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Saturday’s Pregame Shootaround: Duke and North Carolina highlights final Saturday of regular season

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 14 North Carolina at No. 4 Duke, 9:00 p.m., ESPN

CBT’s own Rob Dauster broke down this weekend’s top matchups in our weekend preview:

It really doesn’t get better than the Duke-Carolina on the final weekend of the regular season. The only odd part about it is that there really isn’t all that much on the line anymore. Virginia’s already locked up the ACC regular season title. Duke pretty much cost themselves a shot at a No. 1 seed by losing to Wake Forest on Wednesday. North Carolina did the same with their struggles earlier this season. If anything, this game will be a chance for the Blue Devils to prove that they actually are a Final Four contender.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 21 New Mexico at No. 10 San Diego State, 10:00 p.m., CBSSN

This will be fun. The two best programs in the Mountain West will square off in arguably the rowdiest environment on the west coast for the right to call themselves Mountain West regular season champions. The Aztecs have long been considered the favorite to win the league title, with their win at Kansas and New Mexico’s struggles earlier in the season. But the Lobos are peaking at the right time. Like I said, this will be fun.

RELATED: Our latest bracket projections — is your team in?

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Oklahoma State at No. 16 Iowa State , 2:00 p.m., ESPN

Oklahoma State has won four straight games and they’ll look to to avenge a triple overtime home loss to No. 16 Iowa State from earlier in the season when the Cowboys were in the midst of their seven-game losing streak. The Cyclones, meanwhile, have lost back-to-back games and appear to be trending a bit in the opposite direction. Marcus Smart and the Cowboys are playing very good ball since his return and a win here would give them a lot of momentum going into posteseason play.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Western Kentucky at Georgia State 2:30 p.m., ESPN3

The best regular season mid-major contest of the day features the top two teams in the Sun Belt colliding as Western Kentucky travels to face Georgia State. Georgia State won this contest with ease on the road on January 9th but the Hilltoppers shot the ball poorly and should have a better showing this time around.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Two great battles between top-25 teams in the American on Saturday as No. 19 UConn travels to No. 11 Louisville and No. 18 SMU travels to No. 20 Memphis. Louisville will look to wrap up the AAC regular season title with a home win while SMU will try to pick up a big road win at a tough place to play in Memphis.

2) How will No. 25 Kentucky respond to its recent sluggish play when they travel to Gainesville to face the No. 1 Gators? Florida will be looking to finish the regular season unbeaten in the SEC while the Wildcats could use a confidence boost heading into postseason play.

3) While Creighton is celebrating Senior Night for Doug McDermott, Providence will try to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume with a win — and a regular-season sweep — over Creighton. Can Providence win its second big game of the week after the double-overtime victory over Marquette earlier this week?

4) After struggling on Wednesday night at Oregon State, can No. 3 Arizona win on the road at surging Oregon? The Ducks have won six straight games and Mike Moser is playing out of his mind lately. Oregon lost by a bucket the last time these two teams faced, so this should be a good one.

5) What does Georgetown have in-store after Tuesday night’s huge Big East home win over No. 13 Creighton? The Hoyas travel to Philly to face No. 6 Villanova and Georgetown needs all the wins they can get at this point in the season.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • Missouri State at No. 2 Wichita State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • No. 8 Kansas at West Virginia, 12:00 p.m., ESPN
  • Indiana at No. 12 Michigan, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
  • No. 15 Cincinnati at Rutgers, 12:00 p.m., ESPNN
  • No. 23 Oklahoma at TCU, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Illinois at No. 24 Iowa, 8:30 p.m., BTN

NOTABLES:

  • Utah at Stanford, 2:30 p.m.
  • Missouri at Tennessee, 4:00 p.m.
  • Colorado at Cal, 6:30 p.m.
  • Pitt at Clemson, 4:00 p.m.
  • Arkansas at Alabama, 4:00 p.m.
  • Arizona State at Oregon State, 4:30 p.m.
  • Indiana at No. 12 Michigan, 6:00 p.m.
  • Richmond at Dayton, 7:00 p.m.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.