Allen Crabbe

Pregame Shootaround 2.21.13: Slow night, but big chance for Cal, Cincy

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Game of the Night: Cal at No. 23 Oregon (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The Ducks will once again be without Dominic Artis tonight, which puts Cal into a wonderful position — the Bears, who have won five of their last six games to put themselves firmly into the bubble conversation, can grab their second marquee road win in the span of two weeks if they can beat the Dukes. To be perfectly fair, Johnathan Loyd has been playing some good basketball of late in Artis’ stead, but he’s not the same kind of talent. Oregon currently leads Arizona in the Pac-12 standings by a game in the loss column.

The Other Game of the Night: BYU at St. Mary’s (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Neither BYU not St. Mary’s looks like they are for the NCAA tournament without locking down the automatic bid from the WCC, but that doesn’t mean that these two teams are boring to watch. The Cougars are one of the fastest paced teams in the country, and St. Mary’s is one of the top ten most efficient teams in the country. Matthew Dellavedova is as good as any point guard that you’ll find nationally, while Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies are as good as any 1-2 punch as you’ll find. Expect a lot of scoring.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: South Alabama at Middle Tennessee State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Middle Tennessee State may be the best mid-major team in the country, one of the few teams outside the major conferences with a chance (albeit it slim) to receive an at-large bid. South Alabama has already gone through a coaching change this season, but they are currently sitting in second place in the Sun Belt. MTSU will win clinch the Sun Belt outright tonight with a win.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Erick Green may be stuck playing for one of the bottom-feeders in the ACC, but he’s a first-team all-american talent. He’ll be hosting Duke with the Hokies tonight. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

2) UConn may not be eligible for the NCAA tournament, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a quality road win in the making. Cincinnati needs one of those. Should be interesting to see two teams that rely almost entirely on their talented back court. (7:00 p.m. ESPN)

3) Drexel and Delaware are two of the more disappointing teams in the CAA, but they are also two of the most talented teams. (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

4) La Salle looks like they are in position to be the fourth team from the Atlantic 10 to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they still have some work left to do. Winning at Temple in a Big 5 showdown would be a good way to start. (7:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

5) Colorado and Illinois host Utah and Penn State, respectively. Neither can afford a loss.

Top 25

  • No. 6 Duke at Virginia Tech (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Cal at No. 23 Oregon (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Other Notable Games

  • Drexel at Delaware (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
  • Cincinnati at UConn (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • La Salle at Temple (7:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
  • South Alabama at Middle Tennessee State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Penn State at Illinois (8:15 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • Utah at Colorado (10:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
  • BYU at St. Mary’s (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.