Viewer’s guide to November hoops tourneys

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‘Tis the time for early season college basketball tournaments.

If you’re like us, you’ll spend the next two weeks glued to the TV, watching every game you can and trying to figure out a way to DVR the rest. In fact, there’s so much basketball to watch, it’s too much for one person to properly describe. That means it’s time for back-forth between me and Rob Dauster. We’ve got you covered.

Can’t miss tournament

Mike: The CBE Classic might feature more NCAA tournament-worthy teams (Duke, Gonzaga, K-State and San Diego State among them), but the Maui Invitational is the biggest deal. The field’s solid (Michigan State, UConn and Wichita State), but the potential semifinal matchup between Washington and Kentucky is as good as it gets this fall. When Terrence Jones intially committed to Washington in May, then immediately changed his mind and eventually headed to Lexington, it set off a mini-recruiting war of words between each program’s supporters. The players also want a piece of each other. Huskeis guard Isaiah Thomas said as much on Twitter.

Rob: The CBE Classic is certainly loaded at the top, but in my humble opinion, it does not qualify for this category. You see, this is the Can’t Miss “Tournament” category, and the CBE

Classic is not a tournament. Let me explain. The four “hosts” — Duke, Marquette, Kansas State, and Gonzaga — automatically make it to the round of four, which is held in Kansas City. For these early season tournaments, that generally isn’t a huge issue, but one of the early matchups in the CBE is between Gonzaga and San Diego State. There are some that would argue SDSU and Gonzaga the two best teams on the west coast, but if the Aztecs win — in Spokane, nonetheless — the Zags still advance? That’s not a tournament!

(Excuse me while I step down from my pedestal.)

Back to the point, I’m going to go with the Puerto Rico Tip-off simply because I apparently have no desire to agree with you in this category. North Carolina gets Hofstra and Charles Jenkins in the first round and looks destined to play an underrated Minnesota team in the second round. On the other side of the bracket, tourney teams Vanderbilt and West Virginia loom while Sun Belt favorite Western Kentucky is fresh off of a 28 point beatdown of St. Joe’s.

Mike: OK, it’s settled. You head to Puerto Rico, I’ll head to Maui — in late November. It’s a win-win!

Breakout player

 

Rob: One thing that is great about the Coaches vs. Cancer is that it happens at a time when most people will be able to tune in. That means that those people are going to get a chance to see Pitt’s Brad Wanamaker play. When you think about the Panthers, the first kid that comes to mind is Ashton Gibbs, their leading scorer and a potential first team all conference player. And while Gibbs is listed as a point guard, he really is the scoring guard for that team. Wanamaker is the playmaker. He’s the guy that facilitates that offense. He looks like he has streamlined his body and gotten more explosive in his senior season. Through three games he is averaging 19.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 6.3 apg while shooting 65 percent from the floor. Don’t be surprised when he makes a name for himself at Madison Square Garden.

Mike: I do like Wanamaker, and that whole Pitt team. Wanamaker reminds me of how college hoops used to be — a guy would stay in school four years, improving each season. By the time they’re seniors, it all pays off. Of course, Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer doesn’t fit that stereotype given everyone’s known he’s a big-time talent for years. And if they haven’t, they’re not paying attention. The 6-10 senior forward is smooth and efficient offensively, hits the defensive glass and doesn’t commit turnovers. He’s perfect for Bo Ryan’s offense — or any offense, really. He’ll help the Badgers take the title in the Old Spice Classic and propel himself into the national spotlight early.

Or, if you prefer your stars to play above the rim, try the Preseason NIT on Monday night. Pepperdine’s Keion Bell is bound to have at least three (nasty) dunks on UCLA players.

Rob: That’s the Keion Bell that did this, right? Right.

Team in for a rude awakening

Mike: I would pick on your Hoyas, but after their scare at ODU, I think they’ll be ready for Wofford in the Charleston Classic semifinals. (He writes without much conviction.) Wake Forest, on the other hand, should be shaking at the thought of playing Virginia Commonwealth in the Preseason NIT. The Demon Deacons are supposedly the No. 3 seed in the event, but the odds of them advancing to NYC aren’t good. Not with VCU’s underrated offense coming to Winston-Salem. Jeff Bzdelik doesn’t have the players to beat ACC foes yet, let alone top-flight non-BCS schools like VCU.

