Andrew Wiggins, Niko Roberts

2013-2014 College Basketball Dream Team

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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.

Every year around this time, we put together a Dream Team of college guys. The parameters this year? The NBA has announced that they’re added a 31st team for just this season and named us as the coaching staff. The only players available to us are guys on currently on college rosters, meaning that we’ve got 13 spots to fill on a team that will be playing 82 games against NBA teams over the next six months.

Here are the guys that made the cut:

G: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State): Smart was the easy pick at the point guard spot. He’s a winner and a leader and the kind of player that will make everyone around him better, which is important considering that this team of college guys will be playing an NBA slate. He’s also got the ability on the defensive end of the floor to stay in front of NBA point guards. His perimeter shooting is a concern, but we’re going to have to hope he put in the work this summer.

G: Gary Harris (Michigan State): Harris had a shoulder that was more banged up than he let on all of last season, yet he still managed to average 12.9 points and shoot 41.1% from three. Now that he’s healthy, we’ll get a chance to see just how good of a basketball player he is. Plus, the kid was also a star on the gridiron in high school. He’s tough, just like Smart. Our back court won’t back down from anyone.

source: APF: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas): At this point in his development, Wiggins makes the cut here more for his ability on the defensive end of the floor and for his athleticism than the fact that we need a go-to scorer that can get 20 a night in the league. If he does score like that, however, this team might have a chance to win more than 15 games. Physicality will be an issue, but he’s as ready as anyone to hold his own at the next level.

F: Julius Randle (Kentucky): Like Wiggins, Randle’s physical tools leave him ready for the next level, although the 19 year old’s skill set will lag a little bit behind. That said, his ability to bully people around the basket should allow him to have an impact immediately, and as the season goes on, the hope would be that he’ll develop enough of a face-up game to be a legitimate secondary scoring option.

C: Mitch McGary (Michigan): The center spot is where we ran into a bit of an issue here, as no one in college is really an ideal fit to help in the pivot at the next level right away. We went with McGary because you know what you’re going to get out of him: physicality and toughness in the lane, max effort for 48 minutes, and a presence on the glass.

Bench:

  • Jahii Carson (Arizona State): Carson is our change-of-pace point guard, the guy that we’ll bring in when things get stagnant or when we need an injection of energy into the lineup. He’ll run the floor, but can he defend?
  • Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky): We were enamored with Cauley-Stein’s ability to run, his athleticism and the shot-blocking presence that he’ll provide. He’s coming off the bench because McGary’s more physical.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado): Dinwiddie’s versatility is what earned him a spot here. At 6-foot-6, he can defend multiple positions, but he’s also capable of playing the point or off the ball.
  • Aaron Gordon (Arizona): Gordon’s athleticism is off the charts, and it’s silly to leave a guy at home in a league where your athleticism needs to be off the charts. We’ll use him in four-out, one-in sets, but he’ll be used more as a four than a wing.
  • Doug McDermott (Creighton): You just don’t leave guys that can shoot it the way that McDermott can at home. The concern, obviously, is on the defensive end of the floor, where he could have trouble against wings or big men.
  • Jabari Parker (Duke): Parker’s versatility was just too much to pass up. He’s coming off the bench, but he’ll be used in a lot of lineups on a wing, bumping Wiggins to off-guard.
  • Adreian Payne (Michigan State): We needed a third-string center, and Payne was the pick for two reasons: his size and athleticism and the fact that he can hit a three.
  • James Young (Kentucky): The biggest weakness on this team is perimeter shooting, which is why Young made the cut. We toyed with Joe Harris and Tyler Haws for this spot, but took Young because we believed he was better equipped for the defensive end of the floor.

UConn-Syracuse rivalry game brings back memories of the best of the Big East

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Rodney Purvis #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City. Connecticut defeated Syracuse 52-50  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The cliché ‘here, it just means more’ has never rang more true than it did on Monday night in Madison Square Garden.

A bad Syracuse team and a worse UConn team got together in New York City to play an awful basketball game, one where the two teams didn’t crack 100 points combined until there were 2.2 seconds left; where UConn won 52-50 despite shooting 31.4 percent from the floor because the Orange made just 25.9 percent of their field goals; where UConn did everything they could in the final minute to give the game to the Orange, including missing five free throws.

In a game between two teams that entered with a combined 8-6 record, Syracuse and UConn fans packed the Garden and created an environment that was just as rowdy, raucous and bi-partisan as a Big East tournament quarterfinal game that goes to six overtimes.

Businessmen in $5,000 suits were court side, going just as crazy as the UConn fans that packed their student section. Day-traders showed up in Orange t-shirts over their shirt and ties.

It didn’t matter that the Orange entered the game on a two-game losing streak. It didn’t matter UConn, a young team that has already lost two starters to season-ending injury, looks like a team that will be lucky to earn an invite to the NIT.

It never matters when these two former Big East rivals get together in the Basketball Mecca.

“It may be a slap in the face,” said Larry Avitabile, a Connecticut native that now calls Manhattan home, “but I hope UConn shows up as a bad loss when they show Syracuse’s NCAA tournament résumé.”


