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Weekend Preview: The Crosstown Shootout and Creighton-Gonzaga highlight a great weekend of hoops

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SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)

No. 25 CREIGHTON at No. 15 GONZAGA, Fri. 10:00 p.m.

The battle of the former mid-majors. This will be an interesting one to watch play out. Both of these teams proved themselves to be somewhat underrated from where they were heading into the season. Creighton thrives in a more uptempo game, while Gonzaga wants to grind things out a little bit more. There are two things that intrigue me about this game: The first is who ends up getting put on Khyri Island? Khyri Thomas is the best perimeter defender in college basketball. He shut down Manu Lecomte when the Jays nearly beat Baylor, and I expect him to get put on Josh Perkins in this one. The second is how Creighton slows down Johnathan Williams III, and that’s a bigger issue.

  • PREDICTION: I really, really like Creighton this year, but I think this is a difficult matchup for the Jays. I’m not quite sure how they’ll handle Williams, who put 39 on a Florida team that is similar to Creighton. Gonzaga (-7)


No. 11 CINCINNATI at No. 21 XAVIER, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

The Crosstown Shootout is one of the most fierce and more underrated rivalries in all of sports, and this year, it will feature two teams that are talented enough to get to the Final Four. Cincinnati is a rough-and-tumble team that has some toughness up front in Gary Clark Jr. and Kyle Washington, while Xavier is more perimeter-oriented … but just as tough as the Bearcats. I’m telling you, this will be great theater, as will the battle between Jacob Evans and Trevon Bluiett.

  • PREDICTION: Kenpom projects this as a one-point Xavier win in the Cintas Center, so I’ll ride with Xavier here. I don’t think either of these teams would lose a home game in this rivalry this season. Xavier (-1)

No. 8 WICHITA STATE at No. 16 BAYLOR, Sat. 2:00 p.m.

This is the most fascinating matchup of the day to me. On the one hand, I think Wichita State is terrific. They’re well-coached, they have talent and they can beat you inside or outside. On the other hand, at some point they are going to have to actually beat someone at this level for us to continue talking about them as a Final Four and national title contender. Baylor can play. Their zone can mess with teams and Manu Lecomte has proven time and again that he is one of the best clutch shooters in the sport. It won’t be all that pretty or high-scoring, but for x’s-and-o’s nerds, it will be appointment viewing. The x-factor is how Baylor will be able to play without Terry Maston, who broke his hand against Xavier.

  • PREDICTION: KenPom has Baylor getting points at home, and while I’m on record saying some fairly ridiculous things about the Shockers, I want to see them beat someone real before I invest my hard earned money betting on them. That said, with no Maston, I think the Shockers make it too hard for the Bears to score. Wichita State (-1)
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WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?

You mean besides a ridiculous slate of college football games?

Well …

  • The Big Ten kicks off league play: Because of the conference’s stupid decision to play their conference tournament in New York a week earlier than usual, they were forced to schedule their first round of conference games for the first week of December. From Friday until next Tuesday, each Big Ten team will play their first home and their first road game.
  • No. 13 North Carolina at Davidson, Fri. 8:00 p.m.: Davidson is defense-averse and shoots more threes than anyone else in college hoops. I like UNC here, but I love the over. PREDICTION: UNC (-10.5)
  • Providence at Rhode Island, Sat. 5:00 p.m.: It doesn’t the attention of other rivalry games, but the hate between Providence and URI is real and both teams are good this season. PREDICTION: Providence (+2)
  • No. 2 Kansas vs. Syracuse, Sat. 5:30 p.m.: I think we’ll get a much better idea of what to make of this Syracuse team after this game, because as of now I really don’t know. They’ve been impressive through six games. PREDICTION: Kansas (-11)
  • No. 4 Villanova vs. St. Joseph’s, Sat. 5:30 p.m.: The Holy War was a lot more interesting before St. Joe’s got hit with injuries. PREDICTION: Villanova (-10)
  • No. 14 USC at SMU, Sat. 10:00 p.m.: USC struggled at Vanderbilt earlier this season and got beat fairly handily by Texas A&M. Will they be willing to defend in Moody Coliseum? PREDICTION: SMU (-2)
  • Arizona at UNLV, Sat. 10:00 p.m.: Brandon McCoy and Deandre Ayton, former AAU teammates and both potential lottery picks, meet again. The Thomas & Mack Center will be packed. This is a chance for Arizona to prove they’ve figured out the issues that cost them three wins in the Bahamas. PREDICTION: UNLV (+7)
  • Seton Hall at No. 17 Louisville, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: Kevin Willard, a former Louisville and Rick Pitino assistant, pays a visit to the Yum! Center to take on David Padgett, another former Pitino assistant and current Louisville interim head coach. The Cardinals are going to have to be ready for a fight on Sunday. PREDICTION: Seton Hall (+3)