Rob: Can Wake Forest be rudely awoken again? They just got smacked at home by Stetson, losing their starting point guard in the process. I think it is safe to say this team is going to be at the bottom of the ACC this season.

Mike: Fair enough. What if I stick in the ACC and tell everyone to keep a close eye on UNC? You’ve already mentioned the Tar Heels’ opponents (Hofstra and likely Minnesota), which only adds to the steep learning curve Roy Williams’ team has this year.

Rob: I’ve got two teams for you. I’ll stay in the Big East for the first one and go with the UConn Huskies. Don’t get me wrong, I see this UConn team having some potential this season. I love Kemba Walker, and Alex Oriakhi looks well on his way to becoming a bigger Jeff Adrien after corralling 18 boards in their opener on Friday. But beyond that, the Huskies are young. Talented? Yes. Athletic? Yes. But they are very inexperienced and will be going up against a Wichita State team that is loaded with experience, plays tough defense, and is the favorite to win the MVC. Should they manage to win that game, UConn gets Michigan State in the second round. That could get ugly.

The second team is Kansas State. Wildcat fans may not agree with this pick, but I think that K-State is a bit overrated right now. Its not that they don’t have the talent, but I think that there are a lot of question marks — things like Curtis Kelly getting benched, a lack of scoring on the wings, a back court mate for Jacob Pullen — that need an answer. An early season matchup with a team as good as Gonzaga or potentially Duke could expose K-State.

Skip it

Mike: Unless you’re a Missouri fan dying to see the Tigers run up the score on sub-par teams, skip the Cancun Challenge. If the teams are smart, they’ll blow off the games and go sit on the beach.

Rob: You weren’t joking. The Cancun field is terrible. Other than Missouri, the only potential tournament team is Morgan State, and that is because they are the favorite to win the MEAC, which may be the worst conference in the country. I’d recommend skipping the Legends Classic as well. Syracuse should be pretty good, but Georgia Tech and Michigan are down, and UTEP just lost to Pacific.

Most vivid memory 

Rob: Simple. Gonzaga knocking off Michigan State 109-106 in the Maui Invitational in 2005. Three OT’s, Adam Morrison going for 43, buzzer beaters, future NBA players, two of the best coaches and the best programs in the country, and a missed layup that could have won the game with 4 seconds left in the third OT. It was terrific. The lasting image I have from that game comes courtesy of Maurice Ager. Ager led the Spartans rally at the end of regulation by hitting five threes in the last 7:10. The fifth came at the buzzer in regulation, and after hitting the shot, Ager stood at center court, screaming to the ceiling while pounding his chest before getting enveloped by his teammates.

That is what college basketball is all about. I still get chills watching the YouTube highlights.

Mike: That’s one of mine, too. I remember thinking we were bound to see a Final Four rematch, but it wasn’t to be.

My most vivid memory isn’t a fond one. A year after I graduated from Kansas, the Jayhawks played Ball State at Maui – and came away with a numbing 93-91 loss. It didn’t mean much that season (Kansas went to the Final Four and Ball State landed in the NIT), but it was a sight to see KU players on the sidelines nursing cramps and getting beaten badly on defense. It’s just one of the reasons why the early season tourneys can be so fun – sometimes, the unexpected happens, just like in March.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Mike Tirico to host NBC Sports’ new daily sports talk show ‘Lunch Talk Live’

We’re excited to bring viewers fresh programming every day with unique, topical conversations from prominent individuals in all corners of sports. This will be a daily lunch date to share sports and stories we miss during these unique times.
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A new daily sports talk shot called Lunch Talk Live will debut on NBCSN at noon ET on Monday, April 6th.

The show will feature Mike Tirico joined like by special guests every single day, including a lineup of NBC Sports’ on-air personalities, current and former athletes and prominent people in sports media.

The show will focus on how the sports world is navigating the coronavirus pandemic, providing a platform for intelligent discussion on the state of sports and how we, as a society, are adapting to living in this challenging time. the goal is to detail personal stories of how different people from across the sports industry are functioning in the day-to-day.

