Weekend Preview: Two top ten matchups in the ACC will be must-see TV

source: AP
Jerian Grant and Quinn Cook (AP Photo)

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 4 Duke, Sat. 1:00 p.m.

These two teams squared off last month in South Bend, and it produced one of the most entertaining games of the entire season. Duke looked to be pulling away in the second half, but Jerian Grant sparked a comeback from 10 points down in the final eight minutes, notching the go-ahead bucket and the game-clinching assist in the final minute. Since that game, however, Notre Dame has lost to Pitt while Duke has gone into Virginia and knocked off the Cavaliers.

As it was the first time around, the key here is going to be how Duke tries to slow down Grant. The Irish are a nightmare to try and zone because of how many lethal shooters they have and how willing they are to make the extra pass. But the Irish love to put Grant in ball-screen actions — where he is as good as anyone in the country and playing All-American caliber basketball — and Duke’s Achilles’ heel on the defense end of the floor is pick-and-roll defense.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 9 Louisville at No. 3 Virginia, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

This matchup might be even more intriguing that the Notre Dame-Duke game. Let me explain: Virginia runs the Pack-Line defense, which, essentially, is a man-to-man with aggressive on-ball defense and a ton of help side. (You can read an in-depth breakdown of what the Cavaliers do here.) The goal? Force ball-handlers to dribble into the help and dare teams to shoot threes over the top of the defense. Louisville has a pair of good penetrators in Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. What they lack is a bevy of catch-and-shoot threats.

In simpler terms, Louisville’s strengths offensively play right into the hands of what Virginia does best defensively. That’s usually not a good thing.


  • No. 24 Georgetown at No. 7 Villanova, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Georgetown pounded Villanova in the first meeting between these two teams in D.C., but the Hoyas are coming off of a really tough loss to Providence at home. Georgetown is essentially out of the Big East title race with a loss.
  • No. 23 SMU at Tulsa, 8:00 p.m.: Show of hands: Who had Tulsa and SMU as the two teams in the running for the AAC title? I didn’t. After the Mustangs lost on Thursday, the Golden Hurricane can take a three-game lead in the league with a win.
  • No. 19 Baylor at No. 15 West Virginia, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Just another day in the Big 12.
  • No. 1 Kentucky at Florida, Sat. 9:00 p.m.: Florida is down this season, but unexpected things happen in rivalry games. That said, it’s Gameday, and when Kentucky shows up fired up to play, they tend to embarrass people.
  • Providence at Xavier, Sat. 1:00 p.m.: Providence is tied for second place in the Big East after their win at Georgetown on Wednesday. Can they follow it up with another road win at Xavier?

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 17 Maryland at Iowa, Sun. 3:15 p.m.

The Hawkeyes have the ability to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Maryland has been somewhat inconsistent of late, and going on the road in league play is anything-but a certainty. Iowa has not been trustworthy over the course of the past two seasons, but they are coming off an impressive performance against Michigan on the road on Thursday night, which, theoretically, would be something positive to carry over into the weekend.


  • No. 8 Kansas at Oklahoma State, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Kansas looks like they’ve taken pretty firm control of the Big 12 race, but crazy things tend to happen when these two teams get together. Gallagher-Iba should be rocking.
  • No. 13 Utah at Colorado, Sat. 10:00 p.m.: Colorado will be looking to get some revenge for the pounding that the Utes put on them in January.
  • No. 6 Arizona at Arizona State, Sat. 4:30 p.m.: Rivalry games on the road are always dangerous.
  • No. 20 Ohio State at Rutgers, Sun. 5:30 p.m.: A Sunday afternoon road trip against a team that they should roll. If Ohio State comes out slow, Rutgers can pick them off.
  • No. 12 North Carolina at Boston College, Sat. 3:00 p.m.: Their record may not show it right now, but Boston College has been playing well under Jim Christian this season. They’re going to pick someone off eventually.


1. There are a trio of games this weekend on NBCSN:

  • No. 18 VCU at St. Bonaventure, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Saint Louis at Fordham, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Rhode Island at Richmond, Sun. 2:30 p.m.

2. No. 25 Texas at Kansas State, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Texas has fallen to 3-6 in the Big 12 this season, while Kansas State has lost three straight and four of their last five and just suspended their star, Marcus Foster. One collapse has to get stalled.

3. Harvard at Yale, Sat. 7:00 p.m.: The Elis have a chance to move two games up on Harvard in the Ivy League standings. The Ivy’s automatic bid goes to their regular season champ.

4. Texas Tech at No. 11 Iowa State, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: The last time these two teams played, the Red Raiders knocked off the Cyclones.

5. Syracuse at Pitt, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Syracuse will be playing their first game since the university ended their season early. How will they play?

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark wins AP Player of the Year

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DALLAS — Caitlin Clark has put together one of the greatest individual seasons in NCAA history with eye-popping offensive numbers.

Iowa’s junior guard, though, saved her best performance for the game’s biggest stage, recording the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history to get Iowa to the Final Four for the first time in 30 years.

Clark was honored Thursday as The Associated Press women’s basketball Player of the Year. She received 20 votes from the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. Voting was done before March Madness began.

“It’s a huge honor,” Clark said. “I picked a place that I perfectly fit into and that’s allowed me to show my skill set. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean something. It’s not the reason you play basketball, it’s just something that comes along with getting to do what you love.”

The Iowa coaching staff surprised Clark by sharing that she won the award while they were visiting the Iowa Children’s Hospital – a place near and dear to her. It also has huge ties to the Hawkeyes athletic department.

They put together a video of some of the children in the hospital congratulating Clark on an outstanding season, and in the middle of it, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder popped on the screen to tell her she won.

“I’m there for inspiring the next generation and being there for the people that you know are going through a hard time,” said Clark, who grew up in Iowa. “Being able to give joy to people that watch you play and watch your team play is amazing.”

She averaged 27.0 points, 8.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds during the season to help Iowa go 26-6. Clark has 984 points, the sixth-most in a season by any player in Division I women’s history. She also has over 300 assists.

“She is spectacular. I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court,” Bluder said.

Next up for the Hawkeyes is undefeated South Carolina in the national semifinals. The Gamecocks are led by Aliyah Boston, last season’s winner of the award. She garnered the other eight votes this season.

“There’s so many great players, more than just me and (Aliyah),” Clark told the AP. “You can go on and on and list the tremendous players. I think that’s really good for our game when there’s a lot of great players. That’s what is going to help this game grow more than anything else.”

Whether it’s hitting deep 3s from the Hawkeye logo at home games, hitting off-balance game-winning shots or throwing pinpoint passes to teammates for easy baskets, Clark has excelled on the court this year to get Iowa to a place it hasn’t been in a long time.

“It’s funny, because the better the opponent, almost the better she plays,” Bluder said. “It’s like she locks in on those, when we’re playing against Top 25 teams. That’s when her statistics even go up even more, against great opponents.”

Clark is the second Iowa player to win the AP award in the past few seasons, joining Megan Gustafson who won it in 2019.

UCLA guard Jaylen Clark declares for NBA draft

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – UCLA guard Jaylen Clark has declared for the NBA draft, weeks after a leg injury forced him out of the season’s final six games.

The junior from Riverside, California, announced his plans on his Instagram account Wednesday.

“Thank you to UCLA and coach (Mick) Cronin for believing in me,” Clark’s post read. “I’d like to announce that I am declaring for the 2023 draft.”

Clark didn’t indicate whether he would hire an agent ahead of the June 22 draft or retain his remaining eligibility. He has until May 31 to withdraw and be able to return to Westwood.

He suffered a lower right leg injury in the regular-season finale against Arizona on March 4. Clark averaged 13 points and six rebounds while starting 29 of 30 games. He led the Pac-12 in total steals with 78, tying for third all-time in single-season steals for the Bruins.

He was a second team All-Pac-12 selection, was named the league’s defensive player of the year and made its five-man All-Defensive Team.

AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Penn State hires VCU’s Rhoades as men’s basketball coach

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Penn State hired VCU’s Mike Rhoades on Wednesday as its men’s basketball coach, bringing in the Pennsylvania native to take over a program coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than a decade.

The Penn State board of trustees approved a seven-year deal worth $25.9 million for Rhoades, who is from Mahanoy City in eastern Pennsylvania.

Just a few hours after Rhoades was named at Penn State, VCU hired Utah State coach Ryan Odom to replace Rhoades.

Rhoades replaces Micah Shrewsberry, who was hired away by Notre Dame last week.

Shrewsberry, an Indiana native, was at Penn State for two seasons. The Nittany Lions went 23-14 this season, reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 and won an NCAA game for the first time since 2001.

Rhoades, 50, was 129-61 in six seasons at VCU, including three NCAA Tournament bids. He also spent three seasons at Rice, going 23-12 in the final year with the Owls before returning to VCU.

He was an assistant at the Richmond, Virginia, school from 2009-14 under then-head coach Shaka Smart.

Odom was 44-25 at Utah State in two seasons, with an NCAA Tournament appearance this season.

He previously spent five seasons at Maryland-Baltimore County, going 97-60. In 2018, Odom’s UMBC team became the first No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament when it beat Virginia.

Temple hires Penn State assistant Fisher to replace McKie

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PHILADELPHIA – Temple named Penn State assistant Adam Fisher just its fifth coach since 1973 on Wednesday.

Fisher’s goal will be to turn around a program that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2019.

Fisher replaces Aaron McKie, who was transferred out of the coaching job earlier this month after four seasons and a 52-56 overall record with no tournament berths. McKie is now a special advisor to the athletic department.

Fisher takes over a team in flux with six players in the transfer portal. Temple has yet to find any steady success in the American Athletic Conference.

Fisher spent eight years as an assistant with Miami before he joined Micah Shrewsberry’s staff last season at Penn State. Shrewsberry has since moved on to Notre Dame.

“I am confident we have found the right person to lead Temple men’s basketball,” athletic director Arthur Johnson said. “We look forward to welcoming coach Fisher to the Temple community and returning to the NCAA Tournament under his leadership.”

Fisher also worked as a graduate manager at Villanova under Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright from 2007-09.

The Owls have traditionally given their coaches significant time on the bench, though McKie’s tenure was the shortest since Ernest Messikomer from 1939-42. The next five coaches all lasted at least 10 seasons, notably Hall of Fame coach John Chaney’s tenure from 1982-2006.

Cal hires Mark Madsen as basketball coach

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BERKELEY, Calif. – California is hiring a former Stanford star to revive its struggling basketball program.

The Golden Bears announced Wednesday that Mark Madsen was signed to replace the fired Mark Fox following the worst season in school history.

“We conducted an exhaustive search, and one name kept rising to the top – and that’s Mark Madsen,” athletic director Jim Knowlton said. “Mark is a person of high character, high energy, high intensity, and he’s done it the right way. He’s intense. He’s passionate. He loves his student-athletes, and he loves competing. We want an ambassador for this program who is going to make us proud and develop our young men – both on and off the court. I am absolutely thrilled that Mark will lead our program into the future.”

Madsen played at Stanford under Mike Montgomery, who later coached at Cal, from 1996 to 2000 and helped the Cardinal reach the Final Four in 1998.

After a nine-year playing career in the NBA that featured two titles as a backup on the Lakers in 2001-02, Madsen went into coaching.

He spent time in the NBA’s developmental league and a year at Stanford before spending five seasons on the Lakers staff.

Madsen then was hired in 2019 to take over Utah Valley. He posted a 70-51 record in four years with a 28-9 mark this season before losing on Tuesday night in the NIT semifinals to UAB.

“Having grown up in the area, I have always admired Cal as an institution and as an athletic program, with so many of my teachers, coaches and friends impressive Cal graduates,” Madsen said. “We will win with young men who have elite academic and athletic talent and who will represent Cal with pride.”

Madsen is the third prominent coach to flip sides in recent years in the Bay Area rivalry between Cal and Stanford. The Cardinal hired former Cal quarterback Troy Taylor to take over the football program last season and Bears women’s basketball coach Charmin Smith played and coached as an assistant at Stanford.

Madsen is faced with a tough task, taking over a program that went 3-29 under Fox and set a school record for most losses and worst winning percentage in a season.

Cal went 38-87 during Fox’s tenure, ending his final season on a 16-game losing streak. Fox’s .304 winning percentage ranking second worst in school history to predecessor Wyking Jones’ 16-47 mark (.254) in the two seasons before Fox arrived.

The Bears haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2016 and haven’t won a game in the tournament since 2013 under Montgomery.

Adding to the issues for Fox was the complete lack of interest in the program. Cal’s home attendance averaged just 2,155 this season for the lowest mark among any team in the Power 5 or Big East. That’s down from an average of 9,307 per game in Cuonzo Martin’s last season in 2016-17 and from 5,627 the year before Fox arrived.

Cal had the worst winning percentage among any school in the six major conferences during Fox’s tenure. The Bears also were the lowest-scoring team (62.4 points per game) in all Division I under Fox and had the worst scoring margin of any major conference team under Fox.