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Weekend Preview: The five storylines you need to track

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1. Missouri Valley Conference tournament: Without question, this is the mid-major tournament that has the most on the line. Everyone probably knows the details by now: Wichita State and Illinois State, two teams with a combined nine losses between them, are sitting squarely on the bubble. Neither of them can afford a loss to anyone other than each other in this event and still have a real shot at getting themselves into the NCAA tournament.

And even if they both make it to the finals of the event, there is going to be a sweat on Selection Sunday as they wait to hear from the Selection Committee on whether or not they made the cut. The Shockers are probably in a better spot because of their lack of bad losses, but no matter who ends up missing out on the automatic bid, it’s going to be a long, long, LONG week of waiting, watching the bubble teams in the power conferences start stacking up wins.

By Sunday afternoon at 4 pm ET, we’ll know which of those two teams is going to be stressing.

2. The MVC is one of four tickets that will be punched this weekend: On Saturday night, the Ohio Valley Conference, home of the heavily-favored Belmont Bruins, will play their conference tournament and give us our first automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Sunday features three league tournament title games: The Missouri Valley (2 p.m., CBS), the Big South (1 p.m., ESPN) and the Atlantic Sun, which is already set (North Florida vs. Florida-Gulf Coast, 3 p.m., ESPN).

3. Last gasp bubble games: This is the final weekend of the regular season for the teams at the top of the sport, meaning that this will be the final chance for those bubble teams to be able to land a win that could keep them from having to make a run in their league tournament in order to secure a bid. Perhaps the most notable game this weekend for a bubble team will be Seton Hall, who right now appears to be right on the cut line. They play at No. 13 Butler on Saturday, a win that would almost assuredly get the Pirates back to the NCAA tournament. Vanderbilt missed out on their big win on Tuesday night, blowing a 19-point lead at Kentucky, but they turn around this weekend and host Florida. That win won’t carry quite as much weight, but it will put them in a much better position than they are in right now.

Georgia will have a chance to get on the right side of the bubble with a win at Arkansas, who still probably needs to win one more game to really feel safe about their chances. Cal cannot afford to lose at Colorado, not after getting worked over by Utah on Thursday night. Xavier has lost six straight games and is somehow on the bubble on March 3rd after being ranked midway through February. Losing at DePaul would likely put them out of the tournament. And then there is Georgia Tech at Syracuse, a game that both programs really cannot afford to lose.

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4. The ACC showdowns: There are three really awesome games at the top of the ACC this weekend. No. 25 Miami heads out on the road to take on in-state rival No. 15 Florida State and No. 19 Notre Dame looks to keep their place all alone in second place in the ACC by winning at No. 8 Louisville, but easily the most exciting game of the weekend is the best rivalry in the sport: No. 17 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina. We take a good, long look at this game right here.

5. This weekend is when the coaching carousel really gets started: This is the week when seasons start coming to an end, which means this is the week when programs that have coaches sitting on the hot seat will start to make changes. At the upper levels of the sport, there is the chance that this could end up being a pretty wild carousel. With the potential for quality jobs opening up and the chance that those jobs could be filled by some big names, reporters are buckling in for what should be a wild ride.

But there will also be changes made at the lower levels of the sport, and those are just as wild to try and track. Over the course of the next two weeks, don’t be surprised to hear about roughly 40 head coaches losing their jobs, and have fun tracking the movement that creates amongst the coaching ranks.

Buffalo sophomore arrested, charged with strangulation, witness intimidation

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Buffalo sophomore Quate McKinzie is facing a litany of charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attempted to strangle a female acquaintance.

McKinzie, who is 20 years old, was later handed more charges after he made threatening phone calls to his accuser from jail.
From the Buffalo News:

The original charges placed against the UB sophomore were second-degree strangulation, a D-felony; misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, menacing, harassment; and stealing the victim’s vehicle.

The latest charges are third-degree witness intimidation and first-degree criminal contempt, both E-felonies; and two misdemeanors, aggravated harassment and disobeying a court mandate, according to Tonawanda Police Patrol Capt. Fredric Foels.

“University Athletics is aware of the alleged incident and is in communication with university and local authorities,” Buffalo released in a statement. “Quate McKinzie is currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo and is suspended indefinitely from the university’s basketball team. Due to the ongoing investigation and federal protections on student information, we will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”

McKinzie is a 6-foot-8, 195 pound forward that played in 17 games last season. He averaged 3.9 points and 4.3 boards.

Auburn’s Austin Wiley suffers stress fracture

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Auburn center Austin Wiley has a stress fracture in his left leg and will be out 4-6 weeks, the school announced Monday.

No surgery is required, but Wiley, who played with Team USA’s U19 team in Egypt earlier this month, will miss Auburn’s trip to Italy.

“You know how tough and committed a young man is when he plays through the pain of a stress fracture,” said Pearl. “He was receiving treatment while in Egypt, but had no way of knowing the extent of his injury. Doctors say it is in a good spot for healing, and he will be fine.”

Wiley averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.1 minutes this past season. He started 21 of the Tigers’ 22 games after he enrolled in school midseason.

Virginia Tech loses key shooter to torn ACL

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Virginia Tech suffered a brutal blow earlier this month when Ty Outlaw went down with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Outlaw is one of the best shooters on Virginia Tech’s roster, banging home 48 percent of his three-balls last season, and he was expected to be a major part of the rotation following a season where he scored in double-figures in six of the last eight games, including four games of better than 16 points in that stretch.

This is a blow to Virginia Tech’s depth, but it is also a tough break for Outlaw, who transferred to Virginia Tech from a Junior College and had to sit out the 2015-16 season due to a heart issue. The redshirt senior will likely be eligible to receive a medical redshirt should he decide to apply for one.

Report: Miller brothers schedule Indiana-Arizona series

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The Miller family does not appear to be worried about sibling rivalry.

According to a report from FanRag Sports, Archie, the head coach at Indiana, and Sean, the head coach at Arizona, have agreed to a three-year deal to have the two programs face-off against each other. They’ll start in 2019-20, playing in Arizona, then face-off in Bloomington the following season before finally heading up to Madison Square Garden in 2021-22.

If you can get past the fact that we are now scheduling games for 2022 (!!!), this is actually going to be a pretty neat and unique thing. How often do two brothers end up coaching at the Division I level? The Drew brothers — Bryce at Vanderbilt and Scott at Baylor — are one pair, but they cancelled a series that would have seen the two programs square off last season. James and Joe Jones at Yale and Boston University are another pair. They were league rivals for eight yeas when Joe was the head coach at Columbia. When Sean Sutton was the head coach at Oklahoma State, his brother, Scott, beat them was the head coach at Oral Roberts.

So it’s not typical for this to happen, mainly because it’s not easy to compete at something so important against someone you care about so much.

Think about it.

Imagine working in a profession where your success comes at the expense of your brother? It’s one of the major reasons — beyond the obvious — that no one believed Sean Miller would actually consider taking the Ohio State job when it opened. Facing off against your brother in a non-conference game you choose to play is one thing. Competing for league titles against him for the foreseeable future is something totally different.

Which is a long way of saying that this should be an enticing matchup, however it plays out.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)