Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 7 Arizona at Arizona State (Sat. 2:30 p.m. FSN)
I know. My first instinct would be to laugh too, but at this point you should know that the Sun Devils have a squad out in Tempe this year. Jahii Carson, the nation’s most-underappreciated point guard, is the real deal. He’s as athletic as anyone in the country, he’s impossible to keep out of the lane and he can score off the bounce and find his teammates if they’re open.
But he’s far from the only option that Herb Sendek has offensively. Carrick Felix has been one of the most improved players in the Pac-12, averaging 15.2 points and 8.2 boards this season, providing a perfect compliment along Arizona State’s front line to shot-blocker Jordan Bachynski, he of the first ever triple-double in Sun Devil history.
As Jon Gasaway spelled out in his Tuesday Truths column this week, Arizona has been a long way from impressive this season. All their meaningful wins have been close games; they’re a team that thrives on the last-minute comeback, which is a dangerous way to play. Especially on the road. Especially against an in-state rival.
Who else is on upset alert?
- No. 25 Marquette at Cincinnati (Sat. 7:00 p.m. ESPNU): The Golden Eagles have won three games in Big East play this year: two went to overtime, one came when Greg Whittington missed the third of three free throws with 2.3 seconds left on the clock. Cincinnati has been on the losing end of a couple close games. Both teams have a loaded perimeter attack, but the difference is that Marquette has a scoring presence on the block in Davante Gardner. Regardless, if you like tough, physical basketball, this will be the game for you.
- No. 15 San Diego State at Wyoming (Sat. 7:30 p.m.): Wyoming may be playing without Luke Martinez for an extended period of time, but they still have Leonard Washington on the roster, and they are still going to be hosting the Aztecs in a game that they need to help boost their tournament resume. You see, with how tough the MWC is this year, if a team wants to make the NCAA tournament or compete for a good seed in the MWC tournament, they are going to have to win their home games; there aren’t many easy road trips in that league this year.
- Oklahoma at No. 16 Kansas State (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ESPN3): Oklahoma is slowly but surely starting to play like the team that many of us thought that had chance to sneak into the NCAA tournament this season. They also have a terrific defender in Buddy Hield to matchup with Rodney McGruder. Road trips aren’t easy, but expect Oklahoma to give K-State a fight.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Jordan Caroline has opted to pull his name out of the 2018 NBA Draft as he will return to Nevada for his senior season, he announced on Saturday.
The 6-foot-7 Caroline put together a strong season for the Wolf Pack as he averaged 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as Nevada made the Sweet 16 behind one of the most talented offenses in the country.
Caroline’s return is a huge boost for Nevada as they still await the NBA draft decisions of Caleb and Cody Martin.
Currently ranked No. 17 in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25 (without the Martin twins), the Wolf Pack will still have a ton of talent around Caroline next season. Five-star freshman center Jordan Brown recently committed to Nevada. The program also a number of talented transfers entering the mix, including Tre’Shawn Thomas, Nisre Zouzoua and Ehab Amin.
If the Martin twins return to school (and that is a big if) then Nevada could have a potentially elite offense next season. But even if the Martin twins go pro, Nevada should still be the favorite in the Mountain West and a threat to once again make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Miami received some positive news on Saturday afternoon as the school announced the return of forward Dewan Huell for his junior season.
After testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, the 6-foot-11 Huell will be back for the Hurricanes. Starting all 32 games for the program last season, Huell averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.
“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in the release. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season.”
A former McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Huell’s return gives the Hurricanes stability in the front court for next season as he’ll play with other returning players like Sam Waardenburg and Ebuka Izundu. With Miami losing both Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown early to the 2018 NBA Draft, Huell could be expected to provide more offensive production as a junior.
Kansas State and head coach Bruce Weber have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to a release from the school.
After leading the Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in March, Weber will be the head coach at Kansas State through the 2022-23 season, which gives him another five seasons to work with. Weber will be paid $2.5 million in 2018-19 and he’ll receive a $100,000 increase to his salary in each remaining contract year.
Weber had already signed a two-year extension in August 2017, but this move gives the veteran head coach more job security (and positive recruiting perception) for the next few seasons.
“We are very fortunate to have not only such an outstanding basketball coach but also a man in Coach Weber who conducts his program with integrity and class and is widely respected across the nation,” Kansas State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor said. “Certainly last season was one of the most memorable postseason runs in our program’s history, and we are excited for next season and the years ahead under Coach Weber’s leadership.”
With Kansas State returning most of its roster from last season, including the return of guard Barry Brown from the 2018 NBA Draft process, expectations are sky-high for Weber and the Wildcats this season. Currently ranked as the No. 8 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, Kansas State’s veteran club could give Kansas a serious run for a Big 12 regular season title this season.
Northwestern and incoming freshman point guard Jordan Lathon are parting ways. The 6-foot-4 Lathon was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Bryant McIntosh at lead guard for the Wildcats this season, but Northwestern has reportedly revoked his offer of admission and basketball scholarship.
It is unclear why Lathon was unable to be admitted into Northwestern, but the school’s VP for University Relations, Alan Cubbage, gave a statement to Inside NU’s Davis Rich and Caleb Friedman.
“Northwestern University has revoked its offers of admission and an athletic scholarship for Jordan Lathon, a recruit for the Northwestern men’s basketball team,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the student, the University will have no further public comment.”
Lathon later acknowledged the situation in a tweet explaining to fans that he will no longer be attending Northwestern.
While it is unclear why Lathon and Northwestern are parting ways, other high-major programs are already very interested in bringing in Lathon for next season. Oklahoma State immediately jumped in with a scholarship offer. There is also speculation that Lathon, a native of Grandview, Missouri, could also hear from the in-state Tigers as well.
It’ll be interesting to see where Lathon lands, and how this also affects Northwestern’s point guard situation. The loss of a four-year starter like McIntosh will be tough to fill, especially since Lathon was committed to Northwestern since last June. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins seek out a veteran point guard graduate transfer to try and get some immediate help.
Nebraska received some important news on Friday night as senior guard James Palmer Jr. will be back for next season.
The 6-foot-6 Palmer had tested the NBA draft waters, but he decided to return to the Cornhuskers. After putting up 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, Palmer is expected to be an All-Big Ten candidate once again this season. Palmer shot 44 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range last season.
After transferring in from Miami, Palmer became the Huskers’ go-to scorer last season in helping Nebraska to a 22-win season and NIT appearance.
With Palmer back, Nebraska will have some legitimate expectations for the upcoming season, especially if the team’s second-leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr., also returns from the NBA draft process.