“In these challenging times, we are all missing sports and the people who make sports memories,” said Tirico. “Hopefully, we can bring a midday connection with some of them to help fill the void.”

“We’re excited to bring viewers fresh programming every day with unique, topical conversations from prominent individuals in all corners of sports,” said Sam Flood, the Executive Producer & President of Production for NBC Sports. “This will be a daily lunch date to share sports and stories we miss during these unique times.”

The show will be an hour long. It will air on weekdays at Noon ET on NBCSN and will be streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Additionally, content will also be provided on the NBC Sports’ YouTube channel as well as other social media platforms.

All episodes of the show will be hosted remotely.

Michigan State AD defends Tom Izzo after witness report

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman defended basketball coach Tom Izzo on Thursday after Izzo was accused in

of contacting a witness who was part of a 2017 criminal sexual conduct investigation involving one of his players.

According to a police report obtained by ESPN, Michigan State student Brayden Smith was with basketball player Brock Washington on the night a female student said Washington forcibly groped her. When police interviewed Smith, he said he had already been contacted by Izzo and assistant coaches Dwayne Stephens and Mike Garland. They “asked (Smith) if he was OK and if there was anything that he had seen during the evening,” according to the report.

Beekman responded in a lengthy statement Thursday.

“Tom Izzo has been a beacon of integrity in his profession for nearly four decades, including a quarter century as head coach. Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity has gone on record to say that no policies were violated in regards to any actions taken by the men’s basketball staff during a Title IX investigation into a student,” Beekman said. “There’s nothing to support any claims that any member of the men’s basketball staff conducted their own investigation, or interfered with any ongoing investigation. Any insinuation to the contrary is nothing more than an attempt to smear a coach, a program, and an entire university.”

Smith, the son of former Michigan State player Steve Smith, has not played basketball for the Spartans. According to a Title IX report obtained by ESPN, Brayden Smith told investigators he considers the coaches his “godfathers” who check in on him occasionally.

According to ESPN, police said in their report that Brayden Smith’s perception of his conversation with the coaches about the night in question “was not to get information out of him, but rather to ensure that he was OK and remind him to be responsible.”

The school’s Title IX investigation determined that Washington was not responsible for having violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy, according to ESPN. The network

that in early 2018, Washington pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault under a provision allowing offenders to plead guilty without a court entering a judgment of conviction.

Earlier this week, ESPN reported that campus police told prosecutors they had probable cause that Brock Washington raped a woman Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent County prosecutors

because they didn’t feel they could prove their case to a jury.

Washington played a total of 19 minutes this season before he was suspended in late January.

NC State’s NCAA case recommended for independent process

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State’s NCAA case involving recruiting violations tied to former Wolfpack one-and-done star Dennis Smith Jr. has been recommended to go through an independent investigation process created for complex cases.

In a statement Friday, athletics spokesman Fred Demarest said the school must respond by April 14 to the recommendation. Demarest said officials are “reviewing and evaluating our options.”

The NCAA created the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) last year, a product of proposals from the commission led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2018 to reform college basketball amid a federal corruption investigation into the sport. The process includes independent investigators and decision-makers with no direct ties to NCAA member schools, and rulings cannot be appealed.

The NCAA announced last month that Memphis’ case involving star freshman basketball player James Wiseman would go that route, becoming the first to enter the process.

IARP spokeswoman Whitney Ertel declined to comment on the N.C. State case, but said involved parties have the chance to respond to any recommendation before a determination is made.

“A case can either be accepted into the independent process or it can be denied,” Ertel said. “If any case is going to be accepted, then we will make an announcement.”

N.C. State was charged last summer with four violations, including former head coach Mark Gottfried being charged individually under the provision of head-coach responsibility for violations within his program.

Specifically, the NCAA has alleged ex-assistant Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible benefits – including $40,000 that a government witness testified he delivered to Early intended for Smith’s family in 2015.

N.C. State has argued the NCAA had not proven money was actually provided to Smith or his family, noting Smith – picked ninth in the 2017 NBA draft after one year in Raleigh – denied receiving money in a school interview in 2019.

