 8 Gonzaga at Portland (10:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • No. 5 Michigan at No. 9 Minnesota (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 10 Florida at Texas A&M (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 21 Oregon at USC (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • St. Joseph’s at No. 22 VCU (9:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Net)
  • Northwestern at No. 23 Illinois (8:15 p.m. ET, Big Ten)
  • Oregon State at No. 24 UCLA (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Michigan’s Spike Albrecht to finish his career at rival Big Ten program

Michigan guard Spike Albrecht (2) makes a layup between Northern Michigan forward Brett Branstrom, top left, and center Vejas Grazulis (52) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Michigan won 70-44. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Spike Albrecht’s career isn’t over, as the former Michigan point guard and graduate transfer has committed to play his final season for Big Ten rival Purdue.

“I’ll be playing my 5th year for Purdue University,” Albrecht tweeted on Tuesday morning. “Boiler Up.”

Albrecht’s career has been fascinating to follow. A very lightly recruited high schooler, Albrecht picked Michigan over Appalachian State, playing very limited minutes behind National Player of the Year Trey Burke before popping off for 17 points in the first half of the national title game that season (and launching the greatest heat check in the history of heat checks). He would play a bigger role as a sophomore before averaging 7.5 points and 3.9 assists in 32 minutes as a junior in 2014-15.

But as a senior, Albrecht cut his season short after just a couple of games due to a degenerative issue in his hips. He had surgery on both hips prior to last season and initially announced that his career was over. That changed, but Michigan’s scholarship situation didn’t: They had already recruited someone to take his scholarship after his graduation, so Albrecht was forced to transfer.

Purdue is a good fit for him. He’ll provide veteran leadership on a team with just one other senior on the roster — redshirt junior Basil Smotherman — and he’ll help anchor the point guard spot currently held by junior P.J. Thompson.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.