Victor Oladipo

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_

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)
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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
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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.