Kyle Anderson UCLA

Pregame Shootaround: Big Saturday of games highlighted by UCLA at Missouri

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 UCLA at Missouri (12:30 p.m., CBS)

A matchup of 8-0 teams headlines Saturday’s improved slate of college basketball games thanks to the end of the college football regular season. The Bruins are 8-0 under new coach Steve Alford and have yet to face an opponent the caliber of Mizzou as the Bruins own early-season wins over Drexel (when fully healthy), Nevada and Northwestern. Missouri will welcome the Bruins after a win over West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge earlier this week. Both of these teams can really score at times, so this one could turn into a shootout if both teams elect to play fast.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Kansas at Colorado (3:15 p.m., ESPN2)

Kansas faces another nonconference test as they travel to former Big 12 conference opponent Colorado for a game with the 8-1 Buffaloes. Colorado has won eight straight games after losing its opener against Baylor and hasn’t faced a truly quality opponent since then, except for some decent wins over Harvard and on the road at a new-look Colorado State. But while the Buffaloes haven’t faced great competition lately, they have the talent to run with the Jayhawks. Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting at very good percentages (45%, 87% FT, 40% 3PT), and Josh Scott averages 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as well.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? BYU at No. 21 UMass (1:30 p.m. CBSSN

This wouldn’t be a major upset as UMass is just appearing in the top 25 and BYU is a very strong opponent. This is another game that could quickly accelerate into triple digits, although UMass has slowed it down and kept it in the 60s in their last two wins over Clemson and Eastern Michigan. BYU, however, has a prolific offense at times and has the shooters to space the floor around their bigs like freshman Erik Mika. This will be an interesting matchup for both teams, especially if it gets really uptempo.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: New Mexico State at No. 19 Gonzaga, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU

I’m not sure which New Mexico State team to expect against their biggest test of the season at Gonzaga. Will we see the Aggies that beat UTEP twice or the team that has dropped two straight to Colorado State and New Mexico? Again, New Mexico State doesn’t have many chances to face competition like Gonzaga heading into the WAC and these next two games for them — Arizona follows — could determine how good they can be come March.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) UNLV is off to a sluggish start at 3-3, but they have enough talent to scare No. 2 Arizona if they so desire. Or this game could get ugly if UNLV doesn’t show up. Can this Runnin’ Rebel team figure things out?

2) The Marquette and Wisconsin rivalry is one of the most underrated rivalries in the country and although the Golden Eagles struggle for points, if they can slow down Wisconsin’s potentially potent offense then they’ll make this a game.

3) An interesting slate of games in the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic as No. 17 Iowa State takes on Northern Iowa and No. 23 Iowa takes on Drake in a doubleheader in Des Moines. The Iowa in-state rivalries on neutral courts between high-major and mid-major programs is great for the fans and should make for some good games.

4) It was awfully tempting to put North Carolina’s home game against UNC Greensboro in the “Who’s getting upset?” column, after the Tar Heels bookended losses to Belmont and UAB following their upset of Louisville. Now that North Carolina knocked off No. 1 Michigan State at home, will they overlook another mid-major opponent?

5) Texas is off to a solid 7-1 start in a year where many media members — myself included — listed Rick Barnes on the hot seat. The Longhorns and their young nucleus will face a tough road test today at Temple for a chance at an 8-1 start.

THE TOP 25:

  • UNLV at No. 2 Arizona, 5:15 p.m., ESPN2
  • Binghamton at No. 4 Syracuse, 7:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Central Connecticut State at No. 5 Ohio State, 4:30 p.m., BTN
  • No. 6 Kansas at Colorado, 3:15 p.m., ESPN2
  • LA-Lafayette at No. 7 Louisville, 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Marquette at No. 8 Wisconsin, 2:15 p.m., BTN
  • Oral Roberts at No. 11 Wichita State, 8:00 p.m.
  • No. 14 Villanova at St. Joseph, 6:00 p.m., CBSSN
  • Northwestern State at No. 16 Memphis, 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • No. 17 Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa, 6:00 p.m.
  • No. 18 UCLA at Missouri, 12:30 p.m., CBS
  • New Mexico State at No. 19 Gonzaga, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BYU at No. 21 UMass, 1:30 p.m., CBSSN
  • Houston Baptist at No. 22 Michigan 12:00 p.m., BTN
  • No. 23 Iowa vs. Drake, 8:30 pm, BTN2
  • No. 25 Dayton at Illinois State, 8:05 p.m., ESPN3

