Syracuse Tyler Ennis

Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Maui ends, NIT and Great Alaska Shootout start

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 18 Baylor, 10:00 p.m. ET

In the finals of the Maui Invitational, Baylor will get a chance to prove that the Big 12 is more than just a two-horse race. The Bears have developed a reputation over the years of being a team that simply rolls the ball out as Scott Drew tries to rely on the talent that he has recruited to carry his program. This season, that talent is evident in their front court, as the Bears has the size, length and athleticism to matchup with anyone. In fact, with Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson, Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers manning their front line, I think that there is an argument to be made that Baylor is better up front than Syracuse.

And the Orange actually have a number of talented big guys. C.J. Fair is the guy everyone knows and Jerami Grant has been the star of the tournament to date, but one guy to keep an eye on is DaJuan Coleman, who has actually been quite effective in his minutes this season. The most interesting battle will be at the point guard spot, where JuCo transfer Kenny Chery goes toe-to-toe with freshman Tyler Ennis.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Arkansas vs. No. 11 Gonzaga, 5:30 p.m.

This will be an interesting test for the Zags, as Arkansas is the kind of team that is difficult for them to matchup with. The Razorbacks like to press and have a number of big, athletic guards that can attack the basket. Kevin Pangos, David Stockton and Gary Bell Jr. are talented in the back court, but they are not all that big. Can Mark Few’s club keep the drivers from penetrating.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Tulsa vs. Indiana State, Midnight ET

You like late-night hoops? The Great Alaska Shootout kicks off tonight, and while it’s not the same event that it used to be, it’s has as much tradition as any event. Indiana State is one of the best mid-major programs in the country, and while Tulsa isn’t quite on that level … man, it’s hoops after midnight!


1) Cal takes on Dayton in the third place game out in Maui, a game that is really important for both teams. Going 2-1 in an event like this is so much better than going 1-2. At least Dayton has already picked up a win over Gonzaga. Cal would be heading back to Berkeley with nothing but a win over Arkansas to show for their efforts.

2) No. 10 Wisconsin will be taking on West Virginia in the final of the Cancun Challenge.

3) No. 3 Kentucky will take the court against tonight against a mid-major program that could give them some trouble. Eastern Michigan is coached by Rob Murphy, a disciple of Jim Boeheim that runs a 2-3 zone.

4) The NIT semifinals take place tonight as No. 6 Duke takes on Alabama after No. 5 Arizona squares off with Drexel. With all due respect to Bruiser Flint and Anthony Grant … GO DUKE! GO WILDCATS!

5) Saint Louis lost to No. 10 Wisconsin last night and will look to bounce back against Old Dominion tonight.

Jalen Coleman-Lands cleared to practice

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Jarrod Uthoff #20 of the Iowa Hawkeyes defends against Jalen Coleman-Lands #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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When Illinois takes on Southeast Missouri State in the opener of the 2016-17 season, the Fighting Illini should have it’s starting backcourt out on the floor.

According to Jon Rothstein, Jalen Coleman-Lands has been cleared for all basketball activities. The sophomore two-guard has been recovering from a broken bone in his right hand.

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.

Coleman-Lands will team up with Tracy Abrams, a point guard who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing the past two seasons due to injuries.

This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.

The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.

NBC Sports projected Illinois to finish eighth in the Big Ten this season.

Curtis Jones jumps over Tom Crean

Tom Crean
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Indiana held its annual Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday night.

One of the highlights from the team’s dunk contest was when freshman guard Curtis Jones jumped over Indiana head coach Tom Crean.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a newcomer us his coach as a dunk contest prop. Last week, Rawle Alkins cleared Arizona head coach Sean Miller en route to a reverse jam.

Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.

WATCH: Edmond Sumner take off from the foul line

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Edmond Sumner #4 of the Xavier Musketeers dunks the ball during the game against the St. John's Red Storm at Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Edmond Sumner is a big reason why Xavier is likely going to be a preseason top-10 team.

On Saturday night, during Musketeer Madness, Sumner won the team’s dunk contest when he took off from the foul line.

Sumner defeated freshmen Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin. J.P. Macura, the reigning Big East Sixth Man of the Year, took home the honors last year.

The 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore is coming off a debut season in which he averaged 11.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

WATCH: Duke goes crazy for Chase Jeter’s bottle flip

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Chase Jeter #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on in the second half against the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The bottle flip has become an international sensation in recent months.

It’s as simple as it sounds: flipping a water bottle in the air, attempting to have it land upright.

Duke sophomore forward Chase Jeter, in front of 9,300-plus fans, successfully pulled off the bottle flip on Saturday night at Duke’s Craziness.

Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.

Auburn to honor Charles Barkley with a statue

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Former NBA player and commentator Charles Barkley looks on prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.

The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.

“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”

Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.

His number 34 is retired at Auburn.