Pregame Shootaround 3.10.13: Two more NCAA tickets to be punched Sunday

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Game of the Day: No. 2 Indiana vs. No. 7 Michigan (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Indiana has already locked up at least a share of the Big Ten title by (oddly enough) losing to Ohio State this week, so it will be Michigan who is clawing for a piece of the pie Sunday. If Michigan wins, they will finish 13-5 in the conference on the year as part of what could be a four-way tie, depending upon the outcomes of Ohio State-Illinois and Michigan State-Northwestern.

The key for Michigan will be the level of physicality that it can bring against Indiana. The problem is, interior depth has been one of its major problems this season. Having a presence in the paint and disrupting Cody Zeller’s offensive flow can go a long way toward derailing the Hoosiers’ offense. Taking away the inside puts more offensive pressure on Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford. The less weapons available and clicking offensively, the better for the Wolverines.

Michigan will want to turn Indiana missed shots and turnovers into points in transition, where they thrive. Indiana can combat that by being efficient and getting Oladipo in positions where he can be aggressive offensively.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Michigan (-1.5) vs. Indiana (See above)

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Wichita State vs. Creighton (MVC tournament championship) (2:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Last time Doug McDermott faced Wichita State, he dropped 41 points and clinched the regular season conference title for the Bluejays. This time, it’s for the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. What should we expect? More McDermott. Wichita State needs to know, though, that they’re running into a hot Creighton team. After that dominating performance by McDermott in the season finale, the Bluejays shot 54 percent in their win over Indiana State Saturday. The recipe for a win is more Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall for the Shockers, along with contributions from point guard Malcolm Armstead.

Five Things to Watch For

1) No. 14 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan State are, for one day, Michigan fans. Both teams need a win Sunday and an Indiana loss to create a four-way tie atop the Big Ten.

2) Saint Louis clinched at least a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title Saturday by beating La Salle. Now the spotlight shifts to Virginia Commonwealth Sunday against Temple. A Ram victory gets Shaka Smart’s team a piece of the title pie in its first season in the A-10. A loss gives Saint Louis the title outright.

3) In a battle of NCAA tournament bubble teams, Maryland and Virginia match up Sunday. The winner has a leg up on the other in the race for the Big Dance. Expect Virginia’s Joe Harris to shine.

4) Stony Brook has been the best team in the America East regular season, but this is where mid-major hoops is at its best. Host team Albany is looking for an upset in the America East tournament. Winner moves on. Loser goes home.

5) Liberty pulled the upset Saturday over Gardner-Webb and now advances to the Big South championship game against Charleston Southern at noon. Winner gets the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Top 25

No. 2 Indiana vs. No. 7 Michigan (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 10 Michigan State vs. Northwestern (6:00 p.m. ET, CBS/Big Ten Network)

No. 14 Ohio State vs. Illinois (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 21 Virginia Commonwealth vs. Temple (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 22 Wisconsin vs. Penn State (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Other Notable Games

Liberty vs. Charleston Southern (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Iona vs. Niagara (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Wichita State vs. Creighton (2:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Maryland vs. Virginia (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Albany vs. Stony Brook (7:00 p.m. ET)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.