St Francis v Syracuse

Weekend Preview: Light slate with two heavyweight battles

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 8 Villanova at No. 2 Syracuse, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (all times eastern)

Raphielle Johnson wrote about this game extensively here.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 6 Louisville at No. 18 Kentucky, Sat. 4:00 p.m.

I wrote 600 words on this game right here.

FOUR MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  • Wake Forest at Xavier, Sat. 5:00 p.m.: The Skip Prosser Classic. Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com wrote a really touching preview for this game.
  • Providence at No. 23 UMass, Sat. 6:00 p.m.: Chaz Williams and Bryce Cotton are two of the nation’s most entertaining guards to watch. Both the Friars and the Minutemen love uptempo basketball. Both of them score plenty of points. The Friars are coming off of a disappointing non-conference, not because of results but because of the loss of Kris Dunn (shoulder), Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock (suspensions). UMass lost their last time out to Florida State.
  • No. 25 Missouri at N.C. State, Sat. 8:00 pm.: Wanna talk about teams with something to prove? Missouri’s best win at this point in the season is over UCLA at home. They lost to Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game and haven’t done much else of note. The Wolfpack are in a similar situation. They’ve beaten Tennessee, but their resume isn’t all that impressive. T.J. Warren and Jordan Clarkson are two of the best players you haven’t seen yet.
  • Alabama at UCLA, Sat. 10:00 p.m.: Talk about a contrast of styles. Alabama likes to muck-it-up defensively while UCLA is going to try to get out and run as much as humanly possible. Who wins out?

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?

  • UC-Irvine at Arizona State, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Jahii Carson is always must-see TV, but the Sun Devils can struggle on nights when he’s not playing his best. Irvine already has a win at Washington this season and they have a must-watch player in their own right in Mamadou N’Diaye, who stands 7-foot-6.
  • UIC at Illinois, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Kelsey Barlow is having a huge season for UIC, averaging 16.6 points, 5.2 boards and 4.5 assists. Illinois will have to slow down the former Boilermaker is they want to avoid getting upset.

THREE MORE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) Two of the nation’s best mid-major teams, Belmont and Indiana State, will square off at 1:05  on Saturday afternoon in Terre Haute.

2) BYU will head to LMU on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. to kick off WCC play. Anthony Ireland will be fun to watch facing BYU’s uptempo offense.

3) Notre Dame’s first game without Jerian Grant will take place on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. when they host Billy Baron and Canisius.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.