Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Plenty of important bubble matchups

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 16 Iowa State at Baylor, 7:00 p.m.

Baylor is coming on strong of late, having won five of their last six games after starting the Big 12 season by losing eight of their first ten games. They are probably on the right side of the bubble at this point, but a win over a top ten RPI team like Iowa State would come close to locking up a bid for Scott Drew’s team. The interesting matchup here is going to be on the front line. Baylor’s got a ton of size with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, but Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim are going to be difficult matchups given their perimeter ability.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Arizona State at Oregon, 11:00 p.m.

The Sun Devils and the Ducks are both on the verge of making the NCAA tournament this year. Both teams have made a late run which has gotten them into a positive position as we get towards the end of the Pac-12 regular season. Oregon has won five straight games and will be looking to avenge its road sweep in the state of Arizona as they close out with the Sun Devils and Wildcats at home. Arizona State, meanwhile, should feel alright, but at 2-5 on the road in the Pac-12, a road win against a good team never hurts the old resume.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 12 Michigan at Illinois, 7:00 p.m.

Illinois may not be in position to compete for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, but John Groce has the Illini playing tremendous defense in the later part of the season. Illinois has held four consecutive opponents under 50 points — including Saturday’s stunning road win at Michigan State — and the Illini will look to do the same against Michigan. If Michigan struggles to get perimeter production from Nik Stauskas they could be in trouble on the road here.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Georgia State at Arkansas State, 8:05 p.m.

Georgia State is 15-1 in the Sun Belt and they’ll look to pick up another road victory in league play against Arkansas State (17-10, 9-6). Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter make for a potent 1-2 punch and Georgia State is one of those mid-major programs that nobody wants to potentially face in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas State will look to avenge the one-point loss that they suffered at Georgia State on January 16th.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Florida will look to make it 22 consecutive wins as the Gators travel to South Carolina. The Gamecocks don’t have much to play for, but that won’t stop Frank Martin’s group from playing hard, as evidenced by Saturday’s home win over Kentucky. Billy Donovan’s team better come prepared.

2) Can No. 3 Syracuse bounce back from Saturday’s loss at Virginia? The Orange host Georgia Tech and they’ll look to get back on track as they continue to play for a potential No. 1 seed.

3) Also looking to bounce back from a road loss is No. 13 Creighton. The Bluejays fell at Xavier and will travel to D.C. to face Georgetown, who is desperate for wins to stay relevant in the at-large conversation. CBT’s own Rob Dauster will be at this one.

4) How will No. 25 Kentucky and John Calipari respond to Saturday’s horrible loss at South Carolina? The Wildcats host Alabama in a home game they should win.

5) Providence and Marquette battle on Tuesday in a matchup of Big East team. Providence is doing everything they can to stay in the bubble picture and a home win over Marquette before Saturday’s game at Creighton could be huge.

NOTABLES:

  • Florida State at Boston College, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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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.

John Wall emotional in 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.