Tyler Haws, Damyean Dotson

Pregame Shootaround: The Round of 64 kicks off with four must-see games

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THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET)

12:15 p.m.: No. 6 Ohio State vs No. 11 Dayton (CBS)
12:30 p.m.: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 American (Tru TV)
1:30 p.m.: No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh (TBS)
2:00 p.m.: No. 5 Cincinnati vs. No. 12 Harvard (TNT)
———-
2:30 p.m.: No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Western Michigan (CBS)
3:00 p.m.: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 BYU (Tru TV)
4:00 p.m.: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 16 Albany (TBS)
4:30 p.m.: No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Delaware (TNT)
———-
6:45 p.m.: No. 7 UConn vs. No. 10 St. Joseph’s (TBS)
7:00 p.m.: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Wofford (CBS)
7:15 p.m.: No. 5 St. Louis vs. No. 12 NC State (TNT)
7:25 p.m.: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State (Tru-TV)
———-
9:15 p.m.: No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Milwaukee (TBS)
9:30 p.m.: No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Arizona State (CBS)
9:45 p.m.: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Manhattan (TNT)
9:55 p.m.: No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 13 New Mexico State (Tru-TV)

Top 68 players in the tournament | Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wing Forwards | Big Men

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 BYU

The Ducks and the Cougars are both talented teams offensively. They both like to get up and down the floor. Neither team is all that interested in playing defense, however, which should make for another thriller. Oregon knocked off BYU in Eugene during the regular season in an overtime game that featured 196 total points. Oregon got the win that day, and BYU will be without Kyle Collinsworth — their second-best player — due to a knee injury.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State

North Dakota State was one of a handful of mid-majors that I circled back in February as teams that had a chance to win a game or two in the NCAA tournament. They’re good. Ask Notre Dame. The Irish lost to NDSU at home. The problem? They just don’t matchup all that well with Oklahoma. That said, it should be one of the better games of the day. Taylor Braun vs. Buddy Hield will be fun.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 3 Syracuse

I might be taking a risk here, but at this point in the season I don’t think I trust Syracuse. If Trevor Cooney’s confidence isn’t completely shot, he sure is playing like it. And while it looks like Jerami Grant is just about back to full health, the Orange have been downright bad offensively for a month. Western Michigan is a good team. They notched five top 100 wins this season and won the MAC regular season and tournament titles.

WHO ELSE IS GETTING UPSET?: No. 5 Cincinnati

If you are as physical and as athletic as Cincinnati is, you can beat them if you slow down Sean Kilpatrick. No. 12 Harvard is as as athletic as the Bearcats, and while they may not be as physical — frankly, no one is — they are not going to be pushed around. Tommy Amaker has a roster full of top 100 recruits led by a stud point guard in Siyani Chambers.

MORE8 teams that can win it all | 8 that won’t | 7 must-watch games | Sleeper teams

FOUR KEY INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPS

  • Shabazz Napier vs. Langston Galloway: No. 7 UConn is led by Napier, a future NBA point guard, but Galloway, who is the leading scorer for No. 10 St. Joseph’s has spent his entire career under the radar.
  • St. Louis vs. T.J. Warren: The key to beating No. 12 N.C. State is not a secret: slow down Warren, the ACC Player of the Year. I’d expect Jordair Jett to see the majority of the minutes on Warren, but against a dude as talented as he is, it becomes a team effort.
  • Xavier Johnson vs. Lamar Patterson: Patterson is one of the most versatile players in the country and the primary option for No. 9 Pitt. Johnson will likely draw the assignment for No. 8 Colorado.
  • Jonathan Holmes vs. Jonathan Gilling: Slowing down Jahii Carson is a key for No. 7 Texas to beat No. 10 Arizona State, but if they do, they need to find a way to capitalize on Holmes’ size and athleticism advantage over Gilling.

YOU CAN IGNORE THESE (UNLESS THEY’RE CLOSE LATE!):

  • No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 Americ
  • No. 1 Florida vs. No. 16 Albany
  • No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Wofford
  • No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Milwaukee

NOTABLES

  • No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Manhattan: Steve Masiello and Rick Pitino are very close friends. Masiello was a ballboy for the Knicks when Pitino was their coach. He was a walk-on for Pitino’s Kentucky teams. He was an assistant for Pitino at Louisville.
  • No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 13 New Mexico State: New Mexico State has the nation’s biggest player in Sim Bhullar. And he’s actually pretty good.
  • No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Delaware: Delaware has three guards (Davon Usher, Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt) that combine to average nearly 60 points.
  • No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Dayton: Take your pick: Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and Arizona head coach Sean Miller are really, and Dayton head coach Archie Miller is Sean’s younger brother. Matta doesn’t schedule Dayton. Dayton’s Jordan Sibert originally played at Ohio State before transferring.

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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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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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.