The rivalry between UConn and Syracuse is unlike any other rivalry in college basketball because of their proximity to New York City and Madison Square Garden, where the Big East has held their conference tournament since 1983.

Both fanbases claim the Big Apple as their own. Both schools consider themselves New York City’s college basketball team. None of the schools that left the Big East and none of the programs still in the conference traveled to the Garden the way that UConn and Syracuse travel to the Garden.

And the result is what you saw on Monday night.

Half of the Garden was blue.

The other half was Orange.

It simply does not get better than that.

Every season, one of the biggest talking points this time of the year is how neutral site games sterilize what makes college basketball special: the energy that comes with playing a game in front of a home crowd. The product on the court is never going to be as good as the product on the floor of any NBA game. That’s a fact of life when the best players at this level are 19 year olds a couple of years away from being able to impact an NBA game or 22 year olds that weren’t quite good enough to be able to make the jump to the pros.

And basketball at any level is never going to be a more popular than the NFL or college football. Unless you live in places like Lexington or Lawrence, college basketball probably isn’t even as important as the MLB or the NHL.

But those big, on-campus games are unparalleled in any sport at any level in this country. The experience of watching, say, UCLA’s visit to Rupp Arena on Saturday or North Carolina’s trip to Assembly Hall last week comes through on the television broadcasts.

When UConn and Syracuse square off in the Garden, it’s like two teams are playing a home game in the building.

“It’s New York City, it’s one of the best venues to play basketball in, it’s on everybody’s bucket list,” said Syracuse guard Andrew White. “Then, given the teams that were here, and the location, you’re dipping into history. This venue and this game is one of the tops all-time.”

White is a fifth-year senior that spent the last four seasons playing for Kansas in the Big 12 and Nebraska in the Big Ten. He’s seen it all. He’s played in the most electric college gyms. He knows what constitutes a great place to play a basketball game.

“I knew what to expect,” said White, who hails from southern Virginia. “I knew what I was getting into coming into this game. It’s Syracuse and UConn at the Garden. Say no more.”

College basketball needs all the games like this that it can get. It’s why those two programs would be doing a disservice to the sport if they decide to discontinue the series after the 2017 Jimmy V Classic, when they will play in the Garden for the second straight season.

Because UConn has too much talent and Kevin Ollie recruits at too high of a level to be down for that long. The Orange are just a year removed from getting to the Final Four and have plenty of young talent of their own on the roster.

Those programs will return to their rightful spots in the top 25 sooner rather than later.

And if those two fanbases can turn one of the ugliest games of the season into what we experienced in the arena on Monday night, imagine what it will be like in that building when those two teams are actually good.

 

Eastern Kentucky basketball player charged with rape

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) Authorities say an Eastern Kentucky basketball player has been arrested on a rape charge.

Records at Kentucky’s Madison County Detention Center show 23-year-old Jaylen Babb-Harrison was arrested Sunday in Richmond and charged with first-degree rape.

A statement from Eastern Kentucky says Babb-Harrison, a redshirt senior guard, has been suspended from the team. It says the school is cooperating with police.

Local media organizations cited an arrest citation in reporting that police were called to a Richmond hospital when a female reported she was at Babb-Harrison’s home and that he had sex with her against her will.

WKYT-TV reports Babb-Harrison declined to be interviewed at a jail. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Online jail records didn’t list an attorney for the player.

Judge dismisses sex charges against ex-Michigan State star

3 Apr 2000: Mateen Cleaves #12 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates on the floor as he holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA Men''s Finals Four Game against the Florida Gators at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Spartans defeated the Gators 89-76.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) A judge has dismissed all charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a charity golf event.

Judge Cathy Dowd in Flint, Michigan, said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to send Cleaves to trial. Prosecutors can appeal.

A woman said she twice tried to get away from Cleaves but was pulled back into a motel room and sexually assaulted in September 2015. A witness confirmed that she saw the woman try to escape a room at the Knights Inn near Flint.

But a police officer said the woman never indicated that she was assaulted. Cleaves pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted. Cleaves led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship.

Coaches Poll: Villanova takes the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats yells to his team in the first half against the Saint Joseph's Hawks at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova has overtaken Kentucky as the new No. 1 in the Coaches Poll on Monday.

The defending champions also took No. 1 in the new AP poll thanks to an 8-0 start while UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena this weekend. The Bruins finished at No. 2 while Kansas and Duke are right behind them.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

  1. Villanova (28)
  2. UCLA (1)
  3. Kansas (1)
  4. Duke (2)
  5. North Carolina
  6. Baylor
  7. Kentucky
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Saint Mary’s
  12. Virginia
  13. Louisville
  14. Xavier
  15. Butler
  16. West Virginia
  17. Wisconsin
  18. South Carolina
  19. Purdue
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

AP Poll: Defending champion Villanova is the new No. 1

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Hart
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The defending national champs are back at No. 1.

Villanova is atop the latest Associated Press top 25 poll this week as the 8-0 Wildcats are off to a hot start. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA and North Carolina’s loss at Indiana there were some major shakeups in the polls this week.

  1. Villanova (57 first-place votes)
  2. UCLA (2)
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Duke
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Louisville
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Xavier
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Butler
  17. Purdue
  18. Wisconsin
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Notre Dame
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State