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_

Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.

Storm damage forces Paradise Jam out of Virgin Islands

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MIAMI (AP) — The Paradise Jam basketball tournament will not be played in the U.S. Virgin Islands this year because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The tournament will be played in the U.S., with a new site expected to be announced by Sept. 29.

The Paradise Jam field this year includes Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac, and each of those schools was given the chance to bid for the right to host the tournament.

Tournament officials say they looked at multiple other options, such as moving to another island and using a cruise ship for accommodations, before deciding to move the event to the U.S.

For now, the tournament is scheduled to be played from Nov. 17-20.

Kentucky lands commitment from five-star point guard

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Kentucky landed a commitment from Immanuel Quickley on Friday night, a top ten prospect and arguably the best point guard in the Class of 2018.

Quickley picked the Wildcats over Kansas, who he visited earlier this month, and Miami, who he was scheduled to visit before Hurricane Irma struck south Florida.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is the first commitment in the class of head coach John Calipari, and it really comes as no surprise. He’s been considered a Kentucky lean for months, and Quickley played for Calipari on the USA U19 team during the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

While Quickley has the size and the build – he’s 180 pounds with broad shoulders and long arms – of some of Kentucky’s former elite point guards, he’s not the same kind of point guard as, say, De’Aaron Fox or John Wall. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one, and while his long strides allow him to get out into transition, he’s not the finisher at the rim that those two were. What he is, however, is an intelligent player. He’s good in ball-screens, he’s an excellent passer and facilitator and he is a good enough shooter that he forces defenses to stay honest. He also has the potential to be a plus defender given his physical tools and the fact that he’ll try on that end of the floor.

Where this commitment gets interesting is the current point guard in Kentucky’s back court, Quade Green. Green was a five-star recruit in his own right, but he’s not quite built as a potential one-and-done prospect. Calipari has maneuvered through two point guards in the past, and each of the last five national champions have played major minutes with two point guards on the floor at the same time, but if Green is back next season that will be something to monitor.

That, however, is a long ways away.

What matters now is that Kentucky has gotten this commitment out of the way, and it paves the way for them to also receive a commitment from Zion Williamson. There has long been talk of those two attending college together, and with Quickley on the board, that likely keeps Kentucky in the driver’s seat as they pursue the South Carolina native.

If Kentucky can also wrangle a commitment out of R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, that would likely be the end of the discussion of whether or not Duke has surpassed the Wildcats on the recruiting trail.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.