Weekend Preview: Miami-NC State, Ole Miss-Florida highlight slate

1 Comment

Game of the Week: No. 14 Miami at No. 19 NC State (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Clearly, the best game this weekend is between Michigan and Indiana, but seeing as we already devoted 800 words to that matchup, we’re going to go ahead and highlight some other folks here.

Miami wants to stake their claim as the best team in the ACC, and they did a pretty good job of that when they beat Duke by 27 points to take a commanding two-game lead in the league standings. The Hurricanes have, seemingly out of nowhere, developed one of the stingiest defensives in the country, one that’s strong enough to overcome the fact that they’ve only played about a third of the season at full-strength. Shane Larkin has been a revelation this season, slowly becoming the best point guard in the ACC and a guy that’s going to merit some all-america consideration come March.

And that’s where the problem for the Wolfpack lies. Miami is a tough defensive team with a talented point guard, which is not a good thing for a team that will, in a best case scenario, have a banged up Lorenzo Brown running the show. He sprained his ankle against Virginia and never returned to the game. Can freshmen Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis handle the pressure in his absence?

Five more games you have to watch:

  • No. 25 Marquette at No. 12 Louisville (Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): Louisville ended their three-game losing streak on Monday with a win over Pitt at home. But the win was anything but convincing, as the Cardinals needed a 3-12 performance from the line from the Panthers to avoid another late-game meltdown. There is no program in the country that has a better reputation for winning close games in conference play than Marquette. Keep an eye out for Wayne Blackshear. He missed Louisville’s last game with a shoulder issue.
  • No. 16 Ole Miss at No. 4 Florida (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Here’s our chance to get a gauge on both Ole Miss and Florida. The Rebels have a gaudy record, but they are coming off of a home-loss to Kentucky where their star — Marshall Henderson — had one of his worst shooting nights of the season. Throw in the fact that he’s had some of his past issues dug up in recent weeks, and we’ll see just how focused he is. Florida, on the other hand, has absolutely obliterated the SEC this season. A lot of that has come against the dreck at the bottom of the conference, however. Can they do the same to Ole Miss?
  • Ohio at Akron (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU): The two undefeated teams in the MAC squaring off. Ohio, under a new coaching regime, has one of the nation’s most under-appreciated point guards in DJ Cooper running the show, while Akron has built their team around the presence of the massive Zeke Marshall in the paint. Worth noting: Ohio had their game on Wednesday cancelled when a gunman made his way onto campus.
  • No. 6 Syracuse at Pittsburgh (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): ACC basketball doesn’t get better than this.* Syracuse will be a bit shorthanded heading into this game, as DaJuan Coleman and James Southerland will both be in street clothes. That will open room for Jerami Grant to slide into the starting lineup, but it could create a problem for the Cuse: the Panthers look like a Pitt team of old, as they have a massive, veteran front line that attacks the offensive glass. Missing their best shooter and biggest body could end up being an issue.
  • Baylor at Iowa State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): I don’t know how good either of these two teams are. I’ll be honest. But the way they matchup — Baylor’s size and athleticism against ISU’s versatility and three-point shooting — should make this game quite the entertaining watch.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.