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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.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

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.