Previewing your College Hoops weekend



Sat. 8:00 pm: St. John’s @ No. 15 Notre Dame: The Johnnies are back, baby! Well, at least they will be if they can put together a win in a Saturday night foray into the Joyce Center. After beating West Virginia and Providence on the road and knocking off Georgetown at home, St. John’s heads into the first Big East weekend of the year in first place in the Big East at 3-0. Everyone that has an opinion is going to have a different one on this group. As good as this 3-0 start is, they also have losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham on their resume.

For Notre Dame, the key to their terrific start — one that has them sitting at 13-2 (2-1) and 15th in the country — has been team play. The Irish move the ball around really well, they understand what a good shot is, they find the guy that is hot, and they usually have a versatile lineup that can give you multiple looks. The reason that I say usually is because Carleton Scott will be out of the lineup as he nurses a hamstring back to health.

The way I see it, there are two keys to this game. The first is that Notre Dame is going to have to execute offensively. St. John’s isn’t the greatest defensive team in terms of efficiency, but they are physical and did a good job of taking Georgetown out of what they wanted to do offensively. The other thing that Notre Dame is going to need to do is slow down St. John’s around the rim. The Johnnies big men have been really effective of late, while DJ Kennedy and Justin Brownlee have proven to be quite dynamic up front.


Sat. 2:00 pm: Marquette @ No. 5 Pitt: Marquette is going to have their problems with this Pitt team. They are not exactly overflowing with powerful front court players, and Pitt is about as big as it gets this season, especially when it comes to crashing the offensive glass. But Marquette is not the kind of team that gets blown out. They scrap, they hustle, and they defend, and in the end they will be in striking distance. With the shooters and perimeter scorers that Buzz Williams has this year, if Marquette can get hot they have a chance.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 11 Kentucky @ Georgia: Trey Thompkins is finally starting to come around. He had 26 points and 7 boards his last time out, and if you factor out his first two games of the season — against Notre Dame and Temple as he was still coming back from his ankle injury — Thompkins is actually having a fairly solid season. I think Georgia is a team that is flying a bit under the radar this year, and while I’m higher on Kentucky than most people, playing your first conference game as a freshmen on the road is not easy. Josh Harrellson better not get into foul trouble.

Sat. 5:00 pm: No. 24 Vanderbilt @ South Carolina: Vanderbilt is a bit different than the typical Vandy teams. They have quite a bit of size and athleticism inside, which combined with guys like John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor makes this a tough team to beat. The bigger issue for Vanderbilt is that they don’t exactly have a point guard. Brad Tinsely is, but he’s more of a playmaking off-guard. Ironically, point guard Brice Ellington, a freshman that starts for Darrin Horn, would be a nice fit for Vandy.

Sat. 8:30 pm: Portland @ Gonzaga: I’m not even sure Portland knocking off the Zags would count as an upset this year as Portland actually has a higher RPI right now. The Pilots shoot a lot of threes, and they hit them at a tremendous clip — 44.4% to be exact. If they get hot, the Zags better watch out.

Sun. 8:00 pm: Maryland @ No. 1 Duke: Yup. I’m saying it. Maryland has a chance to knock off Duke. Its a minute one, I’ll admit, but I like the way that the Terp’s personnel matchup with the Blue Devils. Duke struggles with big, strong post players, and that is Jordan Williams to a T. Gary Williams has also decided to move Terrell Stoglin into the starting lineup. If guys like Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker, Pe’Shon Howard, and Stoglin play well on the perimeter and Jordan Williams plays like he has all season long, this could be where Duke’s undefeated season ends.


Sat. 12:00 pm: Austin Peay @ Murray State: Believe it or not, these may actually be the best two teams in the OVC. And this game is on ESPNU? Yes please.

Sat. 3:00 pm: Florida State @ Virginia Tech: I came into the season thinking that these two teams would fight with UNC for sole possession of second place in the ACC. While that still may very well turn out to be true, they certainly won’t be doing it as ranked teams. Both teams have their star — Malcolm Delaney for Virginia Tech, Chris Singleton for Florida State. It will be interesting to see who can stop who.

Sat. 3:30 pm: No. 9 UConn @ No. 12 Texas: Kemba Walker and UConn have come back down to earth. After a story book start to the season, the Huskies are now sitting at 1-2 in the Big East, with that one being an overtime win over South Florida. The good news is that some of UConn’s freshmen are starting to show flashes of how good they can be. But that has come, apparently, at the cost of Alex Oriakhi, a guy that will be so important for the Huskies on Saturday. Why is he so important? Because Tristan Thompson is slowly by surely developing into a star. That will be a fun matchup to watch, as will Dogus Balbay guarding Kemba and Jordan Hamilton going up against UConn’s slew of lanky wings.

