Archie Goodwin, Alex Oriakhi, Keion Bell

Florida-Kentucky highlights a heavy slate of bubble games

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No. 11 Florida at Kentucky (Sat. 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS): This is how weak the bubble is this season: We said that Kentucky couldn’t afford a loss at Arkansas and still go dancing. After they lost, we said they really couldn’t afford a loss at Georgia and still go dancing. And now here we are, after the Wildcats lost both of those games, and they can put themselves into a position where one win in the SEC tournament may lock up an NCAA at-large bid if they can somehow find a way to beat Florida on Saturday afternoon.

It’s not going to be an easy thing to do, mind you. Florida is a very good basketball team with a really, really good defense that finally got healthy. They can pressure the Wildcats in the half court or the full court, something that hasn’t exactly been a good thing for Kentucky in the Ryan Harrow era.

San Diego State at Boise State (Sat. 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network): Boise State is on the brink of locking up an NCAA tournament bid, especially if they can manage to knock off San Diego State on Saturday afternoon. Don’t worry though. Even if they lose, they’ll be getting a rematch in the first round of the Mountain West tournament anyway. The Aztecs probably aren’t in danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament.

Missouri at Tennessee (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): It’s do or die time for Tennessee. The Vols have won seven of their last eight games to put themselves in a position where they have a shot at the tournament. Missouri struggles mightily on the road and Jordan McRae has been playing like an all-american of late. I’m not sure a win locks up a bid completely, but it certainly puts them a lot closer to the right side of the bubble than they are now.

Maryland at Virginia (Sun. 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Both the Terps and the Cavs are at a point where they probably need (at least) three wins to make their way into the Big Dance. What that means is Saturday’s matchup will be a play out game. Win, and they have a chance. Lose, and they might as well resign themselves to the fact that they are going to need the automatic bid.

Xavier at Butler (Sat. 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): You want another example of how week the bubble is this season? After beating St. Louis on Wednesday, if Xavier can somehow manage to pull off an upset at Butler on Saturday, they may have gotten themselves to the point that a win or two in the Atlantic 10 tournament could get them into the tournament. How much do you think Chris Mack regrets blowing that 17 point lead to VCU now?

The rest of the weekend’s bubble action:

  • La Salle at No. 16 St. Louis (Sat. 1:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
  • Ole Miss at LSU (Sat. 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Iowa State at West Virginia (Sat. 1:30 pm. ET, ESPN3)
  • UMass at Rhode Island (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET)
  • Nebraska at Iowa (Sat. 2:21 p.m. ET, Big Ten)
  • Georgia at Alabama (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • South Florida at Cincinnati (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Arizona State at No. 18 Arizona (Sat. 4:30 p.m. ET, FSN)
  • No. 4 Kansas at Baylor (Sat. 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Louisiana Tech at Denver (Sat. 7:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • UCF at Southern Miss (Sat. 8:00 p.m. ET)
  • No. 21 VCU at Temple (Sun. 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.

Big Ten releases conference schedule

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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The Big Ten released its 2016-17 conference schedule on Thursday as the conference season begins on Dec. 27 with a four-game set.

Conference play will conclude on March 5th before the 20th annual Big Ten Tournament is played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. from March 8-12.

Some notable games include Penn State hosting Michigan State at the Palestra on Jan. 7.

You can view the full Big Ten schedule here.

Arizona’s Talbott Denny injures knee, out for season

AP Photo
AP Photo
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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona senior forward Talbott Denny will miss the season after tearing the ACL and medial meniscus in his left knee.

The school said Wednesday that the 6-foot-5 graduate transfer from Lipscomb will have surgery.

Denny, from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School, missed all of last season at Lipscomb because of a shoulder injury.

Roy Williams: ‘There’s no question’ more ACC games equal no Kentucky in non-conference

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Back in June, when the ACC officially announced that they would be expanding the league schedule to 20 games in 2019, I tried to warn you that it was going to put a dent into the non-conference schedule and the amount of quality, on-campus games that we’ll get prior to January.

Roy Williams essentially confirmed this as fact this week.

The North Carolina head coach hopped on a podcast with ESPN and more or less said that the bigger league schedule is going to lead to an end of some of UNC’s marquee home-and-home series.

“My feeling right now, and it could change by ’19, heck I could be fired by ’19, but my feeling right now is to play our conference schedule, play one exempt event where you have really good teams, and other than that play home games to help out your revenue and help out your budget,” Williams said. “We have the ACC/Big Ten and that’s not going to go away. So it’s 21 games already scheduled.”

When asked specifically if this would put an end to UNC’s series with Kentucky, Williams said, “Oh yeah, there’s no question. Why would I need to do that?”

There’s two reasons this makes sense. On the one hand, North Carolina needs to fill their home arena a certain number of times to help with the bottom line of the athletic department. They make enough off of ticket sales, merchandise sales, parking fees and food and beverage that they can afford to pay out more than $50,000 to bring a smaller opponent into their arena. More than that, playing a series of weaklings early in the year allows players to gain confidence, it allows Williams to figure out what his rotation will be and who can handle playing at this level, and it gives newcomers a chance to assimilate into his team against players that just aren’t that good.

And when a larger ACC schedule severely limits the number of non-conference games that UNC will be able to play, what’s going to get cut are the contracts that require the Tar Heels to play on the road when they don’t have to.

So buh-bye, Kentucky, it is.