Pregame Shootaround 1.20.13: Indiana, NC State only Top 25 teams in action Sunday

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Game of the Day: No. 2 Indiana vs. Northwestern (1:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Indiana suffered a tough conference loss to Wisconsin, when the Badgers came into Assembly Hall and held the Hoosiers to 37 percent shooting. Cody Zeller excelled with 23 points, but the rest of the team struggled to find its rhythm against Bo Ryan’s team. Sunday should bring different fortunes for Tom Crean’s team. Against a Northwestern team that both struggles to score the ball and hit the glass hard, Zeller and Victor Oladipo should be able to set the pace. Look for the Hoosier bench to step up after scoring just two points against Wisconsin.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Iona vs. Rider (2:00 p.m. ET)

Rider was without guard Nurideen Lindsey in its win over St. Peter’s on Thursday due to concussion. On Saturday, he said via Twitter that he was taking part in a workout to try to return, meaning his status is uncertain for Sunday’s game against MAAC rival Iona. If Lindsey is not in the lineup, it will take away a key Broncs’ scoring option against one of the nation’s highest scoring teams. The backcourt duo of former Arizona guard Momo Jones and junior Sean Armand together average 41 points per game for Iona.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Victor Oladipo is becoming just as important as Cody Zeller for the Hoosiers as the season progresses. His versatility changes th complexion of the Indiana offense and gives the Hoosiers another legitimate go-to scoring option. Coach Tom Crean’s team should have no problem with Northwestern on Sunday.

2) After beating Duke last weekend, NC State suffered a letdown loss against Maryland on the road. If the Wolfpack can get out and run in Sunday’s matchup with Clemson, they could have a solid bounce-back win.

3) After a strong relatively strong non-conference showing that included close losses to Louisville and Northwestern, Illinois State is 0-6 in Missouri Valley play. They take on Southern Illinois on Sunday.

4) It may not be as highly touted as the Army-Navy football game, but the Army-Navy basketball game takes play Sunday. Keep an eye on Navy freshman guard Tilman Dunbar. A quick, low-to-the-ground point guard, he is the team’s leading points and assists man and should have a strong four-year career with the Midshipmen.

5) Northern Iowa was close with No. 12 Creighton early in the second half before losing its footing earlier this week. In that game, Anthony James had 25 points. Look for him to be the focus again on Sunday vs. Drake.

The Top 25

No. 2 Indiana vs. Northwestern (1:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 14 NC State vs. Clemson (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Other Notable Games

Navy vs. Army (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Illinois State vs. Southern Illinois (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

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

Swanigan to stay in draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.