Tourney Preview: Khalif Wyatt, Nova-UNC, McBuckets highlight the day

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GAME OF THE DAY: 1:40 PM: (9) Temple vs (8) North Carolina State — TBS

NC State wants to do nothing other than get out and run the floor. They don’t defend. They don’t even really execute in the half court. They want to run and they want to get their talent in a position to score. That’s a fun style of play to watch, especially when you have the number of really good basketball players that Mark Gottfried does.

But the Owls are pretty entertaining in their own right. Let’s move beyond, for a second, their versatile and dangerous trio of big men — Jake O’Brien, Anthony Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson — as well as the dangerous Scootie Randall. Temple has Khalif Wyatt, and if you’ve never seen him play, you won’t want to miss this. He won’t blow you away with speed or athleticism, but he’s a crafty veteran that hits really tough shots and plays his best when the lights are the brightest. I’m expecting a huge game out of Wyatt on Friday.

Three more games you cannot miss

  • 7:20 PM: (9) Villanova vs (8) North Carolina — TNT: Does anyone really think they know what to expect here? Villanova has a ton of good wins and bad losses. North Carolina doesn’t really have either. The Heels spread the floor, the Wildcats pressure on the perimeter. Jay Wright and Roy Williams. This has “final possession” written all over it.
  • 9:20 PM: (10) Oklahoma vs (7) San Diego State — TBS: SDSU has really good guards and a talented swingman in Jamaal Franklin. Oklahoma has some versatile big men that matchup with well with SDSU. And Lon Kruger used to coach UNLV, SDSU’s rival.
  • 9:45 PM: (10) Iowa State vs (7) Notre Dame — CBS: If you like guard play, there are a lot of them in this game.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET: 3:10 PM: (13) La Salle vs (4) Kansas State — tru TV

I don’t have this in my bracket, but after watching the Explorers handle Boise State on Wednesday night, I got to thinking: How is Kansas State going to matchup with La Salle’s guards? I still haven’t come up with an answer. I think Ramon Galloway goes off and John Giannini advances to the round of 32.

WHO’S NOT GETTING UPSET: 9:57 PM: (11) Minnesota vs (6) UCLA — tru TV

I know the thinking. UCLA is without Jordan Adams, they are allergic to rebounding and all Minnesota can do offensively is rebound the ball. I see it, I promise. But I also know that Minnesota is 5-11 in their last 16 games. Are we really supposed to just assume that this team can simply turn it back on for the postseason?

BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: 7:15 PM: (15) Iona vs (2) Ohio State — CBS

Momo Jones is a talented basketball player and a blessed scorer. The Arizona transfer is now a member of the Iona Gaels. He’ll be locking horns with Aaron Craft, arguably the best on-ball defender in the country. That should be fun, and I fully expect Jones to be locked down.

INTRIGUING MATCHUP: 2:45 PM: (10) Cincinnati vs (7) Creighton — CBS

Creighton has a ton of scoring and arguably is the best three-point shooting team in the country, but they can’t defend all that well. Cincinnati is as tough and as physical on the defensive end as anyone in the country, but they cannot score. What wins out? And more importantly, if you took Cincinnati’s defense and Creighton’s offense, would that team win the national title?

 

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

12:15 PM: (15) Albany vs (2) Duke — CBS
12:40 PM: (12) Ole Miss vs (5) Wisconsin — tru TV
1:40 PM: (9) Temple vs (8) North Carolina State — TBS
2:10 PM: (15) Pacific vs (2) Miami (FL) — TNT
2:45 PM: (10) Cincinnati vs (7) Creighton — CBS
3:10 PM: (13) La Salle vs (4) Kansas State — tru TV
4:10 PM: (16) James Madison vs (1) Indiana — TBS
4:40 PM: (10) Colorado vs (7) Illinois — TNT
6:50 PM: (15) Florida Gulf Coast vs (2) Georgetown — TBS
7:15 PM: (15) Iona vs (2) Ohio State — CBS
7:20 PM: (9) Villanova vs (8) North Carolina — TNT
7:27 PM: (14) Northwestern State vs (3) Florida — tru TV
9:20 PM: (10) Oklahoma vs (7) San Diego State — TBS
9:45 PM: (10) Iowa State vs (7) Notre Dame — CBS
9:50 PM: (16) Western Kentucky vs (1) Kansas — TNT
9:57 PM: (11) Minnesota vs (6) UCLA — tru TV

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

IUPUI to become Horizon League’s 10th member

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The Horizon League officially announced this week that IUPUI will be replacing Valparaiso as the league’s 10th member. Valpo left to replace Wichita State in the Missouri Valley.

