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GRUESOME INJURY ALERT!

Kentucky’s Nerlen Noel, the likely No.1 draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, suffered a gruesome knee injury last night.

Don’t worry. I made sure everything remains behind a link wall.

But to be honest, it’s not THAT gross. It’s not even close to being as bad as leg injury Texas A&M’s Derrick Roland suffered two years ago. Now THAT was gnarly.

But yeah, it’s still pretty bad.

Anyways, Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 1 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – No. 3 Miami @ Florida State
7:00 p.m. – No. 6 Syracuse @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ No. 11 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ No. 21 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Northeastern
7:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – La Salle @ St. Bonaventure
8:00 p.m. – Central Florida @ No. 22 Memphis
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Texas
8:00 p.m. – Creighton @ Northern Iowa
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ No. 2 Duke
9:00 p.m. – West Virginia @ Baylor
9:00 p.m. – UNLV @ Air Force
10:00 p.m. – No. 19 New Mexico @ Fresno State
10:00 p.m. – San Diego State @ No. 24 Colorado State
11:00 p.m. – No. 23 Oregon @ Washington
11:00 p.m. – Cal State Fullerton @ Long Beach State
 
 
Read of the Day:
A powerful story about Chicago basketball icon Larry Butler and the murder that took place following the Simeon vs. Morgan Park high school game back in mid-January. Read this. (Chicago Side)

Read of the Day:
A fantastic profile on Ben McLemore’s older brother, who is serving a 15-year jail sentence for his role in a 2008 armed robbery. (Kansas City Star)
 
 
Top Stories:
VIDEO: Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel injures knee vs. Florida:The future first round draft pick went down in a heap of pain after his knee buckled in the wrong direction halfway through the second half of the Wildcats’ 69-52 loss at Florida.

What does it mean for Kentucky if Noel is out for a long time? 24 hours ago we were talking about a Kentucky team that nobody would want to face as a lower seed at-large NCAA Tournament team. But one knee injury later and the letters N.I.T. start to reappear.

Florida beat Kentucky, but it wasn’t exactly impressive: The Gators have been steamrolling SEC opponents at home this year, which is why you can understand why we might not think a 17-point win against Kentucky is that impressive.

No. 8 Michigan State claims sole possession of Big Ten with blowout win over No. 4 Michigan: The Spartans ran all over their in-state rivals, dismantling the Wolverines 75-72 in front of a raucous crowd at the Breslin Center. This is Tom Izzo doing work. Spartans don’t look like title contenders in November, but they do in February. That’s why Izzo is Izzo.

Is it time to reevaluate how we view Michigan? Nearly every marquee Big-Ten game this season has been decided by ten points or less. So we must at least reevaluate our stance on the Wolverines following their trip to the woodshed at the hands of Michigan State.

Maryland to honor ex-coach Lefty Driesell this month: Maryland will honor former coach Lefty Driesell at the Terrapins’ home game against Clemson on Feb. 23 and will unveil a bronze bas-relief to commemorate his time at the school later this year.

Georgetown’s ‘Stonewalls’ unveil soccer-style banner supporting Catholic 7: There is no denying that the Georgetown student section is sub-par. But the university’s young alumni section is growing in numbers, and showed off this phenomenal Catholic-7 banner on Monday night against Marquette.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Texas sophomore Jonathan Holmes has been cleared to play tonight against Iowa State. The forward has been out of action since January 21st when he suffered a broken bone in his right hand against Oklahoma. (Sporting News)

– St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is questionable to return to the sidelines tonight as he continues to mourn the loss of his father, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 83. (SNY.tv)

– Northwestern forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury over the weekend. Swopshire missed the entire 2011-2012 season with a groin injury while at Louisville. (Chicago Tribune)

– North Carolina freshman Joel James will miss tonight’s rivalry game against Duke due to a concussion he suffered against Wake Forest last week. (Fayetteville Observer)

– Oregon guard Dominic Artis has already missed five games due to a foot injury, and the dynamic freshman guard isn’t likely to return this week. The Ducks are 2-3 without Artis in the lineup. (Sporting News)

– Matthew White, a member of the 1979 UPenn team that made the Final Four, was stabbed to death by his wife early Monday morning. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Nerlens Noel’s knee injury has people wondering if future NBA players even need to go to college. (Yahoo Sports)

– Michigan State big-man Derrick Nix told Trey Burke that he’s soft. (MLive.com)

– Only seven BCS-conference teams have won six or more road games this season. Miami is the only BCS-conference team to have won more than seven road games. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Copious amounts of sage advice for Golden Gopher fans starting to come around to the idea that maybe Tubby Smith should get fired. P.S. He’s not getting fired. (From The Barn)

– Carrick Felix for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year? I’ll certainly buy it. He’s one of the most underrated players out west and has shut down nearly all the big time stars he has gone up against. (Pitchfork Posts)

– As long as we understand that “Running through March Madness” could mean different things for different teams, yes, this is a pretty solid list of five teams that could run through March Madness. (Sports Blitz)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– I’m not exactly sure why this matters, but Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has never smoked marijuana in his entire life. (Deadspin)

– Jay Williams contract at ESPN is up at the end of March. Will he leave? Does anybody really care? (The Big Lead)

– We want student sections to be creative, right? We all get upset when they chant “overrated” at the end of a big game, correct? Well, I think the Izzone got it right with this one. (The Dagger)

– “The Harlem Shake” is spreading like wildfire. The college basketball world could not avoid it. (ACC Sports Journal)

– I hate giving Jeff Borzello credit for anything, I really do. And while this isn’t exactly critical acclaim, for somebody like Jeff Borzello, this is as big as it gets: Ke$ha liked something he wrote. Yup, that Ke$ha. She approved of the Wisconsin Badgers’ use of her music for their postgame celebration. Borzello wrote about the celebration. In Jeff’s world, he’s now the most popular kid in high school, and that’s a big deal for him. (Madtown Badgers)
 
 
Photo of the Day:
Well done Izzone, Well done. (The Dagger)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Well done Sparty. Well done. (H/T@WorldofIsaac)


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
Nice dunk. Better sequence. (H/T @RunTheFloor)

Dunk of the Day:
Come for the No. 1 dunk, stay for Ernie Kent’s analysis. (Pacific Takes)

 
 
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Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.