Pregame Shootaround 1.29.13: Marshall Henderson, Coming To America

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Game of the Day: Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

By now, you’ve seen the GIF. If you haven’t, than you’ve probably seen the picture of him double-fisting Coors Light or somehow convincing one coed that it’s romantic to have his tongue in her face. At the very least, you’ve had to have seen someone on your facebook or twitter feed mention one of these three things and the name “Marshall Henderson” in the same sentence?

But have you actually seen him play, beyond the occasional highlight that they manage to sneak into Sportscenter between segments praising Ray Lewis for being this generation’s Gandhi?

Because not a lot of people have, which, as Gary Parrish pointed out in his column today, is why tonight becomes so important for Henderson. Let’s forget the fact that it’s a chance to the Rebels to solidify a wholly-inflated resume and ranking by knocking off one of the three other good teams in the SEC. After all the attention that he has garnered and all the buzz that his off-the-court (well, and on-the-court) shenanigans have created, now is the chance for the nation-at-large to actually watch Henderson play.

He’s as entertaining as anyone we’ve seen since Jimmer Fredette turned his first name into a verb. He shoots from anywhere on the court, he’s liable to go off for 25 in any given half, and he’s not afraid to let anyone — his teammates, the other team, the other team’s fans, the announcers, the television audience — know about it afterwards.

They’ll be tuning in tonight. Let’s see if he can live up to the hype.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 19 NC State at Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

There is quite a bit riding on this game. NC State has now beaten both Duke and North Carolina at home, but with road losses to the likes of Maryland and Wake Forest, the nation trusts the Wolfpack about as much as they trust A-Rod when he says he stopped using HGH. The Cavs, on the other hand, would actually have a pretty good-looking tournament profile if they hadn’t lost to Old Dominion — who is 2-17 on the season. According to Andy Glockner, that loss probably cost UVA more than 30 spots in the RPI. That’s a lot of ground to make up in a conference that won’t provide them many chances. Throw in the fact that a loss to Delaware in the Preseason NIT cost the Cavs a shot at Pitt and Michigan or Kansas State — instead giving them a disappointing North Texas team and — and you get a feel for just how dire the straits are for the Cavs.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Indiana State at No. 15 Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

The Sycamores actually have a chance to play their way into the NCAA tournament discussion thanks to a couple of solid non-conference wins — beating Ole Miss and Miami in the Diamond Head Classic is certainly paying dividends — but they still need more on their resume. Winning at Wichita State certainly wouldn’t hurt matters, especially considering the three losses that ISU has in league play have all come on the road.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Every night we’re going to have a Big Ten battle. On Tuesday, it’s Wisconsin heading to Columbus to take on No. 11 Ohio State. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

2) No. 23 Minnesota looks to snap their four-game losing skid as they host Nebraska. (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

3) After getting drubbed on the road by NC State, North Carolina looks to bounce back against Boston College, who has been feisty at home this season. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

4) Intriguing matchup out in the Mountain West as Nevada will be heading to the Thomas & Mack Center to take on UNLV. (10:00 p.m. ET)

5) Tommy Brenton is one of the nation’s most potent stat-sheet stuffers. He had 15 points, 14 boards and 11 assists – Stony Brook’s first triple-double — on Saturday. The Seawolves will take on Albany at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The Top 25

  • Wisconsin at No. 11 Ohio State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 19 NC State at Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Indiana State at No. 15 Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Nebraska at No. 23 Minnesota (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.