“We are excited to welcome IUPUI to the Horizon League family,” Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone said. “The Jaguars bring us tremendous competitive potential, particularly in men’s basketball, along with an engaged and energized city. Their addition solidifies our broad community partnerships in Indianapolis and is the right school at the right time.”

IUPUI — which stands for Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis — has been a member of the Summit League, which will be left with eight teams now that the Jaguars have departed. They’ve made it to one NCAA tournament, back in 2003, and have been a full-fledged member of Division I for 19 years. That was the year before NBA point guard George Hill enrolled. Current head coach Jason Gardner has been there for three years but has yet to record a winning season; IUPUI has not been over .500 since 2011, when Ron Hunter was still the head coach.

“We are excited about engaging with the other Horizon League member institutions to enhance the overall competitiveness of the league,” said IUPUI Director of Athletics Dr. Roderick Perry. “As an institution and athletics department, our mission, vision, and core values align closely with the Horizon League. This is an important step forward in the life of our athletics department.”

Former Louisville standout Chris Jones shot in Memphis

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Former Louisville point guard Chris Jones was shot while playing basketball in his native Memphis on Tuesday night.

According to a report from FOX 13 in Memphis, shortly after 11 p.m. shots rang out on in Halle Park after an altercation on the court. Two people were taken to the hospital, one with a head injury stemming from a fight. The other was Jones, who was shot in the leg twice, according to the Courier-Journal. His injuries are not life-threatening and he has already been released from the hospital, according to Steve Forbes, his former Junior College coach.

Jones played at Melrose High in Memphis before spending two years at Northwest Florida Junior College and two more seasons at Louisville.

This past year, he spent time playing professionally in Greece and in France, although he played just a grand total of three games in the two leagues.

Perhaps the craziest part about this story is that Jones was shot on a court that is next to a police station. This is a screengrab from FOX 13’s live shot from the basketball courts, and you can see the police cars in the station’s parking lot in the back ground:

Preaching patience, new Pitt AD says hoops program “a complete rebuild”

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Things did not go particularly well for Kevin Stallings in his first year at Pitt. The program, which essentially pushed Jamie Dixon out the door for being consistently good but not often enough great, struggled, going 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC, just two games out of the cellar.

On top of that, six players prematurely left the program this spring.

Not great, especially when you’ve got a new boss that didn’t hire you, as is the case for Stallings with new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who came aboard in March. In her first meeting with Stallings, Lyke asked a rather blunt question.

“Do you want to be here?” according to the Beaver County Times.

Stallings answered that he did, and his new athletic director would appear to be willing to give her predecessor’s hire time to reclaim and rebuild the program.

“It’s a steep climb, if you will,” Lyke said. “It’s not something that’s going to come easy and it takes an incredible amount of work.”

Stallings’ personal reputation took a significant amount of damage this spring when he attempted to block Cameron Johnson from an intra-ACC transfer to North Carolina. NBC Sports’ Scott Phillips called him a “town-deaf clown” in his attempt to keep Johnson from being a Tar Heel, a position he later relinquished, allowing Johnson to head to Chapel Hill.

Losing Johnson certainly won’t help Stallings and the Panthers recover from the difficult first season. Pitt didn’t hit any grand-slams in recruiting but is adding four-star guard Marcus Carr in its 2017 class.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look particularly bright, but Pitt appears to be positioning itself to exhibit some patience.

“If you look at the team, it is a complete rebuild,” Lyke said. “So I do think that (Stallings) is going to need a little time to develop it.

“But, we’ve got to be headed in the right direction. There’s some things that have got to get better and noticeable improvements. I’ve already seen those things start to happen.”

 

Miller Time: Indiana coach cashes in with $24 million deal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana coach Archie Miller will make $24 million under his seven-year deal — and potentially even more in bonuses.

Miller accepted the job in March, but the athletic department didn’t announce details of the contract until Tuesday.

He will receive a base salary of $550,000 per year and $1 million in deferred income each season. Miller also will receive an additional $1.85 million in outside marketing and promotional income — and will get a $50,000 per year raise each year through March 2024.

Miller can earn a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship. He can earn an additional $125,000 for a Big Ten regular-season title, reaching the Final Four and producing multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores over 950.

Utah, BYU rivalry back on after one-year hiatus

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The BYU-Utah annual rivalry series will be back on this season after taking a one-year hiatus last year.

For just the second time since 1909, the Utes and the Cougars did not play in 2016-17 after Utah head coach Larry Kyrstkowiak asked for a one-year cooling off period stemming from an intense and emotional game against BYU in 2015-16. In that game, then-freshman Nick Emery was ejected as a result of this punch that he threw:

The last time those two teams did not play was due to World War II.

The game will be played at BYU on Dec. 16th.

Utah will also play Utah State this season, the first time that they have played the Aggies since 2011.