Aaron Gordon

Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Arizona hosts Colorado, lots of key mid-major games

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

It’s a shame that Spencer Dinwiddie went down with an ACL injury, but the ineptitude of everyone in the Pac-12 these days, the Buffaloes could very well still be the second best team in the conference. I’m not sure that’s actually saying much at this point, but Colorado does have a front line that can matchup with Arizona size-wise.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 6 Florida at Alabama, 7:00 p.m.

The Gators are one of the best teams in the country, I truly believe that, but they have this annoying tendency of going through bouts of what I like to call ‘offensive inability’. In other words, they have too many bad scoring stretches. Alabama is a middle-of-the-pack SEC team, but they’re tough and physical defensively and they do have one of the nation’s most underrated point guards in Trevor Releford.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Florida-Gulf Coast at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.

#DunkCity was the biggest story in college basketball for a week last year, when they made their run through the the first weekend and into the Sweet 16. They were everywhere, but they weren’t the even the reigning regular season champion of the Atlantic Sun. That title belongs to Mercer, who, like FGCU, sits at 6-1 in league play.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) You may not want to actually watch the game, but Illinois will be visiting No. 17 Ohio State tonight. The Illini and the Buckeyes are both really, really good defensively but struggle — mightily — to score. Take the under, I don’t care what it is.

2) A pair of ranked American teams take the floor at home tonight, with No. 17 Cincinnati hosting Central Florida and No. 23 Memphis welcoming Houston.

3) If Colorado isn’t the second best team in the Pac-12, who is? Well, Cal lost to USC last night. So that leaves UCLA, who hosts Stanford, and Oregon, who will pay a visit to Washington.

4 and 5) There are a number of key games in mid-major leagues tonight:

  • Belmont takes on Morehead State in a battle for first place in the OVC East.
  • Old Dominion is 3-0 in Conference USA, with all three wins coming on the road. They’re the only undefeated team in the conference. They’ll host league favorite Southern Miss tonight.
  • Chattanooga is 6-0 in the SoCon, but Davidson and Western Carolina, who play tonight, are both sitting one game back in the loss column.
  • Georgia State is undefeated in the Sun Belt. They’ll host Louisiana-Lafayette tonight. NBA scouts will be in attendance. Ryan Harrow, R.J. Hunter, Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long all take the floor.
  • Stephen F. Austin is three games into a five-game road stretch. They are 5-0 in the Southland, but pay a visit to 4-1 Oral Roberts tonight.

VIDEO: Asheville player hits trick shot

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18:  Kevin Vannatta #10 of the UNC Asheville Bulldogs drives against Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats in the first half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 18, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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UNC-Asheville has gotten into the trick shot game.

The basketball program’s official Twitter account posted this video of guard Kevin Vannatta nailing a shot from the balcony of Kimmel Arena.

Nice shot, huh?

Vannatta, a junior from Upper Arlington, Ohio, started all 34 games for the Bulldogs last year, averaging 11.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from 3-point range. It looks, though , like he might be working on extending his range.

Northwestern finds new home for 2017-18

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Northwestern has found a temporary home while its arena undergoes a nine-figure renovation.

The Wildcats will play the 2017-18 season at Allstate Arena, about 15 miles west of Evanston, Ill. in Rosemont, the school announced Tuesday.

“We are excited to partner with Allstate Arena to host Northwestern men’s basketball games during the 2017-18 season while Welsh-Ryan Arena is undergoing its renovation,” Northwestern vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips said in a statement. “The venue has a rich college basketball tradition in the Chicagoland area. I know that our fans will enjoy cheering on our team at Allstate Arena during what will be an exciting season.”

Allstate Arena previously had been home to DePaul, which is moving into its own new building this year. Capacity is around 18,000 for basketball.

Northwestern had its best season under coach Chris Collins last year, going 20-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten.

The renovation to Welsh-Ryan Arena will bring the building – which opened in 1952 and last renovated in 1983 – into the 21st century by replacing wood bleachers, widening concourses, adding concessions, improving arena technology and adding new locker rooms at the cost of at least $110 million.

Construction is slated to begin in spring of 2017 and be completed in the fall of 2018.

George Washington tabs Maurice Joseph interim head coach

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George Washington announced on Tuesday that Maurice Joseph has been named interim head coach for the 2016-17 season.

“I am eager and well prepared to begin this journey with the 13 student-athletes in our locker room and the tight-knit group of coaches that I will rely upon heavily,” said Joseph. “It is a distinct honor to have the opportunity to be a mentor to our team in this new role. I have the utmost confidence that I will validate the trust that Provost Maltzman and Patrick Nero have placed in me, and that we will deliver a product that makes our students, alumni and fans across the globe proud of GW Basketball and the university.”

Joseph has been a part of the GW coaching staff for the last five years, a full-time assistant for the last three.

He takes over for Mike Lonergan, who coached Joseph for three years at Vermont. Lonergan was fired two weeks ago stemming from an investigation into allegations of abuse.

Lonergan’s other two assistants, Hajj Turner and Carmen Marciariello, both were interviewed for the position as well, according to sources. Turner had been Lonergan’s associate head coach for the past five years, since Lonergan took over at GW.

“In his five years at GW, Maurice has shown himself to be selflessly dedicated to the success of our student-athletes and fully committed to our department and university,” said Nero, GW’s athletic director. “His leadership ability and basketball acumen will bring focus and stability to the talented team we have this year. Our team, basketball staff and athletic department are looking forward to working together for a successful season.”

2016-17 CBT Expert Picks

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski hugs Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils after he fouled out against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during their 84-79 overtime loss during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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We are now less than six weeks away from the start of the college basketball season, which means that it is time for us to officially get our picks on the record.

Here, our four writers pick who we think will win each league, the national title and the major awards:

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CBT Podcast: Listen as we put together the NBC Sports Preseason All-American Team

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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We figured that it wasn’t enough just to simply list out who was on our All-America teams and who was our National Player of the Year, not when the decision is so wide open. Not when there are so many worthwhile candidates.

So while you can go and see the NBCSports.com Preseason All-American team here and you can read our feature story on Duke’s Grayson Allen, the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year, here, you can also listen along as we try to hash out just who we wanted slotted in which spot.

Because we recorded it all on a podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Audioboom or anywhere else that podcasts are given away for free.

If you enjoy what you hear on this podcast, please rate and review the podcast, as it will help us reach more listeners.

Thanks for listening!

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule