Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Memphis and Oklahoma State meet in Old Spice Classic title game

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Memphis (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Twelve days ago, Marcus Smart went off for a career-high 39 points, reasserting his place in the player of the year conversation, in Oklahoma State’s 101-80 rout of Memphis. The Cowboys and Tigers meet in the Old Spice Classic title game on Sunday night. In the semifinals, the Cowboys held on to defeat Butler with a blocked shot from Michael Cobbins. The Tigers hung tough and erased a second half deficit to defeat LSU to help set up Sunday’s rematch.

Does Marcus Smart go off on Memphis again? Or does Josh Pastner and his Tigers win the big game and silence critics?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 25 Marquette vs. San Diego State (9:30 p.m., ESPN2)

San Diego State looks to close out the Wooden Legacy with its second consecutive win over a top 25 team. On Friday night, the Aztecs jumped out to an early lead and prevented a comeback attempt to knock off No. 20 Creighton. Marquette previously lost to Ohio State and on the road against Arizona State. Sunday night’s game is made more important with a game against Wisconsin next weekend.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 12 Wichita State vs. Saint Louis (1 p.m., CBSSN)

It’s going to be a defensive battle between the Shockers and Billikens. Wichita State is coming off a CBE Classic win over BYU, holding the Cougars to 62 points. Wichita State will have to face a tough defense of its own against a Saint Louis team that is forcing opponents to shoot less than 40 percent from the field. Emotions will be high inside Chaifetz Arena as the Billikens will honor Rick Majerus, who died one-year ago today.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Iona vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2 p.m., ESPN3)

Both these teams qualified for the NCAA tournament last season — being slate as No. 15 seeds — and each team is projected to contend in their respective conferences again this season. Iona comes in a .500 while Florida Gulf Coast suffered its second loss of the season against North Carolina State on Tuesday.


1) LSU lost to UMass during the Tip-Off Marathon and then again to Memphis on Friday. The Tigers are matched up with Butler in the Old Spice Classic third-place game. Sunday afternoon offers another opportunity for LSU to land a quality out-of-conference victory.

2) Two weeks ago, Belmont went into Chapel Hill and shocked the Tar Heels. The Bruins host another challenging opponent in VCU on Sunday, as Havoc tries to get back on track after two losses in Puerto Rico last week.

3) Kentucky’s December schedule features games against Baylor, Boise State, North Carolina, Belmont and Louisville. The Wildcats kick off the month against Providence at the Barclays Center.

4) North Carolina has had an up-and-down two weeks. Tar Heels lost to Belmont at home then struggled against Richmond before coming back and dominating Louisville. UNC is back in action on Sunday against a solid UAB team. Following Sunday’s game, North Carolina prepares for No. 1 Michigan State on Wednesday night in East Lansing.

THE TOP 25: 

  • Providence vs. No. 3 Kentucky (8:30 p.m.)
  • Coppin State vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (8 p.m.)
  • Cal Poly vs. No. 14 Oregon (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 16 North Carolina vs. UAB (6 p.m.)
  • Hardin-Simmons vs. No. 16 Baylor (3 p.m.)
  • George Washington vs. No. 20 Creighton (6:30 p.m., ESPNU)


  • Cornell vs. Notre Dame (1 p.m., ESPN3)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Seton Hall (2 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
  • Stephen F. Austin vs. High Point (2 p.m.)
  • Norfolk State vs. LIU Brooklyn (2 p.m.)
  • Butler vs. LSU (2 p.m., ESPNU)
  • Miami (FL) vs. Arizona State (2 p.m., ESPN3)
  • Oregon State vs. DePaul (4 .m., Fox Sports 1)
  • VCU vs. Belmont (5 p.m., ESPN3)

CAA Preview: Hofstra, James Madison head balanced field

Ronald Curry (AP Photo)
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the CAA.

There may not have been a conference in the country that was more competitive at the top than the CAA a season ago. Four teams shared the regular season title and seven finished within three games of first place.

It doesn’t get more competitive than that, and while a couple of those teams lose some critical pieces, we’re staring down the barrel of another CAA season that won’t be decided until the final game.

On paper, Hofstra looks like the best team, as they clearly have the most talent. Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, the best 1-2 punch in the conference are arguably the best perimeter pairing in mid-major hoops, are both back for their final season. Sharp-shooter Brian Bernardi returns as well, as do a couple of big bodies inside, but the issue for the Pride this season will have nothing to do with how well they can score.