NOTABLES:

  • Texas at Temple, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Tennessee Tech at Tennessee, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Richmond at Wake Forest, 2:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Eastern Michigan at Purdue, 2:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • New Orleans at Minnesota, 3:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Marshall at Penn State, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Virginia at Green Bay, 5:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • UNC Greensboro at North Carolina, 7:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Alabama at South Florida, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.

USC’s Nikola Jovanovic not expected to return to USC

Southern California forward Nikola Jovanovic pauses on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Nikola Jovanovic’s college career has come to a close.

The USC center will not withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration by Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m., a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Jovanovic, a 6-foot-11 Serbian, averaged 12.3 points and 7.0 boards as a junior with the Trojans.

Jovanovic is not expected to be drafted, which means that Andy Enfield’s club will be losing two players to the professional ranks with eligibility to spare that likely won’t end up on an NBA roster next season. Julian Jacobs, who averaged 11.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 boards, signed with an agent back in April.

The Trojans were a top 25 team last season despite many considering them to still be “a year away”. But with two starters departing, the Trojans will be a borderline preseason top 25 team as opposed to a top 15 team.

Marcus Lee withdrawing from the draft, transferring from Kentucky

Kentucky forward Marcus Lee dunks during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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For the second time this season and just the sixth time in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats are losing a player to transfer.

Marcus Lee announced on Wednesday that he will be withdrawing from the NBA Draft, but the 6-foot-9 forward will not be returning to Kentucky. He will be transferring out of the program to a new school.

“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”

Lee averaged 6.4 points and 6.0 boards this season, seeing his first major minutes as a member of the Wildcats. But he seemed destined for a bench role if he had opted to return to Kentucky this season as John Calipari has landed a recruiting class that includes five-star freshmen Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

The tough part?

It does not appear that Lee will be able to finish his degree and be eligible to play immediately next season. He’ll have to sit a year at whatever school he opts to transfer to.

“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” head coach John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”

Lee joins Charles Matthews as members of last year’s Wildcats that are transferring out of the program. Darnell Dodson (Southern Miss), Stacey Poole (Georgia Tech) , Ryan Harrow (Georgia State) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) are the other four players that have transferred.

Isaiah Briscoe to return to Kentucky

Eric Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Isaiah Briscoe announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3 guard had one of the more difficult decisions to make for players in this year’s draft class. On the one hand, there was a very real chance that he would go through this draft without getting picked. He was a role-playing guard on last year’s team that isn’t a point guard, isn’t big enough to be a two-guard and was a total liability shooting the ball.

But he’s returning to a team that is as loaded as the group that won their first 38 games two years ago, particularly in the back court. He’ll be playing behind De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk who both play essentially the same role that Briscoe does: playmaking guards that thrive with the ball in their hands. And since Briscoe can’t shoot, he may not be the best option at the three, where Derek Willis will likely see minutes.

In other words, Briscoe returning to school is essentially a two-year decision.

Kentucky now awaits an announcement from Marcus Lee on whether or not he will be returning to school.

James Blackmon Jr. to return to Indiana, Troy Williams to remain in draft

James Blackmon Jr.
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
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James Blackmon Jr. will be returning to Indiana for his junior season, the school announced on Wednesday morning.

Blackmon missed the final 22 games of his sophomore season following surgery on his knee in December. As a freshman, Blackmon averaged 15.8 points and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc.

Indiana now awaits word on the decision that will be made by Troy Williams. A junior swingman, Williams has a shot to be an early second round pick if he opts to stay in the draft. There is a report from the Indy Star that he will keep his name in the draft, but the program has yet to confirm that news.

Losing Williams would hurt, but it’s a loss that Indiana can overcome. The emergence of O.G. Anunoby as a versatile defender means that the Hoosiers have a guy that can be a defensive stopper and can allow them to play small and fast. Anunoby also has not proven to be prone to bouts of poor decision-making, which arguably may make him a better fit.