Pregame Shootaround 2.4.13: Syracuse looks to snap losing streak

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Game of the Day: No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 9 Syracuse (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Syracuse will once against be without James Southerland and DaJuan Coleman, which has cost the Orange of late. They’ve now lost their last two games, both of which came on the road against unranked opponents. And while Syracuse will be heading back to the Carrier Dome for Big Monday tonight, they’ll be forced to face off with Notre Dame, the team that ended their undefeated season a year ago.

The Irish are actually a pretty good matchup with Syracuse. They have arguably the most physical player in the Big East in Jack Cooley, who can take up space and get to the offensive glass with the best of them. But they also have a pair of play-making guards in the back court and a slew of shooters to rotate through on the perimeter. Pitt is one of the best passing teams in the Big East, but Notre Dame may be better. Can they dissect the Syracuse zone?

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: UNC-Wilmington at Towson (7:00 p.m. ET)

There aren’t many great matchups at the mid-major level tonight, and this really is no different, as both Towson and UNC-Wilmington are well off the pace in the CAA race. That said, both teams have very good power forwards — Keith Rendlemen for UNCW and Jerrelle Benimon for Towson — that should put on quite a show going head to head tonight.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Oklahoma visits Iowa State tonight in a battle between two teams looking to establish themselves with legitimate NCAA tournament resumes. Both are sitting at 5-3 in league play, but both still have plenty of work to do to get that at-large bid. This game should be plenty entertaining, as both teams have perimeter-oriented big men and like to spread the floor.

2) George Mason and Old Dominion have had a strong rivalry for a long time. This is the last season that it will exist in the CAA, with ODU leaving. Can the Monarchs, who are 2-18 on the season, turn things around for one night?

3) Texas plays West Virginia in the Big Monday night cap. That may be the worst Big Monday matchup in the history of Big Monday.

4) Seton Hall has dropped to 2-7 in the Big East. An at-large bid isn’t really a possibility at this point, but the Pirates could be a serious spoiler in a tightly packed Big East race. They visit No. 23 Pitt tonight.

5) San Diego at Loyola Marymount means Anthony Ireland vs. Johnny Dee.

The Top 25

  • No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 9 Syracuse (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Seton Hall at No. 23 Pitt (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?

North Carolina’s Luke Maye declaring for NBA draft without hiring agent

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina junior Luke Maye has declared for the NBA draft but isn’t hiring an agent.

The 6-foot-8 forward was a third-team Associated Press All-American after averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most improved player after increasing his scoring average by 11.4 points from his sophomore to junior seasons.

Coach Roy Williams says in a statement that it’s ”a great opportunity” for Maye to work out for NBA teams and get feedback on what to improve in his game.

The deadline for college players to declare early for the draft was Sunday night. Players who don’t hire an agent can maintain their college eligibility as long as they withdraw by May 30, which is 10 days after the NBA draft combine.