Previewing your College Hoops Weekend



Sat. 3:00 pm: No. 10 Syracuse @ Marquette: It’s too early to say Marquette is desperate. They have wins over Notre Dame and West Virginia in their back pocket. Their “bad loss” is to Gonzaga. They even have a better-than-you-think non-conference win over Bucknell. They may have dropped eight games this season, but each of those eight games have come by eight points or less. Andy Glocker earlier this week tweeted about how Marquette was the third “unluckiest” team in the country.

If you remember, the same thing happened to Marquette last season. They dropped close game after close game until this same weekend. On January 30th, Jimmy Butler scored with 2.4 seconds left as Marquette knocked off UConn on the road, sparking a strong finish to the season and, eventually, a six seed in the NCAA Tournament. Could Syracuse be Marquette’s 2011 UConn?

The Orange are reeling right now. They have lost three games in a row, the last two coming to teams that took advantage of good looks from the perimeter against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Marquette has plenty of perimeter talent, they have a couple of versatile forwards in Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler, and while their backs aren’t quite up against the wall yet, they are getting closer and closer.

The one area where Syracuse can really take advantage is up front. Led by Rick Jackson, Syracuse has a big and athletic front line that is capable of dominating the offensive glass. If Marquette’s shots are falling and they are limiting the Orange to one shot a possession, they should be able to land another marquee Big East win at home.


Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 9 BYU @ New Mexico: I know, its blasphemy to pick against The Jimmer Show. I don’t want to say New Mexico is better than their 2-4 mark in the MWC would indicate, but they are definitely more talented. They are playing what amounts to a do-or-die game in terms of their at-large bid, and they are doing it in front of one of the toughest home crowds in the country. The Cougars are coming off of an emotional high, knocking off San Diego State at home in what may be the most hyped game in the history of the conference. Without question, this has all the makings of a let-down game for BYU. Can the Lobos take advantage?

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 15 Wisconsin @ Penn State: This has been a different Penn State team the past five games. After knocking off both Michigan State and Illinois at home, the Nittany Lions nearly pulled off upsets at both Ohio State and Purdue. Jeff Brooks has developed into a nice compliment for the talented Talor Battle and the all-important home court advantage will be in the Nits favor. Can Penn State do it again?

Sat. 4:00 pm: Georgia @ No. 16 Kentucky: The Bulldogs have already beaten Kentucky once this season, notching a 77-70 win in Athens in which Trey Thompkins dominated the Wildcat front line. Georgia has lost a couple of tough home games in a row to Tennessee and Florida, and is really in need of a bounce back victory. Don’t be fooled by the names, either. These two teams are much closer in talent level than Kentucky and Georgia have been in quite some time. If Thompkins once again has a big game, and Travis Leslie and Gerald Robinson play as well as they are capable of, a sweep of the Wildcats is very possible.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Kansas State @ No. 6 Kansas: Kansas State has been a conundrum this season. They’ve lost games they aren’t supposed to be losing, they haven’t gotten the performance out of Jacob Pullen that we all expected, and they seemingly have a new suspension — either announced or unannounced — every other game. That said, there is still some talent on this team. Whether or not Thomas Robinson is back in uniform, there is no doubt that this past week has been emotionally and physically draining on this team. After flying to Colorado for a game against the Buffaloes, the Jayhawks headed to DC for the funeral of Robinson’s mother. K-State has a chance to take advantage here.

Sun. 10:00 pm: No. 17 Washington @ Washington State: You would be hard-pressed to find anyone playing the point better than Isaiah Thomas right now, and his play has lifted the play of the Huskies. But don’t be fooled by the lack of hype, this game is an intense rivalry, and Washington State is probably more talented than you think they are. Between Klay Thompson, Reggie Moore, and Faisal Aden, this Cougars have a number of scorers on their perimeter while DeAngelo Casto can matchup with Matthew Bryan-Amaning inside.


Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 19 Louisville @ No. 5 UConn: Louisville is a dangerous team, both to play and to bet on. They rely heavily on the three pointer, and when they are going down, the Cardinals are a difficult team to beat. UConn, however, has looked better than they have all season. Kemba Walker has come back to earth since his hot start — mainly since defenses have begun keying in on him. But with the emergence of Jeremy Lamb as a secondary scorer, Shabazz Napier as a second ball handler, and Roscoe Smith and Alex Oriakhi inside, the Huskies have become more balanced with each passing game. The funny part? This may not even be the best noon tip in the Big East …

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 20 Georgetown @ No. 7 Villanova: I had written off the Hoyas two weeks ago, but after winning three straight games — including a beat down of a St. John’s team that already owns a win over the Hoyas — Georgetown has bounced back quite nicely. Chris Wright and Austin Freeman are still a bit too inconsistent, but Jason Clark rediscovered his stroke while Hollis Thompson was terrific coming off the bench on Wednesday. Villanova, however, was embarrassed at Providence just four days after a statement win at Syracuse. The Wildcats are a tough team to figure out, but they may be the only team in the country than can go back court star for back court star with the Hoyas.

