Pregame Shootaround: Big matchup in Big Ten and Big 12 lineup is strong

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 10 Michigan at No. 17 Iowa (2 p.m., ESPN)

CBT’s own Rob Dauster broke down both of our day’s top games yesterday:

Just how good is Iowa? That’s the question that everyone has on their mind at this point in the season. Looking at the numbers, the Hawkeyes look like a top 10 team. Looking at their roster, that theory is more or less confirmed. They are deep, they have lineup versatility, and Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White are two of the best players you don’t hear talked about.

The problem? Iowa hasn’t beaten anyone this season. Their best win is against an Ohio State team that collapsed after playing them. But here’s the thing: they haven’t lost to anyone that’s not really good. Their six losses are all against teams that are ranked in the top 20 on KenPom, including Ohio State.

We know what Michigan is at this point. They’ve been the best team in the Big Ten during league play, currently sitting in a tie for first place with a Michigan State team that they’ve beaten. The Hawkeyes are just two games behind them. Are they really going to be a contender in this conference, or is Fran McCaffery’s club nothing but a pretender.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 23 Gonzaga at No. 24 Memphis (9 p.m., ESPN)

Gonzaga probably needs this win more than Memphis. The Zags have eight top 100 RPI wins this season, but just one of them against a team in the top 50. That was BYU. So while Mark Few’s club has once again put up an impressive record, how many people are going to think back to last season’s gaudy record and NCAA tournament collapse with this year’s Gonzaga. Memphis was smacked around by SMU and lost to UConn at home, but at least they already own wins over Oklahoma State, LSU and Louisville.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? No. 7 Cincinnati at SMU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU)

SMU (18-5, 7-3) is hosting AAC unbeaten Cincinnati (22-2, 11-0) but the Mustangs are destroying opponents at the newly renovated Moody Coliseum. Since re-opening the facility in early January against UConn, the Mustangs are 6-0 with an average margin of victory of 17 points. They’re not just winning there, they’re throttling people. Cincinnati has a tough time getting consistent scoring besides Sean Kilpatrick and they could be susceptible to a road loss to an SMU team that is long and athletic and balanced on offense and playing very well at home.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: No. 4 Wichita State at Northern Iowa (9 p.m., ESPN2)

This might be the last chance for a Shockers loss before the NCAA Tournament, which would be the first time that’s happened since UNLV pulled it off in ’91. Wichita State would obviously need to get past Arch Madness in St. Louis, as well, which is never an easy task, and Northern Iowa is a tough out at home. The Shockers already won at Indiana State earlier in the week, can they continue their unbeaten run?


1) How about No. 15 Texas at Kansas State in a battle of Big 12 NCAA Tournament teams? Texas owns a home win against Kansas, but a road win at a tough place like Kansas State would be a great win for the Longhorns tournament resume. Kansas State would greatly benefit from another ranked opponent.

2) Speaking of the Big 12, Baylor needs a win in the worst way at No. 21 Oklahoma. If the Bears can get a sweep through the state of Oklahoma on the road in the conference after last weekend’s surprising win in Stillwater, they have a chance of getting into the tournament.

3) San Diego State is still unbeaten in the Mountain West Conference at 9-0 and they host Nevada, who would love a road win over a top-five opponent at 7-3 in the conference.

4) Can West Virginia pull off the unlikely and win at No. 8 Kansas? The Mountaineers have won four out of five games and are playing very good ball in a tough Big 12. The trio of Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Juwan Staten is balling during Big 12 play. Can Embiid, Wiggins and Kansas hold home court?

5) Oklahoma State really needs a win against Texas Tech on the road. The No. 19 Cowboys have not been able to string together sustained periods of solid play as they are prone to defensive lapses and bad shot selection. Can they bounce back against the Red Raiders?


  • Alabama at No. 3 Florida, 12:00 p.m., ESPN
  • No. 11 Duke at Boston College, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
  • No. 13 Saint Louis at LaSalle, 5:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • TCU at No. 16 Iowa State, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • No. 18 Kentucky at Mississippi State, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • No. 20 Virginia at Georgia Tech, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Virginia Tech at No. 25 Pittsburgh, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3


  • Nebraska at Northwestern, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Florida State at Maryland, 3:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • Providence at Xavier, 3;00 p.m., FS1
  • Arkansas at Vanderbilt, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Saint Mary’s at Pepperdine, 4:00 p.m., Root Sports
  • Missouri at Ole Miss, 5:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • IPFW at North Dakota State, 5:00 p.m.
  • Oregon at Arizona State, 5:00 p.m., FS1
  • Purdue at Ohio State, 6:00 p.m., BTN
  • VCU at Saint Joseph’s, 8:00 p.m., CBSSN
  • Indiana at Minnesota, 8:15 p.m., BTN

6-foot-8 forward D.J. Wilson becomes Michigan’s fourth 2014 commit

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Recruiting the west coast has proven to be fruitful for the Michigan basketball program, as the Wolverines have received a second commitment from that part of the country in the last week. First there was four-star forward Kameron Chatman (Portland, Ore.), and on Sunday 6-foot-8 forward D.J. Wilson (Sacramento, Calif.) announced his decision to verbally commit to the Big Ten school.

