Indiana v Illinois

You think the season’s been fun? It gets so much better this week

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The excitement of the college basketball season reached a crescendo last week.

It started with Tuesday’s classic between Ohio State and Michigan, which Michigan won in overtime only hours after Arkansas walloped then-No. 2 Florida. That happened to fall on the same night that Michael Snaer hit his third buzzer-beater of the season and Wichita State lost on a blown goaltending call in the final seconds.

On Wednesday, Kansas lost to TCU, Creighton was blown out by Indiana State, Markel Brown raced the length of the court to beat Baylor in over time, Wisconsin was taken to double-overtime by Iowa and San Diego State used a last-second three to survive a visit from Boise State.

Believe it or not, Thursday ramped things up another notch, as Illinois shocked the country by beating No. 1 Indiana on a buzzer-beating layup from Tyler Griffey that capped a 13-2 run. Missouri lost at Texas A&M on a three from Fabyon Harris a matter of minutes before Larry Drew II beat Washington with a buzzer-beater of his own. Colorado came from behind to beat Oregon in the final minute while Nate Wolters was busy scoring 53 points for South Dakota State. Oh, and who can forget the three-quarter court buzzer-beater to force overtime?

That brought us to Saturday, where Ben Brust’s heroics and Russ Smith’s five-overtime struggles bookended a typically inexplicable Saturday. The weekend was capped with a Sunday that saw Minnesota lose to Illinois, Arizona lose to Cal, Duke barely survive BC and Scott Wood save the day for NC State in Lorenzo Brown’s return.

I’m exhausted just typing that out.

But here’s the best part: it’s only going to get better.

Because this week is Rivalry Week. That a look at some of the games on the schedule over the course of the next seven days:

  • No. 10 Kansas State at No. 14 Kansas
  • No. 4 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State
  • No. 25 Kentucky at No. 7 Florida
  • North Carolina at No. 2 Duke
  • No. 6 Syracuse at UConn
  • No. 5 Gonzaga at St. Mary’s
  • No. 20 Wisconsin at Minnesota
  • No. 2 Duke at Maryland
  • Purdue at No. 1 Indiana
  • Oklahoma at No. 17 Oklahoma State
  • Xavier at Dayton

Regardless of when or where these games are played, they are the kind of matchups that are must-see TV. As the saying goes, in a rivalry game, you can throw the records out the window. Fan bases will be fired up. Players will be fired up. Dick Vitale may spontaneously combust. It’s everything that we love about college basketball.

Except these games are packed with so much meaning. Kansas State has a chance to go into Lawrence and drop the Jayhawks two games out of the Big 12 title race. Michigan State can do the same to Michigan. Kentucky will get another shot at proving their legitimacy at Florida. Syracuse will be making their final visit to UConn as a member of the Big East. UNC will be looking to solidify a tournament spot — seriously — by winning in Cameron. Gonzaga and St. Mary’s is one of the nation’s most underrated rivalries.

This week is going to be incredible.

But based on the week and the month — and, frankly, the season — we’ve had, you should have known that already.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”