Sat. 12:00 pm: Xavier @ Richmond: This is the most important Atlantic 10 game to date. Xavier comes in undefeated in the conference while the Spiders are sitting just a game back. Tu Holloway and Kevin Anderson will provide us with arguably the best individual matchup of the day, but my concern for Xavier is how they will matchup with Justin Harper. Harper is a 6’10” power forward with a faceup game and a deadly three point stroke. Who can matchup with him on Xavier?

Sat. 1:00 pm: No. 18 Minnesota @ No. 12 Purdue: Minnesota will get their first real test without a point guard on the roster against Purdue after a tune up this week against Iowa. Tubby went with three bigs in the starting lineup on Wednesday, and it worked out pretty well. While Purdue has barely on big with the strength to matchup with Minnesota, the Boilermakers will create their own matchup problems. Can Blake Hoffarber stay in front of Lewis Jackson? Will anyone be able to guard JaJuan Johnson?

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 13 Missouri @ No. 8 Texas: This could very well be the best game of the day, and its a game that is going to come down to the defenses. Missouri, as you all should be well aware, runs a system known as the fastest 40 minutes in basketball. They press, the attack in transition, they force turnovers, and they look to score before you can set up your defense. Texas, on the other hand, runs a typical, physical man-to-man in the half court. The key for Texas? Forcing Missouri to play against a set defense. If they don’t turn the ball over and prevent fast breaks — by scoring and by getting to the foul line — they will make it that much more difficult for Missouri to win in Austin.

Sun. 8:00 pm: Northern Iowa @ Missouri State: The MVC is always good for a quality game or three, but this is the best of the bunch this weekend. Missouri State is all alone in first place in the league, but the Panthers have come on strong after a slow start in conference play. A win for the Panthers would keep them within a game of first place and in striking distance for a regular season title. If the Bears win, they can all but eliminate UNI from the race.



  • 11:00 am: Temple @ St. Joe’s: It wasn’t long ago that this was one of the most anticipated games of the entire A-10 season? Seems like a long time ago, right?
  • 1:00 pm: No. 23 Florida @ Mississippi State: Florida State’s win at Georgia was nice. It would be even nicer if they could follow that up with a win in Starkville.
  • 1:30 pm: Colorado @ Baylor: Everyone gets excited about the upsets of top 25 teams, but games like this — between two bubble dwellers — are also quite important to the NCAA Tournament.
  • 2:00 pm: NC State @ UNC: The Tar Heels, despite all the issues they have had this season, are 4-1 in the ACC. NC State? Not so much.
  • 2:00 pm: No. 11 Texas A&M @ Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have been a tough out on their home court this season, which means that A&M better not be looking ahead to their Big Monday game against Texas.
  • 2:00 pm: Butler @ Valpo: This is a huge game in the Horizon League standings. Believe it or not, Butler is third in the Horizon right now. Valpo is tied for first in the loss column.
  • 6:00 pm: No. 1 Ohio State @ Northwestern: I’m done trying to predict when Northwestern will win a big game. It doesn’t help that John Shurna apparently suffered a concussion against Minnesota.
  • 6:00 pm: Arkansas @ No. 22 Vanderbilt: Can we cancel the game and just have a three point shooting contest between Rotnei Clarke and John Jenkins?
  • 6:00 pm: North Texas @ Denver: First place in the Western Division of the Sun Belt is on the line as the Mean Green visit the Pioneers. Its game like these that piqued Tony Mitchell’s interest.
  • 6:30 pm: Mississippi Valley State @ Jackson State: Three teams are tied for first in the SWAC. These are two of them.
  • 7:00 pm: No. 24 St. Mary’s @ Portland: If you like three point shooting there will be plenty of it in this game.
  • 7:00 pm: Memphis @ Marshall: How long can this Tiger winning streak last? Its currently at five, and started with a win over Marshall.
  • 8:00 pm: No. 2 Pitt @ Rutgers: Read this story from Adam Zagoria about a Rutgers assistant whose son is battling epilepsy, and see if you can avoid rooting for the Scarlett Knights.
  • 8:00 pm: West Virginia @ Cincinnati: A huge bubble matchup in the middle of the Big East. It will be interesting to see if Casey Mitchell is in uniform for this one. With Cincy’s size inside, his shooting could be the difference.
  • 10:00 pm: Wyoming @ No. 4 San Diego State: Does anyone else expect the Aztecs to make a statement on poor Wyoming after getting Jimmered?
  • 12:00 am: No. 25 Utah State @ Hawaii: If you are up, and sober, when this game comes on, why not? The Aggies are really good! I promise!


  • 1:00 pm: No. 3 Duke @ St. John’s: I know that St. John’s is having a better year this year than usual, but it will be interesting to see if Madison Square Garden has more Duke fans or Johnnie’s fans.
  • 2:00 pm: Dayton @ Duquesne: Duquesne is undefeated and currently one of the favorites to win the Atlantic 10. Dayton was one of the favorites to win the league in the preseason. Can the Flyers turn it around?
  • 5:30 pm: Miami FL @ Virginia Tech: Simply put, Virginia Tech cannot afford a loss in the middle of the ACC, especially not one to a 1-5 team.
  • 6:00 pm: Indiana @ Michigan State: Two great programs playing a fairly meaningless game. How much farther will the Spartans fall?
  • 7:45 pm: Georgia Tech @ Maryland: Did you see what I said about Virginia Tech?

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

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

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.”