Michigan v Syracuse

Michigan forward Mitch McGary ‘day-to-day’ with lower back issue

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With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. now in the NBA, the Michigan Wolverines have some needs to address in their quest to build on last season’s run to the national title game. A key figure in the Wolverines’ plans this season is sophomore forward Mitch McGary, who played his best basketball of the season during the stretch run. With that being the case, many expect the Chesterton, Ind. native to lead the way for John Beilein’s squad.

Unfortunately for McGary and the Michigan program as a whole he’s been dealing with a lower back issue. According to Beilein the 6-foot-10 McGary is “day-to-day” due to the ailment, which has slowed down the big man in his preparations for the upcoming season.

During Michigan’s run in the NCAA tournament McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but even with the progress he’s expected to make this season McGary won’t be doing all of the heavy lifting by himself. Michigan also welcomes back fellow sophomores Spike Albrecht, Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Robinson III (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Stauskas (11.0, 3.0) were the most consistent of these four sophomores last season, with Albrecht (17 points off the bench in the national title game) and LeVert proving to be valuable reserves as the season progressed. Add in front court veterans Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, not to mention freshmen Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., and Michigan has more than enough depth to be a contender both in the Big Ten and nationally.

If anything, the new practice schedule may work in Michigan’s favor when it comes to making sure McGary’s rested and healthy leading into their season opener against UMass-Lowell on November 8 (the Wolverines’ first test is at Iowa State on November 17). With programs having 42 days in which to complete a maximum of 30 practices as opposed to beginning on October 15, there are more opportunities to give the squad some extra rest.

Michigan has enough talent to accomplish a great deal in 2013-14, but the task becomes more difficult if McGary isn’t at his best. It’s better to have nagging issues such as this one come up now as opposed to in the middle of the season, when it’s tougher for the body to fully recover.

POSTERIZED: Monmouth bench mob goes insane after huge dunk

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Monmouth has arguably been the most entertaining team in college basketball through the season’s first three weeks.

Let’s start with the obvious: They’re a mid-major outfit with a 5-foot-8 point guard that headlines a talented back court, one good enough to have notched upsets at UCLA and, this week, over No. 17 Notre Dame and USC at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.

It’s pretty incredible, to be honest. They’ve managed to amass one of college basketball’s best resume despite being a MAAC program with a grand total of four NCAA appearances in their luxurious history.

But what makes this team so much fun isn’t just that they can’t seem to stop beating high-major competition, it’s that, in the process, their bench mob has become one of college basketball’s best.

Want some proof? Watch what happens after this Deon Jones poster dunk:

And here’s the wild part: that wasn’t even close to the best thing the bench did this week.

This was:


But there’s so much more.

Like, for example, the three arrows:

The touchdown pass:

The bench poster:

The heart attack:

They … caught a fish?

And, finally, the ‘OH SHHHHHHHHHHHH’:

Wichita State’s 0-3 week makes chances for at-large bid small

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

We’ve reached the nightmare scenario for Wichita State.

Having entered the season as the overwhelming favorite in the Missouri Valley, a top 15 team and a legitimate threat to reach a Final Four, after two weeks, the Shockers are in serious danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament altogether.

That’s not hyperbole, either.

Wichita State fell to 2-4 on the year after getting mollywhopped by Iowa in the 7th-place game of the Advocare Invitational. They ended up in the 7th-place game because they lost to USC and Alabama in the opening two rounds. The Hawkeyes look like the might be able to eke out an at-large berth if things fall the right way for them, but USC and Alabama are projected to finish at or near the bottom of their respective conferences. Even Iowa would do well to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.

Individually, none of those three losses are particularly terrible, and that’s before you factor in that all-american point guard Fred VanVleet sat out the trip to Orlando with a bad hamstring. They were also without back up point guard Landry Shamet in the tournament and it’s unknown when they’ll actually get Anton Grady back to full stretch. That matters to the NCAA tournament selection committee. They’ll factor it in when they determine where the Shockers will be seeded, or if they will even get an invite.

But throw in the loss at Tulsa from the first week of the season, and the Shockers are now 2-4 on the season.

And unlike the rest of the preseason top 25 — unlike the rest of the nation’s high-major programs — Wichita State won’t have a chance to load up on quality wins during league play. The Valley is better than we probably realized (more on that in a second), but it’s not like there are going to be a myriad of top 50 wins for the taking.

Look at Georgetown, for example. They Hoyas went 1-3 in the first week of the season, a stretch that included a home loss to Radford. But they also play in a conference where they’ll get home-and-homes against the likes of Villanova, Butler and Xavier.

The Shockers need to do their damage during the non-conference. They need to get the bulk of their resume put together before Valley play starts. Assuming they do win the rest of their non-league games, we’re not exactly looking at a daunting profile, either. The Shockers still have to visit Saint Louis and Seton Hall and host UNLV, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico State. UNLV and Utah should look like quality wins on Selection Sunday, but the rest of them?

Wichita State is putting themselves in a position where they may end up needing to win the Missouri Valley tournament just to get into the Big Dance, and the problem is that the Valley looks like it is really going to be tough this season. Northern Iowa notched a win over North Carolina already this year. Illinois State gave Maryland a fight and entered the season as a favorite to upset the Shockers. Evansville has two of the league’s five best players in D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius.

They’re not waltzing through that conference by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s not exactly what VanVleet and Ron Baker had in mind when they decided to return to Wichita for one final season.