Weekend Preview: Kentucky-Louisville showdown, Arizona vs. Arizona State

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LOUISVILLE at No. 16 KENTUCKY (-5), Fri. 1:00 p.m.

To be frank, I really have no idea what to make of either one of these teams at this point in the season. Neither of these teams played all that demanding of a non-conference schedule, and both have undergone a ridiculous amount of turnover this offseason. Kentucky is essentially an entirely new team, with a team of freshmen led by “veterans” playing their second college season. Louisville, as we all know, lost Donovan Mitchell to the NBA, Brian Bowen to the FBI and Rick Pitino to a pink slip.

The result?

Kentucky’s only top 70 KenPom win came against Virginia Tech. Louisville’s only top 100 KenPom win came against Indiana. And one of these two programs will enter league play with three non-conference losses after Friday. Someone is going to have all the angst in the Bluegrass State come 3 p.m. ET on Friday.

  • PREDICTION: Kentucky wins and Kentucky covers. Kentucky (-5)

No. 12 OKLAHOMA at No. 10 TCU (-2), Sat. 2:00 p.m.

There is so much to learn from this game. On the one hand, we get to see Trae Young playing his first road game in conference play. How will he handle the crowd (he did fine at Wichita State) and will TCU throw any new defenses at him to try and slow him down? He is the nation’s leading scorer and leader in assists.

TCU, on the other hand, is a team that I still think has something to prove. They’re still somewhat unknown at this point. Their win over SMU came on the same night as the Jimmy V Classic, and their win over Nevada tipped after 1 a.m. ET. Everyone will be watching them host Trae Young, however. What will they have in store?

  • PREDICTION: TCU finds a way to get the job done at home while solidifying their presence in the state of Texas. TCU (-2)

No. 3 ARIZONA STATE at No. 17 ARIZONA (-5), Sat. 9:00 p.m.

What will win out on Saturday night in Arizona: The matchup or the home court?

Because on paper, Arizona State is precisely the kind of team that gives the Wildcats trouble. When they get spread out, when they are asked to guard a lot of ball-screens, they struggle defensively. Arizona State plays two point guards and, quite often, puts three ball-handlers on the floor together with sharpshooter Kodi Justice at the four. That should give Arizona some trouble.

But Arizona has the advantage of the McKale Center. And they have the advantage of Deandre Ayton. As difficult of a matchup as ASU will be, there are, what, a handful of people that matchup with Ayton in the sport? And Arizona State doesn’t have one of them.

  • PREDICTION: In the end, I think that Ayton and company will be too much. But I do think that the game will be close and that Arizona State will have a chance to win. ASU (+5)
Deandre Ayton (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


  • No. 7 WEST VIRGINIA (-3) at OKLAHOMA STATE, Fri. 7:00 p.m.: The Mountaineers are one of the hottest teams in college basketball at this point in the season, and I’m not convinced that OK State’s record isn’t fluky. Throw in the fact that the students are on break, and home court isn’t what Gallagher-Iba should be. PICK: WVU (-3)
  • No. 18 BAYLOR at No. 22 TEXAS TECH (-6), Fri. 8:00 p.m.: Baylor’s zone is going to be tricky for the Red Raiders to deal with, but I do think that Chris Beard is going to find a way to get this win at home and cover. PICK: Texas Tech (-6)
  • No. 11 KANSAS (-2) at TEXAS, Fri. 9:00 p.m.: As much as I would love to pick the Longhorns here, they have not been able to score effectively without Andrew Jones (they barely could with him) and the Jayhawks can put up big numbers in a hurry with the way that they can shoot. PICK: Kansas (-2)
  • No. 19 TENNESSEE at ARKANSAS (-3), Sat. 1:00 p.m.: It is not easy to win in Fayetteville. As much as I like Tennessee this season, this is a bad matchup for them in a tough place to play. PICK: Arkansas (-3)
  • No. 24 FLORIDA STATE at No. 4 DUKE (-10), Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Duke struggles to contain penetration and the Seminoles have some slashers at their disposal this season. Plus, Leonard Hamilton always has big bodies. PICK: FSU (+10)
  • No. 1 VILLANOVA (-8) at BUTLER, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: I don’t think that Butler will beat Villanova at home again, but I do think that the Bulldogs will find a way to keep it close. PICK: Butler (+8)
  • No. 5 TEXAS A&M (-5) at ALABAMA, Sat. 6:00 p.m.: Alabama has not looked right this season outside of the 13 minutes they played 3-on-5. Maybe Avery Johnson should look into doing that more often. PICK: A&M (-5)

Arizona State extends Hurley through 2025-26 season

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TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State has agreed to a contract extension with men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley that runs through the 2025-26 season.

The deal announced on Tuesday is subject to approval by the Arizona Board of Regents. Hurley’s previous contract was set to expire after next season.

“Coach Hurley has made our program relevant nationally with many significant wins and an exciting style, along with a firm commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes,” Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “He has made it clear to us that he wants to be here and we have done likewise with him. We share a strong confidence in the present and future state of Sun Devil men’s basketball.”

