Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Texas and North Carolina meet in the Dean Dome

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: Texas vs. No. 14 North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Tar Heels have been one of the more puzzling teams in college basketball this season, but in the last three games they’ve knocked off top-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing and topped No. 11 Kentucky. North Carolina is once again without the services of P.J. Hairston but Leslie McDonald has been cleared. UNC will look to add another quality win over a 9-1 Texas team.

The Longhorns are much better than most of us (self included) thought they’d be. We’ll see just how good Texas is in the next two games as they take on Michigan State on Saturday following Wednesday’s showdown.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? No. 22 UMass vs. Ohio, 7 p.m.

The MAC is a good conference, and Ohio figures to be a contender this season. The Bobcats are welcoming the undefeated Minutemen, less than a week before the holidays. Let’s see if Ohio can catch UMass on an off night in front of the home crowd.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Winthrop vs. North Carolina Central, 7 p.m.

The Eagles and the, uh, Eagles both enter the game with identical 6-2 records. Winthrop is one of the contenders in the Big South and North Carolina Central will look to take the MEAC from favorite Norfolk State.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) No. 3 Ohio State welcomes a high-scoring Delaware back court into Columbus on Wednesday night. The Buckeyes are looking to remain unbeaten while the Blue Hens are trying to avoid dropping three straight after losing to Notre Dame and North Dakota State.

2) Indiana State and Saint Louis should be another good game on Wednesday night. The Sycamores heads into a hostile environment, but remember, they already took down Notre Dame in South Bend earlier this season.

3) Stanford is looking to end an NCAA tournament drought in Johnny Dawkins’ sixth season. A win on the road against No. 10 UConn will look really good come March.

4) The Rebels have previously been upset at home this season by UC Santa Barbara. UNLV should be on alert again on Wednesday, Radford is a solid team with a talented perimeter attack led by Javonte Green and R.J. Price.

5) Tennessee and LSU, two teams looking be that third team in the SEC, are both in action. The Vols, looking to bounce back after a loss to Wichita State, host N.C. State while the Tigers take on Texas Tech.

REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • Northwestern State vs. No. 12 Baylor, 9:30 p.m.
  • Southern Utah vs. No. 24 San Diego State, 10 p.m.

NOTABLES:

  • Texas Southern vs. Temple, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Charleston vs. Old Dominion, 7 p.m.
  • N.C. State vs. Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Drexel vs. St. Joseph’s, 7 p.m.
  • Detroit vs. Akron, 7 p.m.
  • Southern Miss vs. Western Kentucky, 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • San Francisco vs. St. John’s, 8 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • Western Michigan vs. Drake, 8:05 p.m.
  • LSU vs. Texas Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Towson vs. Oregon State, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

1 Comment

Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

Allen Dean Steele /Allsport
1 Comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.