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_

Sun Belt approves new scheduling format

Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Conference
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.

And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.

Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.

Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.