Adreian Payne, Ryan Evans

Pregame Shootaround 3.7.13: Five tourneys, a B1G battle, and bubble galore

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Game of the Night: No. 22 Wisconsin at No. 10 Michigan State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The first time these two teams got together back in January, the Badgers lost to Michigan State at home by a deuce.

This time, however, the game carries with it a great deal of importance. The Badgers and the Spartans are both sitting tied with Ohio State and Michigan for second place in the Big Ten standings with five losses, just a game behind league leader Indiana. Indiana plays at Michigan in the finale for both teams on Sunday meaning that, if Michigan wins, every team with five losses will own a share of the regular season title.

In other words, win tonight and avoid an upset this weekend, and there’s still a chance you can own a share of the Big Ten title.

But there’s more.

If Wisconsin wins and Indiana loses, the Badgers — barring any other upsets in the league — will own the tie-breaker and get the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Spartans, if they lose, will be forced into the fifth seed and head into the weekend on a four-game losing streak.

Gotta love those March implications!

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Butler at UMass (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Butler, at this point in the season, is just a tad overrated. If the 30 point whooping they took at VCU didn’t convince you, does the fact that their three biggest wins of the season all came on buzzer-beaters? If Rotnei Clarke, Alex Barlow and Roosevelt Jones all miss, Butler is on the bubble. Which, coincidentally, is where UMass currently sits. And since the Bulldogs won all those close games, getting this win will be huge for the Minutemen.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 19 Oregon at Colorado (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

I don’t know if this even counts as an upset, as Colorado is favored to win. But the Ducks are ranked and sit three games in front of the Buffaloes in the Pac-12 standings, so we’ll go with it. Both teams should feel pretty good about their NCAA tournament standing right now, but this would be a key victory when it comes to seeding, and not just in the Big Dance. Oregon has a chance to win the Pac-12 regular season title outright if they can sweep this weekend.

Five Things

1) Five conference tournaments are in action tonight. The Missouri Valley’s first round will be played, as will the second round of the WCC tournament. The Big South, the Ohio Valley and the Atlantic Sun are all hosting their quarterfinal round today as well. You can read through all of our tournament previews here.

2) Montana has a chance to clinch a share of the Big Sky regular season title tonight if they can beat Sacramento State. If the Grizzlies lose, Weber State only has to beat Portland State to tie Montana for first place.

3) Long Beach State can lock up the Big South regular season title by winning at UC Davis tonight.

4) After losing at Boston College on Sunday, Virginia cannot afford any more slipups. They need to win at Florida State tonight.

5) Kentucky will be the team that everyone is keeping an eye on. If the Wildcats can win at Georgia, they put themselves into a position where beating Florida on Saturday can put them into position to earn a tournament bid.

Top 25

  • No. 22 Wisconsin at No. 10 Michigan State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 19 Oregon at Colorado (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Notable Games

  • Virginia at Florida State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Kentucky at Georgia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Butler at UMass (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
  • Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Sacramento State at Montana (9:00 p.m. ET)
  • Long Beach State at UC Davis (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

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.