Attorneys for Gottfried, now coach at Cal State Northridge, have questioned the fairness of the process and argued Gottfried fulfilled obligations to monitor the program.

The NCAA enforcement staff’s response in February held firm that violations had occurred.

2020 NBA Draft Early Entry Tracker

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Here is CBT’s full 2020 NBA Draft early entry tracker. You’ll find a full breakdown of what players are deciding. We’ll track signing with agents, testing the waters and returning to school here. 

Underclassmen have until Sunday, April 26th at 11:59 p.m. EST to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

A deadline of Monday, June 15th at 5 p.m. EST is set for underclassmen to withdraw and retain college eligibility.

Of course, these dates are subject to change given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation.

Here is the full list of the underclassmen who have declared for the 2020 NBA Draft. You can also find a list of the biggest names we’re waiting on.

NBA DRAFT EARLY ENTRY

Preseason Top 25 | Mock Draft | Early Entry Tracker

NBA DRAFT TESTING THE WATERS

  • PAUL ATKINSON, Yale
  • SADDIQ BEY, Villanova
  • TYLER BEY, Colorado
  • JERMAINE BISHOP, Norfolk State
  • JOMARU BROWN, Eastern Kentucky
  • JORDAN BRUNER, Yale
  • JORDAN BURNS, Colgate
  • MARCUS CARR, Minnesota
  • TAMENANG CHOH, Brown
  • DAVID COLLINS, South Florida
  • JALEN CRUTCHER, Dayton
  • RYAN DALY, St. Joseph’s
  • DEVON DANIELS, N.C. State
  • KENDRIC DAVIS, SMU
  • DEXTER DENNIS, Wichita State
  • MASON FAULKNER, Western Carolina
  • L.J. FIGUEROA, St. John’s
  • D.J. FUNDERBURK, N.C. State
  • ALONZO GAFFNEY, Ohio State
  • JIMMA GATWECH, Huntington Prep (WV)
  • JORDAN GOODWIN, Saint Louis
  • JAYVON GRAVES, Buffalo
  • RAYSHAUN HAMMONDS, Georgia
  • ELIJAH HUGHES, Syracuse
  • FERON HUNT, SMU
  • HERB JONES, Alabama
  • MASON JONES, Arkansas
  • KAMERON LANGLEY, North Carolina A&T
  • SABEN LEE, Vanderbilt
  • KIRA LEWIS, Alabama
  • ISAIAH LIVERS, Michigan
  • SANDRO MAMUKELASHVILI, Seton Hall
  • NICO MANNION, Arizona
  • NAJI MARSHALL, Xavier
  • KENYON MARTIN JR., IMG Academy (FL)
  • REMY MARTIN, Arizona State
  • MAC MCCLUNG, Georgetown
  • ISAIAH MILLER, UNCG
  • ELIJAH OLANIYI, Stony Brook
  • JOHN PETTY JR., Alabama
  • NATE PIERRE-LOUIS, Temple
  • XAVIER PINSON, Missouri
  • JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL, Villanova
  • MARCUS SANTOS-SILVA, VCU
  • JAY SCRUBB, John A. Logan College (Louisville commit)
  • MITCHELL SMITH, Missouri
  • STEF SMITH, Vermont
  • PARKER STEWART, UT Martin
  • MACIO TEAGUE, Baylor
  • XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State
  • JEREMIAH TILMON, Missouri
  • JORDAN TUCKER, Butler
  • KALEB WESSON, Ohio State
  • KEITH WILLIAMS, Cincinnati
  • MCKINLEY WRIGHT, Colorado