Can they get stops? The Pride were 49th nationally in offensive efficiency last season. They were 249th in defensive efficiency and struggled throughout the year to get critical stops on key possessions.

That leaves James Madison, who won a share of last year’s regular season title. The Dukes have the league’s best pure point guard on their roster in 6-foot-4 Ron Curry. Curry averaged 13.9 points and 4.3 assists as a junior and was the catalyst in a number of important wins. Matt Brady also has the best big man in the conference in 6-foot-9 Yohanny Dalembert. Throw in a pair of snipers on the wings and a handful of quality role players, and JMU has a real shot at winning again.

The key for this group is going to be team chemistry. In 2014-15, their season turned when they dismissed Andre Nation, arguably the most talented player on the roster, in December.

Northeastern, William & Mary and UNC Wilmington all lose critical pieces off of last year’s roster.

Northeastern will be without big man Scott Eatherton, a key piece in their near-upset of Notre Dame in the opening round of last year’s NCAA tournament, but they bring back four key seniors from last year, including Quincy Ford and David Walker. They’ll be in the mix down the stretch despite Eatherton’s graduation, but the same cannot be said for William & Mary.

The Tribe run a Princeton-esque offensive system, and they run it well, which should help them overcome the loss of Marcus Thornton, one of the most dynamic guards in all of college basketball last season. They also return a promising wing in Omar Prewitt, but there are some real concerns. Can Prewitt handle facing an opponent’s best defender on a nightly basis? And without Thornton, do they have someone they can turn to if their offense breaks down?

UNCW loses their two leading scorers and three of their top five players. Kevin Keatts is a terrific coach, but the Seahawks look primed to take a small step back this season. As will Drexel, who lost Damion Lee as a graduate transfer to Louisville.

There are two teams to keep an eye on in the middle of the league: Delaware and Towson. The Blue Hens were dreadfully inexperienced last season and dealing with a coaching staff that was left in contract limbo. They still managed to finish 9-9 in the league, returning the league’s two best freshmen in Kory Holden and Chivarsky Corbett. They’re probably a year away from truly being a contender.

Towson lost leading scorer Four McGlynn, but John Davis and Byron Hawkins both return while Wake Forest transfer Arnaud William Adala Moto will be eligible this year.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “Hofstra is probably the most talented team. But Hofstra was really talented last year, too, and with [Green and Tanksley] they only finished 10-8. Can they defend a little better? That was their Achilles’ heel last year. I also like James Madison. Ronald Curry is the best point guard in the league, and [Yohanney] Dalembert is the best big.”
  • Sleeper: “I really like Delaware. I think they’re a year away, but I hate to play them. If Kory Holden has it going, they’ve got two guys that can score inside and if Chivarsky Corbett progresses on the wing? I like their chances.”
  • Star to watch: “Juan’ya Green. He just plays wit such a pace. Big guard, can score at all three levels, make threes, mid-range, scores at the rim. He’s got a feel for the game. Old man game, it looks like he’s coasting until you see the box score. He’s a terrific player. Far and away biggest difference maker in the league.”


I’m not sure what I can add here that wasn’t mentioned in the Coach’s Take. Green, who transferred into the program from Niagara, averaged 17.1 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 boards. The knock on him — like the rest of the Pride — is his effort on the defensive end of the floor. But even with those concerns, Green is the best player on the team that can win the league.


  • Ronald Curry, James Madison: Curry has improved every year he’s been in college, averaging 13.9 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 boards as a junior. As he goes, JMU goes.
  • Ameen Tanksley, Hofstra: The second-part of Hofstra’s dynamic Philly duo. Green is the playmaker for the Pride, Tanksley, a 6-foot-5 wing that averaged 16.5 points last season, is their pure scorer.
  • Terry Tarpey, William & Mary: A 6-foot-5 guard, Tarpey averaged 12.0 points, 8.4 boards and 3.2 assists as a junior. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in the league last season. A winner through and through.
  • Yohanny Dalembert, James Madison: A junior from Haiti, the 6-foot-8 Dalembert should be the best big in the conference this season. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.9 boards a season ago.



1. James Madison
2. Hofstra
3. Northeastern
4. Delaware
5. William & Mary
6. Towson
7. UNC Wilmington
8. Drexel
9. Charleston
10. Elon

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.