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Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: No. 21 Iowa State visits Provo

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 21 Iowa State at BYU (9:30 p.m., ESPNU) 

Just a couple days after beating then-No. 7 Michigan in Ames, Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones visit BYU where they’ll encounter one of the nation’s better backcourt tandems (Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino) and one of the toughest environments around. Much will be made of the altitude, especially when considering the fact that Iowa State only played seven players on Sunday, but that Marriott Center crowd can be a handful as well. BYU has the highest adjusted tempo in America, and that could be an issue for ISU given their relative lack of depth.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Harvard (vs. Bryant; 7:00 p.m.) 

The Crimson have won their first three games, but none of those opponents have the talent that the Bryant Bulldogs possess. Expected to contend in the NEC, Tim O’Shea’s Bulldogs are led by the dynamic Dyami Starks (33.3 ppg), and veteran Alex Francis can hold his own as well. Bryant’s one defeat came at Gonzaga in their regular season opener and they’ve also soundly defeated Vermont, so they enter this game having been tested.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Lipscomb at Belmont (8:00 p.m.) 

Normally a team can be primed for a letdown in the game following a big win, but the fact that their rival is next in line may work to Belmont’s advantage. The Bruins won the first meeting in this season’s edition of the “Battle of the Boulevard,” with J.J. Mann leading five starters in double figures with 21 points in Belmont’s 87-83 victory. How can J.C. Hampton and the Bisons change their luck? By holding their own at the foul line, as Belmont outscored them 33-9 at the charity stripe in that first meeting.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR: 

1) Brian Gregory will face his former employer for the first time as Georgia Tech hosts Dayton (7:00 p.m., ESPN3) in Atlanta. Both teams enter the contest with 3-0 records, and one area to keep an eye on will be turnovers. While the Flyers have had some trouble taking care of the basketball (turnover percentage of 21.2%, per kenpom.com), Georgia Tech’s done a good job in this area (14.3%).

2) Northwestern looks to rebound from its loss to Illinois State on Sunday with a win at UIC (8:00 p.m., ESPN3). Chris Collins’ Wildcats trailed by as many as 18 points on Sunday, and they’ll need to keep UIC’s Marc Brown (21.7 ppg) under wraps if they’re to bounce back.

3) Northern Colorado isn’t a team many put atop the Big Sky alongside the likes of Weber State, Montana and North Dakota before the season began, but their win at Kansas State made some people take notice. Tonight the Bears visit preseason WAC favorite North Dakota State.

4) Baylor’s guards will need to keep Charleston Southern’s Saah Nimley in order for the Bears to win as comfortably as expected (7:00 p.m.). Through four games Nimley, one of the best players in theBig South, is averaging 19.3 points and 8.7 assists per contest.

5) There aren’t too many scorers as hot as Evansville’s D.J. Balentine, who’s led the Purple Aces to a 3-0 start with an average of 29.0 points per game. He’s been consistent, scoring 29 points in each of those games, and for the season he’s posted percentages of 52.3% FG, 50.0% 3PT and 92.1% FT.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25: 

  • American at No. 8 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • No. 14 Wichita State at Tulsa, 8:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Charleston Southern at No. 20 Baylor, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

NOTABLES:

CBT Podcast: Luke Winn joins to talk Kansas and their unorthodox backcourt

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 03:  Devonte' Graham #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with Frank Mason III #0 after making a three-pointer during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Allen Fieldhouse on December 3, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn, Mr. Power Rankings himself, joined the podcast this week to talk about something other than the Power Rankings.

Luke wrote a long feature on Kansas’ back court of Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, a serendipitous pairing of former mid-major recruits that have turned into arguably the nation’s best pair of guards and the next great two-point guard back court. You can read that story here. You can listen to the podcast below.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

VIDEO: Mark Gottfried on Sunday’s N.C. State performance: ‘It’s embarrasing’

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Mark Gottfried of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center on November 29, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated North Carolina State 88-74. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Mark Gottfried is probably the happiest man in the world that his N.C. State team played – and lost – a home game against Georgia Tech on Sunday night, overlapping with the end of the thrilling Green Bay-Dallas NFC Playoff game.

No one was talking about it.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Joe Giglio of the News & Observer was there and, like he did after last weekend’s loss at Boston College, he took Gottfried to task for his team’s performance.

The biggest issue? Gottfried’s nonchalance at the way that a team with the talent to finish in the top six of the ACC and get to a Final Four is playing. The Wolfpack should not be sitting at 1-4 in the ACC having already played BC and Georgia Tech. Gottfried told the media after on the loss to Boston College that his team “got better,” which was as laughable then as it is now.

On Sunday night, he certainly did not try and view his team through rose-colored glasses:

That’s about as mad and emotional as you’ll see Gottfried get.

