Deshaun Thomas dunk

Pregame Shootaround 2.10.13: Deshaun Thomas-Victor Oladipo matchup is one to watch

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Game of the Day: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 10 Ohio State (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Fresh off a disappointing loss to Illinois on a buzzer-beating layup, the road gets no easier for No. 1 Indiana. But that’s what makes the Big Ten the Big Ten, right? Sunday the Hoosiers meet an Ohio State team that gave No. 3 Michigan a fight in an overtime loss, though finally showing that it had the offensive capacity to have some complementary scorers around offensive centerpiece Deshaun Thomas.

Those other offensive weapons, including LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., and Aaron Craft will have to produce, especially considering that Thomas will have to be dealing with elite defender Victor Oladipo. If Oladipo succeeds in shutting Thomas down or at least holding him at bay, it will be up to the others to carry the offensive load.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Maryland (-2) vs. Virginia (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

With third place in the ACC on the line for the Cavaliers, expect Virginia to come out ready to play Sunday. The biggest concern for Maryland will be turnovers, as the Terrapins average 15 per game. In a slower game against Virginia, they could struggle. In order to get the win, though, Virginia will have to control the backboards, where Maryland is the best in the country.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Canisius vs. Niagara (2:00 p.m. ET)

MAAC leader Niagara will see its lead in the conference dwindle down to just one game if it can’t hold off coach Jim Baron and the Golden Griffins. Niagara is coming in having lost two straight games and could be short-handed again if leading scorer Antoine Mason’s ankle is not fully ready come tip-off.

If  he is unable to go, it will be more crucial that sophomore Juan’ya Green get back into form, having shot just 1-of-16 from the floor in a loss to Rider.

Five Things to Watch For

1) With every other team in the Top 5 losing at least once (if not twice) so far this week, there’s a good chance No. 4 Duke can climb back into the No. 1 spot in the country with a win over Boston College. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. ET.

2) Another team that could be in the running for the No. 1 ranking is Arizona, who has already beaten Stanford and Washington State this week. The key against California will be containing and disrupting Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12’s leading scorer.

3) St. John’s been on a roll, winning six of its past seven games, but the Red Storm run into a tough Syracuse team at the Carrier Dome Sunday. The key will be stopping Syracuse’s dribble penetration, which could quickly break down the St. John’s matchup zone. Michael Carter-Williams needs to be a creator, which will spark production from the rest of the offense.

4) Illinois likely saved its season with a win over No. 1 Indiana in the final seconds, but will have to try to keep the momentum going against another ranked team, No. 18 Minnesota, Sunday.

5) After a rough start to the conference schedule, Virginia is starting to find its stride in the ACC. The Cavaliers go on the road Sunday against Maryland. A win gives them sole possession of third place in the conference.

The Top 25

No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 10 Ohio State (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 4 Duke vs. Boston College (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 7 Arizona vs. Cal (7:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

No. 9 Syracuse vs. St. John’s (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 18 Minnesota vs. Illinois (6:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Other Notable Games

Connecticut vs. Seton Hall (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Virginia vs. Maryland (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

NC State vs. Clemson (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Colorado vs. Oregon State (9:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Washington vs. USC (10:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?