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.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.