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.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.