Sat. 6:00 pm: Charleston @ Wofford: The SoCon is a very good conference this season, and these two clubs could very well be the two best in the league. Charleston landed themselves a BCS school when they blew out Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend. Wofford didn’t beat any of their high major opponents this season, but they did come close on a number of occasions. Noah Dahlman will be the best big man on the floor, but I don’t think anyone wants to play against Andrew Goudelock right now.

Sun. 12:00 pm: No. 25 Cincinnati @ No. 7 Villanova: The time is finally here. We get to see whether or not unbeaten Cincinnati is for real. Their win over Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout was impressive, but Xavier looks like a team that is going to miss the NCAA Tournament this season. Villanova may win the Big East if they can get Corey Fisher playing on the same level as Corey Stokes. My advice to the Bearcats — get the ball to Yancy Gates. The big guy needs to eat.

Sun. 2:00 pm: No. 21 Minnesota @ No. 2 Ohio State: The Gophers have had a tough start to Big Ten play, and it doesn’t get any easier Sunday as they head to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. You know about OSU by now — Jared Sullinger is a player of the year candidate while the four guys on the court around him all understand and buy into their roles. Minnesota, however, has enough size that they should be able to give Sully some issues on the block. They will need a much better offensive performance than the one they had against Indiana, but if Minnesota can slow down the big fella, they have a good shot at this win.

Sun. 8:30 pm: Missouri State @ Wichita State: This one will be a dandy and will be televised on ESPNU. The Bears and the Shockers are both undefeated in the Valley and look like they are the two best teams in the conference. They play at a slower pace than the Big Ten, but one of these two will likely be dancing come March. Make sure you know who they are.



  • 7:00 pm: Cleveland State @ Butler: The best two teams in the Horizon League. And the favorite in the league may not be Butler.


  • 11:00 am: West Virginia @ No. 13 Georgetown: I will be at this game trying to determine what exactly is going on with the ‘Eers.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 4 Syracuse @ Seton Hall: The Orange play their first true road game of the season. In New Jersey.
  • 12:00 pm: UNC @ Virginia: The Tar Heels kick off their ACC season with a trip to Charlottesville. Can the Heels get it turned around this season?
  • 1:00 pm: No. 19 Michigan State @ Penn State: Kalin Lucas vs. Talor Battle will be fun to watch, as will practice on Monday if the Spartans lose.
  • 1:00 pm: No. 17 Kansas State @ Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are always tough in Gallagher-Iba, but with Pullen back and Judge playing like an all-american the last couple of games.
  • 1:30 pm: No. 8 Missouri @ Colorado: Colorado really needs a win, if for nothing else than to boost their confidence.
  • 1:30 pm: Tennessee @ Arkansas: Guess whose suspension is starting…?
  • 2:00 pm: George Mason @ Old Dominion: Before the season, I thought these two teams were the two best teams in the league.
  • 2:00 pm: Baylor @ Texas Tech: Can Baylor get a win on the road? The Bears are being flur
  • 3:00 pm: Air Force @ No. 14 BYU: Air Force has been much improved this season, but they are a long way from Jimmer territory.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 6 San Diego State @ Utah: SDSU’s second halves this season have been impressive. Their first halves? Not so much.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 16 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma: What’s the over-under on the number of Big XII games Oklahoma wins?
  • 4:00 pm: East Carolina @ No. 22 Memphis: Can the Tigers bounce back?
  • 4:00 pm: UTEP @ UAB: Randy Culpepper and Aaron Johnson are two of the most entertaining players in the country to watch.
  • 4:00 pm: Alabama @ Mississippi State: Who will Sidney fight on Saturday?
  • 4:00 pm: Richmond @ La Salle: Two of the best in the A-10 square off. Justin Harper going against Aaric Murray should draw the eyes of some NBA scouts.
  • 4:00 pm: Utah State @ Nevada: I had no idea Nevada, and the WAC in general, was going to be this bad this season.
  • 5:00 pm: No. 18 UCF @ Houston: Guess who is still undefeated.
  • 6:00 pm: LSU @ Auburn: The battle for the worst team in the SEC commences.
  • 6:30 pm: Stanford @ Arizona: Believe it or not, Stanford is in first place in the Pac-10. Stanford!
  • 6:30 pm: Oregon State @ Washington: And the Cardinal are tied with Washington. The Beavers fell back to earth against Wazzu on Thursday.
  • 8:00 pm: Ole Miss @ Florida: Chris Warren’s beared is worth watching this game on ESPN3 for.