Wilson took his official visit to Michigan this weekend, and the news of his commitment was first reported by Eric Bossi of Rivals.com.

Wilson attends Capital Christian School, where he averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a junior. Capital Christian finished the 2012-13 season with an overall record of 26-5 and reached the semifinals of the CIF Division V state tournament. Wilson’s play with the Team Superstar AAU program over the spring/summer boosted his recruiting profile, and his versatility could be an asset to head coach John Beilein’s program when he arrives in Ann Arbor next year.

Wilson is Michigan’s fourth verbal commitment in the 2014 class, with three currently being based on the west coast. In addition to Wilson there’s the aforementioned Chatman, and guard Austin Hatch (originally in the 2013 class before reclassifying) is now attending Loyola HS in Los Angeles after beginning his high school career in Fort Wayne, Ind. The fourth verbal commit is 6-foot-9 power forward Ricky Doyle, who hails from the state of Florida.

Here are a few highlights of Michigan’s latest commitment.

Michigan forward Mitch McGary ‘day-to-day’ with lower back issue

Michigan v Syracuse
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With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. now in the NBA, the Michigan Wolverines have some needs to address in their quest to build on last season’s run to the national title game. A key figure in the Wolverines’ plans this season is sophomore forward Mitch McGary, who played his best basketball of the season during the stretch run. With that being the case, many expect the Chesterton, Ind. native to lead the way for John Beilein’s squad.

Unfortunately for McGary and the Michigan program as a whole he’s been dealing with a lower back issue. According to Beilein the 6-foot-10 McGary is “day-to-day” due to the ailment, which has slowed down the big man in his preparations for the upcoming season.

During Michigan’s run in the NCAA tournament McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but even with the progress he’s expected to make this season McGary won’t be doing all of the heavy lifting by himself. Michigan also welcomes back fellow sophomores Spike Albrecht, Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Robinson III (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Stauskas (11.0, 3.0) were the most consistent of these four sophomores last season, with Albrecht (17 points off the bench in the national title game) and LeVert proving to be valuable reserves as the season progressed. Add in front court veterans Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, not to mention freshmen Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., and Michigan has more than enough depth to be a contender both in the Big Ten and nationally.

If anything, the new practice schedule may work in Michigan’s favor when it comes to making sure McGary’s rested and healthy leading into their season opener against UMass-Lowell on November 8 (the Wolverines’ first test is at Iowa State on November 17). With programs having 42 days in which to complete a maximum of 30 practices as opposed to beginning on October 15, there are more opportunities to give the squad some extra rest.

Michigan has enough talent to accomplish a great deal in 2013-14, but the task becomes more difficult if McGary isn’t at his best. It’s better to have nagging issues such as this one come up now as opposed to in the middle of the season, when it’s tougher for the body to fully recover.

Louisville lands verbal commitment from 2014 forward Jaylen Johnson

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Already holding verbal commitments from elite perimeter prospects Shaqquan Aaron and JaQuan Lyle, the Louisville Cardinals have been hard at work on the recruiting trail in search of front court reinforcements. One week after having big men Trey Lyles and Chinanu Onuaku on campus for official visits, the school received a verbal commitment from 6-9 power forward Jaylen Johnson. The news was first reported by Paul Biancardi of ESPN.com.

The Ypsilanti, Mich. native made an unofficial visit to Louisville over the summer, and according to Steve Jones of the Louisville Courier-Journal he’ll make his official visit in two weeks.

As a junior at Ypsilanti HS, Johnson averaged 13.8 points and eight rebounds per game on a team that reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Johnson’s versatility and basketball IQ were on full display this summer with the Dorian’s Pride AAU program, resulting in his becoming a consensus top 100 prospect. Basketball runs in the family, as Johnson’s mother Janetta still holds the Wisconsin school record for blocked shots in a season (130).

Louisville will certainly lose one big man at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season since Stephan Van Treese is a fifth-year senior. The “wild cards” are junior Chane Behanan and sophomore Montrezl Harrell, with the latter coming off of an impressive summer with the United States U-19 national team.

If one (or both) were to see their stock rise to a point where it would be wise to make a move to the next level, the Cardinals would need additional reinforcements as they make the move to the ACC. So even with the addition of Johnson, Rick Pitino and his staff aren’t done in their quest to add more bodies to the front court rotation.

Former USC point guard Maurice Jones looking for a fresh start

Maurice Jones, Josh Huestis
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Just a few days into the fall semester last year, it was announced that USC point guard Maurice Jones was academically ineligible to play in 2012-13. Coming off of a season in which he averaged 13.0 points and 3.5 assists per game, Jones would have seen his role change some due to the addition of players who missed the 2011-12 season due to injury or transfer rules would could have helped handle the scoring load.

