Pregame Shootaround: The Round of 64 kicks off with four must-see games

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THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET)

12:15 p.m.: No. 6 Ohio State vs No. 11 Dayton (CBS)
12:30 p.m.: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 American (Tru TV)
1:30 p.m.: No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh (TBS)
2:00 p.m.: No. 5 Cincinnati vs. No. 12 Harvard (TNT)
———-
2:30 p.m.: No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Western Michigan (CBS)
3:00 p.m.: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 BYU (Tru TV)
4:00 p.m.: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 16 Albany (TBS)
4:30 p.m.: No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Delaware (TNT)
———-
6:45 p.m.: No. 7 UConn vs. No. 10 St. Joseph’s (TBS)
7:00 p.m.: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Wofford (CBS)
7:15 p.m.: No. 5 St. Louis vs. No. 12 NC State (TNT)
7:25 p.m.: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State (Tru-TV)
———-
9:15 p.m.: No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Milwaukee (TBS)
9:30 p.m.: No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Arizona State (CBS)
9:45 p.m.: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Manhattan (TNT)
9:55 p.m.: No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 13 New Mexico State (Tru-TV)

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 BYU

The Ducks and the Cougars are both talented teams offensively. They both like to get up and down the floor. Neither team is all that interested in playing defense, however, which should make for another thriller. Oregon knocked off BYU in Eugene during the regular season in an overtime game that featured 196 total points. Oregon got the win that day, and BYU will be without Kyle Collinsworth — their second-best player — due to a knee injury.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State

North Dakota State was one of a handful of mid-majors that I circled back in February as teams that had a chance to win a game or two in the NCAA tournament. They’re good. Ask Notre Dame. The Irish lost to NDSU at home. The problem? They just don’t matchup all that well with Oklahoma. That said, it should be one of the better games of the day. Taylor Braun vs. Buddy Hield will be fun.

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WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 3 Syracuse

I might be taking a risk here, but at this point in the season I don’t think I trust Syracuse. If Trevor Cooney’s confidence isn’t completely shot, he sure is playing like it. And while it looks like Jerami Grant is just about back to full health, the Orange have been downright bad offensively for a month. Western Michigan is a good team. They notched five top 100 wins this season and won the MAC regular season and tournament titles.

WHO ELSE IS GETTING UPSET?: No. 5 Cincinnati

If you are as physical and as athletic as Cincinnati is, you can beat them if you slow down Sean Kilpatrick. No. 12 Harvard is as as athletic as the Bearcats, and while they may not be as physical — frankly, no one is — they are not going to be pushed around. Tommy Amaker has a roster full of top 100 recruits led by a stud point guard in Siyani Chambers.

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FOUR KEY INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPS

  • Shabazz Napier vs. Langston Galloway: No. 7 UConn is led by Napier, a future NBA point guard, but Galloway, who is the leading scorer for No. 10 St. Joseph’s has spent his entire career under the radar.
  • St. Louis vs. T.J. Warren: The key to beating No. 12 N.C. State is not a secret: slow down Warren, the ACC Player of the Year. I’d expect Jordair Jett to see the majority of the minutes on Warren, but against a dude as talented as he is, it becomes a team effort.
  • Xavier Johnson vs. Lamar Patterson: Patterson is one of the most versatile players in the country and the primary option for No. 9 Pitt. Johnson will likely draw the assignment for No. 8 Colorado.
  • Jonathan Holmes vs. Jonathan Gilling: Slowing down Jahii Carson is a key for No. 7 Texas to beat No. 10 Arizona State, but if they do, they need to find a way to capitalize on Holmes’ size and athleticism advantage over Gilling.

YOU CAN IGNORE THESE (UNLESS THEY’RE CLOSE LATE!):

  • No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 Americ
  • No. 1 Florida vs. No. 16 Albany
  • No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Wofford
  • No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Milwaukee

NOTABLES

  • No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Manhattan: Steve Masiello and Rick Pitino are very close friends. Masiello was a ballboy for the Knicks when Pitino was their coach. He was a walk-on for Pitino’s Kentucky teams. He was an assistant for Pitino at Louisville.
  • No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 13 New Mexico State: New Mexico State has the nation’s biggest player in Sim Bhullar. And he’s actually pretty good.
  • No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Delaware: Delaware has three guards (Davon Usher, Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt) that combine to average nearly 60 points.
  • No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Dayton: Take your pick: Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and Arizona head coach Sean Miller are really, and Dayton head coach Archie Miller is Sean’s younger brother. Matta doesn’t schedule Dayton. Dayton’s Jordan Sibert originally played at Ohio State before transferring.

