Previewing your college hoops weekend

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UPSET ALERT

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 21 Missouri @ Kansas State: This is it. This is the game where Kansas State, the preseason top five team that was, at one point, 4-6 in the Big 12, can officially punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

On paper, this doesn’t look like the best matchup for the Wildcats. They don’t have a ton of ball handlers, and Missouri thrives on forcing turnovers and scoring quickly. The place where K-State would, presumably, have the biggest advantage — on the glass — does not appear to be that great of an advantage anymore. The Wildcat front court has been disappointing, as Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels continue to underachieve and Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla have left the program, while Missouri’s bigs, namely Laurence Bowers and Ricardo Ratliffe, are coming off of an impressive performance against Baylor’s big front line.

But, as Luke Winn showed us in his Power Rankings on Thursday, both Missouri and Kansas State are much better teams at home. Throw in Jacob Pullen’s return to his all-american form the past three games (he’s averaging 30.5 ppg in K-State’s recent three game winning streak) and the desperation of a team playing for the NCAA Tournament lives, and I think the Wildcats pull this one out.

UPSET SPECIAL

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 10 Arizona @ UCLA: There’s a large faction of those in the know that believe Arizona, based on the national polls, is one of the most overrated teams in the country. I can buy that, especially after seeing the Wildcats get beaten on Thursday by a very ho-hum USC team. The loss drops the Wildcats to just one game in front of the Bruins atop the Pac-10 standings. this will definitely be one of the most intriguing games on Saturday’s slate.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 1 Duke @ Virginia Tech: The Hokies are playing for their NCAA Tournament lives on Saturday. Without a marquee win to their name or another chance to get one before the ACC Tournament begins, this may be Seth Greenberg’s final chance at avoiding the wrong side of the bubble for the fourth straight season. It would be a shame if Malcolm Delaney never got to play in the NCAA Tournament. What will be interesting is to see how he plays knowing that may be on the line.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 17 Texas A&M @ Baylor: I’ve never been high on Texas A&M this season, and while Baylor looked like they were throwing in the towel against Missouri on Wednesday, the Bears are still one of the most talented teams — on paper — in the country. When LaceDarius Dunn and Perry Jones are both playing well, they are a team that can overcome subpar point guard play. The question is whether or not those two show up on a nightly bases.

Sun. 12:00 pm: No. 15 UConn @ Cincinnati: These are two teams headed in opposite directions. UConn started out the year as hot as anyone in the country, but as Kemba Walker dominates possession of the ball, the Huskies continue to lose in Big East play. Cincy had their season turned around by the benching of Yancy Gates. The past three games, he’s been a different player, and the Bearcats have been a different team.

Sun. 12:00 pm: West Virginia @ Rutgers: Rutgers is a scrappy, physical team that has found themselves down the stretch of the season under new head coach Mike Rice. They just knocked off Villanova at home and took Syracuse to overtime in the Carrier Dome. West Virginia is not as talented as those two teams, but they can be as physical as Rutgers. With UConn and Louisville to close out the season next week, the ‘Eers better not look past this game.

Sun. 12:00 pm: Xavier @ Dayton: Dayton has been the biggest disappoint in the Atlantic 10 this year. They are clearly missing the leadership they lost in the back court last season while Chris Wright still has not developed into the player everyone wants him to be. That said, the Flyers are talented and they are physical and they will be playing in front of their terrific home crowd. If the Flyers are to pull off this upset, they’ll need to stop Tu Holloway, who was one rebound away from back-to-back triple doubles.

Sun. 1:00 pm: No. 8 Purdue @ Michigan State: The Spartans picked up a big road win against Minnesota on Wednesday, getting them yet another step closer to overcoming their horrific start the the season. This game, however, may be the most important game Sparty has played all season. With their other two remaining games, the Spartans should have no problem getting to 10 wins in the Big Ten, but 11-7 with an extra win over Purdue can help make the committee forget about losses to Iowa and Michigan.

BEST MATCHUPS

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 20 Syracuse @ No. 11 Georgetown: This game changed on Wednesday night. Chris Wright, the Georgetown point guard, fell awkwardly and broke a bone in his left hand. Wright is the Hoya’s best penetrator and their best passer. They are a different team against a zone when he isn’t on the court. Regardless, this is Syracuse-Georgetown. Its the rivalry that the Big East was built on, and always a must-watch game.

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 7 BYU @ No. 4 SDSU: The rematch doesn’t have the same amount of hype as the first meeting in Provo back in January, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of this game. With both teams sitting with one loss in Mountain West play, this could easily turn into the conference’s regular season title game. Jimmer has been struggling lately, but his reputation is that of a big game player. He also has posted better numbers on the road than at home, meaning you can expect a big game out of him. But the Aztecs have been getting rowdy home crowds thanks to their success this season, and with BYU coming to town you should expect no different. As it was the first time, the key to this game is going to be how BYU’s front line handles SDSU’s big men.

