Hoops weekend preview: Final year of The Border War?

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(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.

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.