COLLEGE BASKETBALL TALK’S TOP 25: Kansas-Oklahoma turns into No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown

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With Kansas dispatching Baylor and Oklahoma coming from behind to knock off Iowa State, college basketball will be greeted on Monday with a matchup between the top two teams in the country.

And it couldn’t come at a better time.

College football’s bowl season is basically over — we’re just waiting on our Clemson-Alabama national title game to cap what has been a miserable month of exhibition games — which means that, on the first Big Monday of the season, we’ll get what could very well end up being the best game of the year. The on-court product should match the pregame hype as well. Oklahoma is 52nd nationally in tempo, according to KenPom, and the second-best three-point shooting team in the country.


Kansas? They’re 51st and third, respectively.

And should I mention this game will take place in Phog Allen Fieldhouse?

This is just the 23rd time that the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country will face off during the regular season and only the fifth time that it has happened since 2000. So yeah, this is kind of thing is rare.

But there’s more to it than that. You see, Kansas was No. 2 in the AP Poll this week, one spot behind No. 1 Michigan State and one place above No. 3 Oklahoma. Since Michigan State lost and is still without Denzel Valentine, it’s pretty safe to assume that the Spartans are going to fall, at least past the undefeated Sooners. But in the Coaches Poll, Oklahoma was No. 2 this week and Kansas was No. 3, meaning that, barring something weird happening, we’re looking at a situation where the No. 1 team in the AP Poll will be facing off with the No. 1 team in the Coaches Poll.


That hasn’t happened since Feb. 2007, when AP No. 1 Wisconsin lost to Coaches No. 1 Ohio State by one point.

So that’s a cool storyline.

As is the fact that, in March of 1990, No. 1 Oklahoma beat No. 2 Kansas in Kansas City.

But there’s so much more to this game than a couple of nuggets for sportswriters to reference when previewing the matchup.

Because Oklahoma is this year’s strongest contender to end the Kansas streak of 11 straight Big 12 regular season titles. A win in Phog Allen would be a huge step towards accomplishing that feat. Remember, the Big 12 is one of just two high-major conferences that play a true round-robin in league play. Everyone in the conference is getting a game at Kansas, which may very well be the toughest place in college basketball to get a win. This isn’t the kind of game that can make or break a season, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the impact of a Sooner win will be felt in March.

So yeah. I’m fired up for this game.

Kansas is currently favored by five.

You can probably guess who the top two teams in our top 25 are going to be. Here’s the other 23:

1. Kansas (12-1, LW: No. 3): I’m going with Kansas over the Sooners here simply because I think they’re the more complete team at this point in the season.

2. Oklahoma (12-0, LW: No. 4): If there’s a knock on the Sooners right now, it’s that they can be overly-reliant on the three-ball and they are not yet getting consistent play out of the four-spot.

3. Maryland (13-1, LW: No. 2): I don’t usually like dropping teams that win, but at this point I think it’s fair to say that Kansas and Oklahoma are more complete than the Terps. Depth in the back court, inconsistency from their big men and a habit of failing to show up for against lesser competition. Not an ideal combination.

4. Michigan State (14-1, LW: No. 1): With a loss under their belt, it’s now time to wait and see when — if? — Denzel Valentine can get himself back to 100 percent. If anything, we now know just how valuable of a player he is.

5. North Carolina (13-2, LW: No. 5): Joel Berry is starting to hit his stride, Brice Johnson is still playing like an all-ACC center, Marcus Paige still hasn’t really gotten into a rhythm yet and Kennedy Meeks is still dealing with an ailing knee. In other words, there’s reason to be bullish on a team that’s been less-than-dominant.

6. Virginia (12-1, LW: No. 7): The ‘Hoos continue to hum along, picking up wins over Oakland and Notre Dame last week, two teams that, in theory, should give the Pack-Line defense some trouble. I think it’s fair to say they’re flying a bit under the radar at this point.

7. Providence (14-1, LW: No. 12): Kris Dunn is healthy again, meaning that the Friars will enter Big East player with their National Player of the Year candidate playing like, well, the NPOY. Their come-from-behind win to beat Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse spoke volumes about this team.

8. Miami (12-1, LW: No. 8): I’m not ready to drop this team just yet, but the inconsistency is getting to be a bit frustrating. The good news? They’ve only dropped one game this season despite the fact that some of their best players don’t always show up every night. Good teams win games when they don’t play well.

9. Villanova (12-2, LW: No. 16): Villanova’s regression to the three-point mean began on New Year’s Eve, when they hit seven of their first nine threes in a 31-point win over Xavier. That said …

10. Xavier (13-1, LW: No. 6): … I think that the scoreline in that loss at Villanova said quite a bit more about Edmond Sumner’s importance than anything. His injury not only forced Xavier to play without their most irreplaceable player, but seeing their teammate get stretchered off the floor sapped them of any energy. Remember, they beat Butler by nearly 20 points 48 hours later.

11. Arizona (13-1, LW: No. 11)
12. SMU (13-0, LW: No. 13)
13. Kentucky (10-2, LW: No. 14)
14. Iowa State (11-2, LW: No. 15)
15. Duke (12-2, LW: No. 17)
16. Butler (11-3, LW: No. 9)
17. Purdue (13-2, LW: No. 10)
18. Texas A&M (11-2, LW: No. 18)
19. West Virginia (12-1, LW: No. 19)
20. Louisville (11-2, LW: No. 20)
21. Iowa (11-3, LW: UR)
22. South Carolina (13-0, LW: No. 23)
23. George Washington (12-2, LW: No. 25)
24. Cal (12-3, LW: UR)
25. Baylor (10-3, LW: No. 23)

DROPPED OUT: No. 21 Cincinnati, No. 24 UCLA
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 21 Iowa, No. 24 Cal

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

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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.