Winners, losers from ACC/Big Ten Challenge


The Big Ten finally figured out this whole “challenge” with the ACC.

After losing the first 10 ACC/Big Ten Challenges, the Big Ten’s taken the last two. There’s no trophy, no cash prize, no medals. Heck, the media attention dwindles rapidly when it’s all over. But it’s still significant given the recruiting implications and the seeding edges when March rolls around.

So who were the biggest winners and losers? Let’s take a look


Kyrie Irving, Duke
First Derrick Rose. The John Wall. Now Irving. Much like he did against Kansas State, the freshman point guard jetted through the Michigan State defense whenever he wanted, showcasing an ability to beat opponents off the dribble and finish in traffic. He hit 8 of 12 shots for 31 points, dished four assists and had six boards in an 84-79 win. He’s already Duke’s best player.

N.C. State didn’t have senior forward Tracy Smith, but it didn’t matter against the Badgers, who won by 39. 39! It was a welcome sight for a team that barely broke 50 in Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame. “[We] just ran good offense, got good looks, and knocked them down,” coach Bo Ryan said afterward. “You have to believe that when you shoot, the next one is going to go in.”

JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
With NBA scouts in the stands, the senior center saved the Boilermakers’ bacon against Virginia Tech. He hit 11 of 24 shots, scored 29 of Purdue’s 59 points, hit the game-tying shot that forced overtime and nailed the go-ahead shot in OT. I’d call that a big night. “I just set a screen and popped out to an open spot and one of the guys found me, and it went down,” he said, all smiles.

Maybe Tony Bennett’s team isn’t the ACC’s worst! An 87-79 win against Minnesota was the event’s most surprising outcome, both for the final result and how it happened. The Gophers entered the game 6-0 with wins against UNC, Wofford, Siena and West Virginia. But the Cavs turned around a double-digit second-half deficit by hitting 10 of 13 shots from beyond the arc.

Northwestern’s never made the NCAA tournament. Is this finally the year? The Wildcats are 5-0 and breezed past Georgia Tech, 91-71. They’ll almost certainly be 9-0 when Big Ten play begins. It’s promising, to be sure.

John Beilein
Michigan’s coach needed this one. A pair of tough losses to Syracuse and UTEP casted doubt on his system and its limitations, but an impressive road win at Clemson instilled his young team with confidence for the first time in well, forever. “That was a big win,” Zack Novak told Ann “We came out and hit them in the mouth to start out with. They made little runs, but (we) hung tough and really just didn’t let them get back in the game.”


Um, what happened Tubby? Your Gophers entered the game with nice wins, a balanced roster and all sorts of confidence. Can the absence of Al Nolen really make that much of a difference? Or is it something else? Something like … “That was probably as pathetic an effort defensively as we’ve had in a long time,” Smith told the Pioneer-Press. Ah. OK then.

Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech
Been an odd month for the senior guard. He’s logging nearly 39 minutes a game and is averaging 19.6 point an outing. But he’s hitting just 41 percent of his shots and already has two nine-turnover games (39 on the season) and was flat-out awful against Purdue. He forced shots, dribbled into double and triple teams and made just 2 of 18 field-goal attempts. Credit the Boilermakers’ defense, but Delaney created many of his own problems.

Penn State
Maryland thumped the Nittany Lions, 62-39, in what was billed as Penn State’s biggest nonconference home game since 1996. They hit just 14 of 68 shots (20.6 percent)and endured nearly six scoreless minutes to start the second half. That won’t cut it in this season’s Big Ten.

Chris Singleton, Florida State
Another putrid offensive outing for the Seminoles’ junior forward amplified every bit of his game: suspect shooting, lackluster moves and a tendency to be overwhelmed at times. He’s great on defense, but he’s just 9 for 29 in his last three games.

Larry Drew II, North Carolina
How much longer can Roy Williams stick with Drew as his starting point guard? He had yet another so-so outing, this time a 79-67 loss to Illinois. Freshman Harrison Barnes is struggling with his shot, but it’s Drew who draws the fans’ ire. (Fairly or unfairly.) At some point, his role will have to change.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.