Pregame Shootaround: Florida at Kentucky headlines big day of action

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Florida at No. 14 Kentucky (9 p.m., ESPN)

CBT’s own Rob Dauster broke down both of our day’s top games yesterday:

Here’s Kentucky’s chance to prove themselves. Here’s their chance to say that they are more than just a talented group of wimps. Florida is as good of a defensive team as you are going to find in the country, largely because they are so versatile in how they can defend. They’ll press. They’ll man. They’ll zone, playing 2-3 or a 1-3-1. They have size. They have tough on-ball defenders in the back court. They have versatile forwards that allow them to switch ball-screens.

Florida is legit. How will Kentucky handle that? They lost at Arkansas. They got beat up at LSU in a game where they could never truly answer the punches the Tigers were throwing. They came much closer to losing at Auburn that Kentucky ever should. Any chance of winning a league title will be on the line here. How will the Wildcats respond?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 20 Memphis at No. 24 UConn, (12:00 p.m., ESPN) :

Memphis lost the last time these two teams tangled in Memphis. Deandre Daniels is the x-factor for UConn, but watching Shabazz Napier deal with Mike Dixon and Joe Jackson will be fun. This one could be huge if either one of these teams wants to emerge from the middle of the American pack and challenge Cincinnati for the league title.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? West Virginia at No. 19 Texas, (8:00 p.m., LHN):

West Virginia has been one of the most surprising teams in the country. If Jonathan Holmes doesn’t play for Texas, the Mountaineers have a shot. Juwan Staten is the best player in the country you haven’t heard of and Bob Huggins has the Mountaineers playing great ball since Big 12 play began. Does Texas potentially have enough without Holmes?

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Green Bay at Cleveland State (4 p.m., ESPN2)

The top two teams in the Horizon League square off as league No. 1 Green Bay (20-5, 10-2) travels to league No. 2 Cleveland State (18-9, 9-3). Both of these teams are having solid seasons and Green Bay got the best of this matchup when these two teams played in Wisconsin in January. Can Cleveland State get a big win?

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) This will be the last time in the foreseeable future that Maryland and Duke will square off when the two teams face at 6 p.m. In the early 2000s, this was one of the best rivalries in all of college basketball.

2) When VCU travels to No. 12 Saint Louis on Saturday is it two of the best teams in the Atlantic 10? Two of the top ten defenses in the country? It’s probably not going to be pretty. But it will be good. VCU needs a win if they want any chance of winning the A-10 regular season title.

3) Saturday’s game at North Carolina is the last chance that Pitt is going to have before the ACC tournament to land a quality win. They need a quality win.

4) Clemson and Virginia are both grind-it-out teams built around their defense. This may not be a high-scoring game, and that’s better for the Tigers. They’re looking to secure positioning as an at-large candidate.

5) TCU at No. 7 Kansas wouldn’t normally be a must watch game, but Joel Embiid’s health will be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • N.C. State at No. 1 Syracuse, 3:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Air Force at No. 5 San Diego State, 8:05 p.m., CBSSN
  • Houston at No. 10 Cincinnati, 3:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Texas Tech at No. 11 Iowa State, 1:45 p.m., ESPN3
  • No. 16 Iowa at Penn State, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • No. 22 Ohio State at Illinois, 8:00 p.m., BTN

NOTABLES:

  • Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, 2:00 p.m., ESPN
  • Southern Miss at Middle Tennessee State, 2:00 p.m.
  • UMass at George Washington, 2:00 p.m.
  • Cal at Washington, 3:00 p.m., PAC12
  • Xavier at Marquette, 4:00 p.m., FS1
  • Tennessee at Missouri, 4:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • Ole Miss at Georgia, 4:00 p.m. ESPN3
  • Indiana at Purdue, 4:00 p.m., ESPN
  • LSU at Arkansas, 5:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Kansas State at Baylor, 7:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BYU at Saint Mary’s, 8:00 p.m., ESPN2

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.

Report: NCAA ‘anticipates’ hearing UNC case in mid-August

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Today, the AP churned out a story on Greg Sankey’s involvement with the NCAA’s investigation into the academic scandal at North Carolina, and buried within that story is this little nugget:

UNC must respond to the latest charges by May 16. The NCAA enforcement staff then has until July 17 for its own response. Sankey wrote that his panel will hear the case in August with “anticipated” dates of Aug. 16 and 17.

Rulings typically come weeks to months later.

We’ve been down this road before, as the current iteration of the Notice of Allegations is the third that the NCAA has provided the university. The first was given out back in May of 2015 for an investigation that began back in 2010.