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2017-18 College Basketball Season Preview: Impact Transfers

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Beginning in September and running up until November 10th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

1. Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe, Kansas (via Mississippi State and Arizona State): Former McDonald’s All-American Malik Newman is the big name here as he’ll become a major factor shooting the ball for Kansas as a starting guard. If Newman can also handle the ball besides Devonte’ Graham then he’ll elevate his pro stock as well. Cunliffe joins the Jayhawks at semester break as the flashy wing is talented but prone to stretches of inconsistent play.

2. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina (via Pitt): Landing the 6-foot-7 Johnson was a major coup for the Tar Heels as the former Pitt wing is the rare graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. Attempting to replace Justin Jackson’s production for North Carolina, Johnson averaged 11.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from three-point range last season. Already familiar with the ACC, Johnson’s addition keeps the Tar Heels firmly near the top of the national rankings.

3. Cane Broome, Cincinnati (via Sacred Heart): Sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, the 6-foot-1 Broome provides a valuable scoring punch to Cincinnati. Top 10 in the nation in scoring at 23.1 points per game during his sophomore season, Broome enters a Bearcat lineup that is talented and experienced as he could be the extra scorer this team needs to make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

4. Elijah Brown, McKyle McIntosh and Paul White, Oregon (via New Mexico, Illinois State and Georgetown): Plenty of familiar faces are gone from last season’s Final Four team at Oregon but head coach Dana Altman reloads at multiple spots. Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA head coach Mike Brown, is an experienced player at 6-foot-4 as he should be counted on as one of the team’s leading scorers. The 6-foot-7 McIntosh was a versatile wing forward who was one of Illinois State’s best players last season while former four-star recruit Paul White finally gets to play after sitting out to due injury and transfer rules.

5. Jaaron Simmons and Charles Matthews, Michigan (via Ohio and Kentucky): Simmons put up big numbers at point guard for Ohio the past two seasons as he helps ease the loss for valuable veteran guard Derrick Walton Jr. After barely making a splash during his one season at Kentucky, the 6-foot-6 Matthews sat out last season. The former four-star recruit gives the Wolverines athleticism and versatility.

6. Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson, Florida (via Rice and Virginia Tech): Adding the 6-foot-5 Koulechov was huge for Florida after he put up 18.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 47 percent three-point shooting last season for the Owls. While Koulechov should start immediately the 6-foot-6 Hudson should give a scoring lift from the wing off the bench.

7. Mark Alstork, Illinois (via Wright State): Illinois desperately needed experienced help on the wing to replace Malcolm Hill and Alstork should help after a strong all-around junior season. Putting up 19.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, Alstork was an all-Horizon League performer who also made 70 three-pointers and shot 84 percent from the free-throw line.

8. Cullen Neal, Saint Mary’s (via Ole Miss): An experienced Saint Mary’s team adds a 1,000-point career scorer in Neal as the 6-foot-4 guard should fit in nicely to help replace guard Joe Rahon. Capable of doing more than just putting up points, Neal won’t asked to be a go-to player on the Gaels and he can also give them some help as a secondary ball handler.

9. Markel Crawford, Ole Miss (via Memphis): Helping offset the loss of Neal at Ole Miss will be the 6-foot-4 Crawford. A consistent and productive scorer and rebounder from the perimeter, Crawford could pair nicely with Deandre Burnett and Terence Davis to form one of the better perimeter trios in the SEC.

10. Caleb and Cody Martin, Nevada (via N.C. State): These twins should set in and be a big part of the Nevada rotation immediately this season as head coach Eric Musselman has done well with transfers so far. While Caleb was the more productive of the 6-foot-7 forwards at N.C. State, Cody was a 42-percent three-point shooter as a sophomore.

11. Randy Onwuasor and Jeremy Combs, LSU (via Southern Utah and North Texas): New LSU head coach Will Wade acted quickly to secure some scoring help by landing Onwuasor, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer last season. Putting up 23.6 points per game, Onwuasor should help right away. Combs was also a double-figure scorer at North Texas before an ankle injury derailed his season.

