The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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Michigan State tops Luke Winn’s power rankings (Sports Illustrated)
Luke Winn’s weekly power rankings are an entertaining and informative read, with statistical analysis of the teams proving to be quite valuable. A top his rankings this week is Michigan State, thanks to their win over Kentucky, and the Spartan’s ability to get out and run while limiting opponents’ chances of doing so is one reason why. Through two games an area that was a weakness for Tom Izzo’s team at the end of last season has been a strength.

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin promotes Titus Rubles to captain (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Entering the 2013-14 season Cincinnati seniors Sean Kilpatrick and Justin Jackson were the team captains, and rightfully so, given the fact that they’ve been productive members of the program for three seasons. This week Cronin made senior Titus Rubles his third captain, citing Rubles’ play in wins over North Carolina Central and NC-State as the reason why.

Should college basketball players be paid? Syracuse, ACC athletes weigh in (Syracuse Post-Standard)
This question has been debated for quite some time, and that will continue to be the case until there’s a resolution to the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. The Syracuse Post-Standard asked the question of players at Syracuse and throughout the ACC, and there are some solid points made on both sides of the argument.

D’Angelo Harrison, Mike Rice bonded at anger management (New York Post)
With St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison  and Rutgers head coach Mike Rice having some serious issues to address during the offseason, both wound up under the wing over John Lucas in Houston. The two would form a bond that remains strong, with Rice attending the Red Storm’s second exhibition game against Humboldt State. But while Harrison has made it back to the college game, Rice’s return will be more challenging.

UC Irvine 86, Washington 72 (Big Apple Buckets)
Russell Turner’s Anteaters were dominant in the second half of their win in Seattle, and John Templon of Big Apple Buckets was there to see it all. Irvine’s interior play, featuring Will Davis II and Mamadou Ndiaye, is what stood out on Thursday night with Ndiaye setting a Big West record for blocked shots in a game (nine).

Tom Crean thinks James Blackmon Jr. will be worth the wait, drama (Indianapolis Star)
After making the decision to de-commit from Indiana this past summer, 2014 guard James Blackmon Jr. ended up re-committing to the Big Ten school. And after receiving Blackmon’s national letter of intent, Indiana head coach stated that he believes the drama will be worth it.

Observation Room: Temple/Towson (City of Basketball Love)
The Towson Tigers are 3-0 for the first time in 41 years after knocking off Temple at SECU Arena. Josh Verlin of City of Basketball Love offered up some of his observations of the game, including some thoughts regarding the Owls’ problems closing games.

Five freshmen you might want to pay attention to (Run the Floor)
For all the chatter about the freshmen who played in the Champions Classic, and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, there are other newcomers college basketball fans should be aware of. Among the five players mentioned here are a McDonald’s All-Americanand a mid major wing who originally signed with Old Dominion.

Devyn Marble following his father (ESPN)
Being a “legacy” can be difficult for young players, especially when the family member who preceded them was so successful. That’s what Iowa senior Devyn Marble struggled with at times due to the fact that his father Roy is one of the school’s all-time greats. But instead of allowing the expectations/comparisons to weigh him down, Devyn’s worked to create his own legacy at Iowa.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.