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Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Eight top 25 teams hit the road

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 Iowa at No. 21 Michigan, 7:00 p.m.

We all think we know that Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten when they’re healthy. But who’s second? Who will give the Spartans a run for the league title? The trendy pick two weeks ago would have been either Ohio State or Wisconsin, but those teams have lost a combined six straight games.

That leaves Iowa and Michigan. The Hawkeyes are dangerous. They’re talented, they’re versatile and they’re deep. Michigan, on the other hand, has seemingly adapted quite well from losing Mitch McGary to back surgery. It doesn’t hurt matters that, at this point in the season, Nik Stauskas and Roy Devyn Marble are both playing like Big Ten Player of the Year candidates.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 9 Wisconsin at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.

Wisconsin lost two games last week after starting the season 16-0. Minnesota is better than they are getting credit for, and they actually matchup fairly well with the Badgers. The Golden Gophers have a slew of guards on their roster, and if anything has been proven these last two games, it’s that the Badgers can be susceptible to penetration. Minnesota could really use a quality win, and Wisconsin is a good place to start.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 18 Duke at Miami (FL), 7:30 p.m.

The Hurricanes have been one of the scrappier teams in the ACC to dispatch of. They play a packed in defense, controlling the tempo and doing everything they can to turn games into slugfests. They don’t have the talent to run up and down with the best teams in the league this season, but they can muck it up with the best of them. Duke seemingly bounced back from their sluggish start to league play by pounding N.C. State, and theoretically, they match up with the Canes much better than, say, Syracuse. This should be an interesting test for the Blue Devils.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Boston U. at American, 7:30 p.m.

First place in the Patriot League is on the line as these two teams, who both sit at 6-0 in conference play, square off in DC.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 5 Wichita State will be making the trip to Illinois State tonight, and the Redbirds are a feisty, better-than-anyone-expected team. Roadtrips are never easy in the MVC, and Wichita State will be the biggest home game of the season every single time they hit the road.

2) No. 13 UMass has had a nasty habit of falling behind early in games, needing some kind of miraculous comeback in the final minutes to pull off a win. They visit Richmond tonight. Eventually, that’s going to come back to burn the Minutemen.

3) There are a couple of other key A-10 battles tonight:

  • No. 19 Saint Louis at Duquesne
  • La Salle at St. Bonaventure
  • VCU at Dayton
  • Rhode Island at St. Joe’s

4) There will be some upsets tonight, as two other ranked teams also hit the road:

  • No. 12 Louisville at South Florida
  • No. 7 San Diego State at San Jose State

5) Cal isn’t ranked, but they should be. They will also be on the road tonight, visiting USC.

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.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.

Big Ten releases conference schedule

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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The Big Ten released its 2016-17 conference schedule on Thursday as the conference season begins on Dec. 27 with a four-game set.

Conference play will conclude on March 5th before the 20th annual Big Ten Tournament is played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. from March 8-12.

Some notable games include Penn State hosting Michigan State at the Palestra on Jan. 7.

You can view the full Big Ten schedule here.

Arizona’s Talbott Denny injures knee, out for season

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona senior forward Talbott Denny will miss the season after tearing the ACL and medial meniscus in his left knee.

The school said Wednesday that the 6-foot-5 graduate transfer from Lipscomb will have surgery.

Denny, from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School, missed all of last season at Lipscomb because of a shoulder injury.

Roy Williams: ‘There’s no question’ more ACC games equal no Kentucky in non-conference

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Back in June, when the ACC officially announced that they would be expanding the league schedule to 20 games in 2019, I tried to warn you that it was going to put a dent into the non-conference schedule and the amount of quality, on-campus games that we’ll get prior to January.

Roy Williams essentially confirmed this as fact this week.

The North Carolina head coach hopped on a podcast with ESPN and more or less said that the bigger league schedule is going to lead to an end of some of UNC’s marquee home-and-home series.

“My feeling right now, and it could change by ’19, heck I could be fired by ’19, but my feeling right now is to play our conference schedule, play one exempt event where you have really good teams, and other than that play home games to help out your revenue and help out your budget,” Williams said. “We have the ACC/Big Ten and that’s not going to go away. So it’s 21 games already scheduled.”

When asked specifically if this would put an end to UNC’s series with Kentucky, Williams said, “Oh yeah, there’s no question. Why would I need to do that?”

There’s two reasons this makes sense. On the one hand, North Carolina needs to fill their home arena a certain number of times to help with the bottom line of the athletic department. They make enough off of ticket sales, merchandise sales, parking fees and food and beverage that they can afford to pay out more than $50,000 to bring a smaller opponent into their arena. More than that, playing a series of weaklings early in the year allows players to gain confidence, it allows Williams to figure out what his rotation will be and who can handle playing at this level, and it gives newcomers a chance to assimilate into his team against players that just aren’t that good.

And when a larger ACC schedule severely limits the number of non-conference games that UNC will be able to play, what’s going to get cut are the contracts that require the Tar Heels to play on the road when they don’t have to.

So buh-bye, Kentucky, it is.