Pregame Shootaround 3.2.13: Duke-Miami rematch is Saturday’s centerpiece

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Game of the Day: No. 3 Duke vs. No. 5 Miami (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Perhaps this game lost a bit of its luster after Duke lost to Virginia Wednesday night, but we still have a battle Saturday between two Top 5 teams with a history between them this season. After the Blue Devils were trounced by 27 points in Coral Gables earlier this season, they will be out for revenge at Cameron Indoor this time around.

It is unclear whether Ryan Kelly will return for Duke. A report from Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com said Kelly was leaning toward returning against Miami. If he does return, will he be back to 100% and ready to make as big of an impact as Duke would like? That’s even more unclear than if he will actually be in the lineup.

There are matchups on both the inside and the perimeter to watch Saturday. Miami point guard Shane Larkin has proven to be one of the more impressive lead guards in the country throughout the season, which will amplify the importance of Duke’s Quinn Cook. In their first meeting, Cook was 1-of-12 from the floor for five points. Larkin had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The other matchup to watch will be Mason Plumlee vs. Reggie Johnson on the block. Johnson returned from injury for the first Miami-Duke go-around, but played just 16 minutes. He has since gotten back into the groove. Plumlee, on the other hand, continues to produce like an All-American. The Blue Devils will need him to be dominant, though his job is made harder if Kelly cannot play or is not 100%.

Who’s Getting Upset?: USC (-2) vs. Arizona State (3:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

Arizona State lost a heartbreaker to UCLA at home in overtime this week. Though they are the underdogs on the road, they’ll be looking for a win to avoid falling further away from the top of the Pac-12. That will again be the job of Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix for the Sun Devils, both of whom had big games in the loss to UCLA. USC is no team to underestimate, though. Interim coach Bob Cantu has done a good job with the Trojans and a win would pull them to a respectable 9-7 in conference play.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Wichita State vs. Creighton (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Along with Duke-Miami, Wichita State-Creighton is the other game Saturday that features two teams each with 23 or more wins. It only seems to be par for the course when it comes to the Missouri Valley, which has finally created some separation and sees the Shockers and the Bluejays as the two teams who have emerged from the pack. Both teams are 12-5 in the conference, making Saturday’s game (the last of the regular season) that which will decide the regular season conference champion.

Five Things to Watch For

1) With No. 1 Indiana losing earlier in the week, will No. 2 Gonzaga take over the nation’s top spot? They will need to avoid a bad loss to 11-19 Portland, then the No. 1 ranking could be theirs.

2) No. 7 Georgetown has been one of the nation’s most impressive teams in the country over the past five weeks. The Hoyas escaped with a double-overtime win over Connecticut Wednesday and now meet Rutgers Saturday.

3) In a weak SEC this season, Alabama has played well enough to linger near the top of the conference. That being said, it seems crazy that with a win Saturday over No. 8 Florida, the Crimson Tide would have a share of the SEC lead with two games to play in the regular season.

4) Besides Miami-Duke, No. 10 Louisville vs. No. 12 Syracuse is the other eye-catcher Saturday. Look for a battle of the point guards between Louisville’s Peyton Siva and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams.

5) Memphis raised a lot of eyebrows when it left conference play for a non-conference matchup against Xavier and lost. They return to the friendlier confines of the C-USA Saturday against UCF.

The Top 25

No. 1  Indiana vs. Iowa (7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 2 Gonzaga vs. Portland (5:00 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)

No. 3 Duke vs. No. 5 Miami (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 6 Kansas vs. West Virginia (2:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 7 Georgetown vs. Rutgers (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 8 Florida vs. Alabama (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 10 Louisville vs. No. 12 Syracuse (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 11 Arizona vs. UCLA (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 13 Kansas State vs. Baylor (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 14 New Mexico vs. Wyoming (5:00 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)

No. 15 Oklahoma State vs. Texas (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 18 Saint Louis vs. George Washington (4:00 p.m. ET)

No. 19 Memphis vs. UCF (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

No. 20 Butler vs. Virginia Commonwealth (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 22 Marquette (2:00 p.m. ESPN)

No. 25 Louisiana Tech vs. San Jose State (8:00 p.m. ET)

Other Notable Games

Maryland vs. Wake Forest (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

George Mason vs. Delaware (2:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Wichita State vs. Creighton (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Connecticut vs. Cincinnati (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Massachusetts vs. Xavier (2:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Arizona State vs. USC (3:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

Penn State vs. Minnesota (3:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Kentucky vs. Arkansas (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

LSU vs. Missouri (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

UNLV vs. Nevada (4:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Colorado vs. California (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Nebraska vs. Illinois (5:15 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Harvard vs. Pennsylvania (6:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

St. John’s vs. Providence (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Santa Clara vs. St. Mary’s (10:00 p.m. ET)

BYU vs. Loyola Marymount (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 7 South Carolina upends No. 3 Baylor to advance to the Elite 8

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NEW YORK — It was with a whipping and a whimper that Baylor’s season can to an end on Friday night.

The final two minutes of the game wasn’t actually a game. No. 7 seed South Carolina dished out a 70-50 beatdown that wasn’t in doubt after the Gamecocks used an 18-0 run at the end of the first half to turn a rock fight into statement, and for the final two minutes of the game, the Gamecocks and, eventually, Baylor dribbled out the remaining seconds before joining arms at center court for a postgame prater.

It’s the third straight year that Baylor has been bounced from the NCAA tournament by a team seeded lower than them. In 2015, it was R.J. Hunter’s heroics that knocked his dad off of a stool and sent No. 14 seed Georgia State into the second round of the tournament. In 2016, the Bears fell in the first round to No. 12 seed Yale, prompting one of the most memorable press conference moments in NCAA tournament history.

And on Friday night, it was South Carolina that sent the Bears into offseason hibernation.

It was a disheartening end to a season, a loss that will surely provide fodder for the people that traffic in ‘Scott Drew can’t coach’ jokes, the irony being that the 2016-17 season was definitive proof that Scott Drew is almost certainly better at his job than you are at yours.

“When you coach for a while and you make Elite Eights and Sweet 16, you kind of start taking it for granted that you will always be successful in March,” Drew said. “But it’s a good reminder to be here and know how hard it is.”

No. 1 North Carolina handles No. 4 Butler en route to Elite Eight

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North Carolina, the top seed in the South Region, led by as many as 20 en route to a 92-80 win over No. 4 Butler in the Sweet 16 matchup on Friday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Tar Heels were led by 26 points, off 8-of-13 shooting, from junior point guard Joel Berry II. The 6-foot floor general had been hampered by an ankle injury through the first weekend. While he still seemed to favor that same ankle at times, his play was a big improvement on his 3-of-21 shooting through the NCAA Tournament’s first two rounds. Justin Jackson nearly matched Berry’s game-high with 24 points.

Andrew Chrabascz, in the final game of his four-year career at Butler, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

North Carolina, the last of the ACC’s nine tournament bids, advances to the Elite Eight to face the winner of No. 3 UCLA and No. 2 Kentucky. The Wildcats own a win over North Carolina, defeating the Tar Heels, 103-100, on Dec. 17 behind 47 points from Malik Monk.

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.