The 68 things we can’t wait to see this season

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source: AP
Karl-Anthony Towns (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

1. Remember the Marshall Henderson vs. Auburn fans GIF in 2013? How about Jim Boeheim and his flailing jacket against Duke? I can’t wait for college basketball’s next great Internet meme. (Terrence Payne)

2. Please, please, please: more interviews and great anecdotes from new Ohio head coach Saul Phillips. (Scott Phillips)

3. Cody Doolin at UNLV. If he proves to be the answer many believe him to be, the Runnin’ Rebels can get back to the NCAA tournament. (Raphielle Johnson)

4. Every year, there’s a freshman that enters the season with the hype of being “the next great one”. This year, it’s Jahlil Okafor. Is he the all-american everyone expects him to be? (Rob Dauster)

5. Ryan Boatright’s leadership. He doesn’t need to be exactly what Shabazz or Kemba were, just do it in his own way. Will he successfully do so? (RJ)

6. More Dickie V concert reviews on Twitter. Maybe branch out into live-tweeting films? (SP)

7. Wichita State followed up a run to the Final Four by winning 35 straight games to start a season. So … what’s next? (RD)

8. The academic jokes the Cameron Crazies are coming up with for Feb. 18’s game against North Carolina. (TP)

9. I want TaShawn Thomas eligible at Oklahoma so we have another Final Four contender. (SP)

10. What will Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes do for an encore? Things will be a little different without the help of Alec Brown. (RJ)

MORE: X-Factors | Breakout Stars | Impact TransfersPreseason All-Americans

source:
Kevin Pangos (AP Photo)

11. How will Kaleb Joseph handle playing the Tyler Ennis role at Syracuse, being the only point guard on the roster as a freshman? Can he lead them to the NCAA tournament? (RD)

12. Can Gonzaga please stay healthy? I want to know if this team is truly talented enough to see Final Four weekend. (SP)

13. Can Utah reverse its fortunes in close games? And if so, are they Arizona’s strongest challenger in the Pac-12? (RJ)

14. The guard play in the ACC: Marcus Paige, Tyus Jones, Jerian Grant, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Angel Rodriguez, Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, Rasheed Suliamon, Olivier Hanlan. Should I keep going? (TP)

15. The return of the Stanford cowbell player. (SP)

16. Jerian Grant was having an all-american caliber season before he was suspended from the Notre Dame program last December. After sitting out the second semester, will he be the same player as a senior? (RD)

17. Here’s a rundown of Tim Miles on Twitter last season: The Nebraska coach played Ndamukong Suh one-on-one, had lunch with fans because they asked him and took a selfie after beating Ohio State. What’s next? (TP)

18. I’m interested in the national reaction to Cliff Alexander’s dunks. (SP)

19. The Aaron Thomas/Xavier Rathan-Mayes tandem at Florida State. (RJ)

20. VCU’s Havoc. Do I really need to explain why? (TP)

POSITION RANKINGS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wing Forwards | Big Men

21. Which mid-major stars become nationally known this season? High Point’s John Brown and UCSB’s Alan Williams seem like the most likely candidates. (RD)

22. Mike Davis reviving the career of Chris Thomas at Texas Southern. (SP)

23. Who replaces Grant Gibbs as the best college basketball player to follow on Twitter? (TP)

24. National acclaim for Ole Miss’ Jarvis Summers. He was a fixture on our “Chase for 180” list last year andpeople in the SEC knew how good he was, but was criminally underrated nationally. (RJ)

25. It would be nice to see this current North Carolina roster play well because the 2014-15 team has nothing to do with the latest academic scandal. And make some free throws. (SP)

26. We know who the top four in the ACC is this season. Who rises from that second tier to compete with them? Syracuse? Pitt? N.C. State? Florida State? (RD)

27. Chris Holtmann is the third Butler head coach in as many seasons. How does this affect the Bulldogs, who are still adjusting to the Big East? (TP)

28. How long can John Calipari keep brainwashing people — and his own team — into thinking the hockey-shift, platoon system is: A. His idea. B. The right idea? (SP)

29. Romelo Trimble running the show at Maryland. He’s the point guard they so desperately needed last season. (RJ)

source: AP
Caris LeVert (AP Photo)

30. D’angelo Russell is a talented, dynamic scorer and playmaker. How long will it take for him to become Ohio State’s go-to guy? (RD)

31. R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow, Kevin Ware and Georgia State giving some team a heart attack in the first game of the NCAA Tournament. (SP)

32. Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas thrived in John Beilein’s offense. Is Caris LeVert the next guy to be turned into an All American? (TP)

33. Whether or not Texas has something in common with Public Enemy … Don’t Believe The Hype. If they remain hungry, the Longhorns can get to Indy. (RJ)

34. Speaking of not believing the hype: I want to see how SMU deals with being the hunted, particularly now that Emmanual Mudiay is in China. Can Nic Moore make us forget about him? (RJ)

35. The SEC is wide-open and Arkansas has as much talent as they’re had since Mike Anderson took over. If they’re ever going to climb out of the muck in the middle of that league, this is the season to do it. (RD)

36. I want to see Pittsburgh’s (once again) soft non-conference schedule hurt them enough to make Jaime Dixon change his scheduling ways. (SP)

