Weekend Preview: Oregon, San Diego State lead upset watch

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Who’s Getting Upset? No. 10 Oregon at Cal (4:30 p.m. ET, FSN/ROOT)

I don’t even know if this is fair to count as an upset. Oregon is on the road and playing without their starting point guard in Dominic Artis. Artis injured his foot two games ago, and the Ducks simply haven’t been the same since. The struggled to knock off a Washington team that was coming off of back-to-back losses to Oregon State and Utah, and followed that up by getting shellacked by Stanford on Wednesday night.

At full strength, Oregon is a dangerous team. They have a lot of size and even more versatility, which allows them to mix-up their lineup and create matchup problems for opponents. But at No. 10 in the country, they are overrated. And now that they’re missing their point guard, they are susceptible to the upset.

The Bears need to do two things to win this game: Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe have to have big nights shooting the ball. Cal struggles to score without those two. And they need to be able to handle Oregon’s big front line. If they can do that, they’ll have a very good shot at pulling the upset.

Who else is on Upset Alert?

  • No. 22 San Diego State at Air Force (3:00 p.m. ET): The Aztecs are coming off of a 55-34 win at home against New Mexico last Saturday, but this Saturday they’ll be heading to Air Force to take on a surprising Falcons team that has a star in Michael Lyons, runs a difficult system to matchup with and is better than anyone expected them to be this season. SDSU better show up ready to play.
  • UNLV at Boise State (9:00 p.m. ET): UNLV is a team that’s still trying to figure out if they’re better off playing big — with Mike Moser at the three — or playing small — without Mike Moser coming off the bench. There’s not question that team has talent, but how that talent all fits together is something that Dave Rice is stil fine-tuning. Boise State, on the other hand, knows themselves. They have a bunch of guards that like to get perimeter jumpers up. They desperately need a win over the Rebels to turn around a rough stretch in their season. Will those jumpers be dropping Saturday?
  • No. 18 Kansas State at Oklahoma (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): I really like this Oklahoma team. They have size and athleticism, they have big men that are tough to matchup with because of their perimeter ability, they have a go-to scorer in Steven Pledger and they have a lockdown defender in Buddy Hield. I think the Sooners are one of the most underrated teams in the country right now.
  • No. 15 Wichita State at Northern Iowa (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): So much for Northern Iowa being one of the contenders in the Missouri Valley. But just because they aren’t going to win the league doesn’t mean they can’t pull off an upset or two along the way. The Panthers have the size to deal with WSU’s two JuCo big men and a pair of playmaking guards in the back court.
  • No. 5 Duke at Florida State (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): Here’s your chance, Florida State. You need to make a statement. You need to get that marquee win this season. You know you do, and on Saturday, you’re hosting a Duke team that’s missing Ryan Kelly and can’t defend like they used to earlier in the season. Maybe you should just play every possession like it’s a buzzer-beater and force-feed Michael Snaer.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.