12. Daniel Giddens, Alabama (via Ohio State): Alabama could be a surprise team this season as the 6-foot-11 big man could be main reason why. A former top-50 recruit who wasn’t particularly effective during his one season at Ohio State, Giddens has had a year off to develop and add strength as he’ll be a key member of the Crimson Tide frontcourt.

OTHER NAMES TO KNOW

Akoy Agau and Jimmy Whitt, SMU (via Georgetown and Arkansas): The 6-foot-8 Agau should get immediate minutes in the frontcourt while the 6-foot-3 Whitt is a former four-star recruit with three seasons left.

Lamonte Bearden, Dwight Coleby and Darius Thompson, Western Kentucky (via Buffalo, Kansas and Virginia): Rick Stansbury was hoping this group would complement five-star center Mitchell Robinson but it’s still a very talented group on its own. All three bring NCAA tournament experience.

Jeff Beverly, Hans Brase and Zoran Talley, Iowa State (via UTSA, Princeton and Old Dominion): Thin in the frontcourt last season, Iowa State brought in three double-figure scorers from lower levels in the hopes of finding help. The 6-foot-9 Brase could be the most stable if he’s fully healthy from a torn ACL.

Justin Bibbins, Utah (via Long Beach State): The 5-foot-8 guard earned All-Big West honors a season ago as he brings more stability at point guard for Utah.

Isaac Copeland, Duby Okeke and James Palmer Jr., Nebraska (via Georgetown, Winthrop and Miami): Nebraska is hoping for a turnaround with help from this group. Copeland is a former top-30 recruit while Okeke set the Winthrop blocks record. Palmer should help as a two-way wing.

James Daniel III, Tennessee (via Howard): College basketball’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game two years ago, the 6-foot-0 Daniel gets one final season to prove himself for a team that needs his scoring.

Allerik Freeman and Sam Hunt, N.C. State (via Baylor and North Carolina A&T): New head coach Kevin Keatts has been aggressive on the transfer market as he brought in these two experienced guards to play right away.

Austin Grandstaff, Marin Maric and Max Strus, DePaul (via Oklahoma, Northern Illinois and Lewis): DePaul got help on the wing with Grandstaff, a potentially elite shooter, and Strus, an athletic Division II All-American. Maric is an experienced graduate transfer big man who should play right away.

Kory Holden, South Carolina (via Delaware): The loss of Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier means that Holden will have to step up and produce right away. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 17.7 points per game as a sophomore two years ago.

Kaleb Johnson, Creighton (via Syracuse): The loss of Maurice Watson means there is a place for the former Syracuse guard as the 6-foot-3 Johnson brings stability alongside Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas.

Jordan Johnson, UNLV (via Milwaukee): One of the nation’s leaders in assists at 8.1 per game during the 2015-16 season, Johnson has some intriguing weapons to play with at UNLV like McDonald’s All-American Brandon McCoy.

Nigel Johnson, Virginia (via Rutgers): Virginia desperately needed veteran experience on the perimeter as they get a double-figure scorer (11.3 points per game) who can also help on the defensive end.

Marcus Lee, Cal (via Kentucky): The former McDonald’s All-American will spend his final season at Cal after sitting out last season and three seasons at Kentucky. The bouncy 6-foot-11 forward will finally get consistent minutes.

Kendrick Nunn, Oakland (via Illinois): The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as a junior before transferring after running into legal problems. He joins an Oakland team with NCAA aspirations.

Dylan Osetkowski, Texas (via Tulane): Adding physicality and experience to the Texas frontcourt, the 6-foot-9 Osetkowski was an effective player at Tulane before drawing good reviews for his play in practice last season.

Kassius Robertson, Missouri (via Canisius): Another weapon to help Michael Porter Jr., this 6-foot-3 grad transfer guard shot over 40 percent from three-point range while averaging 15.1 points per game his last two seasons.

Derryck Thornton Jr., USC (via Duke): An up-and-down true freshman season at Duke had Thornton seeking a new home as he’ll be a solid addition to a deep USC rotation as a backup point guard.

Geno Thorpe, Syracuse (via South Florida): Syracuse once again dips into the graduate transfer market as Thorpe should be counted on to score after averaging 15.1 points and 4.6 assists per game last season.

Devin Watson, San Diego State (via San Francisco): The Aztecs have had problems scoring the past few years and the 6-foot-1 Watson should help in that department after putting up 20 points per game as a sophomore at San Francisco.

