Tray Woodall, Kris Dunn

Pregame Shootaround: 1.28.13: Can Louisville avoid a fourth straight loss?

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Game of the Day: Pittsburgh at No. 12 Louisville (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Louisville is looking to snap a three-game losing skid that has dropped them from No. 1 in the country to behind St. John’s in the Big East standings. That’s quite a tumble for the Cardinals to make, and turning it around isn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world, either. For starters, Louisville will be playing without two members of their rotation on Monday night as Wayne Blackshear is dealing with a shoulder injury and Kevin Ware has been suspended indefinitely.

But there’s more to it than that. Pittsburgh is actually one of the more underrated teams in the country. They’re sitting at 17-4 on the season and No. 7 in the current Kenpom rankings. They have a big front line that pounds the offensive glass and a pair of quality point guards that can control tempo and that don’t turn the ball over. Keeping Louisville from scoring points in transition is the best way to beat this team, especially with their most dynamic scorer (Russ Smith) being muzzled by Rick Pitino.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Jackson State (8:30 p.m. ET)

Jackson State has a kid on their team named Dundrecous Nelson. Nelson, who was forced out of Ole Miss for some issues with marijuana, was a double-digit scorer as a sophomore in the SEC. He’s averaging nearly 16 points for JSU, and he’s not even the team’s leading scorer. UAPB is currently a half-game off the pace set by Southern in the SWAC, while Jackson State needed to sweep Mississippi Valley State and Grambling last week to avoid the cellar.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Delaware at Drexel (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Net)

These were supposed to be the two best teams in the CAA this season, but after Northeastern knocked off George Mason on Sunday evening, they are both sitting tied for second place in the league a full three games behind the Huskies. Drexel has won three straight games since Damion Lee returned from injury, but the Blue Hens have as much talent on their roster as anyone in the country.

Five Things to Watch For

1) On Saturday, a bat spent the entire afternoon attacking No. 25 Marquette and Providence players. The Golden Eagles host South Florida tonight. Will he make another appearance?

2) No. 2 Kansas will make their first trip up to Morgantown to play a Big 12 game in the Big Monday nightcap. the intrigue in this one is almost nonexistent, as Bob Huggins’ club has not done much in the way of impress this year.

3) There is a terrific back court matchup in that game on NBCSports Network tonight. Drexel’s Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat taking on Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt.

4) SWACtion on ESPNU: Alabama State takes on Texas Southern.

5) Someone needs to get Rick Pitino to take the shackles off Russ Smith. He only got nine shots after coming off the bench in the loss at Georgetown. #shootmore

The Top 25

  • Pitt at No. 12 Louisville (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 2 Kansas at West Virginia (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • South Florida at No. 25 Marquette (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win