  • 12:00 pm: Iowa @ No. 10 Purdue: Iowa may be better than we expected, but that doesn’t mean they can win at Mackey.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 23 Louisville @ South Florida: Gus Gilchrist quit the team and then came back. Did you even know?
  • 4:30 pm: No. 3 Kansas @ Michigan: At West Virginia, John Beilein won games like this all this time. He hasn’t been so fortunate at Michigan.
  • 7:00 pm: Indiana @ Northwestern: No one needs a win more than Northwestern right now.
  • 10:30 pm: UCLA @ USC: The two LA schools may actually be the second and third best teams in the Pac-10. This game has a lot more significance than it did at the start of the year.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

George Mason Final Four star Tony Skinn hired as hoops coach

Doral Chenoweth/Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

FAIRFAX, Va. – Tony Skinn, who helped lead 11th-seeded George Mason to the Final Four during March Madness as a player in 2006, was hired Thursday to coach men’s basketball at the school.

Skinn replaces Kim English, who left George Mason for Providence after Ed Cooley departed Providence for Georgetown.

“Tony Skinn is the right man for this moment in Mason’s basketball program,” university President Gregory Washington said in the news release announcing the hiring. “His coaching style will galvanize our student-athletes and his connection to our finest hour on the court is sure to electrify our alumni and fans.”

Skinn was a starting guard for the Patriots 17 years ago when they picked up a series of surprising wins – including against UConn in the regional final in Washington, about 20 miles from campus – to make the semifinals at the NCAA Tournament.

George Mason’s coach at the time, Jim Larrañaga, is now at Miami and has the Hurricanes in this year’s Final Four.

Skinn was most recently an assistant coach at Maryland. He also has worked at Ohio State, Seton Hall and Louisiana Tech.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to step back on campus,” Skinn said. “I’ve had some of my greatest memories here and I’m looking forward to making new ones with our fans and our community.”

Gonzaga’s Timme among five finalists for men’s Wooden Award

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – Drew Timme of Gonzaga is one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as the men’s college basketball player of the year.

He’s joined by Zach Edey of Purdue, Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana, Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Jalen Wilson of Kansas.

Timme took his team farthest in the upset-riddled NCAA Tournament with Gonzaga losing in the Elite Eight. Sasser helped Houston reach the Sweet 16. Purdue lost in the first round, while Indiana and Kansas were beaten in the second round.

The winner will be announced April 4 on ESPN. All five players have been invited to Los Angeles for the 47th annual presentation on April 7.

Also among the top 10 vote getters were: Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA, Brandon Miller of Alabama, Penn State’s Jalen Pickett, Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky and Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis.

Voting took place from March 13-20.

South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will receive the Legends of Coaching Award during the ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Indiana’s Teri Moren wins AP Coach of the Year

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

DALLAS – Teri Moren has led Indiana to some unprecedented heights this season.

The team won its first Big Ten regular season championship in 40 years, rose to No. 2 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll and earned the school’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Moren was honored Thursday as the AP women’s basketball Coach of the Year, the first time she has won the award. She received 12 votes from the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. South Carolina’s Dawn Staley was second with eight votes. Utah’s Lynne Roberts received five and Virginia Tech’s Kenny Brooks three.

Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament.

“I think a lot of people were like this is going to be a year where Indiana is reloading, rebuilding, they won’t be as good as they had been the year prior. We were picked third in the Big Ten,” Moren said.

Moren was surprised by her team, who told her she won in an elaborate ruse.

“Anytime you can share it with people that made it happen. the staff, the players, the most important people who have been instrumental in the season and this award is special. I was speechless.”

Moren accepted the award at the Final Four, sharing the stage with AP Player of the Year Caitlin Clark to complete a Big Ten sweep.

The team has come a long way from when Moren was a young girl growing up in southern Indiana. She was a diehard fan of the Indiana basketball team. The men’s one that is.

She would attend men’s games with her family when she was a kid and was a big fan of coach Bob Knight. She has a constant reminder of the Hall of Fame coach in her office as a picture of his infamous chair-throwing incident hangs by the door. Moren said it’s the last thing she sees before heading to practice.

As far as the women’s team, they just weren’t very good. Times have changed, as Moren has built the program into a blue-collar team that focuses on defense and is a consistent Top 25 team the last few seasons, appearing in the poll for 75 consecutive weeks starting with the preseason one in 2019-2020. That’s the fourth-longest active streak.

Before that, the Hoosiers had been ranked for a total of six times.

