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.

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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.

VIDEO: UConn’s Kwintin Williams would win the NBA dunk contest

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Think that’s too strong?

Look at this dunk:

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A post shared by Kwintin Williams (@jumpmanebig) on

He also did this over the summer:

Williams is a 6-foot-7, 215 pound JuCo transfer that should provide UConn with some minutes in the frontcourt this season.

LSU officially announces addition of Kavell Bigby-Williams

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LSU has announced the addition of Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior that was the National Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bigby-Williams, who is a native of London, averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 boards last season as the Ducks reached the Final Four, but he played the majority of the season while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was at Gillette College in Wyoming.

The local County Attorney declined to charge Bigby-Williams with a crime, and Gillette College police consider the case closed.

“The university conducted a responsible and comprehensive review before approving the transfer,” a release posted on LSU’s Athletics site read, “including close coordination with Title IX officials, multiple discussions with Gillette and Oregon officials and a thorough examination of available public records.”

LSU head coach Will Wade was quoted in that release as well: “This is an issue we all take seriously and we made absolutely sure we did our due diligence before considering moving forward. Kavell understands that and has made clear to me that he’s going to repay our confidence by representing LSU with his very best on and off the court.”

Report: Four-star Mamaou Doucoure has reclassified, enrolled at Rutgers

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Rutgers has made a potentially significant addition to their 2017 recruiting class, as four-star big man Mamadou Doucoure appears to have reclassified.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Doucoure has already enrolled in classes at Rutgers, citing a search of the university’s online database. The 6-foot-9 Doucoure was initially a member of the Class of 2017 before reclassifying to 2018, although there have been rumors that he has been trying to enroll this year.

It’s not yet clear if Doucoure will be eligible to play this season — he has not even been added to Rutgers’ roster online — but if he’s eligible, he should be able to provide rotation minutes for the Scarlet Knights.

Even if he’s not cleared to play this season, his addition matters. He’ll be able to workout with and develop in a Big Ten locker room before getting cleared to play alongside a massive 2018 recruiting class that already includes four-stars Mac McClung and Montez Mathis along with three-star prospect Ron Harper Jr.

Options drying up for top ten prospect Mitchell Robinson

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It’s looking less and less likely that we’ll see Mitchell Robinson on a college campus this season.

Robinson, if you’ve forgotten, committed to and signed with Western Kentucky, enrolling at the school and practicing with the team over the summer. But he left Bowling Green after two weeks and has received a release to transfer out of the program.

And that’s where the difficultly here lies.

He’s a transfer, which means that, as a top ten prospect and a likely one-and-done player, he will be redshirting the only year that he is on campus unless the NCAA would provide him with a waiver, which is unlikely. After Robinson left WKU, three schools have emerged as potential landing spots: LSU, Kansas and New Orleans. LSU ended their recruitment two weeks ago. Over the weekend, Kansas head coach essentially confirmed that Robinson will not be a Jayhawks.

“I would think that we probably won’t sign anybody,” Self told the Kansas City Star.

That leaves New Orleans, his hometown school, or overseas, which is a rumor that has followed Robinson since the spring. The other option? Sitting out and training for a year, which FanRag Sports reported on Sunday is a possibility.

However you slice it, Robinson’s one-and-done year has turned into a mess. He’s still likely to end up as a first round pick — seven-footers that can do the things he does defensively don’t grow on trees — but I can’t imagine that teams are going to be clamoring to use a lottery pick on a player that just spent a year sitting out.

VIDEO: Texas freshman Jericho Sims catches nasty alley-oop

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Texas is in Australia for their team’s summer trip, and Jericho Sims gave Longhorn fans a glimpse of why they may not miss Jarrett Allen’s athleticism all that much this season.