Weekend Preview: Saturday’s slate is thrilling from noon until midnight

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 20 Colorado, 11:30 p.m. Sat. (all times eastern)

A pair of former Big 12 rivals square off out in Las Vegas as Marcus Smart will lead his Cowboys into battle with Tad Boyle’s impressive Colorado squad. The Buffaloes have already split with the other two Big 12 favorites, beating Kansas at the buzzer at home and losing to Colorado on the season’s opening night. The key for them will be slowing down Marcus Smart, who will likely match up against Spencer Dinwiddie as the nation’s two biggest point guards will square off.

That’s not the only game of the night in Sin City, however. The undercard pits Marquette and New Mexico, two teams that have been a bit disappointing early on this season and that desperately need a win with league play right around the corner. The Lobos will reportedly be without starting guard Hugh Greenwood, and the Golden Eagles have the size up front with Chris Otule and Davante Gardner to matchup with Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: BYU at No. 13 Oregon, 10:30 p.m. Sat.

I’m not quite sure just how good either of these teams are yet. With BYU, I tend to lean towards the negative. They can’t defend well enough and Matt Carlino is not Jimmer Fredette no matter how badly he wants to be him. It’s the opposite with Oregon, who is undefeated on the season despite playing the first nine games without Dominic Artis and Ben Carter. They’re getting better.

So why is this a game of the weekend? Because there are going to be a ton of points scored as both teams love to get up and down the floor and shoot plenty of three-balls.

FIVE MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  • Georgetown at No. 18 Kansas, 12:00 p.m. Sat.: The Hoyas head to Lawrence where they will get a first-hand  look at Bill Self’s star duo of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. It will be interesting to see how Embiid functions getting bodied by Georgetown’s Joshua Smith. The Hoyas have not yet played their best basketball this season.
  • Belmont at No. 19 Kentucky, 12:00 p.m. Sat.: When North Carolina was going through some things, Belmont was the team that made it cool for people to beat them. Right now Kentucky is going through some things. Will Belmont be the trend setters again?
  • Illinois vs. No. 23 Missouri, 5:30 p.m. Sat.: One of the best non-conference rivalries in the country, and it just so happens that both teams really, really need the win. Should I mention both teams have a strong perimeter attack? This should be fun.
  • Notre Dame vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. Sat.: Notre Dame’s got a really strong perimeter, even if they haven’t exactly played that way yet this season. But Ohio State’s perimeter is simply tenacious defensively. Not even the Irish are good enough to break that down.
  • Stanford vs. Michigan, 8:30 p.m. Sat.:

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?

  • No. 22 UMass vs. Florida State, 2:00 p.m. Sat.: Florida State, when they want to, can really defend. They’re playing at home. They’ve beaten VCU and Georgetown this season. The Seminoles aren’t bad, and this will be a road test (it’s a “neutral site” game in Florida) for UMass.
  • No. 21 Gonzaga at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m. Sat.: I honestly don’t think Kansas State is all that good this season, but Gonzaga can be beaten by teams with tough defenders in the back court if Sam Dower and Przemerk Karnowski get into foul trouble.
  • No. 5 Michigan State at Texas, 4:00 p.m. Sat.: Is Texas for real? They are 10-1 on the season and coming off of a win at North Carolina this week. The real test, however, will be taking on this Michigan State team at home. The Spartans are banged up right now. These are the games that Big 12 contenders win.
  • Davidson at No. 14 North Carolina, 4:30 p.m. Sat.: North Carolina playing another unranked team? Gotta be a loss, right?
  • No. 10 UConn at Washington, 3:30 p.m. Sun.: Washington will actually matchup well with UConn. Washington doesn’t have any size up front, and neither does UConn. If they can stop Shabazz, UConn is very beatable.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) The Gorverner’s Cup, which features Hampton and James Madison in the opening game and Virginia Tech taking on VCU in the nightcap, will be aired on NBC Sports Network and the NBC Sports Live Extra App on Saturday. Festivities kick off at 3:00 p.m.

2) The Diamond Head Classic launches on Sunday night out in Hawaii. The most interesting first round matchup is the first game of the day: No. 17 Iowa State vs. George Mason at 5:30 p.m.

3) UAB heads to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Saturday afternoon. This will be a good gauge game for both teams, as the Blazers are looking to build on the North Carolina win while LSU is a sleeper in the SEC.

4) Cal heads to Omaha to take on Creighton at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Both teams really need the win.

5) Two good under-the-radar games: Utah State hosts UC-Santa Barbara at 10:30 Friday, while Buffalo heads to Manhattan for a 3:00 p.m. tip Saturday.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.

Report: NCAA ‘anticipates’ hearing UNC case in mid-August

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Today, the AP churned out a story on Greg Sankey’s involvement with the NCAA’s investigation into the academic scandal at North Carolina, and buried within that story is this little nugget:

UNC must respond to the latest charges by May 16. The NCAA enforcement staff then has until July 17 for its own response. Sankey wrote that his panel will hear the case in August with “anticipated” dates of Aug. 16 and 17.

Rulings typically come weeks to months later.

We’ve been down this road before, as the current iteration of the Notice of Allegations is the third that the NCAA has provided the university. The first was given out back in May of 2015 for an investigation that began back in 2010.