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Pregame Shootaround 2.5.13: Michigan’s revenge, and Craft v. Burke Pt. II

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Game of the Day: No. 10 Ohio State at No. 3 Michigan (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Trey Burke vs. Aaron Craft. Those two might try to downplay the significance of their matchup, but that is what’s going to determine the outcome of this game.

What Ohio State wants to do against Burke is something that John Beilein refers to as “locking the rails”. They allow Craft to more-or-les guard Burke 1-on-1. They won’t help off of shooters on the perimeter, counting on the nation’s best on-ball defender to be able to make life miserable for the nation’s best point guard. It worked in the first game, as Burke struggled to 15 points and four assists in what was a 56-53 win for Ohio State.

But this matchup will be on the Wolverines home court with sole possession of second place in the Big Ten on the line. This is key for Michigan, because they’ll be visiting Wisconsin and Michigan State in their next two games.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 2 Florida at Arkansas (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Florida may be the best team in the country this season. They are certainly the most dominating team in the country right now, as they’ve rolled over every SEC opponent that they have faced in dominating fashion. But Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena is a tough place to get a win, and Mike Anderson has become notorious for being a coach that wins a lot at home and loses a lot on the road. How will the Gators handle the Razorback press?

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Evansville at Bradley (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Evansville has arguably the most dangerous scorer in the MVC this side of Doug McDermott on their roster in Colt Ryan, but the road is not a kind place to be in the Valley. He’ll be going up against Bradley’s leading scorer, guard Walt Lemon Jr.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Kentucky looks like they are starting to turn a corner. They went into Oxford and beat Ole Miss last Tuesday and followed that up with an overtime win over Texas A&M on Saturday. Can they keep heading in the right direction with a win over South Carolina tonight? (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

2) Wake Forest has been a pesky team to beat this season, as they already own an upset of NC State and nearly knocked off Duke. UNC is their next test. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

3) No. 13 Kansas State will head out on the road and take on Texas Tech, who has one non-TCU win in the Big 12 this season, which came against Iowa State. (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

4) Florida State has lost four of their last six games and fallen off of the bubble for now. Georgia Tech is coming off of a win over Virginia on Sunday. Can the Noles bounce back? (9:00 p.m. ESPN3)

5) Villanova is 2-5 in their last seven games. They’ve beaten Louisville and Syracuse and lost to everyone else. Which means that they probably will lose to DePaul tonight, right? (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The Top 25

  • No. 2 Florida at Arkansas (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 10 Ohio State at No. 3 Michigan (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Boston College at No. 8 Miami (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 13 Kansas State at Texas Tech (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.