photo by Ray Acevedo, Valpo Athletics

The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 8 preview

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The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

Here’s what to watch for on Tuesday.

Game of the Night: North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State
It’s a good ole fashioned border war in the Summit League finals as the Fightin’ Nate Wolters of South Dakota State take on the Fightin’ Taylor Brauns of North Dakota State. The two squads split the regular season series, with both teams holding serve on their home courts. SDSU likes to get out and run, NDSU wants to turn this into a dogfight.

Player to Watch: Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso
The senior forward has the driving force behind Valparaiso’s recent success during his collegiate career and is coming off of a 25-point performance against Green Bay in the Horizon League semifinals. But Broekhoff is still looking for his first trip to the NCAA dance. If he can put the Crusaders on his back once more, he will finally be able to get fitted for dancing shoes.

Miscellaneous Madness:
The Mountain West Conference tournament tips off tonight with Wyoming versus Nevada. Most of the pundits agree that the MWC tournament has the potential to be the most entertaining and unpredictable championship week event. Do not miss a minute of this.

Saturday Schedule:

Big East Conference First Round
7 p.m. – South Florida (13) vs. Seton hall (12)
9 p.m. – DePaul (14) vs. Rutgers (11)

Horizon League Finals
9 p.m. – Wright State (3) at Valparaiso (1) ESPN

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First Round
4 p.m. – Coppin State (9) vs. Bethune-Cookman (8)
6:30 p.m. – Florida A&M (10) vs. North Carolina A&T (7)
9 p.m. – Howard (11) vs. Delaware State (6)

Mountain West Conference First Round
8 p.m. – Nevada (9) vs. Wyoming (8)

Northeast Conference Finals
7 p.m. – Mt. St. Mary’s (5) at LIU-Brooklyn (3) ESPN2

Summit League Finals
9 p.m. – North Dakota State (3) vs. South Dakota State (1)ESPN2

Western Athletic Conference First Round
9 p.m. – Seattle (10) vs. Texas State (7)
11:30 p.m. – UT-San Antonio (9) vs. San Jose State (8)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.