Otto Porter Jr., John Thompson III

Pregame Shootaround 3.6.13: Six ranked teams head on the road

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Game of the Night: No. 5 Georgetown at Villanova (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The biggest game of the night pits two old school Big East programs and future Catholic 7 programs that could determine quite a bit come NCAA tournament time.

Here’s what’s on the line:

– For Villanova, they have a chance to lock up an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. As of today, the Wildcats should be able to feel pretty good about where they stand thanks to wins over Syracuse, Louisville and Marquette. But they enter this game on a two-game losing streak, and with the Big East tournament looming next week, a loss in the first round could mean that Jay Wright’s club enters Selection Sunday on a four game losing streak. Still deserving? Maybe not.

– For Georgetown, they have a chance to lock up a share of the Big East regular season title. with Syracuse visiting DC on Saturday afternoon looking to get revenge for a beat down last month and change the course of their season, a loss would put the Hoyas in danger of missing out on a chance to win a Big East title and to get the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament. With a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament a legitimate possibility, that’s a lot riding on these last couple of games.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: No. 16 St. Louis at Xavier (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Read this story from Dana O’Neil on this year’s St. Louis team.

You done yet?

The Billikens have become one of the feel-good stories of the year, and they just so happen to be the best team in the Atlantic 10 and a group with a real shot at making a long run in the tournament. Which is why Xavier wants this win so badly. There is still a chance that, if the Musketeers can win out and pick off a couple more good teams in the A-10 tournament, they can sneak into one of the last at-large spots. The Cintas Center is always tough to play in.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 13 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Iowa State is one of the most entertaining and dangerous teams in the country, and they just so happen to be awesome when playing at home. They desperately need this win if they are going to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large. I think they get it.

Five Things

1) Five conference tournaments start tonight: the WCC, the Ohio Valley, the Patriot League, the NEC and the Atlantic Sun.

2) There are four top 25 teams on the road against teams that have a real shot at pulling an upset. Three are listed above. The fourth? No. 7 Michigan at Purdue. The Boilermakers are coming off of a win at the Kohl Center over Wisconsin. (7:00 p.m ET, Big Ten Network)

3) No. 21 VCU and Richmond actually have a pretty healthy rivalry as the two biggest programs in the city of Richmond. Throw in the fact that the Spiders beat the Rams earlier this season, and this should be an intense matchup. (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

4) Maryland’s NCAA tournament hopes are all but gone, but if they can beat a North Carolina team that is peaking at the right time tonight, they may still have a chance. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

5) Tennessee is on their last breath as well, and while beating Auburn isn’t going to do much for their profile, losing to the Tigers would be a monumental disaster. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Top 25

  • No. 5 Georgetown at Villanova (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Georgia Tech at No. 6 Miami (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 7 Michigan at Purdue (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • Vanderbilt at No. 11 Florida (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 12 New Mexico at Nevada (10:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
  • No. 13 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 16 St. Louis at Xavier (9:00 p.m. ET)
  • DePaul at No. 17 Syracuse (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Richmond at No. 21 VCU (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
  • No. 23 UCLA at Washington State (9:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Notable Games

  • North Carolina at Maryland (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Temple at Fordham (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • George Washington at La Salle (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • Tennessee at Auburn (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • UConn at South Florida (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Wake Forest at NC State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Minnesota at Nebraska (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • West Virginia at Oklahoma (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Colorado State at Wyoming (10:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • Stanford at Cal (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Air Force at San Diego State (11:30 p.m. ET)
  • USC at Washington (11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.