Duane Wilson, Texas A&M (via Marquette): Desperately needing stability at point guard, the Aggies brought in the veteran grad transfer point guard who logged plenty of minutes the past three seasons.

Bubble Banter: Kansas State, Virginia Tech add crucial wins to help overcome poor schedules

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Monday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 37, NBC seed: Play-in): The Wildcats went and added two — potentially three — Quadrant 1 wins in their last three games, beating Oklahoma and TCU at home last week before picking off Baylor (currently 76th in the RPI, but I’d guess they’re top 75 to end the year) on Monday night. A home loss to Tulsa (RPI 112) is going to stick out, as will a non-conference SOS that ranks 344th. Those two things means that the Wildcats have a very small margin for error, but with the way they are playing, I think that they’ll do enough to get in with a seed that seems too low for them.

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: , KenPom: 54, NBC seed: Out): The Hokies did quite a bit to change their NCAA tournament chances on Monday by knocking off North Carolina at home. It’s easily the best win on their résumé, and given that their only other Quadrant 1 win came on a neutral against a Washington team ranked 50th in the RPI, it is easily their most important win. A Nov. 16th loss to Saint Louis (RPI 147) looks really bad, but VT still has Miami twice, Duke twice, Virginia, Louisville and Clemson left on their schedule. Those are all potential top 20 wins. They’ll need them to overcome a non-conference schedule that ranked 319th.

TEXAS (RPI: 42, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 9): The Longhorns did what they needed to do against Iowa State at home, picking up a win to help shake off the whooping they took at West Virginia on Saturday. Believe it or not, but Texas currently has four Quadrant 1 wins to their name without anything worse than a high Quadrant 2 loss — at Baylor, at Oklahoma State, Gonzaga on a neutral, Michigan at home.

LOSERS

MARYLAND (RPI: 47, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: Next four out): The Terps picked up their worst loss of the season, falling at Indiana. In a year where Mark Turgeon’s club has already lost Justin Jackson and where it seems like they suffer a new injury just about every week, a tournament berth seems increasingly unlikely. Their next two games are at home against Michigan State and at Purdue. They might beed to win both.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 64, KenPom: 67, NBC seed: Out): The Cornhuskers missed out on a golden opportunity to add a marquee win to their résumé as they lost by five at Ohio State, a top 15 team in the RPI. The Cornhuskers currently do not have a Quadrant 1 win to their name — their best win comes at home against Michigan — and the only chance they’ll have to add one the rest of the regular season comes at Minnesota, who could very well drop off that level. There are only two teams left on Nebraska’s schedule that are in the top 100 of the RPI.

BAYLOR (RPI: 76, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: First four out): Baylor lost at home to Kansas State on Monday night. They’re now lost six of eight to start Big 12 play and their next two games are at Florida and at Oklahoma, both of which would be marquee wins the Bears currently lack.

VIDEO: Kenrich Williams posterizes West Virginia

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I am not sure what was more impressive tonight, Kenrich Williams going for 14 boards and six assists against No. 7 West Virginia, the fact that he played the point for them against that press … or this dunk:

It was the dunk.

Definitely.

Alex Robinson leads TCU past No. 7 West Virginia

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You’d be forgiven if you thought that TCU’s season was done and dusted when starting point guard Jaylen Fisher went down with a knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season.

Fisher was the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.3 points and ranked second in assists. He was shooting 43.9 percent from the floor. More importantly, he was backcourt defensive presence that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the TCU roster.

When the Horned Frogs lost Fisher, they were coming off of their second loss to Oklahoma in the span of two weeks and their fourth loss in the first five games of league play. With two games against both West Virginia and Texas Tech, and a trip to Allen Fieldhouse, left on their schedule, this had all the warning signs of a season in danger of sliding into oblivion.

On Monday night, in TCU’s third game without Fisher, Jame Dixon’s club put together their best performance of the season. They held No. 7 West Virginia to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and led by as many as 20 points in an 82-73 win in Fort Worth, a win that puts an entirely knew feel on where this season can and will go.

The biggest reason for that may be Alex Robinson.

