Big Ten/ACC Challenge Viewer’s Guide

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The Big Ten/ACC Challenge kicks off tonight. Since we know that you need help putting together your schedule, here’s a breakdown of which games you need to watch. You’re welcome.

All times EST:

Only miss these games to see the birth of your FIRST child:

1. Tue 9:15 p.m.: No. 22 Michigan at No. 10 Duke: Neither the Wolverines nor the Blue Devils have lived up to their preseason hype early on this season, which is part of the reason that this is now a top 25 matchup instead of a battle between top ten teams. The Wolverines are banged up, as Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary have all dealt with injuries early on this season. The key to this matchup? McGary. Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood can’t guard him, but he can’t guard them. Who breaks first?

CBT Pick: Duke

2. Tue. 7:15 p.m.: Indiana at No. 4 Syracuse: Another rematch, this time from last year’s Sweet 16, when Tom Crean’s high-octane offense couldn’t figure out their way through the Syracuse zone. This year, Indiana’s built around their ability to defend, as they don’t have the perimeter shooting they did a season ago but they do have the length and athleticism to match the Orange. The Orange force a lot of turnovers, and the Hoosiers have had issues with turnovers this season. Yogi Ferrell vs. Tyler Ennis will be a lot of fun.

CBT Pick: Syracuse

3. Wed. 7:00 p.m.: No. 8 Wisconsin at Virginia: It won’t be high-scoring, but these are two very good, very well-coached teams that play similar styles. Virginia has a little more size and athleticism than the Badgers, but Wisconsin can spread the floor and shoot it better than the ‘Hoos. Sam Dekker vs. Joe Harris will be a lot of fun as well.

CBT Pick: Wisconsin

You can miss these for a hot date, but they have to be at least a nine and NOT already your significant other:

4. Tue. 9:15 p.m.: Notre Dame at No. 23 Iowa: I’d say this is the most interesting matchup of the event in that we’re still really trying to get a gauge for both teams. The Irish have a loaded back court but they already have a loss to Indiana State on their resume. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, lost a nail-biter to Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis and are a dangerously deep and versatile team. Who wins out?

CBT Pick: Iowa

5. Wed. 9:00 p.m.: North Carolina at No. 1 Michigan State: Michigan State has lived up to the hype they had entering the season, as they’re undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. They look every bit a national title contender. North Carolina, on the other hand, has struggled with consistency and simply is not the same team without P.J. Hairston.

CBT Pick: Michigan State

6. Wed. 7:00 p.m.: Maryland at No. 5 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are overwhelming on the defensive end of the floor, and while I think Maryland is flying a bit under the radar right now, I’m not sure that the Terps are going to be able to handle that pressure without Seth Allen.

CBT Pick: Ohio State

You can play bridge with your Grandmother, just make sure you have the game on in the back ground:

7. Tue. 7:30 p.m.: Penn State at Pitt: Pitt is going to end up being a contender in the ACC this season. Mark my words. The Nittany Lions are a much-improved team this year, enough that they’ll be competitive in the Big Ten, but I can’t see them picking up this win in Pittsburgh.

CBT Pick: Pitt

8. Tue. 9:30 p.m.: Florida State at Minnesota: The Gophers had a rough trip to Maui while the Seminoles are coming off of impressive performances in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and at Florida.

CBT Pick: Florida State

9. Wed. 9:00 p.m.: Boston College at Purdue: I can’t quite figure out either of these teams, but Olivier Hanlon against the Johnson brothers and Ryan Anderson vs. A.J. Hammons will be fun

CBT Pick: Boston College

You know what? Go ahead. Take a nap. Or play FIFA. Or do whatever. I won’t even be mad:

10. Tue. 7:15 p.m.: Illinois at Georgia Tech

CBT Pick: Illinois

11. Wed. 7:30 p.m.: Northwestern at NC State

CBT Pick: NC State

12. Wed. 9:30 p.m.: Miami at Nebraska

CBT Pick: Nebraska

Deng Adel to return to Louisville

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Deng Adel is withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft and returning to school for his junior season.

A 6-foot-7 wing, Adel was projected as a second round pick at best coming off of a season where he averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds while starting 30 games.

But Adel did play his best basketball down the stretch, averaging better than 16 points in Louisville’s final six games.

His return was critical for the Cardinals, who lost Donovan Mitchell to the NBA Draft. For a team that struggled to score at times this past season, losing their top two scorers would have been a brutal blow. With Adel back in the fold, Louisville looks like a top ten team that could push for an ACC title.

The Adel news was first reported by FanRag Sports.

Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.