Previewing your college hoops weekend



Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 4 Pitt @ St. John’s: The Big East is a heaping pile of similarity this season. Pitt has a two-game lead on Notre Dame, who holds a two-game cushion in second place. After that? There are eight — yes, eight! — teams with five or six losses, all fighting to earn the three and four seeds in the Big East Tournament and the subsequent double bye.

One of those eight teams is St. John’s, which is slowly creeping up seed lines in the mock brackets that are coming out. The biggest reason for the Johnnies’ ascent to hoops relevancy has been their ability to defend their home court. Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke and UConn have fallen at the Garden. On Saturday, the Panthers try their hand at winning in the basketball Mecca.

Now, Pitt isn’t exactly a great matchup for St. John’s. The Panthers are a terrific offensive rebounding team, and their ability to clean up their own misses with second-chance points is why they are such an efficient offensive team. The Johnnies are tough and physical, but they haven’t proven to be a great team on the defensive glass. St. John’s also doesn’t match up that well on the offensive end of the floor. Pitt is not an elite team defensively in terms of efficiency, but a big reason is that the Panthers don’t gamble for a lot of steals. They don’t force turnovers. Instead, they play tough, quarter-court defense, force a tough shot and get the rebound. Offensive execution is key against the Panthers, and St. John’s is not exactly Notre Dame.

That said, the reason that I can see the Johnnies pulling another upset is their press. Steve Lavin has athletes at every position on the floor, and when they are active and aggressive that press can be lethal. Pitt is susceptible to being pressed. Neither Brad Wanamaker or Ashton Gibbs is a great ball handler, and Travon Woodall has the highest turnover percentage on the team.

If the press is effective, it negates Pitt’s advantages — offensive rebounding and a stalwart half court defense. Playing in front of a home crowd that is sure to be fired up, the Johnnies surely will be flying all over the court.


Sat. 1:00 pm: No. 7 Notre Dame @ West Virginia: I am not yet convinced that the Irish are a great road team. And I know that Notre Dame beat Pitt on the road. But Notre Dame happens to match up incredibly well with the Panthers, and with their ‘burn’ offense, they continually give the Panthers trouble. West Virginia hasn’t been great this season, but when Denis Kilicli and Casey Mitchell are both playing well and guys like Kevin Jones and John Flowers are getting to the offensive glass, this is a good basketball team.

Sat. 1:45 pm: No. 2 Texas @ Nebraska: Nebraska has been a pesky team this season. They slow the game down, they defend, and they get to the defensive glass. The Huskers have knocked off Texas A&M this season and given Kansas and Missouri all they could handle on the road. No one in the country is playing better than Texas right now — especially on the defensive end of the floor — but I think that the Huskers matchup fairly well with the Longhorns.

Sat. 4:00 pm: Boston College @ No. 19 North Carolina: Two years ago, BC went into Chapel Hill and handed a North Carolina team we all thought had a chance to go undefeated their first loss of the season. This year the situation is quite different, as the 2011 Tar Heels are a far cry from the 2009 team. But Boston College is rated as the seventh best offensive team in the country, headlined by the ACC’s best guard that doesn’t play for Duke in Reggie Jackson. They are also the 256th best defense, which means that North Carolina will probably be able to score at will. The Eagles are fighting for their tournament lives, however, and a win like this on the road would do wonders for their profile. Will they play enough defense to win?

Sat. 6:00 pm: Washington @ No. 13 Arizona: Both Washington and Arizona handled their business of Thursday night, meaning that the Huskies, who are two games behind the Wildcats in the Pac-10 standings, will be playing to keep themselves in the Pac-10 regular season race. Washington’s struggles on the road are not a secret, but this team also has a lot of the same parts as last year’s team, which really came together down the stretch of the season. If they can find that magic again, Washington will be right back in the mix for a Pac-10 title.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 17 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State: I am not a fan of Texas A&M. Don’t get me wrong, they are a solid basketball team, but they are not the 17th best team in the country. Oklahoma State is a team fighting for their tournament life, and they have also beaten everyone on their home court that is not a Longhorn.


Fri. 9:00 pm: No. 12 UConn @ No. 16 Louisville: As we mentioned in the discussion of the St. John’s-Pitt game, the second tier of the Big East is as muddled as a mojito. Both the Cardinals and the Huskies are right in the middle of that mess, and both have a very good shot at earning one of the top four seeds in the Big East tournament. Back in January, Peyton Siva torched UConn down the stretch as the Cardinals beat the Huskies in double overtime on the road. But Kemba Walker also struggled a bit in that game, especially down the stretch, when he became a relative non-factor. Expect another game just as exciting.

