Monday’s Pregame Shootaround: Creighton, Ohio State among teams needing a win

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Creighton at No. 4 Villanova, 7:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Big East square off tonight. Creighton has arguably the best player in the country in Doug McDermott, but he had a rough night against Providence on Saturday, “struggling” his way to 21 points in a blowout loss to the Friars. This will be a tough matchup for the Bluejays, as their strength is getting opposing big men out of position with jumpshooters in their front court. Villanova plays Jayvaughn Pinkston at the four and, if needed, can use Kris Jenkins at the five. They won’t be in a position where they have to deal with mismatches.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 24 Baylor at No. 8 Kansas, 9:00 p.m.

The Jayhawks start off their Big 12 campaign by playing the five best teams in the Big 12 not located in Lawrence. Thus far, they are all alone at 4-0 in the league. Baylor has been scuffling, losing two of their last three games. They struggle defensively and they aren’t getting the kind of dominant performance we’ve come to expect out of their front line. A couple things to watch in this game:

  • What’s up with Andrew Wiggins? Does he bounce back after his no-show against Oklahoma State?
  • What will Joel Embiid do now that he’s facing a front line that can match up with him athletically and from a size standpoint?

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) Xavier will pay a visit to a DePaul team that has been better this season than expected, which is to say that they already have two wins in Big East play.

2) North Carolina is headed to Chapel Hill for what is almost a must-win game for the Tar Heels. They still have plenty of time to turn their season around, but starting out ACC play 1-4 is not an easy thing to overcome. The blessing? Wins over Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky will ensure that their status as a bubble-dweller is limited.

3) Speaking of teams that really need a win, No. 17 Ohio State and their stale offense will try to snap a three-game losing streak at Nebraska.

4) Sputtering Marquette will pay a visit to scuffling Georgetown in a game between two of the bigger disappointments in the Big East. Without Josh Smith, it will be interesting to see how the Hoyas deal with Marquette’s big bodies in the paint.

5) Maryland is finally heading in the right direction after beating Notre Dame on Wednesday. N.C. State? They lost by 35 at Duke.

Report: North Carolina not attending the White House after winning national title

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

VIDEO: John Wall gets emotional talking to his mom during Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.