Saturday’s Pregame Shootaround: Ohio State-Marquette highlights the day

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 10 Ohio State at No. 17 Marquette, 1:00 p.m. (FS1)

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 DAY: Creighton at St. Joseph’s, 7:00 p.m.

The biggest question mark with Doug McDermott’s transition to the Big East will be how he acclimates to playing against guys that are bigger, longer and more athletic than him on a daily basis. He’ll have a nice test on Saturday, as he’ll go toe-to-toe with Ronald Roberts.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 20 Wisconsin at UW-Green Bay, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

We all know about the Badgers, but the Phoenix are legit this year. Alec Brown is a seven-footer with some actual NBA potential, while the best guard on the floor this evening will likely be Kiefer Sykes, the UWGB point guard. Wisconsin is coming off of a pair of solid wins against St. John’s and Florida. Could this be their letdown?

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: George Washington at Manhattan, 7:00 p.m.

GW is better than a lot of folks will give them credit for this season, but Manhattan looks like they’re going to have a chance to win the MAAC this year with George Beamon back in the fold. The Colonials are still without Patricio Garino, however.

FIVE 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) Davidson is in a bit of a rebuilding year, but the Wildcats are still one of the best-coached teams in the country. This will be a tough road test for No. 25 Virginia (12:00 p.m.).

3) 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. The Bears take on Seton Hall at 3:00 p.m.

4) Torrey Craig of USC-Upstate will face a serious challenge going up against Tennessee big, physical defense. Can the Vols bounce back from Tuesday’s loss to Xavier?

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?

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Tennessee State at No. 16 Wichita State, 1:00 p.m.
  • Colgate at No. 9 Syracuse, 4:30 p.m.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock at No. 11 Florida, 4:30 p.m.
  • Winthrop at No. 14 VCU, 6:00 p.m.

NOTABLES

  • Jackson State at Colorado, 12:00 p.m.
  • Appalachian State at Cincinnati, 2:00 p.m.
  • Northern Iowa at George Mason, 4:00 p.m.
  • Campbell at N.C. State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Hawaii at Missouri, 7:00 p.m.
  • Minnesota at Richmond, 7:00 p.m.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.