Former Mizzou tutor plans to reveal ‘full list’ of participants in academic fraud case

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A former Missouri tutor that admitted in 2016 to providing improper academic benefits to multiple Tiger athletes on Monday said that she has been named in a new Notice of Allegations and intends to expose more people attached to the investigation.

Yolanda Kumar tweeted that she is planning on releasing “the full list of students, classes and coordinators on twitter” at 6:39 p.m. on Wednesday, adding that she was dropped from the original NOA but was added back into the latest version after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Missouri responded on Monday by acknowledging they had met with the Committee on Infractions and that the result of the investigation will prove that they acted with “integrity.”

“On June 13, 2018, the University appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to review its investigative findings, and the Committee has since added a previously unnamed involved party and given notice of the Committee’s allegation to that individual,” a statement Missouri released to ESPN said. “While the University may not disclose the names of any involved student due to FERPA, we remain confident that this review will reveal that the University, as well as its student-athletes and staff, have shown great integrity in responding to the allegations raised. In order to protect the investigation’s integrity and in accordance with NCAA rules relative to ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further any part of the process until it is completed.”

In 2016, Kumar told the Kansas City Star that she had been asked to offer special assistance to football and men’s basketball players, and confirmed to compliance officials that she had acquiesced, helping a dozen athletes. That led to the NCAA’s investigation, and as a result, a defensive tackle named A.J. Logan was suspended for six games.

Kumar also tweeted in 2017 that she was willing to sell the information she had involving the case for the $3,000 fee she needed to pay Missouri to get her transcripts from the school. On Monday, she tweeted that her debt was cleared by a couple from Kansas City.

All of this allegedly occurred during the tenure of former Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.

Michigan, John Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch, Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

Bill Self: Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility not in jeopardy ‘at this stage’

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One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2018-19 season for the Kansas Jayhawks is the eligibility status of Silvio De Sousa.

If you’ve forgotten, a player that is believed to be De Sousa was referenced in a second round of indictments handed by the FBI. In those documents, De Sousa’s guardian is alleged to have asked an Adidas rep for at least $20,000 to repay a rival apparel company for a payment that was made to secure De Sousa’s commitment to another school. Prior to a surprise commitment to Kansas, De Sousa was long considered a Maryland lean. His AAU program and high school team were both sponsored by Under Armour, whose flagship program is Maryland.

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, at this point De Sousa is still eligible.

“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that he could be in jeopardy at this stage,” Self said.

This is not surprising.

The way that I would expect this to play out is similar to the way it played out for players that were referenced in the indictments that came down last fall. Kansas is going to string this thing along until we get to a point in time close to the start of the season, when they will announce that De Sousa is being held out of competition. It is better for Kansas to bite the bullet and play without De Sousa than it would be for them to risk knowingly suiting up a player that can be retroactively ruled ineligible.

That sucks for De Sousa.

The good news for Kansas, however, is that Udoka Azubuike is back, as is Mitch Lightfoot, while both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible as they add freshman David McCormack. There is more than enough frontcourt depth to withstand the loss of De Sousa.