NCAA makes Johnny Juzang eligible at UCLA for next season

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LOS ANGELES — Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang can play basketball for UCLA this winter.

The NCAA on Wednesday approved a transfer waiver of the year in residence requirement, which typically forces a transfer to sit out one season before becoming eligible. As a result, Juzang is eligible to play what will be his sophomore season in 2020-21.

“We’ve very excited that Johnny will be able to play for us next season,” coach Mick Cronin said. “Johnny is a talented player who can definitely make an impact for us.”

Juzang started two of 28 games for Kentucky as a freshman. He averaged 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds. At Los Angeles’ Harvard-Westlake as a junior, he averaged 23 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

Juzang joins fellow guard Jaylen Clark from Rancho Cucamonga, California, in next season’s recruiting class. Clark averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a high school senior, leading Etiwanda to a 30-4 record and a berth in the CIF-SS Open Division regional final.

The Bruins recently lost out on guard Daishen Nix from Las Vegas. He had signed a national letter of intent with UCLA in November, but decommitted in April to sign with the G League. He was Cronin’s first signing since being named the Bruins’ coach a year ago.

Bobby Hurley accused Arizona State AD in booster scandal

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley sent an email to Ray Anderson about a booster scandal last season alleging the Arizona State athletic director minimized sexual harassment allegations by the wives of three athletic staff members in response to allegations made against Bart Wear.

In the email obtained by Yahoo Sports, Hurley accused Anderson on Dec. 8 of disregarding the safety of and showing no sensitivity toward the women.

“I feel like I’ve been lied to,” Bobby Hurley wrote in regards to the booster scandal.

Hurley also accused Anderson of coming up with a numeric scale to judge the harassment claims by the women, including Hurley’s wife, Leslie.

“You have chosen to create your own numeric scale on what sexual assault mean(s) which is disturbing,” Hurley wrote.

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Anderson responded by telling Hurley his email includes false and baseless allegations.

“Your approach here is puzzling,” Anderson wrote.

In a statement released by the program on Wednesday night, Hurley said, “my relationship with Athletic Director Ray Anderson today is strong. We will work together, alongside my outstanding coaching staff, toward the continued success of Sun Devil Men’s Basketball.”

Arizona State previously had an outside investigation conducted into the school’s booster scandal that determined booster Bart Wear subjected the three women to unwelcome comments and physical contact. In February, the school acknowledged to Yahoo that the situation could have been handled more quickly after waiting months to investigate.

The school canceled Wear’s season tickets and warned him security may remove him from the premises if he attends any future Arizona State events.

Houston’s White out for year after injuring knee in workout

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston forward Fabian White Jr. will have knee surgery this week and miss this season after injuring himself in a workout.

White was working out on his own this week when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees, an injury a spokesman for the school said was confirmed by an MRI on Tuesday.

White was one of two players on the team to start all 31 games last season, and he averaged 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds.

White will redshirt this season and have one year of eligibility remaining to play in the 2021-22 season.

“I feel badly for Fabian,” coach Kelvin Sampson said. “He had worked really hard to have a great senior season. Our thoughts are with him and his family, and we will do all we can to help him recover and have a great senior season in 2021-22.”

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Georgetown transfer Mac McClung commits to Texas Tech

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Texas Tech landed a commitment from Mac McClung on Wednesday.

McClung is a transfer from Georgetown where he averaged 15.7 points and 2.4 assists in 21 games during an injury-plagued sophomore season. He was considered one of the best available transfers on the market.

“It was a number of events that made me feel I had no choice but to transfer from Georgetown,” McClung said when he opted to leave Georgetown. “I really wanted to stay, but things throughout my career made me realize that I couldn’t. I’m looking for a place I can call home. A place I can be part of a family and help them succeed.”

That statement is important. McClung is going to be applying for a waiver to get eligible immediately, and nowhere in there is a reference to actual basketball when it comes to McClung’s decision to leave the Hoya program. The last year has been a dramatic one for Georgetown. In November, two players – James Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc – left the program hours before NBC broke the news that LeBlanc and teammates Galen Alexander and Myron Gardner had restraining orders filed against them by a pair of female Georgetown students. McClung spent the season in and out of the lineup with a foot injury that was sustained in practice in February.

