Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, Geoffrey Frid, Matt Scherbenske

Weekend Preview: Oregon, San Diego State lead upset watch

Leave a comment

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.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Leave a comment

After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
Leave a comment

With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
Leave a comment

After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
Leave a comment

With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

rp_primary_Linder_Jeff_Action_vs_Dayton_031815_2_
Courtesy UNCBears.com
Leave a comment

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.