Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Matta talks with guard Craft in the second half against the Wichita State Shockers during their West Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Los Angeles

Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Ohio State hosts Iowa in Big Ten play

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 20 Iowa vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 1:30 p.m. (CBS)

The Hawkeyes travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in a battle between two top 20 teams in an early Big Ten Conference clash. Iowa has lost three games — Villanova, Iowa State and Wisconsin — and in each of those games blew second half leads. Ohio State trailed by 17 points against No. 5 Michigan State, in East Lansing, on Tuesday night. But Thad Matta’s club was able to force overtime before 3-pointers from Kenny Kaminski, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Washington over No. 15 Colorado, 3 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

The Huskies, who have won four of five games — that only loss coming to top-ranked Arizona — welcome No. 15 Colorado on Sunday. The Buffaloes are coming off a less than stellar performance against Washington State in an overtime win.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Green Bay vs. Milwaukee, 2 p.m.

The two top teams in the Horizon League meet in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay, led by Kiefer Sykes’ 19.6 points per game, have three losses on the season — a three-point loss to Wisconsin and against Harvard — while knocking off Virginia at home. Milwaukee is 2-1 in conference play after losing to Cleveland State.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Louisville hosts SMU. The Cards are 2-2 in their last four games with those losses coming to Kentucky and Memphis. The Mustangs are coming off a win over UConn.

2) The Ducks were undefeated. But thanks to Colorado and Cal, they are trying to avoid a third straight loss against Stanford. The Cardinal have also lost two consecutive conference games. Will Oregon or Stanford get a much-needed win?

3) Iowa State suffered its first loss. Wichita State came back from 19 down to remain unbeaten while Syracuse stayed perfect as well. No. 1 Arizona looks to remain on the dwindling list of unbeatens on the road against USC.

4) San Diego State has a tough Mountain West test on the road against Air Force. Is Tre’ Coggins enough to lead the Falcons over the Aztecs talented frontline?

5) Saturday was jam-packed with ACC games. North Carolina, Duke and Notre Dame all lost while Pitt and Virginia both picked up W’s. There’s only one conference game on Sunday is between Maryland and Florida State. If the Terrapins win they move into fourth place. If the Seminoles win they share the fourth spot with Clemson.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • No. 1 Arizona vs. USC, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • SMU vs. No. 12 Louisville, 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • No. 13 San Diego State vs. Air Force, 4 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Stanford vs. No. 17 Oregon, 5 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • No. 23 Illinois vs. Northwestern, 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

NOTABLES:

  • Nebraska vs. Purdue, 12 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • Southern Miss vs. Tulsa, 1 p.m.
  • Monmouth vs. Canisius, 2 p.m.
  • Iona vs. Siena, 2 p.m.
  • Xavier vs. Creighton, 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Akron vs. Ohio, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Utah vs. Washington State, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Maryland vs. Florida State, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Arizona State vs. UCLA, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)

John Calipari helping to raise money for Louisiana flood victims

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It’s easy to be critical of John Calipari.

You don’t have to be a Louisville fan to know all the jokes by now. He cheated at UMass. He cheated at Memphis. He’s had two Final Fours vacated. Teflon John. Yada yada yada.

I get it. Negativity comes with success, particularly for someone who is as brash about his success as Coach Cal is.

But even Cal’s harshest critics cannot begrudge the work he does — can get his players to do — for charity and how well he can harness the power of Big Blue Nation to make a tangible difference. Remember the ‘Hoops for Haiti’ telethon that raised more than $1 million to help earthquake victims back in 2010? Or the hundreds of thousands of dollars he raised for Hurricane Sandy relief? Or when his fantasy camps generated more than $1 million in charitable donations?

And should I mention the amount of times that stories of Kentucky players befriending sick kids or visiting children’s hospitals?

The cynic in me could say that all of this is for branding, helping ensure his players are image-conscious and aware of the sponsorship opportunities that come with being a likable, relatable and humble athlete. There’s probably some truth to that.

But do you think the kids that get visits from their Big Blue heroes care? Do you think it matters to the charities that get seven-figure checks to help with disaster relief?

I say all that to say this: During a press conference on Thursday morning, Cal had this to say, via SEC Country:

Calipari said former UK star Anthony Davis (currently of the New Orleans Pelicans) told Calipari, “Coach, you gotta do something” for Baton Rouge flood victims. Davis is out of the country but will try to get back for Sunday’s softball game to help. His 2012 title teammates, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, were not previously on the celeb list for Sunday but will be there.

Calipari has decided to donate all proceeds from Sunday’s alumni/celebrity softball game will go to the Baton Rouge flood-relief fund, through Red Cross. “So what I’m asking you to do is buy these tickets.” They’re $5 apiece. The previously raised funds will still go to the other designated charities, like each year.

For those so inclined, you can donate to the flooding fund by texting “GIVE” to 859-955-8173.

Vermont women cancels game in North Carolina over HB2

DURHAM, NC - MAY 10:  A unisex sign and the "We Are Not This" slogan are outside a bathroom at Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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The University of Vermont is the latest in a ever-growing line of organizations canceling events in North Carolina due to the controversial HB2 law.

The Catamounts will not be traveling to play the Tar Heels on Dec. 28th as previously scheduled.

“We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued,” the school wrote in a statement. “It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

“This decision was made in consultation with our coaches, the women’s basketball team, and key university officials. We fully understand and sympathize with the impact that this decision may have on the North Carolina women’s basketball schedule. However, we believe this decision is consistent with our values and the conversations with our coaches and student team members. These were the most important considerations.”

Known as the “bathroom bill”, HB2 is the law that requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex that they were born not the sex they identify with.

Earlier this year, Albany was forced to cancel a trip to Duke due to legislation in New York regarding visits to North Carolina. The NBA has taken the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, and the NCAA is heavily considering pulling NCAA tournament games from the state.

Interestingly, ACC commissioner John Swofford was very non-committal on the subject when asked yesterday.

Derek Willis won’t be suspended for offseason citiation

Kentucky's Derek Willis (35) hits an uncontested three point shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 80-70. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
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John Calipari gave a press conference on Thursday morning and, for the first time since his arrest in June, the Kentucky head coach spoke about Derek Willis.

Willis, if you’ve forgotten, was found passed out in the street outside the open driver’s side door of his car at 4:30 a.m. You can see video of the arrest here. Willis is very lucky he wasn’t killed, and that he didn’t kill anyone else trying to drive in that condition.

Cal said that Willis will not be suspended for any games, but “Derek knows he’s under a different eye now than he was.” He did not elaborate on what kind of punishment Willis will receive beyond that, saying that “I don’t throw people under the bus.”

To be honest, I’m a little surprised that Willis won’t be forced to miss any games, but if we’re being frank, sitting out an exhibition and Kentucky’s opener sounds much more appealing than the kind of, ahem, ‘conditioning drills’ that Willis has likely spent the summer doing.

PODCAST: Boeheim’s non-controversy and the coaches we don’t want to fight

Jim Boeheim
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In today’s podcast, I’m joined by Travis Hines to discuss stuff that has been in the news over the course of the last two weeks, specifically Jim Boeheim’s comments about Carmelo Anthony and why it is a total non-controversy.

We also dive into why Boeheim’s comments are forced to be taken out of context as well as Monte’ Morris, ‘Pancake’ Thomas and which college basketball coaches we would least like to fight.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.

Cyclones add big man for 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Head coach Steve Prohm of the Murray State Racers shouts from the sidelines against the Colorado State Rams  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.

KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.

“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”

Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.

“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”

Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.