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Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: Big day for the Big Ten

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 14 Michigan vs. Florida State, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2) 

Florida State may have put forth the performance of the day on Thursday, beating No. 10 VCU 85-67 in a game they by as much as 30 in the second half. The Seminoles are likely to meet more resistance in the half court against Michigan, with the Wolverines rebounding from their loss at Iowa State with a comfortable win over Long Beach State. John Beilein’s team doesn’t force a high number of turnovers, but that doesn’t mean that Florida State can expect to get away with turning the ball over 23 times as they did against VCU. Michigan will need to be mindful of Okoro White, Montay Brandon and Robert Gilchrist on the boards, with Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford needing to keep those three Seminoles from controlling the glass as they did against VCU.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 UConn vs. Indiana, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2) 

Five games, four double-doubles for Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh, and given how UConn’s big men have struggled on the glass Vonleh could be in line for a fifth double-double on Friday. But the most intriguing individual battle will come on the perimeter, with Indiana sophomore Yogi Ferrell going up against UConn senior Shabazz Napier. One key for the UConn guards: make sure DeAndre Daniels gets quality touches, because he’s a tough matchup for opposing forwards due to his ability to step out on the perimeter and knock down shots.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: LIU-Brooklyn at UC Irvine, 10:00 p.m.

LIU-Brooklyn’s lost a lot inside, and that could be an issue in a matchup of two teams who will contend in their respective leagues. For as well as 7-foot-6 freshman Mamadou Ndiaye has played in the middle for UC Irvine, people shouldn’t forget about reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Year Will Davis II either. LIU sophomore E.J. Reed will have his hands full inside, but he’s a skilled interior prospect as well. And that point guard matchup of LIU’s Jason Brickman and UC Irvine’s Alex Young certainly won’t lack for entertainment.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH: 

1) No. 1 Michigan State’s back on the floor after two lackluster performances at home, and how the Spartans perform in the game’s first five minutes will be something to keep an eye on. Will Tom Izzo’s team come out ready to go, or will they give the underdog Virginia Tech some early hope?

2) Both Boston College and Washington are hoping to avoid leaving NYC with two losses, making the third place game in the 2K Sports Classic all the more important. BC’s the team people expected to make waves in their conference, and with the losses they’ve already taken the Eagles can’t afford to drop this one.

3) Southern Miss/South Alabama has the potential to be the best non-televised game on Friday’s slate, with Donnie Tyndall’s team still undefeated and South Alabama having one of the nation’s better front court players in senior Augustine Rubit.

4) Another game to keep tabs on is San Francisco at Montana, with some of the better players out west participating. The Dons feature seniors Cody Doolin and Cole Dickerson, and the Grizzlies will counter with the versatile Kareem Jamar.

5) Arizona State hosts Marquette on Monday night in what will be a highly anticipated battle, but the Sun Devils have some business to take care of in the form of the Bradley Braves. Geno Ford’s team is off to a 4-1 start, with seniors Walt Lemon Jr. (15.2 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Tyshon Pickett (14.2, 8.6 rpg) leading the way.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • Virginia Tech vs. No. 1 Michigan State, 9:30 p.m. (TruTV)
  • Towson at No. 2 Kansas, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Long Beach State vs. No. 10 VCU, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • UMass vs. No. 19 New Mexico, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Morehead State at No. 22 UCLA, 11:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

NOTABLES: 

  • Kansas State vs. Georgetown, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Iowa vs. Loyola Marymount, 1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Boston College vs. Washington, 5:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Providence vs. Vanderbilt, 6:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Oklahoma vs. Seton Hall, 7:00 p.m. (TruTV)
  • Delaware at Villanova, 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • Southern Miss vs. South Alabama, 8:05 p.m.
  • San Francisco at Montana, 9:00 p.m.
  • Davidson vs. Clemson, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Bradley at Arizona State, 10:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.