In theory that assistance would have made Jones a more efficient player, as he posted an offensive rating of 85.4 despite having a possession percentage of 27.4% as a sophomore according to kenpom.com. But Jones’ ineligibility turned out to be the first sign that the 2012-13 season wouldn’t be a stable one for the Trojans, who struggled with inconsistency all season long and eventually handed the keys to the program over to Andy Enfield in the spring.

What happened to Jones after being ruled ineligible? He transferred to Iowa State with the intention of being eligible to play for the Cyclones in 2013, but that plan fell through when he was ruled ineligible to join Fred Hoiberg’s program. With that door being closed the Saginaw, Mich. native spent last season at home. No basketball, no school. Jones is back on the college landscape this fall however, as he’s enrolled at Division II Northwood University in Midland, Mich. and has joined the basketball program.

“When I found out I didn’t have a scholarship, I transferred from Southern Cal, but then I couldn’t get a scholarship at Iowa State either,” Jones said. “I didn’t even go to school last year.

“Nobody was interested in letting me play. I was shooting around with one of my best friends from Saginaw, Darvin Ham, and he plays for Northwood. He said to give Northwood a chance. It’s funny, but once people found out I was going to Northwood, other coaches were a lot more interested.”

Jones expects to hear from the NCAA in regards to when he’ll be eligible to take the floor in a couple of weeks, with the hope that he’ll be allowed to play immediately according to Hugh Bernreuter of mlive.com. Jones’ situation is a bit more complicated than that of the standard transfer however, as he has two appeals to file.

According to the story not only is there the appeal to be allowed to play immediately, but also an appeal to regain the semester lost since he began the fall 2012 semester at USC. But regardless of what happens with his appeals Jones knows at he will have another opportunity to play somewhere, it’s just a matter of when.

Just a year ago, that possibility wasn’t a sure thing.

A Mother’s Day story for all

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Let’s all take a brief break from looking at what lies ahead for the 2013-14 college basketball season, speculating where Andrew Wiggins will be playing next season, and how Rick Pitino has been on the hottest of hot streaks lately.

Stories like what Pete Kahler and his family have been going through for the better part of a year truly put the game we all love in perspective.

Pete Kahler is the video analyst and editor for the University of Michigan basketball team. Like all people who pursue a career in college basketball, Kahler has been working his way up the ladder beginning as a graduate assistant video coordinator at Ohio University for then coach Tim O’Shea, moving to Smithfield, RI to become the Director of Basketball Operations for O’Shea when he took the head coaching position at Bryant University, and finally reaching his current position at Michigan in 2010.

Kahler was well on his way, but in the spring of 2012, while working in the Michigan Stadium press boxes as the basketball offices were being remodeled, his entire life turned upside down after receiving the most devastating call of his life informing him that his mother, Katie Kahler, suffered a massive stroke. In the coming days, she would undergo multiple brain surgeries to remove an aneurysm that caused a blood clot, and doctors were unsure whether she would make it or not.

The weeks leading up to and after the surgeries were exceptionally trying for Pete and his family, but when Katie awoke from her initial surgery, he knew his mom would pull through this.

“That was the point I knew she was going to be all right,” he said. “I didn’t really care what anybody else told us. I just knew it at that point. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. There would be setbacks. But I knew she was going to be OK—and OK for me was alive.”

Fast forward a year, and Katie is alive and well. Of course, she has the doctors and her family’s unending support to thank for her recovery, but the Michigan basketball team contributed, as well:

“[Katie] would call me (Pete) and we’d talk about basketball. I can tell she’s really getting into it. She became the biggest Michigan basketball fan. She hounded my dad to go to a game.”

As difficult as this time has been for Pete, his parents have continued to support him despite the many distractions off the court:

“My dad told me, ‘You worked at places [Bryant] where you were 1-29. You might not ever get to be part of something like this again. You need to realize that and live in the moment.'” Pete said. “My mom’s nodding and saying, ‘Absolutely you do.’

The Kahler’s hail from Ohio, so cheering on the Maize and Blue has been difficult at times, but Katie has developed into one of their biggest fans. When Michigan advanced to the Final Four in Atlanta, there was little doubt Katie would be making the trip south:

“The fact that she was there … nothing else mattered at that point. I looked at her in the stands [after beating Syracuse] and got a little choked up thinking, ‘She’s alive and she’s here.’ This [game] was just the cherry on top of everything.”

Katie Kahler’s miraculous recovery demonstrates how sports have an uncanny way of providing hope and something to believe in even during the darkest and bleakest of times. Watching Pete’s Final Four run with Michigan was a welcoming distraction for Katie, and what a beautiful distraction it was as Michigan nearly won the National Championship.

Here on Mother’s Day, let’s all be thankful for the beautiful and wonderful mothers out there.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11