Ohio State  v Michigan

If Ohio State-Michigan taught us anything, it’s that college hoops is still great

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There are plenty of topics to focus a post on coming out of that thrilling, 76-74 overtime victory that No. 3 Michigan earned over No. 10 Ohio State on Tuesday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr., who has spent his career at Michigan trying to prove himself a consistent perimeter shooter, draining five of his six threes in the second half to keep Ohio State from pulling away.

LaQuinton Ross (16 points after never scoring more than eight in a Big Ten game in his career) and Amir Williams both playing the game of their lives, helping Ohio State build a seven-point second half lead despite a mediocre (by his standards) performance from Deshaun Thomas.

John Beilein’s decision to use Burke as a facilitator and, for a long stretch in the second half, as a decoy on the offensive end of the floor thanks to Aaron Craft’s ability to suffocate a ball-handler.

Thad Matta’s questionable play-calling down the stretch. Thomas didn’t get a touch on the offensive end of the floor in overtime while Ross didn’t get off the bench.

The emergence of Mitch McGary for John Beilein.

Should Aaron Craft have drawn a foul on his final, coast-to-coast layup attempt? (Probably.)

But all that? It’s besides the point here.

This was, simply put, a fantastic basketball game between two very good teams playing their best basketball in a jam-packed, raucous arena on national television on a Tuesday night. As good as it gets. And it came immediately after a mediocre Arkansas team knocked off the No. 2 team in the country — No. 1 if you listened to me — in dominating Florida. It came just three days after Indiana and Michigan capped another terrific Saturday of hoops with what we thought was the best game of the year. Think about that. It only took 72 hours for the season’s best game to date to become the second best game involving Michigan this season.

And this is a sport that’s in shambles? This is the sport that everyone is trying to fix?

We’re going to get a game like this on what will seem like a nightly basis in the Big Ten. That’s what happens when half of a 12 team league is in the top 25 and four of those teams are in the top ten. (To prove a point, tomorrow, No. 18 Minnesota visits No. 12 Michigan State.)

And that’s just the start of it.

The Mountain West is the nation’s toughest conference, with five of the nine league members battling for a tournament spot. The Atlantic 10 may be the most difficult to figure out, as everyone seems to be within a game or two of first place. The Big East has seven teams in the top 25 and half the league within a game of first. Miami’s surge to relevance is one of college basketball’s best storylines, while the Big 12 has suddenly turned into a race with the way Kansas has struggled offensively in league play.

I could go on, but I won’t.

If you’ve made it this far, and you’re still agreeing with me while nodding along and saying, “preaching to the choir, Rob”, than my job here is done. If you’re not, than you haven’t made it this far.

Which is perfectly fine.

Because if you truly believe college basketball is in shambles, than you’re simply not watching enough games.

You’re not trying hard enough.

So go ahead and kill the time over the next six weeks watching the NBA, because they’re putting in just as much effort as you are.

If you can’t find a way to enjoy what we witnessed tonight — and what we witnessed on Saturday and, seemingly, countless times this season — than we don’t want you here.

See yourself out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.