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Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Three marquee games, and an Atlantic showdown

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 1 Arizona at UCLA, 9:00 p.m.

While Arizona cruises along as the nation’s best team, UCLA has been somewhat ignored in the Pac-12 race. Maybe it’s their lack of a notable win and maybe it’s their issues on the defensive end of the floor, but it seems like the consensus has become that the Bruins are currently sitting fourth in the Pac-12 power rankings, behind Oregon and Colorado. Well, this is their chance to change that narrative, although it won’t be easy to do. A 6:00 p.m. tip local time means that there may not be many fans in seats at the tip, and Arizona has a kid by the name of Aaron Gordon who should be able to hold his own against Kyle Anderson.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 24 Memphis at No. 12 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.

Remember when these two were thought to be the two favorites in the American? That was before Chane Behanan was booted off the team and Memphis put forth a disastrous performance in a loss to Cincinnati at home. Both the Tigers and the Cardinals really could use the win tonight.

THE OTHER, OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Cal at No. 17 Oregon, 11:00 p.m.

Remember how I said that UCLA is an afterthought in the Pac-12 race? Well, the Bears are basically non-existent in that race. The Ducks enter as one of the nation’s most-impressive teams this season while Cal has been just another team. It doesn’t help that they are banged up, playing without Jabari Bird and Ricky Kreklow.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: UC-Irvine at Long Beach State, 11:00 p.m.

The Big West is going to be a fun race to follow, and these could end up being the two best teams. LBSU may be 4-10, but with Tyler Lamb eligible, they have beaten USC and won at Nevada, who is now 3-0 in the MWC. If you haven’t seen UC-Irvine’s 7-foot-6 center Mamadou N’Diaye, he’s worth watching.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) George Washington will be making the trip up to Philly to take on La Salle tonight. The game will tip at 8:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Network and can be streamed through the Live Extra app here.

2) No. 22 Gonzaga makes their first road trip in WCC play as they head down to Portland to take on the Pilots tonight at 11:00 p.m ET.

3) Northwestern pays a visit to No. 20 Iowa tonight, who tragically had to postpone Fran McCaffery bobble-head night when their head coach was suspended for a game for his tirade on Sunday.

4) You now who could really use a win tonight? Marquette. You know who else could really use a win? Xavier. They play in Cincinnati tonight at 9:00 p.m.

5) Might the two best teams in the Summit League be squaring off tonight as North Dakota State makes the trip to take on IPFW?

NOTABLES:

  • Florida State at Clemson, 7:00 p.m.
  • DePaul at Butler, 7:00 p.m.
  • George Mason at VCU, 7:00 p.m.
  • Manhattan at Quinnipiac, 7:30 p.m.
  • Arizona State at USC, 10:00 p.m.
  • Stanford at Oregon State, 10:00 p.m.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.21.45 PM
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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.