Iowa v Michigan

No. 21 Michigan a legitimate Big Ten title contender after beating No. 10 Iowa

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Nik Stauskas had 26 points, five boards and five assists while Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III combined for 26 points and 16 boards as N0. 21 Michigan stayed undefeated in the Big Ten with a 75-67 win over No. 10 Iowa on Wednesday evening.

It’s the eighth straight win for the Wolverines. The last six came against Big Ten teams. Two last two came against top ten teams, one of which was on the road at Wisconsin.

I think it’s safe to say that Michigan has worked out their post-Mitch McGary kinks, and the credit has to be given to Nik Stauskas.

I know, I know, I know.

I wrote this exact same post on Saturday, so I won’t rewrite the entire thing but it bears repeating: Stauskas is a stud. He’s thrust himself into the Player of the Year conversation, particularly in the Big Ten, and he’s going to shoot up NBA Draft boards before too long. A 6-foot-6 athlete with unlimited range, Stauskas has proven this season that he’s so much more than that. He’s terrific in the pick-and-roll, having been designated as the guy that Beilein will primarily run his offense through, and he’s showcased a passing ability that few knew he had.

Throw in Robinson’s newfound aggression, Caris LeVert’s continued development offensively and Jordan Morgan’s reincarnation, and the Wolverines legitimately look like a Big Ten contender, although that tends to happen when you knock off two of the three teams that were sitting above you in the pecking order. It may not stop there, either. The Wolverines get No. 3 Michigan State on Saturday. That will be fun.

Back to Wednesday, what might be the most impressive part of Wednesday’s win had little to do with what Michigan did offensively and a lot to do with what they did to Iowa defensively. The Hawkeyes managed just 67 points, which was less noteworthy than the fact that they managed to hold Iowa to just 65 possessions.

Iowa has one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. They are not only the third-most efficient offense, according to KenPom, they also happen to average 73 possessions per game, No. 12 nationally. What that means is that in addition to being able to score at a highly-efficient rate, they score quickly. They don’t have an issue playing an uptempo game.

Michigan was able to take that away, and it had a lot to do with this win.

If they can continue to control tempo and defend the way they did tonight, they can absolutely win the Big Ten title.

Saturday’s intra-state battle just got REAL.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers 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 Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.