Hoops weekend preview: Final year of The Border War?


(All times ET)

Game of the Weekend: Sat. 9 pm: No. 8 Kansas @ No. 4 Missouri

Let’s put this game in a vacuum. Let’s pretend that Missouri hasn’t turned into a top five team and that Kansas has struggled this season with their two-man attack. This game would still be must-see TV. Why? Because this could be the last time that these two teams meet in Mizzou Arena for a long time. The Border War is one of the most heated rivalries in the country, but with Missouri’s decision to head to the SEC next season, what little friendliness existed between the two schools is all but gone. The environment at this game is guaranteed to be absolutely electric, a fact that is only going to be magnified by Gameday’s appearance in Columbia.

But this game doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The fact of the matter is that these are two of the best teams in the country, with both having legitimate Final Four aspirations. That is sure to make things even more intense.

The intrigue is this game is heightened by the differing styles between the two teams. Simply put, Kansas is going to have a mismatch inside on every single possession. Its no secret that Missouri runs a four-guard lineup, using 6’6″ shooter Kim English at the power forward spot. No matter who he ends up guarding — National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson or seven-foot center Jeff Withey — Missouri is going to hav issues matching up with the Jayhawks inside.

But the flip side of that is Missouri will have a mismatch of their own. Will Bill Self risk tiring out his star by having him chase English around the perimeter? Will he risk putting a less-mobile Withey on English? Will Self be forced to go small? Will Haith be forced to go big?

My pick: I’m taking Missouri. I think that the Tiger’s ball pressure defensively is going to force Tyshawn Taylor into too many turnovers and that Marcus Denmon is finally going to break out of this shooting slump.

Five more to keep an eye on:

Sat. 11 am: South Florida @ No. 14 Georgetown: It feels weird saying this, but this game could actually end up being quite important in the Big East standings. The way things are today, Georgetown is sitting all alone in third place, a half game up on South Florida, who is tied with Notre Dame one game behind the Hoyas in the win column. The Hoyas got Hollis Thompson going on Wednesday night against UConn, but save for a four minute stretch in the second half, Henry Sims had another tough game. He needs to get things turned around for the stretch run.

Sat. 1:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ No. 11 Florida: The way it looks like right, these are the two teams that are fighting for the right to be considered Kentucky’s biggest challenger in the SEC. Florida is coming off of a less-than-inspiring Thursday night win over South Carolina where Patric Young, who looked like he was getting over a nagging ankle injury the past week, was a limited factor. Florida is going to need Young to battle with Festus Ezeli inside. The perimeter battle between these two teams should be quite entertaining. Will Kenny Boynton go back to shooting like John Jenkins — which he did in non-conference play — or Kenny Boynton — which he’s done for the entirety of the rest of his career.

Sat. 1 pm: No. 18 Virginia @ No. 24 Florida State: Raise your hand if you like high-scoring basketball. If your hand is currently raised, then grab the remote and find out what channel this game is on. Now set your TV to make sure that channel is blocked for this two-hour time-block, because if Leonard Hamilton and Tony Bennett have their way, this game will look like the slop-fest that was Michigan State and Illinois. While this may not be a pretty game on the eyes, it is quite important in the ACC race. Florida State is tied with Duke and UNC at the top of the ACC while the Cavs are sitting one game behind those three.

Sat. 1 pm: Xavier @ Memphis: I don’t think that its a stretch to say that these are the two best non-BCS programs in the country, but neither of them are having the kind of season that they had hoped. Memphis looks like they have started to turn things around, but they are still sitting a game out of first place in the CUSA race. Xavier, on the other hand, appears to be a completely different team than they were at the start of the season. This isn’t a league game, but the bubble implications are huge.

Sat. 2 pm: No. 3 Ohio State @ No. 20 Wisconsin: You guys remember what happened the last time these two teams got together in the Kohl Center? This did. That game was a similar situation as well: Ohio State was the favorite in the Big Ten and Wisconsin was trying to prove to the nation they deserve to be in the conversation. The Badgers are going to have a very difficult time dealing with Jared Sullinger and they definitely aren’t the same team without the consistency that came with Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil. That said, despite early season struggles, Wisconsin is a tough team to beat at home, especially if their back court is shooting well.

Sun. 1 pm: No. 10 Michigan State @ No. 22 Michigan: Will he or won’t he? Draymond Green, that is. He left the Spartan’s Tuesday night game against Illinois with a knee injury, one bad enough that he couldn’t put any weight on it the rest of the game. Will he be available just five days after that? Without him, Michigan State not only loses their leader, but a facilitator in their offense and one of their best offensive rebounders.

Who’s getting upset?: Sat. 1:45 pm: No. 6 Baylor @ Oklahoma State

Yeah, I know. This seems kind of silly. The last time these two got together, Baylor won. By a lot. 106-65 to be exact. And given that Oklahoma State has lost four of their last six — which includes a 15 point loss to a Texas A&M team that was missing 60% of their starting lineup — its not exactly like they are an underdog making a late-season surge. One of those two wins came against Texas Tech, who hasn’t won a game in league play yet. The other? Against Missouri at home. This game against Baylor? Its at home.

