Cody Zeller

Pregame Shootaround 1.27.13: Big Ten battle between Indiana, Michigan St. reigns supreme

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Game of the Day: No. 7 Indiana vs. No. 13 Michigan State (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Michigan State did not take advantage of its frontcourt assets, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne nearly enough in its 49-47 win over Wisconsin earlier in the week. Now, against Cody Zeller and Indiana, they’ll need to. The Spartans cannot afford to shoot 38 percent as it did against the Badgers, especially not against the nation’s top scoring team and a team that shoots 50 percent from the floor itself.

For Indiana, the Hoosiers will look to Zeller and swingman Victor Oladipo, but a struggling bench remains a concern. Will Sheehey has not been producing at the rate he was earlier in the season and a game like this has the potential to highlight that major flaw. Indiana will have the benefit of a loud and likely sold out crowd at home in what is a good chance to pick up a win in the tough Big Ten conference slate.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Massachusetts (-3.5) vs. Richmond

Fresh off an upset victory over Virginia Commonwealth, Richmond has the momentum to go on the road and get a tough A-10 victory. Kendall Anthony was the catalyst for the Spiders in their win over VCU with 26 points, but he’ll run into one of the conference’s best point guards on Sunday when he matches up with UMass junior Chaz Williams. Both are low-to-the-ground, quick scoring point guards  and that fails to mention Richmond’s Darien Brothers. He’ll make himself known on Sunday, too.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Niagara vs. Canisius (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Niagara sits atop the MAAC standings at 8-1, but we know from the non-conference season what Canisius is capable of. Antoine Mason and Juan’ya Green are perhaps the conference’s most lethal scoring duo, averaging 18.4 points and 16.4 points respectively, but they will be countered by Billy Baron and Harold Washington, both solid scorers in their own right.

Both teams will be looking to score, so look for a game in the 70s on Sunday, especially if the guards start finding their stroke.

Five Things to Watch For

1) With so many Top 5 teams losing this week, the nation’s No. 1 spot likely belongs to Michigan, if it can get a win over Illinois on Sunday. The Wolverines have lost just one game so far this season.

2) Doug McDermott was sick with flu-like symptoms in the second half of his team’s loss to Drake earlier this week and his performance struggled because of it. The Bluejays hope to have him fully healthy and back in the lineup on Sunday vs. Southern Illinois.

3) Fresh off its 27-point trouncing of No. 1 Duke on Wednesday, Miami looks to avoid a letdown vs. Florida State. Reggie Johnson will be looking to continue to work back to full game shape after returning from injury vs. Duke.

4) St. John’s has a Big East Rookie of the Year candidate in freshman JaKarr Sampson and one of the nation’s premiere shot blockers, Chris Obekpa. They’ve notched two impressive wins over ranked teams, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Lavin is building something solid in Queens. They take on Seton Hall on Sunday.

5) Northeastern remains undefeated in CAA play. George Mason looks to change that Sunday and get a big road win to pull within a game of the top spot in the conference.

The Top 25

No. 2 Michigan vs. Illinois (6:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 7 Indiana vs. No. 13 Michigan State (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

N0. 17 Creighton vs. Soutern Illinois (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 25 Miami vs. Florida State (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Other Notable Games

Seton Hall vs. St. John’s (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Virginia Tech vs. Clemson (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Rutgers vs. Connecticut (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

California vs. Colorado (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

Iowa vs. Purdue (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Niagara vs. Canisius (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

George Mason vs. Northeastern (8:00 p.m. ET)

Stanford vs. Utah (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_

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.