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Wisconsin’s non-conference slate doesn’t lack for quality matchups

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With Ben Brust being the lone departure from a team that won 30 games and reached the Final Four last season, the Wisconsin Badgers are one of the teams expected to contend for a national title in 2014-15. Friday afternoon the school released the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season, and it’s safe to say that the Badgers will be tested once they begin Big Ten play when the calendar flips over to 2015.

Among the games in front of Wisconsin is a home game against Duke on December 3 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and that will be their first game following the Battle 4 Atlantis. Wisconsin begins that eight-team event, regarded by many as the premier in-season tournament of the 2014-15 season, with a game against UAB on November 26 and things will only get tougher from there.

Wisconsin will play either Florida or Georgetown on the 27th, with Butler, North Carolina, Oklahoma and UCLA being on the other side of the Battle 4 Atlantis Bracket. The Tar Heels, Sooners and Bruins are all expected to return to the NCAA tournament in 2014-15, and the same can be said of a Florida squad that was the tournament’s top overall seed last year.

Other non-conference games for Wisconsin include road games at Marquette and Cal, and they’ll have two tough home games against Green Bay (which took them to overtime last season) and Boise State.

“Every year it’s our goal to put together a difficult non-conference schedule that will get us ready for Big Ten play,” head coach Bo Ryan said in the release. “Last season we played five teams in the non-con that ended up winning their conference. I think this year’s slate will be another challenging one.”

Wisconsin will play twice within the span of five days in Milwaukee, with their game at Marquette (December 6) preceding a game at Milwaukee on December 10. While Green Bay won the Horizon League’s regular season title in 2013-14 it was Milwaukee that won the conference tournament, earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

With forwards Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky back the Badgers will be regarded as the favorite to win the Big Ten, and under Ryan the program has finished in the top four of the Big Ten standings every year that he’s been in charge (since 2001).

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.