37. Memphis vs. Wichita State on Tuesday, Nov. 18 in … uh … South Dakota. (TP)

38. LSU’s front court. Johnny O’Bryant III was a notable loss, but I think these pieces — Elbert Robertson, Jordan Mickey, Jarrell Martin — may fit together better than last season’s did. (RJ)

39. Despite the loss of Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, this should be the year Sean Miller finally reaches the Final Four. (TP)

40. Bruce Pearl’s impact at Auburn. Not expecting much this season from a wins standpoint, but the early excitement is definitely there. (RJ)

41. Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin are studs. But Michigan’s season rides on the shoulders of Mark Donnal. Can he make the Wolverines a Big Ten contender? (RD)

42. The continued local hype surrounding Nebrasketball. (SP)

43. Louisville’s impact on the ACC. The conference averaged the fewest possessions per game of any conference last season. One team can’t change that by itself, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals’ defense impacts their new conference foes. (RJ)

44. Is this the best team that Bo Ryan has ever had at Wisconsin? (RD)

45. To some Rhode Island is considered to be “one year away” from contending in the Atlantic 10. Maybe so, but the Rams are still going to be a scary team. (TP)

46. Is Bryce Dejean-Jones the next transfer that Fred Hoiberg works his magic on? (RD)

47. Can someone threaten Wichita State in the Missouri Valley? I lean Northern Iowa right now, but that race needs to be competitive no matter who the Shockers’ biggest threat is. (RJ)

48. Will Iowa figure out how to get stops this season, or will they continue to play matador defense? (RD)

source:
Kasey Hill (AP Photo)

49. The relaunch of the Big East is in Year 2. Is there a new rivalry on the horizon? (TP)

50. I want the SEC’s bottom half to be watchable. (SP)

51. Stephen F. Austin in year two under Brad Underwood. Not expecting a 29-game win streak, but they’ll once again be a major factor in the Southland. (RJ)

52. Kasey Hill and Chris Walker are both top ten recruits that played nothing like top ten recruits as freshmen. I can’t wait to see if they make the jump as sophomores. (RD)

53. It’s a really exciting time to be at Louisiana Tech. Michael White’s Bulldogs are the favorites to win Conference USA, which would be the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991. On the women’s side, Pat Summitt’s son, Tyler, is in his first season as a head coach … at 24! (TP)

54. The “unfinished business” trend. So many programs whose seasons ended in disappointment are using it, so who will win out in the end? (RJ)

55. Arizona is the favorite in the Pac-12, and that’s indisputable. The race for the second spot in the league standings will be a fun one to follow. (RD)

56. A close finish to the regular season in the Ivy League. Harvard needs some serious competition from multiple contenders. (SP)

57. Branden Dawson’s senior season is his chance to prove how special he is as a player. (RD)

58. The always exciting Florida Gulf Coast has a highly-entertaining non-conference schedule. Dunk City takes on UC Santa Barbara and Alan Williams. They have a potential matchup against Green Bay and what is sure to be a high-scoring affair against UMass. (TP)

59. The Mountain West race. Seven teams have a chance at winning the regular season title, even with San Diego State being seen by many as the preseason favorites. (RJ)

60. The Peppas. (RD)

61. With Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers back in Cambridge, can Harvard fend off Yale and pull off another NCAA tournament upset? Better yet, would it even be considered an upset at this point? (TP)

62. Shaquille Johnson highlight-reel dunks. (SP)

63. Juwan Staten went from being “just a guy” to becoming an all-american during his junior season. Who makes that jump this year? (RD)

64. Whether or not Villanova can win a second consecutive Big East title. They’ve got the pieces to do it, and stick around longer in the NCAA tournament. (RJ)

65. The Battle 4 Atlantis and its LOADED field. (TP)

66. Was the end of Dwayne Polee’s 2013-2014 season a sign of things to come? (RD)

67. Jimmy Patsos at Siena. The Saints will be right in the mix with Iona and Manhattan in the MAAC, and the conference tournament is back in Albany. (RJ)

68. Friday, November 14th. (RD)

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.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Green Bay fires Will Ryan after 11th straight loss

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay fired Will Ryan three days after the Phoenix suffered their 11th consecutive loss.

Ryan, the son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, posted a 15-61 record in 2 1/2 seasons. Freddie Owens, who had been an assistant coach on Ryan’s staff, will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“UW-Green Bay is committed to continuing its legacy as an outstanding Division I athletics program in the future, and Phoenix men’s basketball needs to help lead the way as we work to elevate all of our programs and be a shining light for this region and beyond,” athletic director Josh Moon said in a news release announcing the move.

Moon thanked Ryan and his family for their contributions to the program and said that “we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Stadium first reported Ryan’s firing.

Green Bay dropped to 2-19 overall and 1-9 in the Horizon League with a 72-38 home loss to Robert Morris.

Ryan was hired by Green Bay after going 14-13 in his lone season as the head coach at Division II program Wheeling (West Virginia). Green Bay went 8-17 in Ryan’s debut season and finished 5-25 last year.

Ryan had taken over for Linc Darner, who went 92-80 and posted a winning record in four of his five seasons.