Game of the Weekend: No. 5 Miami at No. 3 Duke (Sat. 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Some of the luster was taken off of this game when Duke lost to Virginia on Thursday night while Miami is coming off of a blowout loss to Wake Forest last Saturday. If Miami can’t compete with the Demon Deacons on the road, are we really supposed to assume they can compete with Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium?
Well, yeah, probably. Because the last time these two got together, Miami beat Duke by 27 points. And it wasn’t even that close. If that wasn’t bad enough, Miami did what they could to mock and make fun of Duke in the second half by slapping the floor on defense. You don’t think Duke is mad about that? They got embarrassed and shown up on the road by Miami?
Even if Ryan Kelly doesn’t play and even if these two teams are “down” from where they were a week ago, these are still two good basketball teams with plenty of bad blood to go around.
Five more games you need to watch:
- No. 10 Louisville at No. 12 Syracuse (Sat. 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS): It seems like every team in the country that was supposed to be good this season has had a couple of weeks where they can’t seem to figure anything out. That’s been Syracuse for the last month. Teams have started playing them zone, and the Orange have been unable to figure out how to score against it. Guess what Louisville likes to play? We can only hope that this game will live up to the last time these two got together, when Michael Carter-Williams picked up a pair of steals in the final 30 seconds to beat the Cardinals.
- No. 21 Notre Dame at No. 22 Marquette (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): The key matchup here will be in the paint. Marquette most important player has been low-post scorer Davante Gardner, but he’ll be going up against the Big East’s most physical post player in Jack Cooley.
- Wichita State at Creighton (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): It all comes down to one game. Wichita State and Creighton are tied for first in the Missouri Valley right now. They play on Saturday in what has become the MVC title game. That alone provides more than enough intrigue, but there’s more to it: the loser falls one step closer to the bubble. If, say, Creighton loses on Saturday and loses in the first round of the MVC tournament, there’s a chance they miss the NCAA tournament. And vice versa.
- No. 20 Butler at VCU (Sat. 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): The two newest additions to the Atlantic 10 — and one of the latest departures? — square off in a battle for second place in the Atlantic 10 standings. It will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs’ back court can handle the pressure from VCU’s ‘Havoc’ defense. More importantly, Butler is three fluky wins away from being a borderline bubble team. Can they make a statement against the Rams?
- No. 9 Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan (Sun. 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS): Michigan’s potential to earn a No. 1 seed was put into serious jeopardy when they lost to Penn State on Wednesday night, giving up 84 points to the previously winless-in-the-Big-Ten Nittany Lions. The last time these two got together, Sparty won by 22 points, but that was before Keith Appling’s nosedive. Can the Wolverines get their revenge?
And what about the mid-majors?
- Harvard at Princeton (Fri. 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
- Loyola (MD) at Iowa (Fri. 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
- Northwestern State at Stephen F. Austin (Sat. 7:00 p.m. ET)
- George Mason at Delaware (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET, NBCSports)
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.
Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.
Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.
This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.
Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.
Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.
Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.
(H/t: Ball is Life)
Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.
The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.
Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only 3-25.
Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.
Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.
The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.
A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.
Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.
North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.
The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.
Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.