Sat. 2:00 pm: Georgia @ Tennessee: Georgia is on the tournament ropes right now. They are 6-5 in the SEC with a number of close losses, including one that came on a Brian Williams buzzer beater in Athens last month. With road trips to Florida and Alabama left, the Bulldogs are legitimately looking at a situation where they could end up at 8-8 in the SEC. Tennessee is in a similar boat. They’ve been unable to close out close games all season long, and it resulted in some ugly losses during the non-conference season. The Vols have less breathing room than Georgia as result. This may be the most important bubble matchup of the day.

Sat. 5:00 pm: Vermont @ Charleston: In one of the more intriguing games of the BracketBusters weekend, the Catamounts, who have already clinched the America East title, head down to South Carolina to take of the Cougars, who currently have a comfortable two game cushion in the SoCon. Andrew Goudelock and Evan Fjeld are going to get the publicity heading into this one, but keep an eye on statsheet stuffer Brian Voelkel. A poor man’s Draymond Green, the 6’6″ freshman is averaging 6.6 ppg and a team high 9.9 rpg and 4.8 apg.

Sat. 7:00 pm: UNLV @ Colorado State: Right now, the MWC looks like a league that is only going to get two bids to the NCAA Tournament barring an upset in the conference tourney. But if someone is going to steal an at-large bid, in all likelihood it will be the winner of this game. UNLV has been a bit of a disappointment this season, as they are a team with a number of talented players that have not been able to put the pieces together. Colorado State may actually be exceeding expectations right now. The Rams have an excellent front court duo in Travis Franklin and Andy Ogide, who will be a tough matchup for the Rebels.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 24 Utah State @ No. 23 St. Mary’s: This is, by far, the most important game of BracketBusters weekend. Its also the only BracketBusters game that may actually have an effect on the NCAA Tournament field. Both the Aggies and the Gaels have impressive records, but neither of them have done it against quality competition. Utah State has only played two teams rated higher than 123rd in the RPI, losing to both Georgetown and BYU, while also losing to Idaho in a game that seriously damaged their at-large hopes. St. Mary’s has beaten St. John’s and Gonzaga, but their loss to San Diego on Wednesday night made this a must-win. This is an eliminator game — the loser is going to have to win their conference tournament to get in.

Sat. 9:00 pm: Illinois @ Michigan State: I doubt that anyone would have believed you if you said in the preseason that the loser of this game would be in serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State has looked better in their last two games, smoking Penn State at home before putting up a good fight in a loss at Ohio State. Illinois, on the other hand, has struggled through Big Ten play. Demetri McCamey looks like he is mailing in this season, and no one else on the team has been able to pick up the slack. Is it too early to call this an eliminator game as well?

Sun. 1:00 pm: No. 3 Ohio State @ No. 11 Purdue: Ohio State embarrassed Purdue in Columbus earlier this season, beating the Boilermakers by 23 points. But as we all know, home court is everything in college hoops, and Mackey Arena is as tough a place to play as you will find in the Big Ten. Purdue already avenged one loss this week, as they took care of business against Wisconsin on Tuesday. If they are to do the same against the Buckeyes, its going to fall on JaJuan Johnson’s shoulders. Can he defend Jared Sullinger in the post? Can he take advantage of the mismatch he will have at the other end of the floor?



  • 7:00 pm: VCU @ Wichita State: Both these teams have probably cost themselves a real shot at an at-large bid, but both the Rams and the Shockers are more than quality basketball teams, they are quality programs.