A 6-foot-1 hometown kid and a redshirt junior that transferred into the program from Texas A&M, Robinson has seemingly always been overlooked in this TCU program. Part of that is because he’s not a great scorer or shooter. Part of that is because he isn’t really a defender. And part of is, frankly, is because he never quite got his chance.

And now, with Fisher out, Robinson is not only getting his chance, but he is making the most of it.

TCU is 2-1 in their three games without Fisher, and Robinson has been the star, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 boards and 10.7 assists. Against West Virginia, one of the nation’s most difficult defenses to deal with, Robinson finished with 17 points, nine assists and seven boards despite barely stepping foot off of the court. He got some help from Kenrich Williams, TCU’s best player, a 6-foot-7 forward that was a high school point guard and did the heavy-lifting when it came to breaking that press.

But that shouldn’t put a damper on how Robinson played on Monday.

And it shouldn’t take away from what he has been able to do with Fisher out.

Suddenly, TCU looks like a team that found themselves on the wrong side of lucky through the first seven games of Big 12 play. They lost five games during that stretch by an average of 3.3 points. Two of those losses came when the Horned Frogs missed game-winning shots at the buzzer.

They were and have been a top 25 team that found out the hard way how tough it is to win close games in this league.

And at this point it is probably fair to say that hasn’t changed despite having a new player running the point.

Monday’s Three Things to Know: TCU, Virginia Tech and Kansas State earn big wins

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1. VIRGINIA TECH EARNED ITS BIGGEST WIN OF THE SEASON

Virginia Tech has been considered by many to be a disappointment this season. The Hokies haven’t beaten anybody notable in the ACC and the non-conference schedule didn’t deliver any signature victories.

Which is why Virginia Tech’s win Monday night over No. 10 North Carolina is so critical.

The Hokies finally have a great win to hang their hat on for the committee. Where has this version of Virginia Tech been all season?

2. TCU ALSO EARNS A SIGNATURE WIN

Entering Monday night, TCU could have rolled over and called it quits on this season.

The Horned Frogs had dropped four of five games by a total of 15 points. Talented sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher was diagnosed with a season-ending injury for TCU.

But TCU stayed strong through some adversity as they pulled off a huge 82-73 Big 12 home win over No. 7 West Virginia. Leading for nearly the entire game, TCU did a great job of slowing down Mountaineer offense as West Virginia struggled to score in the half court.

3. KANSAS STATE PICKED UP THE NIGHT’S BIGGEST BUBBLE WIN

It’s time to start keeping track of the bubble.

With March Madness creeping closer, every night will feature games with big bubble implications. Besides for TCU and Virginia Tech beating top-1o teams, Kansas State beating Baylor for a Big 12 road win was the most important bubble win of the night.

The Wildcats have suddenly won four of their last five — including wins over Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor in their last three games. Not many people are talking about Kansas State in a loaded Big 12 but they’re playing as well as any team in the league right now.

A few more wins like this and the Wildcats could play their way into the Field of 68.

Bates-Diop scores 20 as No. 13 Buckeyes slip past Nebraska

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Keita Bates-Diop scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and No. 13 Ohio State beat Nebraska 64-59 on Monday night, the fourth victory for the surging Buckeyes in the last eight days.

The back-and-forth game had seven lead changes in the second half. A pair of foul shots by Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. cut Ohio State’s lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but the Cornhuskers couldn’t pull any closer.

Jae’Sean Tate put the Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) up by six with a layup with 1:02 left, and a pair of foul shots by Kaleb Wesson stretched it to eight. Palmer hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Nebraska ran out of time.

Palmer had a career-high 34 points. Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) was fresh off a 20-point upset of then-No. 23 Michigan on Thursday.

Ohio State surpassed its win total for all of last season. Earlier in the day, it moved from No. 22 to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, its highest position since 2014.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The surprising Cornhuskers knocked off a ranked team last week and are a better squad than last season with Palmer carrying the load, but couldn’t outlast the steady Buckeyes.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes may have been fatigued after a rugged traveling schedule and three straight games on the road. But they found a rhythm in the second half and picked up another critical Big Ten win over a good team.

NEXT UP

Nebraska: At Rutgers on Wednesday.

Ohio State: Hosts Penn State on Thursday.