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The goal for Texas Tech is to use McClung — in 2020-21, not 2021-22 — in large part to replace what they lost when Italian native Davide Moretti made the decision to sign with an agent and turn pro in Europe.

And despite what some critics will tell you, it makes sense.

On both sides.

McClung can get a bucket. That’s what he does better than anything else. He broke Allen Iverson’s Virginia state scoring record. He can go, and Texas Tech badly needs players that can go out and get a bucket.

His issue is on the defensive end of the floor. He barely tried to play defense for the Hoyas, and outside of Virginia, there is not place in the world where playing passive defense is more unacceptable than at Texas Tech.

Put another way, if McClung wants to be anything more than a YouTube channel, he needs to learn to guard. At Texas Tech, he won’t play unless he does. And Texas Tech needs someone that can get them buckets.

How can any place be a better fit than that?

‘Voluntary’ workouts are normal for college athletes

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Last week, the NCAA announced that basketball and football players would be able to return to campus on June 1st, pending conference and state approval, to participate in voluntary offseason workouts with teammates.

It’s spawned a conversation about the return to normalcy and how college sports can make their COVID comeback. Our Corey Robinson made the point on All Things on Friday that the voluntary workouts that he participated in while a member of the Notre Dame football team were “mandatory optional,” meaning that they were voluntary in name only. The players were expected to be there and participate, even if it cut into their summer vacation.

How this plays out in the coronavirus era is an entirely different conversation, one with too many caveats to for people that are suffering from quarantine brain. For example, while the NCAA is pulling back on their restrictions, the schools and their athletes are still subject to conference rules — the SEC will be opening things up on June 1st, while the Pac-12 is waiting until June 15th — and state laws. Ohio has re-opened, while New Jersey is still very much limiting what can and cannot open. A return will be different for Ohio State and Rutgers, who are both part of the Big Ten.

And that’s only part of the complications involved.

New York City is the epicenter of the outbreak in a country that has been hit the hardest by this virus. Will coaches want to bring players that live in the city during the offseason back onto campus and risk infection? Will players that live with at-risk relatives be forced to return home?

The other side of it, however, is that as states open up, as local gyms open up, these athletes are going to want to get back to their routine. They are going to want to get back into shape. If you think that you have taken lockdown hard, imagine being a finely-tuned athlete that is told to stay out of the gym and off the basketball courts for two months. Those guys are going to jump at the chance to start playing again, and if the option is to workout at the local Lifetime Fitness or have them back onto campus, where access to weight rooms is monitored and sanitizing can be done more often, the answer is clear.

Allowing athletes to workout on campus during the summer may actually be the safer option.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: Moving towards a return to sports is a good thing for our country. We need signs that we can get back to a regular life at some point. We need hope. We need something to look forward to, and for many, that is watching — or playing — college athletics. There are so many unknowns that a slow, cautious return might be what works.

That said, the number of questions that are still left unanswered is mystifying.

For starters, who is going to play to test all of these college football and college basketball players? Who is going to pay to test all the people they come into contact with on a daily basis? All the professional sports teams that have returned or are preparing to return have rigorous testing procedures in place. College sports doesn’t. Those pro athletes will be kept in a bubble. They are going to be quarantined. College athletes will be on campus. All it takes is for one member of a football or basketball team to decide that it’s OK to hit a party where someone is asymptomatic to mess everything up.

And what happens when they do? Will that player go into quarantine? Will everyone that he or she has been practicing against go into quarantine? Will the teams they played in recent days go into quarantine? Will they be allowed to play road games if someone in the program tests positive? Will other campuses want to risk an outbreak just so they can get the ticket revenue from a 1/3-full stadium?

What about the coaches that are 70-plus years old?

Hell, what about all of the college basketball players from overseas? Are we ever going to see them in a college hoops uniform again?

Here’s the biggest question, however: College campuses have started to announce their new schedules for classes, and many of them are starting early and ending early, right around Thanksgiving, due to concerns about a second wave coming this winter. November is when college basketball season is supposed to start. Are we going to play a full season in the throes of a second wave?

The question of whether or not these workouts are actually voluntary is hardly the question I would be asking if I’m a college sports fan right now.