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.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.