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College Basketball Talk’s Ten Most Disappointing Teams

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Boston College: For my money, Boston College has been the most disappointing team in the country this season. The Eagles have the talent to be a factor in the NCAA tournament discussion with Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson surrounded by a solid group of role players. But they aren’t tough enough and they don’t defend. The same issues they had last season. A 3-6 start for this group is disappointing.

Georgia State: The Panthers might have the best perimeter attack at the mid-major level with Ryan Harrow joining R.J. Hunter, Devonta White and Manny Atkins. But more than a month into the season, Georgia State has just a single Division I win, and that came against McNeese State.

La Salle: The Explorers were supposed to compete in the Atlantic 10 this season, but with UMass, St. Louis and George Washington looking like they belong in the same conversation as VCU, the Explorers have been left behind. Dr. John Giannini is still looking for that third perimeter weapon.

Marquette: I’m not ready to disregard Marquette just yet, but this team really needs to figure out a way to get some production out of their perimeter. Right now, they’re relying on Todd Mayo, which is not going to inspire confidence in Marquette fans. They’re leading perimeter scorer not related to O.J. Mayo? Jake Thomas, a fifth-year senior that transferred in from South Dakota. The Golden Eagles have lost their four marquee games this season.

Maryland: To be fair, the Terps are currently trying to play with starting point guard Seth Allen out. But that doesn’t change the fact that Maryland has already lost four games this season, including games against George Washington and Oregon State, the latter of which came at home. With the amount of talent the Terps have on their roster, that shouldn’t happen.

Michigan: This is understandable. We knew Michigan was going to be in for a slow start as Derrick Walton learned the position. That became clearer when Mitch McGary missed the preseason with a back injury. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Wolverines were expected to be a top ten team and are now outside the top 25.

UNLV: The Rebels looked much better on Saturday in a five-point loss at Arizona, but this is still a team with talent coming out the wazoo that is sitting at 3-4 on the season. They also don’t have anything else on their non-conference schedule, which means that they’ll need to hope that wins they can pick up in MWC play will be enough for an at-large bid. With a front court producing as much as Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith are, that shouldn’t be heading to the NIT. Who helps Bryce Dejean-Jones?

VCU: The Rams are 8-2 on the season and have a win at Virginia. So in the grand scheme of things, they’re just fine. But they haven’t been as good as most expected them to be this season, and the biggest issue is their lack of half court offense. They don’t have any “bucket-getters“.

Virginia: Where has Joe Harris been? What is Akil Mitchell doing? To be frank, nothing Virginia has done this season is unforgivable. They lost by three to VCU in their second game with a freshman point guard. They lost to Wisconsin, something everyone is doing. They lost at Green Bay, which is a good team. But here’s the thing: the ‘Hoos look like regular old Virginia, not a team that can compete for the ACC.

Xavier: The Musketeers lost three straight in the Bahamas. They got taken to overtime by Bowling Green. They had to stage a late comeback to knock off Evansville at home. This team is in a bad way, and they can’t simply rely on Semaj Christon to get them through it.

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson