Weekend Preview: Ohio State takes on Marquette and Marshall Henderson returns

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 10 Ohio State at No. 17 Marquette, 1:00 p.m. ET Sat. (FOX Sports 1)

One of the more interesting matchups of the non-conference season. Even with Jameel McKay’s decision to leave the program, Marquette is absolutely loaded up front. Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson, Steve Taylor. But Buzz Williams’ club is young in their back court, which just so happens to be where Ohio State’s strength lies. The combination of Aaron Craft and Shannon  Scott may be the most terrifying back court duo try and handle the ball against. Throw in Sam Thompson at the three, and OSU’s perimeter defense is as good as it gets, but they don’t have much front court size. Who takes advantage?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 7 Michigan at Iowa State, 5:00 p.m. ET Sun. (ESPN2)

The biggest question mark in this one is whether or not the two teams will be at full strength. Mitch McGary is dealing with a back issue that potentially can keep him out of the lineup until the conference season begins. And Iowa State is missing a big man of their own in Melvin Ejim although there is a chance Ejim could be back by Sunday. You know what will be fun about this one? Threes. Lots of them will be shot.

FIVE MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  • No. 20 Wisconsin at Green Bay, 8:00 p.m. ET Sat. (ESPN3): Green Bay is a very good mid-major team, led by Kiefer Sykes and Alec Brown. They’ll give the Badgers a fight.
  • Indiana State at No. 21 Notre Dame, 12:00 p.m. ET Sun. (ESPN3): The Fighting Irish are loaded on the perimeter, but Indiana State has a talented guard of their own: senior Jake Odum.
  • Creighton at St. Joseph’s, 7:00 p.m. ET Sat.: Doug McDermott is going to be tested going up by the athleticism of the Big East, and he’ll have a good gauge against Ronald Roberts.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 23 Baylor, 5:00 p.m. ET Sun. (ESPN3): Elfrid Payton is the best player you’ve never seen, but can the Ragin’ Cajuns deal with Baylor’s big front line?
  • Towson at Villanova, 5:00 p.m. ET Sun.: Villanova is better than you think, but Towson is one of the nation’s best mid-majors this season.

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?

  • No. 25 Virginia at Davidson, 12:00 p.m. ET Sat. (ESPN3): Davidson is in a bit of a rebuilding year, but the Wildcats are still one of the best-coached teams in the country. Tough road test for the ‘Hoos.
  • Seton Hall at Mercer, 3:00 p.m. ET Sat.: So we all love Florida-Gulf Coast, right? Well, Mercer not only won the Atlantic Sun last season, they’re the favorite this year as well.
  • Minnesota at Richmond, 7:00 p.m. ET Sat. (BTN): Minnesota’s first road game under Richard Pitino comes against a good-not-great Richmond team.
  • Boston U. at No. 19 UConn, 12:00 p.m. ET Sun. (ESPNU): UConn is playing great basketball right now, but BU has some really, really good guards.
  • Stanford at Denver, 3:00 p.m. ET Sun. (ROOT): Denver got waxed at Cal last weekend, but the Pioneers are a good team and Stanford is still trying to work through their rotations.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) Marshall Henderson returns to the court on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. as Ole Miss takes on Coastal Carolina.

2) Jake Odum might be the best mid-major point guard in the country. He’ll be tested on Saturday afternoon when he takes on Notre Dame guards Jerian Grant, Eric Atkins and Demetrius Jackson.

3) If Odum isn’t the best, than Elfrid Payton is. The Louisiana-Lafayette stat-stuffer takes on Baylor on Sunday evening.

4) Kentucky’s season ended in hideous fashion last season when they lost to Robert Morris on the road in the first round of the NIT. They’ll get a chance for their revenge on Sunday evening as the Colonials come to visit.

5) UC-Santa Barbara is coming off of a 21 point win at UNLV. They visit Utah State on Saturday night, a team that can theoretically play themselves into NCAA tournament contention with a strong MWC season. Are the Gauchos for real?

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.