NOTABLES RETURNING TO SCHOOL

  • DEREK CULVER, West Virginia
  • OSCAR TSHIEBWE, West Virginia

NOTABLES YET TO ANNOUNCE

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis
DERRICK ALSTON, Boise State
COLE ANTHONY, North Carolina
BRYAN ANTOINE, Villanova
JOEL AYAYI, Gonzaga
JARED BUTLER, Baylor
VERNON CAREY, Duke
AYO DOSUNMU, Illinois
DEVON DOTSON, Kansas
MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State
LUKA GARZA, Iowa
JOSH GREEN, Arizona
ASHTON HAGANS, Kentucky
AARON HENRY, Michigan State
MATTHEW HURT, Duke
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, Indiana
ISAIAH JOE, Arkansas
DAVID JOHNSON, Louisville
A.J. LAWSON, South Carolina
SCOTTIE LEWIS, Florida
TYRESE MAXEY, Kentucky
JADEN MCDANIELS, Washington
WENDELL MOORE, Duke
JORDAN NWORA, Louisville
FILIP PETRUSEV, Gonzaga
YVES PONS, Tennessee
NEEMIAS QUETA, Utah State
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, Kentucky
JAHMI’US RAMSEY, Texas Tech
NICK RICHARDS, Kentucky
JALEN SMITH, Maryland
CASSIUS STANLEY, Duke
TYRELL TERRY, Stanford
TRENDON WATFORD, LSU
ROMEO WEEMS, DePaul
KAHLIL WHITNEY, Kentucky
ROBERT WOODWARD, Mississippi State

Preseason Top 25 | Coaching Carousel | NBA Draft Early Entry (link)

WHEN IS THE 2020 NBA DRAFT?

The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to take place on June 25th, 2020, but that date is up in the air due to the spread of COVID-19. At the very least, the league is preparing as if the pre-draft process is going to be drastically different than it has been in past seasons.

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE FOR AN EARLY ENTRY TO DECLARE FOR THE 2020 NBA DRAFT?

Underclassmen have under April 26th to declare for the draft. Those that don’t sign with an agent have until June 15th to pull their name out of the draft and return to school.

WHERE CAN I FIND A 2020 MOCK DRAFT?

Right here, thanks for asking.

Dr. Anthony Fauci to Coach K: ‘We’re not even at halftime’ in fight against COVID-19

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Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on the radio show of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski — Basketball and Beyond with Coach K — on Thursday to discuss our nation’s battle with coronavirus and COVID-19. Fauci is an immunologist that has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984.

In an interview with Coach K that was overrun with basketball analogies, Fauci stressed the same talking points that he has stressed in every appearance that he has made over the course of the last month: The coronavirus pandemic is incredibly serious, we have not yet come close to winning the fight against it and the only way to save lives, slow this thing down and get back to normal is social distancing.

In simple terms, Fauci, again, told Krzyzewski we need to stay at home if they want COVID-19 to be a thing of the past.

“The [battle with coronavirus] is going to go on for several weeks, Coach K,” Fauci said. “The issue is that we have a large country and we have different metropolitan areas.”

Preseason Top 25 | Mock Draft | Early Entry Tracker

“If you want to do the basketball analogy, that right now we have a team that’s a very powerful team, and that’s the virus, and what we need to do is that we’ve got to play a full-court press. We can’t let them get the ball on the ground to dribble. We’ve just got to be all over them,” he added. “I mean, that’s what we’ve really got to do, because that’s the only tool we have right now.”

Fauci also told Krzyzewski that we are “not even at halftime,” and that the only way to truly combat the coronavirus is to do everything we can as a nation to avoid contact with other human beings.

“We are not yet at the point where we’re turning the corner and we’re coming around the bend and coming down as a country,” Fauci said later, a reference to flattening the curve. “There are some cities that have not yet even begun to spike and it’s our absolute responsibility to make sure that in those cities that people understand what they need to do to prevent that explosive spike that New York City has seen, that New Orleans has seen, that parts of New Jersey have seen, Detroit and on and on.”

These talking points are not new.

It’s what we’ve been hearing for months on end. It’s the reason sports in our country have been postponed for the foreseeable future, to avoid a situation like the one stemming from a Champions League soccer match in Italy.

Fauci has been steadfast in his efforts to get this message out. In addition to Coach K’s radio show, he appeared on an Instagram live with Stephen Curry and did an interview with Pardon My Take. It’s clear what he is trying to do, reaching the largest cross section of sports fans that he can. Put another way, I’d imagine the venn diagram of people that listen to Coach K’s radio show and Pardon My Take is basically two circles.

Hopefully people are listening.