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.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.