Pregame Shootaround 3.4.13: The calm before the storm

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Game of the Night: Cincinnati at No. 8 Louisville (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The Bearcats finally snapped a stretch of five losses in six games on Saturday afternoon, as they knocked off a depleted UConn team at home. The game was much closer than it probably should have been given the fact that the Huskies were playing without their star point guard Shabazz Napier, which means that while the Bearcats got a needed boost to their resume and their confidence, it doesn’t exactly change the fact that they have struggled since Cashmere Wright injured his knee.

Cincinnati cannot score the basketball right now. They don’t have anyone inside to dump the ball off to, which creates a problem since Sean Kilpatrick is really the only healthy perimeter player that can be trusted to score, and even he is better playing off the ball. Without Wright available to make things easier for his teammates with his ability to create off the dribble, the Bearcats stagnate. That’s not a good thing heading into a game against one of the toughest defenses in the country on the road.

Something to watch for: Russ Smith’s efficiency. He’s been much more selective in the shots that he’s taken over the last month or so. It’s shown; Louisville has won eight of their last nine games.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Montana at Southern Utah (9:05 p.m. ET)

This isn’t exactly a great basketball game, but it is one that could tell us a lot about the Grizzlies moving forward. They are playing without Mathias Ward and Will Cherry right now, and it’s unknown exactly when those two will be back. They just so happen to be Montana’s leading scorer and most talented player. The Grizzlies struggled to a 71-68 win over Montana State on Saturday.

Five Things

1) Baylor visits Texas in what might be the least interesting Big 12 Big Monday game in the history of Big Monday. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

2) No. 4 Kansas hosts Texas Tech in another game that the Jayhawks should win in a route. Let’s see if the new Elijah Johnson hangs around for another game. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

3) Norfolk State puts their 14-0 record in the MEAC on the line against Florida A&M. (8:00 p.m. ET)

4) The team chasing NSU, North Carolina Central, is 13-1 in the MEAC and they’ll be hosting South Carolina State tonight. (7:30 p.m. ET)

5) The Following has a new episode tonight, which you should probably watch before catching up on Baylor-Texas on your DVR. (9:00 p.m. ET, FOX)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

AP Photo/Sean Rayford
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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is dunking again

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Just what you wanted to see, a video of former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine throwing an alley-oop off the glass to current Michigan State star Miles Bridges in a Pro-Am in Michigan:

VIDEO: Kentucky’s entry into the #DriveByDunkChallenge

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A day after Grayson Allen threw an alley-oop to Trevon Duval for Duke’s entry into the #DriveByDunkChallenge, Kentucky’s team of freshmen decided to do one of their own:

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/889947577734574085

That would be, in order, Johnny David, Jarrod Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, PJ Washington and Kevin Knox abusing some poor sap’s rim somewhere in Lexington.

But was that better than John Calipari’s attempt?