  • 11:00 am: Hofstra @ Wright State: Charles Jenkins isn’t really a storyline, but he may be the best player in the country you’ve never watched. This game is on ESPN U. Change that.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 14 Villanova @ DePaul: The Wildcats will once again be without Corey Stokes, who is battling a turf toe injury.
  • 12:00 pm: Duquesne @ Dayton: The Flyers are talented enough to be a spoiler for Duquesne, who is second in the Atlantic 10 right now. But the Flyers are talented enough to win the league, and that hasn’t worked out.
  • 1:00 pm: Florida State @ Wake Forest: The Seminoles will be playing their first game without Chris Singleton. At least they get a chance to ease into it against Wake Forest.
  • 1:00 pm: Virginia Tech @ Virginia: The Hokies have won 13 of their last 16 games and Malcolm Delaney has started playing like last year’s Malcolm Delaney. If the Hokies don’t choke (which isn’t a guarantee) they should be dancing.
  • 1:45 pm: No. 21 Missouri @ Iowa State: Iowa State has a star in Diante Garrett and Missouri struggles on the road, but it will take some luck and hot shooting for the Cyclones to pull off this upset.
  • 2:00 pm: Colorado @ No. 1 Kansas: Kansas is coming off of an embarrassing, 84-68 loss to Kansas State where the red flags — maturity, leadership — of this team were exposed. It will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks bounce back.
  • 2:00 pm: No. 6 San Diego State @ Air Force: The Falcons have already outperformed expectations coming into the season. A win against SDSU would be an exclamation point.
  • 3:00 pm: Iona @ Liberty: Mike Glover vs. Eric Gordon’s brother?
  • 3:00 pm: Tulsa @ SMU: Who would have thought that in late February, these two teams would be one game out of the lead in Conference USA?
  • 4:00 pm: No. 18 Vanderbilt @ Auburn: Vandy might be the hottest team in the SEC, and I don’t think that the Tigers are going to be able to change that.
  • 4:00 pm: Rutgers @ No. 20 Syracuse: The Scarlet Knights are one of the toughest teams in the Big East. Unfortunately, they are lacking in the talent department. I’m not sure they have enough perimeter shooting to pull off this upset.
  • 4:00 pm: South Carolina @ No. 22 Kentucky: The Wildcats are as talented as any team in the country, and they play like it when they play at Rupp.
  • 4:00 pm: Oklahoma @ Kansas State: The Wildcat’s performance against Kansas on Monday was great, but they need to build on it going forward. It will be interesting to see what they can do against the Sooners.
  • 4:30 pm: No. 8 BYU @ TCU: TCU is reeling and playing without Ronnie Moss. Can the Horned Frogs contain The Jimmer?
  • 4:30 pm: Northwestern State @ McNeese State: First place in the Eastern division of the Southland Conference is on the line in this one.
  • 5:00 pm: Missouri State @ Valpo: Missouri State is currently tied for first in the MVC while Valpo is a half game behind Cleveland State in the Horizon. Neither will be getting an at-large bid, but both are capable of winning a game in the tournament.
  • 6:00 pm: UCF @ UAB: The Blazers are just a game behind Memphis in the C-USA standing, but they are without Cameron Moore the rest of the season. UCF snapped an eight game losing streak by winning two in a row. Can they stay hot?
  • 6:30 pm: Bethune-Cookman @ Hampton: First place in the MEAC is on the line.
  • 7:00 pm: No. 9 Georgetown @ South Florida: Last year, the Bulls went into the Verizon Center and knocked off the Hoyas. This year, there is no Dominique Jones.
  • 7:00 pm: George Mason @ Northern Iowa: The Panther haven’t been the same team since Lucas O’Rear got injured, but this game is worth the watch (ESPN2) simply because GMU is a legitimate contender to win a game in the tournament.
  • 8:00 pm: Texas Tech @ Baylor: The Bears are still trying to work their way into the NCAA Tournament field despite the fact that freshman Perry Jones may have played his way into the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
  • 9:00 pm: San Francisco @ Gonzaga: Thanks to St. Mary’s loss at San Diego, this game has all kinds of importance to the WCC race, as it will be for sole possession of second place in the league.
  • 9:00 pm: Seton Hall @ Marquette: The Golden Eagles have damn near played their way out of the NCAA Tournament. There is still time to turn it around, however.
  • 11:00 pm: Montana @ Long Beach State: Its cliche to say this, but since both of these teams are currently leading their conference, this could be a chance to watch two tournament teams. What else would you be doing this late on a Saturday night?


  • 1:00 pm: Cleveland State @ Old Dominion: Old Dominion probably won’t gain that much by beating Cleveland State, but a loss at home to the Horizon leaders would end any chance of getting an at-large bid. As far as the Vikings are concerned, they have Norris Cole, who is worth watching for his play as much as his hi-top fade.
  • 2:00 pm: St. Joe’s @ No. 25 Temple: The A-10 was more fun when this rivalry game actually mattered.
  • 3:00 pm: St. Bonaventure @ Richmond: The Spiders have to win the A-10 tournament if they want to be dancing come Selection Sunday.
  • 3:30 pm: Clemson @ Miami FL: I don’t think that Clemson is going to be able to climb back into the bubble picture after losing to NC State on Thursday night.
  • 5:30 pm: NC State @ Maryland: The Terps may have also played their way out of the NCAA Tournament picture.
  • 6:00 pm: Penn State @ No. 10 Wisconsin: Penn State has a chance to play their way onto the bubble in the weak middle of the Big Ten, but doing so at Wisconsin is a tough task.

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

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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.