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 25 St. John’s @ No. 14 Villanova: St. John’s is the new darling of the Big East, but they’ve done the majority of their heavy lifting at home. The Johnnies only have two road wins on the season, but both of those wins have come in recent weeks, at Marquette and at Cincy. Villanova, on the other hand, has been struggling of late, losing five of their last nine games to fall off of the pace for one of the Big East’s top four seeds. If St. John’s wins, they put themselves into the driver’s seat for one of the double-byes, as their last two games come against Seton Hall and South Florida.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 13 Florida @ No. 22 Kentucky: Florida has continued to win games, earning an 11-2 mark in the SEC and a three game lead in the SEC East. One win in their last three games, and the Gators will clinch the top seed in the East. That said, Florida has a tough schedule down the stretch, as they also host Alabama and travel to Vanderbilt. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams in the country, but they only play like it when they are at home, where John Calipari’s team is undefeated this season. If the Gators pull out this win, its time to start discussing them as a potential No. 2 seed.

Sun. 2:00 pm: No. 6 Pitt @ No. 16 Louisville: I like this matchup for Louisville. Pitt is susceptible to being pressed. As good as Brad Wanamaker, Ashton Gibbs, and Travon Woodall are, none of them are really known as terrific ball handlers. Forcing tempo and forcing turnovers are Louisville’s bread and butter. It will be key for the Cardinal’s big men Gorgui Dieng and Terrence Jennings to box out on the defensive end of the floor, but if Louisville’s press is working and they are hitting their threes, they are a tough team to beat.

BEST STORYLINES

Saturday

  • 12:00 pm: Boston College @ Virginia: The Eagles absolutely cannot afford another loss if they want to make a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
  • 12:00 pm: James Madison @ VCU: The Rams lost on Wednesday, meaning they no longer have any wiggle room if they want to get themselves an at-large bid.
  • Sat. 1:00 pm: Wichita State @ Missouri State: Saturday is the last day of the Missouri Valley’s regular season, and the Shockers and the Bears are tied for first place. We’ll get an outright conference champ out of this game.
  • 1:05 pm: Milwaukee @ Youngstown State; 2:00 pm: Green Bay @ Cleveland State; 2:00 pm: Loyola @ Butler: Milwaukee, Cleveland State, and Butler are all tied for the Horizon League lead heading into the regular season’s final weekend.
  • 1:45 pm: No. 18 Vanderbilt @ LSU: LSU scored 84 points against Mississippi State. That’s 22 points more than their previous high in SEC play.
  • 2:00 pm: Miami FL @ Florida State: After losing to Maryland by 18 on Wednesday night, the Seminoles have a lot to prove to the committee if they aren’t getting Chris Singleton back before the tournament.
  • 2:00 pm: Delaware @ Hofstra: Charles Jenkins will play his final home game and get his jersey retired while he is still active.
  • 2:00 pm: South Florida @ DePaul: The battle for the cellar of the Big East.
  • 3:00 pm: Memphis @ UTEP: The Conference USA regular season title is up for grabs. Both the Tigers and the Miners are in contention for it.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 2 Kansas @ Oklahoma: Will Tyshawn Taylor be back in uniform for the Jayhawks?
  • 4:00 pm: No. 5 Texas @ Colorado: The Longhorns lost their last game on the road and may be playing this game without their first big man off the bench. Colorado has been a tough team at home, as well.
  • 4:00 pm: Alabama @ Ole Miss: The Crimson Tide, after nearly losing to Auburn at home, are looking to hold on to their lead in the SEC and play their way into the NCAA Tournament.
  • 4:00 pm: William & Mary @ Old Dominion: The Monarchs still have a shot at earning an at-large bid to the tournament.
  • 4:30 pm: Michigan @ Minnesota: This would have been a huge bubble game early this week, but after losing to Wisconsin and Michigan State, respectively, both the Gophers and the Wolverines look like they are just about done.
  • 4:30 pm: Coastal Carolina @ CSU: Can the Chanticleers win with this hanging over their head?
  • 6:00 pm: Mississippi State @ Tennessee: Can we just call this game the scandal bowl? This is a win that Tennessee has to have.
  • 7:00 pm: Seton Hall @ No. 9 Notre Dame: Ben Hansbrough has a real shot at playing his way into the Big East player of the year award.
  • 7:00 pm: South Carolina @ Georgia: The Bulldogs cannot afford to lose this game if they want to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
  • 7:00 pm: Iowa @ Illinois: Like Georgia, the Illini cannot afford to lose this game.
  • 8:05 pm: Montana @ Eastern Washington: A win for the Grizzlies would clinch a share of the Big Sky title and force Northern Colorado to win three straight down the stretch to tie.
  • 8:05 pm: Illinois-Chicago @ Valpo: Thanks to an unfortunate loss on Thursday night, Valpo is now on the outside looking in of the top of the Horizon.
  • 8:45 pm: Eastern Kentucky @ Murray State: The Racers will win the Ohio Valle if they can knock off EKU on Saturday.
  • 9:00 pm: Idaho @ No. 23 Utah State: New Mexico State’s loss on Wednesday night gave Utah State the WAC regular season title. So the Aggies are playing to keep their names on the right side of the bubble.
  • 9:00 pm: Gonzaga @ San Diego; 11:00 pm: Portland @ St. Mary’s: Thanks to Gonzaga’s overtime win against St. Mary’s on Thursday night, the Zags and the Gaels are now tied for first in the WCC. Will they share the title?
  • 10:00 pm: Wyoming @ UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels all-but punched their ticket with Wednesday’s win over New Mexico. That ticket could get voided if they lose to Wyoming.

