Nate Britt, Roy Williams

North Carolina announces plans for program that aims to help former athletes complete their degree

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With the NCAA reopening its probe into the North Carolina basketball program, the Tar Heels have come under fire due in large part to questions regarding the academic side of things. With former player Rashad McCants stating that he took no-show classes and earned a 4.0 GPA after struggling mightily in the classroom, detractors have wondered what it would take for the NCAA to not only revisit the situation but also punish Roy Williams’ program if their findings made it necessary to do so.

Yet even with this situation hanging over the athletic department North Carolina is making an effort to help its former scholarship athletes complete their degree requirements. On Thursday plans for the the “Complete Carolina” program were announced, with the school using donations from its boosters to help finance the scholarships given to returning athletes.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt announced the program, dubbed “Complete Carolina,” to the university trustees on Thursday. Having athletes come back isn’t new at Carolina, but Folt said the new program will formalize that invitation and put more resources into supporting former scholarship athletes who return.

Scholarships for those who accept the invitation will be paid for by UNC’s booster organization known as the Rams Club. The athletic department will cover any additional expense. To have boosters and the athletics budget paying for academics will be a refreshing turn from academics being compromised to support athletics.

North Carolina isn’t the first school to do this and they won’t be the last (hopefully), because there shouldn’t be a problem helping out an athlete who wants to return in order to complete their degree. As for current athletes, the school also stated that it will be more vigilant in making sure that the questionable/non-existent courses at the center of the academic controversy are no longer available.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: