Pregame Shootaround: The best Saturday of college basketball to date

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 8 Utah at No. 10 Arizona, 7:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s weekend preview:

The title of Pac-12 favorite will be on the line on Saturday evening in Tucson as the upstart Utes make their trip to the McKale Center to take on Arizona. Utah has been one of the most pleasantly surprising teams in the country this season, having steamrolled through the first three games in league play after putting together an impressive showing in the non-conference. And Arizona? They’re coming off of a loss at Oregon State on Sunday, putting a seed of doubt in the minds of people trying to figure out just how the power structure of the Pac-12 shakes out.

Everything about this matchup is tantalizing, from watching all-american candidate Delon Wright square off with the more highly-touted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson to the battle between the two big, physical front lines. Winning in Arizona is not an easy thing to do, which is why it will be quite a statement by the Utes if they’re able to pull it off.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 4 Duke at No. 6 Louisville, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

Also from Rob’s preview:

Duke is reeling right now. The Blue Devils are coming off of back-to-back poor performances on the defensive end in losses to N.C. State and Miami, and the way that Louisville plays — pick-and-roll heavy offensive schemes — matches up perfectly with the weaknesses in the Blue Devil defense. That said, Duke still has nine McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster and one of the best coaches in the history of the game, not to mention Jahlil Okafor, which means that a third straight Duke loss here is anything but a given.

UPSET WATCH: Miami at No. 12 Notre Dame, 2:00 p.m.

Miami is coming off of an upset win at Duke on Tuesday night. Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday, but they barely hung on while playing undermanned and undersized. Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson vs. Angel Rodriguez and Manu Lecomte will be fun. UPDATE (12:45 p.m.) Zach Auguste has been ruled eligible and will play in this game, which should give the Irish a major boost inside.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: No. 13 Wichita State at Evansville, 2:00 p.m.

The Shockers still appear to be the class of the Missouri Valley, but Evansville has already beaten Northern Iowa at home this season and has one of the nation’s best mid-major scorers in D.J. Balentine. If Balentine gets rolling, he can be tough to match and it’s always tough to win on the road in the Valley. This should be a good one.


  • The Big 12 is insane again on Saturday. Four great games are going on as No. 9 Kansas is at No. 11 Iowa State (9 p.m.), No. 16 West Virginia treks to No. 20 Texas (6:15 p.m.) and No. 24 Oklahoma State travels to No. 18 Oklahoma (7 p.m.). No. 22 Baylor also plays at a rejuvenated Kansas State team.
  • The last time Michigan State and No. 14 Maryland played, they went to double overtime to open Big Ten play. Let’s see if the rematch is a little bit cleaner on the offensive end.
  • The two unbeatens each have conference road games on Saturday. We’ve seen No. 1 Kentucky have some issues in SEC play. How will the Wildcats fare on the road at Alabama? No. 2 Virginia travels to Boston College in a game in which they are favored by double digits.
  • How does No. 25 Wyoming look on the road against a tough Fresno State team? The Bulldogs are tied with the Cowboys atop the Mountain West with identical 4-1 records. Wyoming is looking to avoid going 0-10 all time at Fresno State.
  • NBCSN will have three Atlantic 10 showdowns on Saturday. All three games feature teams fighting for wins to look good for the NCAA Tournament:
    • Saint Louis at Dayton, 12:30 p.m.
    • Rhode Island at UMass, 2:30 p.m.
    • George Mason at George Washington, 4:30 p.m.


  • No. 3 Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount, 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 5 Villanova at Penn, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 17 VCU at Duquesne 2:00 p.m.
  • Ole Miss at No. 19 Arkansas, 9:30 p.m.


  • Tulsa at South Florida, 11:00 a.m.
  • Marquette at Xavier, 12:00 p.m.
  • Rutgers at Minnesota, 12:00 p.m.
  • Texas A&M at LSU, 12:00 p.m.
  • Tulane at Houston, 12:00 p.m.
  • Purdue at Penn State, 1:00 p.m.
  • N.C. State at Florida State, 1:30 p.m.
  • UCF at Memphis, 2:00 p.m.
  • Ohio State at Iowa, 2:00 p.m.
  • Florida at Georgia, 2:00 p.m.
  • TCU at Texas Tech, 4:00 p.m.
  • East Carolina at SMU, 4:00 p.m.
  • Georgia Tech at Pitt, 4:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at Clemson, 4:00 p.m.
  • Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, 4:00 p.m.
  • Colorado at Arizona State, 4:30 p.m.
  • Butler at Georgetown, 5:00 p.m.
  • UNLV at San Diego State, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee at Missouri, 6:00 p.m.
  • Temple at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
  • Providence at Creighton, 7:30 p.m.
  • Northwestern at Michigan, 8:15 p.m.
  • South Carolina at Auburn, 8:30 p.m.
  • Connecticut at Stanford, 9:00 p.m.
  • Oregon State at Washington State, 9:00 p.m.
  • BYU at Saint Mary’s, 11:00 p.m.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.