Breaking down this year’s awesome College Gameday schedule

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ESPN released their schedule for College Gameday during the 2013-2014 season, and man, do we have some good matchups to look forward to.

It kicks off with a double-header, a trip to the Palestra in the morning to see Temple take on La Salle which is followed by a trip up I-95 to Storrs, where the crew will take in the defending champs Louisville making their final visit to UConn as a league foe.

That’s a helluva way to kick off the year, and it only gets better from there.

Here is the full schedule:

  • Jan. 18: Temple vs. La Salle (The Palestra) and Louisville at UConn
  • Jan. 25: Michigan at Michigan State
  • Feb. 1: Duke at Syracuse
  • Feb. 8: Gonzaga at Memphis
  • Feb. 15: Florida at Kentucky
  • Feb. 22: Either Arizona at Colorado OR UCLA at Stanford
  • March 1: Kansas at Oklahoma State
  • March 8: North Carolina at Duke

Where do we begin?

Michigan and Michigan State has always been a heated rivalry, but with the Wolverines’ resurgence under John Beilein the past couple of years, it has finally returned to relevancy on a national stage. It should be fun to see the two best teams in the Big Ten squaring off on the sport’s biggest stage.

Duke’s visit to Syracuse was already going to be special, as the Orange are considering moving the court into the middle of the Carrier Dome. It will be a logistical nightmare, but with the College Gameday crew in town, I would expect the school to make the change. That will only add to the intrigue of the Blue Devils’ first visit to Upstate New York as an ACC rival. Oh, don’t be surprised to see these two battling it out for the ACC title by the end of the year. That will become a trend.

Memphis has the talent to be a top ten team this season and always has a raucous home court, while Gonzaga is, well, Gonzaga. This should be a good, late-season test for the Zags, who failed to make the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed last season.

Florida’s visit to Rupp is always destined to be a thriller. Kentucky is bringing in one of the most talented recruiting classes of all-time, but Florida has enough front court talent to matchup with the Wildcats. The Gators are good enough to challenge the Wildcats for an SEC title.

The Pac-12’s Gameday game will either be Arizona visiting Colorado or UCLA’s trip to Palo Alto to take on Stanford. Personally, I’m hoping for the former, as Arizona is a top ten team while Colorado may actually be the second best team in the league.

As good as the Gameday schedule will be up to this point, I think Kansas visiting Stillwater may actually be the game that I’m the most excited for. Everyone knows that when Oklahoma State is good, Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the best home courts in the country, and thanks to Marcus Smart’s decision to return to school, the Pokes are a borderline top ten team. But with Andrew Wiggins committing to Kansas, the Jayhawks instantly became a national title contender and, as usual, the favorite to win the Big 12. There are a bazillion different storylines heading into this game. I’m pumped already.

The Gameday finale will pit Duke and North Carolina at Cameron. If PJ Hairston is allowed to play this season — and, at this point, I don’t see him getting blackballed by the NCAA — than this game could end up determining the ACC regular season title. Duke is probably the favorite to win the league, but Syracuse and UNC (with Hairston) aren’t all that far behind.

Here’s the bad news: the season doesn’t start for another three months, and it will be two more months before any of these games take place.

I sure could use a time machine right about now.

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline pulls out of 2018 NBA Draft

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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.

Dewan Huell returning to Miami for junior season

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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.

Bruce Weber receives contract extension at Kansas State

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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 loses incoming freshman point guard

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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’s James Palmer Jr. returning to school

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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.