The issue with Oklahoma State is that they don’t always come to play. Its not like they don’t have the talent, because they do. Its an issue of effort. When they play up to their potential — which is a much easier thing to do when a rocking Gallagher-Iba Arena is backing them — they can win games. I think they’ll show up to play.

Who is on upset watch?:

Sat. 1:00 pm: No. 15 Marquette @ Notre Dame: Notre Dame has gone back to the Burn Offense, and its worked of late. The Irish are coming off of wins over Syracuse, Seton Hall and UConn because of it. What makes it so effective is that the Irish have two very talented playmakers in their back court in Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, a quality big man in Jack Cooley and a number of solid role players. But more importantly, they have a roster full of kids that have bought into this system and are willing to sacrifice stats for wins. Marquette is sitting a game above the Irish in the loss column. A win here and Notre Dame will climb into fourth place in the Big East.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 13 UNLV @ Wyoming: Wyoming is a much improved team this season, riding USC transfer Leonard Washington to a 17-5 record. They’ve struggled of late however, losing two of their last three games to fall to 3-3 in the MWC. We all know how tough it is to win games on the road in league play. I’ve been to Laramie, WY. Its not exactly … happening.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 6 UNC @ Maryland: When Maryland is right, the Comcast Center is one of the toughest places in the country to play. The problem is that its been a while since the Terps have been right, but that doesn’t mean the place doesn’t fill up when the right opponent comes to town. UNC is the right opponent. Maryland is going to need a bit of luck for that to happen — Terrell Stoglin will have to shoot the ball well and Maryland’s front line is going to have to play their best game of the season.

Sat. 5:00 pm: No. 12 Creighton @ Northern Iowa: The Panthers came into MVC play with fairly high expectations, including an outside chance at an at-large bid. Unfortunately, their success was short-lived; UNI has lost seven of their first 12 league games. That said, the Panthers have a bit of a chip on their shoulder in this one. Creighton’s player of the year candidate? Doug McDermott? He was supposed to be a Panther.

Sat. 7:00 pm: No. 20 Indiana @ Purdue: Would this even count as an upset? Purdue is 5-4 in Big Ten play. Indiana is 5-6. Purdue is great at home. Indiana stinks on the road. But Indiana is ranked, Purdue isn’t and this is an intense rivalry. That makes it count as an upset, right? No?

Mid-major matchup of the Weekend: Sat. 5:00 pm: Old Dominion @ George Mason

On Wednesday night, George Mason lost at Delaware. On Thursday night, Old Dominion knocked off James Madison. That means that there is now a four-way tie for first place in the CAA.

Five more to keep an eye on:

Fri. 7:00 pm: Belmont @ Lipscomb: Round two of the Battle of the Boulevard.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Iona @ Manhattan: The MAAC has been as competitive as any mid-major league in the country this season. Guess who the top two teams in the league are?

Sat. 8:30 pm: Oral Roberts @ North Dakota State: On Thursday night, Oral Roberts went into South Dakota State and lost, putting them just a game up on the Jackrabbits in the Summit League standings. NDSU is currently sitting in third place in the league.

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

Charlotte head coach Ron Sanchez resigns after winning CBI title

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Sanchez resigned as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers.

Sanchez took over the 49ers on March 19, 2018, inheriting a team coming off a 6-23 campaign. In five years Charlotte went 72-78 under Sanchez, highlighted by winning the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season, the Niners’ first post-season tournament title in school history.

The 22 wins this past season are the most for Charlotte since 2001.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner. He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men,” Charlotte director of athletics Mike Hill said. “His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”

Hill said the team has already begun a national search for a replacement.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Sanchez, who came the 49ers after working as an assistant coach at Virginia under Tony Bennett. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the university.”

Marquette extends Shaka Smart’s contract through 2029-30 season

marquette smart
1 Comment

MILWAUKEE — Marquette coach Shaka Smart has received a contract extension after leading the Golden Eagles to their first outright regular-season championship and tournament title in the Big East.

Smart’s contract now runs through the 2029-30 season. This is the first extension Smart has received since signing a six-year deal when he took over as Marquette’s coach in 2021.

Marquette didn’t release financial terms of Smart’s deal.

“In a very short period of time, Shaka and his staff have done a tremendous job of establishing a winning culture, both on and off the court,” athletic director Bill Scholl said in a statement. “Shaka’s vision for the program is focused on extended, sustainable success. The individuals who interact with the team on a daily basis are able to observe frequent examples of growth and the excitement around the program is contagious.”

Marquette has gone 48-20 in Smart’s two seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

The Golden Eagles went 29-7 and won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season after the league’s coaches had picked them to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

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

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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.