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Weekend Preview: Duke-North Carolina, plus four tickets getting punched

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SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

No. 17 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina, Sat. 8:15 p.m. (ESPN): The biggest game of the night lost a bit of its luster when Duke dropped back-to-back road games last week. The Blue Devils bounced back this week with a win over No. 15 Florida State, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Tar Heels can now win an outright ACC regular season title even if they lose this game.

But it’s Duke-North Carolina.

That rivalry game is always going to be terrific, and this should be no different. The Tar Heels currently sit a game up on Notre Dame in the ACC regular season standings. A win locks them into the outright ACC regular season title, the eighth regular season title that Roy Williams has won in the last 13 seasons, but there should be little doubt that Duke, who is still playing for seeding in both postseason tournaments, would love to be able to say that they swept UNC in a year they won the ACC title.

And Duke has a real shot at this thing. The key is going to be the matchup at the four spot, where Duke’s Jayson Tatum is going to go up against Isaiah Hicks. Duke wants to play small-ball. North Carolina wants to play big. If Tatum can find a way to hold his own in the post and keep whoever he’s guarding from getting to the offensive glass, the Blue Devils will be in a really good spot. He did it when these two met in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but that came on a day where Isaiah Hicks was not in the lineup.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (-7)

FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH

No. 24 Iowa State at No. 10 West Virginia, Fri. 7:00 p.m.: The Cyclones, who have been one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 and are now sitting all alone in second place in the Big 12, will pay a visit to Morgantown, which has not been a fun place for ranked teams to visit this season. Monte’ Morris has 68 assists and just six turnovers in his last 10 games. Will that last against WVU’s pressure? PREDICTION: Iowa State (+8)

No. 19 Notre Dame at No. 8 Louisville, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Surprisingly enough, Notre Dame is currently sitting all alone in second place in the ACC standings as of today. Louisville, however, is coming off of a confounding loss at Wake Forest and are not an easy team to beat in the KFC Yum! Center. PREDICTION: Louisville (-8)

No. 25 Miami at No. 15 Florida State, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (ACCN): There is a lot on the line in terms of seeding in this game, for both the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament. Miami has been one of the hot teams in the ACC in recent weeks. PREDICTION: Florida State (-7)

No. 1 Kansas at Oklahoma State, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN): The Jayhawks have already clinched the outright Big 12 title and, in all likelihood, a No. 1 seed in the tournament. What do they have to play for? Not enough to keep them from needing to come back from 12 down in the second half to beat Oklahoma. PREDICTION: Oklahoma State (-1)

Tournament Finals: There are going to be four automatic bids earned this weekend. It starts on Saturday night in the Ohio Valley Conference, while Sunday features the Atlantic Sun, the Big Sky and the Missouri Valley title games. The race for the MVC title may be the most interesting, as both Wichita State and Illinois State are looking to get themselves off of the bubble by earning that automatic bid.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.