Programs on the rise and the decline heading into 2013-2014

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists,click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

PROGRAMS ON THE RISE

Iowa: Seven teams from the Big Ten got a bid last year, but Iowa, with a 9-9 conference record, did not. This should be the season for Fran McCaffery’s program to get a bid to the tournament. The Hawkeyes return a bulk of their talent, with Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White and Mike Gesell are all back among other key contribuors. Iowa will bring in transfer Jarrod Uthoff and freshman Peter Jok. Iowa hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2006. That should change this year, and the future looks even brighter.

Harvard: The Crimson upset No. 3 New Mexico in the NCAA tournament — the team’s second-straight appearance — this past March, and it’s not far-fetched to see Harvard staying past the first weekend this year. Harvard not only returns Wesley Saunders, Laurent Rivard, Siyani Chambers and Kenyatta Smith, the Crimson also see the return of Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, the team’s top players from its first trip to the NCAA tournament. Add in top-100 recruit Zena Edosomwan and another strong 2014 recruiting class, and the expectations are at an all-time high. This is a top 25 team, and will be for the near future.

Providence: Although the Friars lose Vincent Council (and Ricky Ledo), Ed Cooley could still end up in his first NCAA tournament in Providence. Bryce Cotton, a healthy Kris Dunn, and talented freshman Brandon Austin make up the back court, while Kadeem Betts and LaDontae Henton will be joined by transfers Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers. The Friars are a sleeper in the new Big East, and they’re only getting better as Cooley continues to land high-profile recruits.

LSU: Like Iowa, LSU could be making its return to the NCAA tournament this season, or at worst case be on the bubble. The Tigers still have Johnny O’Bryant III, Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer, while 6-foot-9 five-star recruit Jarell Martin headlines a six-man class for Johnny Jones that also includes four-star commits Tim Quarterman and Jordan Mickey. LSU is going to fight for a bid from the start this season, and with Jones showing consistency landing high-profile southern recruits, the Tigers should be able to sustain success.

Tennessee: The Volunteers just missed out on the tournament in Cuonzo Martin’s first two years at the helm, but that should change this season. Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes decided to return to school, while the frontline will get a boost with Jeronne Maymon returning to 100 percent. Adding Antonio Barton, a Memphis transfer and Robert Hubbs, a five-star freshman, will help round out the back court. The best news? Martin’s already landed two in-state top 20 recruits. It’ll take a lot to compete with Kentucky and Florida for SEC supremacy, but the Vols are headed in the right direction.

Others: Boise State, Colorado, Rhode Island, Towson

PROGRAMS ON THE DECLINE

source: AP
AP

Miami: The Hurricanes won both ACC titles a season ago, but pretty much everybody but Jim Larrañaga is gone. Kenny Kadji, Durant Scott, Trey McKinney Jones, Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, who was drafted 18th overall, all have to be replaced. Angel Rodriguez won’t play until 2013-2014. Coral Gables won’t see a repeat performance from The U this season, especially with Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt now on the conference schedule. Larrañaga is in full-on rebuilding mode.

Butler: Brad Stevens was ready to be the big-time coach in the new Big East, until the Boston Celtics made him offer he couldn’t refuse. Butler was quick to hire Brandon Miller, and the Bulldogs have been very good with their coaching hires in the past. But Miller is replacing a guy who went to two NCAA title games, and is now leading a program that has bounced from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East in three years. He’s without leading scorer Rotnei Clark or second-leading scorer and top rebounder Andrew Smith, and he suffered a big blow with Roosevelt Jones was ruled out for the season with a wrist injury. Miller will likely thrive as the new coach, it just may not be in his first season. The Bulldogs need to prove they can survive as something other than a plucky mid-major.

N.C. State: Mark Gottfried has to replace his entire starting five from one of last year’s most disappointing team. This leaves a big whole for T.J. Warren to fill, though he is reportedly in great shape. But Tyler Lewis is the only other player returning, who logged more than 10 minutes a game last season. Adding LSU transfer Ralston Turner in with another good recruiting class — Cat Barber, BeeJay Anya and Kyle Washington — is a good sign, but the concerns with the Wolfpack start up top. Can Gottfried coach up the talent he brings in?

Alabama: In 2013, 23 wins wasn’t good enough to get Alabama into the Big Dance. This offseason wasn’t too good for Anthony Grant, either, as Trevor Lacey transferred to N.C. State and Devonta Pollard had a major run-in with the law, leading to him being no longer enrolled at the university. Trevor Releford is back, but it will be tough for the Crimson Tide to make a push for the NCAA tournament. Grant was a hot name when he was hired away from VCU, but he’s yet to get the Alabama program off and running.

Temple: The Owls were one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 last season, making the NCAA tournament and nearly getting to the Sweet 16 by knocking off No. 1 seed Indiana. But Khalif Wyatt’s 20.5 points won’t be there this season, and Scootie Randall graduated with him. Will Cummings and Anthony Lee will have much bigger roles leading a young team as Temple enters the brand-new AAC. With two games against Louisville, Memphis, UConn and Cincinnati each, it could be a long season for Fran Dunphy.

Others: Colorado State, Kansas State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, St. Mary’s

Bluiett scores 21, No. 15 Xavier grinds down Hampton 96-60

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CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevon Bluiett followed his fabulous game against Wisconsin with a 21-point performance on Monday night, and 15th-ranked Xavier turned to its reserves while pulling away to a 96-60 victory over Hampton.

The Musketeers (4-0) got ahead by 32 points and took advantage of the chance to get playing time for their newcomers. Freshman Naji Marshall had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Xavier was coming off an 80-70 win at Wisconsin on Thursday night, when Bluiett led the way by scoring 21 of his 25 points in the second half. Against Hampton, Bluiett played 27 minutes.

Jermaine Marrow led Hampton (1-4) with 20 points. The Pirates quickly piled up the fouls while guarding the Musketeers — four of them had four fouls midway through the second half. Hampton coach Edward Joyner Jr. picked up a pair of technical fouls for arguing calls with 2:22 left and calmly walked off the court.

Xavier extended its streak of 33 straight wins over non-conference opponents at the Cintas Center.

BIG PICTURE

Hampton: Marrow is the key to the Pirates’ offense. He led the team in scoring in the first four games, averaging 22 points, including a 31-point performance against Florida A&M. Against the Musketeers, he went 7 of 25 from the field.

Xavier: The Musketeers lost their patience against Hampton’s zone defense in the first half, repeatedly dribbling into the middle of the court and losing the ball. They had seven turnovers in the half, which ended with the Musketeers up 43-31.

UP NEXT

Hampton plays Northern Arizona on Thursday.

Xavier plays George Washington on Thursday in Las Vegas. The Musketeers lead the all-time series 27-9 and have won eight straight, most recently in the 2012-13 season.

No. 12 Cincy holds off Buffalo 73-67.

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GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) — Gary Clark scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and No. 12 Cincinnati held off Buffalo 73-68 on Monday night to close the opening round of the Cayman Islands Classic.

Kyle Washington added 14 points and Jarron Cumberland 13 for the Bearcats (4-0), who had breezed in their previous games.

C.J. Massinburg scored 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls (2-1). Jeremy Harris added a career-high 17 and Nick Perkins 14 as Buffalo cut a 13-point halftime deficit to four with 24 seconds left.

Two free throws by Clark made it 67-57 with 1:52 to play. Perkins hit a 3-pointer with 1:27 to go and Massinburg cashed in on a turnover with another 3 at 56. Clark made two more free throws with 35 seconds to go but Massinburg answered at the line 10 seconds later.

Jacob Evans made a free throw and, after a Buffalo miss, Cumberland slipped free for a dunk, making it a seven-point game with 10 seconds to go. Clark got a late free throw and Massinburg made a layup at the buzzer.

Massinburg had 19 points in the second half but the Bulls couldn’t keep Cincinnati off the line. The Bearcats were 17 of 21 in the second half, 27 of 35 for the game. Buffalo finished 11 for 17 and had two players foul out and four other players with four fouls.

Buffalo grabbed an early lead but two Nysier Brooks free throws put the Bearcats up 13-12 at the 13:20 mark and shortly after that a 12-0 run, built by five different players, made it 27-14. Cincinnati didn’t score after Cumberland’s layup at the 3:52 mark but the Bulls only got a layup and it was 39-26 at the half. Cumberland had 10 at intermission.

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo: Perkins and Dontay Caruthers fouled out for Cincinnati, Massinburg, Montell McRae, Davonta Jordan and Brock Bertram had four each. … Buffalo was outrebounded 43-39 but was plus-3 on the offensive end. … The Bulls were looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 1986-87. They went 2-0 for just the fifth time at the Division I level.

Cincinnati: Clark had 17 points in the second half and picked up his 20th double-double. … The Bearcats won their first three by an average of 41.3 with a rebounding difference of 25 a game. … Cincinnati isn’t going to get a chance to boost its strength of schedule as Iowa was bounced by Louisiana-Lafayette 80-71 in the opening game of the tournament.

UP NEXT

Buffalo takes on UAB on Tuesday.

Cincinnati takes on Richmond.

LaVar Ball’s CNN interview on refusal to thank Trump as as disastrous as you’d expect

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LaVar Ball made it to CNN.

He spent 23 minutes being interviewed like by Chris Cuomo before the network cut to a panel discussion for the show’s second segment, and all of it over whether or not Donald Trump deserved to get a thank you from Ball for any help that he may have provided in getting LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill out of a Chinese jail.

The details of what actually happened do not matter at this point.

What does matter is that LaVar knows how to make a mountain out of a molehill. He knows that the simple act of refusing to thank the President of the United States will turn this into a thing. He knows that it will get him attention and get his name in headlines on every website in America. He knows that it will land him interviews with CNN and only further push the Big Baller Brand into the American consciousness. Getting on CNN means he has access to a different demographic than who typically watches ESPN or uses twitter and FaceBook.

REAL BASKETBALL COVERAGE: Top 25 | Player of the Week | Feast Week Preview

Hell, my mom texted me about LaVar being on CNN.

This is a well thought out plan. While the interview was as much of a trainwreck – absolutely hilarious, but a trainwreck nonetheless – the only line that you really need to pay attention to from the entire ordeal was this:

“What is the skepticism about? Why are we even talking about this with all these political matters going on in the world?”

Even LaVar Ball knows that the attention that he gets is ludicrous.

And he’ll laugh about it all the way to the bank.

MORE REAL BASKETBALL COVERAGE: Creighton’s good | Is Wichita State? | Power Rankings

No. 8 Kentucky holds off Troy down the stretch for 70-62 win

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kevin Knox scored 17 points and No. 8 Kentucky built a big lead in the second half before having to withstand a late rally by Troy to hold on for a 70-62 victory on Monday night.

After having to rally in each of its previous games, the Wildcats (4-1) led throughout against the Trojans (2-3). They built a double-digit lead early and extended it to 21 twice in the second half, a needed cushion as Troy fought back to within eight on Wesley Person’s three-point play with 1:08 remaining.

Knox came up with the last of Kentucky’s season-high 53 rebounds that preserved its second victory in the Adolph Rupp Classic named for the legendary coach.

Quade Green had 13 points and reserve forward Wenyen Gabriel 12 for the Wildcats. Hamidou Diallo had a career-high 10 rebounds to go along with eight points.

Person had 17 points and Jordon Varnado and Kevin Baker 15 each for Troy.

BIG PICTURE

Troy: Entering the contest averaging 45 percent from 3-point range, the Trojans made just 1 of 14 in the first half and 4 of 27 overall. For a while they were nearly doubled up on the boards as a result and were beaten 53-30. Varnado extended his double-digit scoring streak dating back to last season to 23 games.

Kentucky: After making just 3 of 15 from the free throw line and committing a season-high 22 turnovers against East Tennessee State, the Wildcats improved in those and other statistical categories. They converted 15 of 23 chances, made just 16 turnovers this time and controlled rebounding by a 2-to-1 margin. But their lost focus and allowed the Trojans to make it interesting.

UP NEXT

Troy visits East Tennessee State on Wednesday in the third game of the Rupp Classic before wrapping up play Monday against Illinois-Chicago.

Kentucky hosts Fort Wayne on Wednesday in the third game of the Rupp Classic before taking Thanksgiving off.

Creighton bests another ranked foe with win over No. 23 UCLA

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Creighton probably isn’t of the caliber of Villanova or Xavier. The Bluejays aren’t likely to truly challenge for the Big East title.

But they sure are fun – and pretty darn good, too. They claimed their second-straight win over a ranked opponent with a 100-89 victory Monday against 23rd-ranked UCLA, showing the offensive chops that are going to make highly entertaining and extremely dangerous all winter long.

It was a fantastic showing from Greg McDermott’s team against the Bruins, who remain shorthanded with three of its players serving indefinite suspensions for their indiscretions in China. The Bluejays didn’t dominate – their defense isn’t good enough to truly impose their will in a game – but they did just unload a torrent of buckets for 40 minutes.

The Bluejays, who beat No. 20 Northwestern last week, shot 49.3 percent overall and 11 of 29 (37.9 percent) from 3-point range. Marcus Foster had 23 points and Khyri Thomas added 16.

The true revelation for Creighton, though, was freshman Mitchell Ballock. The 6-foot-5 freshman from Eudora, Kan., was simply superb. He scored 22 points, converting 7 of 14 shots overall and 4 of 9 from deep. Ballock has the reputation has a sharpshooter and it is absolutely a deserved one, but he’s not simply a catch-and-shoot sniper. Ballock can score all over the court in multiple ways and has the athleticism and strength to attack the rim. Given his ability to shoot it from distance, that’s a potentially devastating combination for defenses to have to account for.

It’s especially important for Creighton, which will need a consistent third scorer behind Foster and Thomas. Foster is a potential All-American who looks to have fully regained the swagger that made him one of the country’s most electric young players as a freshman at Kansas State before things went askew his sophomore year. Thomas is one of the country’s best players that few people realize how good he really is, though that distinction is likely not going to stick around for long as he keeps putting up numbers and Creighton keeps winning.

That means if Ballock can do more than just stretch the floor as a potential 3-point threat and be a real offensive worry, this Creighton offense is going to have a chance to purr.

It’s impressive given all that the Bluejays lost off last year’s team. A Creighton team that loses Justin Patton and Maurice Watson should take a significant step back. This team isn’t as good as the one that was 18-1 in the middle of January last season, but it’s a solid one nonetheless. They’re getting solid point guard play as well from Davion Mintz and Ty-Shon Alexander.

It’s hard to gauge what to make of this game for the Bruins as they are down three important players and have become embroiled in a controversy of a truly global scale. In Kansas City this day though, they got promising performances from Aaron Holiday (25 points, seven assists), Thomas Welsh (16 points, 2 of 3 on 3s) and Prince Ali (18 points in just 25 minutes). There’s loads of potential with this team, but overcoming the loss of Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill while the president of the United States stokes the controversy seems like a tall – and unique – task for Steve Alford’s program.

This result, though, was more about Creighton. When it is firing, the Bluejays’ offense is an education in pace, spacing, ball movement and shotmaking.