Sunday

  • 4:00 pm: Fairfield @ Iona: There may not be anything on the line, but this should be quite an entertaining game.
  • 4:00 pm: Providence @ Marquette: The Marshon and Marquette? There is guaranteed to be some excitement in this one.
  • 10:00 pm: Washington State @ Washington: The Huskies will be looking to get some revenge for a loss they took at Wazzu last month.

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

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

Illinois v Maryland
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NEW YORK – Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation – a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Marcus Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

Shannon then converted a reverse layup and finished off a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining. Jayden Epps hit a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

Texas took its only double-digit lead when Dillon Mitchell hit a layup with 8:28 left. Illinois cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3 by Melendez nearly four minutes later. After Cunningham hit an open 3 with 4:15 remaining, Si’Jabari Rice made a 3 for a 64-58 lead.

Allen found Cunningham for an open jumper that counted when officials called goaltending on Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins. That gave Texas a 65-61 lead with with 1:51 remaining.

Carr’s rainbow jumper in the lane made it 68-63 with a minute left and Illinois had a 3-pointer by Melendez waved off because it called timeout with 45.3 seconds left. After the timeout, Epps made an open corner 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

Hunter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up Epps’ tying free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 17. But only two of them came in the final 10-plus minutes of regulation or overtime. Illinois’ 15th turnover was an offensive foul by Mayer, which sent him to the bench with four fouls with 10:42 remaining.

Texas: The Longhorns had little offense beyond Allen and Hunter. While the duo was a combined 13 of 29, the rest of the team missed 24 of 40 shots.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday. The Illini lost their conference opener to No. 13 Maryland.

Texas hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic on Saturday.

Clark, Gardner lift No. 3 Virginia past James Madison, 55-50

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kihei Clark scored 18 points, Jayden Gardner had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 3 Virginia beat feisty in-state rival James Madison 55-50 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (8-0), who lost starting guard Reece Beekman to a right leg injury early in the first half, prevented the Dukes (7-3) from winning a second straight December game in Charlottesville. James Madison beat Virginia 52-49 last Dec. 7.

Clark had seven assists while playing nearly 39 minutes with Beekman sidelined.

“Kihei gave everything he had and I had to, you know, ride him,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Sure, he missed some free throws. And I know he made some mistakes, but you could just see him, you know, how tough-minded he was.”

Dukes coach Mark Byington said he told Clark – who’s playing his fifth season for Virginia – after last year’s game that he loved watching him play.

“He’s seen everything and nothing you’re going to do is going to surprise him,” Byington said. “There’s nothing Kihei Clark hasn’t seen out there, and he’s poised. I mean, you can’t rattle him. … So I told him this time I was like, `Look, I better never see you in college basketball again.’ But he’s one of my favorite players to watch just because he’s tough, talented, and he’s a winner.”

Takal Molson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for James Madison, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 7:47 to play. Gardner responded for Virginia by scoring five straight points in a 9-1 run.

The Cavaliers kept the Dukes in the game by missing eight of 13 free throws over the last six minutes.

Molson made an acrobatic layup while being fouled with 1:51 left, but he missed the free throw. He scored again with 1:01 left, pulling the Dukes within 52-50, but freshman Ryan Dunn answered with a strong move on the baseline for Virginia with 35 seconds to play.

James Madison threw the ball away on its ensuing possession.

BIG PICTURE

James Madison: The Dukes came into the game leading the nation in scoring (93.3 points per game) and having scored as many as 95 points five times. They were shooting 52.7% for the year, but made just four of their first 19 shots and finished 15 of 55 (26.9%). Vado Morse scored 11 points, the only other JMU player in double figures.

“Yeah, we knew how good they were and they showed it in spots tonight,” Gardner said. “But I think you saw a lot of resiliency tonight on the defensive end getting crucial stops.”

Virginia: The Cavaliers played the final 36 minutes without Beekman and gave extensive minutes to freshman Isaac McKneely. Virginia will hope Beekman, its third-leading scorer and a primary ballhandler and defender, recovers in time for its showdown with No. 1 Houston on Dec. 17.

UP NEXT

The Dukes return home to play Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Virginia has a 10-day break before hosting the top-ranked Cougars.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.