And he’s got every right to be mad, because the Wolfpack – who count a future top five pick, another future first rounder and at least three more guys that will get a shot on NBA Summer League teams – currently sit at the bottom of the ACC standings and third-to-last in KenPom’s ACC rankings.

The biggest issue is on the defensive end of the floor, which Gottfried made so clear Sunday.

“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “We’ve got to decide if we want to play some defense. I can talk about it for 2 hours every day at practice, at some point, they better make a decision. Right now, we struggle to guard anybody.”

The numbers back it up. N.C. State is dead last in the ACC in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and the only high-major programs that are worse than them defensively are Michigan, Washington State, DePaul, LSU, Washington and Arizona State. The Wolfpack are by far the most talented team out of that group, and probably the most athletic as well. They should be good defensively, but, if you talk to coaches in the league and NBA scouts that have watched that team play, the most consistent knock on them is, simply, that they don’t play hard.

And that may be more worrying than any of the results the Wolfpack have posted this season.

“I don’t want to paint the picture that I walk in there every night, even after a loss, it’s Pollyanna inside my locker room,” Gottfried said. “I think it’s time they understand, they need to understand. I can coddle them, I can baby them, but they have to take ownership.”

VIDEO: Roy Williams gets customized shoes from Michael Jordan

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels is presented with a gift as he celebrates after his 800th career victory with a 85-68 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Roy Williams became the second-fastest coach to get to 800 career wins last night, and to honor him, UNC did things like put together a video presentation, give him a jersey with the number 800 and bring him to the center of the Dean Dome floor to get cheered by everyone in attendance.

But it was Michael Jordan whose gift floored everyone.

Literally.

Because MJ got Ol’ Roy a pair of customized shoes, and it just about killed Brandon Robinson:

Here’s a closer look at those kicks:

No. 2 Kansas utilizes mismatches to outlast Iowa State

AMES, IA - JANUARY 16: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks battles for the ball with Monte Morris #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones, and Matt Thomas #21 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the first half of play at Hilton Coliseum on January 16, 2017 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Kansas used its size advantage to pound the glass as the Jayhawks outlasted Iowa State for a 76-72 Big 12 road win on Monday.

Using only a seven-man rotation once again, Kansas (17-1, 6-0) used its size advantage on the interior and on the wings to crush the Cyclones on the boards as they outrebounded Iowa State 41-22. With a huge advantage on the interior, Kansas focused on working the ball inside-out as they shot 54 percent from the floor.

Kansas did a great job of finding mismatches on the offensive end and had a balanced scoring effort as all seven players scored between 16 and six points. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks with 16 points and chipped in six rebounds while Landen Lucas (14 points), Svi Mykhailiuk (13 points) and Carlton Bragg (10 points) all finished in double figures.

Iowa State (11-6, 3-3) was able to hang with Kansas for the entire game but they just couldn’t get over the hump every time they would cut the lead to around four points. The Cyclones tried to use a little bit of Hilton Magic to make a late charge, as Monte Morris (23 points) made two free throws to cut the Kansas lead to three with under 20 seconds left but it ultimately wasn’t enough.

With Iowa State lacking the size to matchup with Kansas, the Cyclone offense had a lot of one-and-done possessions since they had no offensive rebounders that were a threat. The Kansas perimeter defense limited Iowa State to a lot of contested jumpers as the Cyclones shot 33.3 percent (9-for-27) three-point shooting. Deonte Burton added 21 points for Iowa State while Naz Mitrou-Long added 18 points.

It’s never easy to win at Iowa State, so the Jayhawks will certainly take this win and be happy with it as they just seem to have a huge matchup advantage against the Cyclones this season.

Jenkins, Brunson, lead No. 1 Villanova past Seton Hall 76-46

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Kris Jenkins scored 16 points and Jalen Brunson added 13 to lead No. 1 Villanova to a 76-46 win over Seton Hall on Monday.

The Wildcats (18-1, 6-1 Big East) looked every bit like a team that could win back-to-back national championships in their first game at No. 1 in The AP Top 25 poll following a one-week hiatus.

Villanova fell from the top spot to third in the poll following a Jan. 4 loss at Butler. But wins over Marquette and Xavier vaulted the Wildcats over the Kansas Jayhawks and back into the top spot.

Led by four 3s from Jenkins, the Wildcats set a school record 47 straight wins at the Pavilion. Under coach Jay Wright, Villanova has been nearly unbeatable at home for most of the last 10 years.

Seton Hall (12-6, 2-4) was just the latest to go down in front of the 177th straight sellout crowd. Villanova’s rare blemish on its national championship season was losing to the Pirates in the Big East Tournament title game.