“People still talk to me about living in Bloomington and they couldn’t afford a ticket to the men’s game. Not that they settled, but became women’s basketball fans. At that moment, you could walk in and find any seat you wanted and watch women’s basketball,” Moren said.

“There were 300-400 people in the stands, now to what it is today, it’s an unbelievable thing to watch it grow. Things you dream about to see fans and bodies up in the rafters.”

The Hoosiers had six of the school’s top 10 most attended games this season, including crowds of over 13,000 fans for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and 14,000 for the second round game – a shocking loss to Miami.

“It stings right now, but that last game doesn’t define our season,” Moren said.

AP source: Alabama’s Brandon Miller declares for NBA draft

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Alabama All-American forward Brandon Miller is heading to the NBA after displaying versatile talent and athleticism in a lone season of college ball that was blemished by revelations he was present at a fatal shooting in January near campus.

ESPN first reported on Miller’s decision, and a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the report to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Miller hadn’t yet made an official declaration for the draft.

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound freshman, who was one of the nation’s top high school recruits, is projected as a potential top 5 draft pick.

Miller displayed his accurate 3-point shooting and athleticism in the most productive season of any freshman in Alabama history. He led the Tide to their first No. 1 ranking in 20 years and first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed.

Miller averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds while hitting 38% from 3-point range. But he was scoreless in his first March Madness game, and went 3 of 19 and scored just nine points in a Sweet 16 loss to San Diego State.

Miller was described as a cooperating witness after the Jan. 15 shooting and was never charged with a crime.

But he and the Tide were dogged by off-court questions for the final two months of the season. Former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man were charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Harris, who was killed in early on Jan. 15.

Miller and fellow freshman Jaden Bradley were placed at the scene as well. According to police testimony, Miller brought Miles his gun. Miller’s attorney said the Tide forward was on his way to pick Miles up when Miles texted asking him to bring the weapon, but that Miller never handled the gun and didn’t know any criminal activity was intended.

Miller received threats after the news came out, and was accompanied by a university-provided security guard. “It doesn’t bother me,” Miller said of the threats at the NCAA regional in Birmingham, Alabama, “I send it to the right people and they handle it.”

Alabama finished the season 31-6 and won the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark wins AP Player of the Year

caitlin clark
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
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DALLAS — Caitlin Clark has put together one of the greatest individual seasons in NCAA history with eye-popping offensive numbers.

Iowa’s junior guard, though, saved her best performance for the game’s biggest stage, recording the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history to get Iowa to the Final Four for the first time in 30 years.

Clark was honored Thursday as The Associated Press women’s basketball Player of the Year. She received 20 votes from the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. Voting was done before March Madness began.

“It’s a huge honor,” Clark said. “I picked a place that I perfectly fit into and that’s allowed me to show my skill set. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean something. It’s not the reason you play basketball, it’s just something that comes along with getting to do what you love.”

The Iowa coaching staff surprised Clark by sharing that she won the award while they were visiting the Iowa Children’s Hospital – a place near and dear to her. It also has huge ties to the Hawkeyes athletic department.

They put together a video of some of the children in the hospital congratulating Clark on an outstanding season, and in the middle of it, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder popped on the screen to tell her she won.

“I’m there for inspiring the next generation and being there for the people that you know are going through a hard time,” said Clark, who grew up in Iowa. “Being able to give joy to people that watch you play and watch your team play is amazing.”

She averaged 27.0 points, 8.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds during the season to help Iowa go 26-6. Clark has 984 points, the sixth-most in a season by any player in Division I women’s history. She also has over 300 assists.

“She is spectacular. I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court,” Bluder said.

Next up for the Hawkeyes is undefeated South Carolina in the national semifinals. The Gamecocks are led by Aliyah Boston, last season’s winner of the award. She garnered the other eight votes this season.

“There’s so many great players, more than just me and (Aliyah),” Clark told the AP. “You can go on and on and list the tremendous players. I think that’s really good for our game when there’s a lot of great players. That’s what is going to help this game grow more than anything else.”

Whether it’s hitting deep 3s from the Hawkeye logo at home games, hitting off-balance game-winning shots or throwing pinpoint passes to teammates for easy baskets, Clark has excelled on the court this year to get Iowa to a place it hasn’t been in a long time.

“It’s funny, because the better the opponent, almost the better she plays,” Bluder said. “It’s like she locks in on those, when we’re playing against Top 25 teams. That’s when her statistics even go up even more, against great opponents.”

Clark is the second Iowa player to win the AP award in the past few seasons, joining Megan Gustafson who won it in 2019.