Hurley led the Sun Devils to 23 wins this season and their third trip to the NCAA Tournament the last five times it has been played. Arizona State beat Nevada in the First Four before losing to Texas Christian on a last-second shot last Friday.

The Sun Devils have won at least 20 games four of the past six seasons. They are 141-113 in eight seasons under Hurley.

Campbell new TCU women’s coach after taking Sac St to NCAA

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

FORT WORTH, Texas – Mark Campbell was hired as TCU’s women’s basketball coach Tuesday after the former Oregon assistant took Sacramento State to its first NCAA Tournament in an impressive and quick turnaround.

Sacramento State was coming off a 3-22 season when Campbell was hired two years ago. The Hornets won 14 games in Campbell’s first season, and then made another 11-win improvement this season while finishing 25-8 with Big Sky regular-season and tournament championships.

During his seven seasons on Oregon’s staff before that, the Ducks had some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. That included Campbell recruiting Sabrina Ionescu, who became the AP player of the year in 2020 before she was the first overall pick in the WNBA draft.

Campbell replaces Raegan Pebley, who stepped down after nine seasons as TCU’s coach with a 141-138 record. The Horned Frogs were 8-23 this season, including 1-17 in Big 12 play during the regular season.

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati described Campbell as an elite recruiter and program builder.

“Similar to his success at Sacramento State, he was instrumental in Oregon quickly becoming one of the nation’s most successful programs, reaching their first NCAA Elite Eight and then Final Four,” Donati said.

The Frogs haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010. That was their ninth NCAA appearance, all coming in a 10-season span without making it past the second round.

Boston College extends Earl Grant through 2028-29 season

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BOSTON – Boston College coach Earl Grant has agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him under contract through the 2028-29 season.

Grant took over as Eagles coach prior to the 2021-22 season and finished 13-20. Boston College went 16-17 this past season, but it had three wins over nationally ranked teams for the first time in 14 years.

“My family and I have enjoyed being a part of this amazing community,” Grant said in a statement. “Boston is a great city and we are glad to call it our home. I am thankful for the efforts of my staff to help move the program forward.”

The Eagles finished 9-11 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, their most wins in the league play since 2010-11. Quinten Post also became the first Boston College player to be named Most Improved Player.

In announcing the extension, athletic director Blake James expressed optimism about the direction of the program.

“Earl has done an outstanding job leading our men’s basketball program over the last two seasons and we are looking forward to him doing so for many years to come,” James said.

Pitino returns to big stage at St. John’s: ‘I’ve earned it’

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – The video banner above the entrance to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday read: “Welcome Rick Pitino.”

More like welcome back for the new St. John’s coach.

Back to The Garden, where he once coached the Knicks.

Back to the Big East, the conference that launched his stardom and where he won his last NCAA championship.

Back to big-time college basketball after a series of scandals made it seem as if that part of his career was over.

“So, when I went to Iona, I said that Iona was going to be my last job,” Pitino said at his introductory news conference at MSG. “And the reason I said that is who’s going to hire a 70-year-old ? No matter how much I think I’m Peter Pan, who’s going hire a 70-year-old?”

St. John’s gave the Hall of Famer a six-year contract to turn back the clock on a program that once stole New York City tabloid headlines away from the Knicks in the 1980s under coach Lou Carnesecca but has been mired in mediocrity for more than two decades.

The Red Storm once played most of their biggest home games at The Garden. Pitino said the goal is to have all their Big East games played there going forward.

“Lou built a legendary program. Legendary,” Pitino said. “I’m all in with everything that St. John stands for. I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to get started.

“And it’s going to start with a culture of work.”

Pitino, who was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, has won 832 games in 34 full seasons as a college head coach, including NCAA championships at Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013.

The title at Louisville was vacated for NCAA violations, and another NCAA case related to the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting led to Pitino being fired by Louisville in 2017.

The final ruling from the NCAA’s outside enforcement arm on the FBI case came down in November and exonerated Pitino.

There was also a criminal extortion case in which Pitino was the victim during his time at Louisville that revealed personal indiscretions.

“Well, it doesn’t matter what you believe, what you don’t believe,” Pitino said. “The one thing all my players have said, because they all wrote letters for me: I’ve never cheated the game. I never gave a player anything that he didn’t deserve in life.”

St. John’s president, the Rev. Brian Shanley, said the decision to hire Pitino was his call.

“Yeah, sure, there’s some reputational risk because of things that have happened before, but I think Rick is at a point in his life where he’s learned from things that have happened in the past,” Shanley told The Associated Press. “I think he’d be the first one to tell you he’s done things that he regrets. Who doesn’t when you get to be that age? I know I have. I’m a believer in forgiveness and new beginnings as a priest, and I think Rick’s going to do a great job for St. John’s.”

Carnesecca, 98 and getting around with the help of a walker these days, sat in the front row of Pitino’s news conference.

“I think it’s a home run with the bases loaded,” Carnesecca said.

Carnesecca was one of the Big East’s brightest coaching stars, along with Georgetown’s John Thompson and Villanova’s Rollie Massimino, when Pitino became Providence head coach in 1985 at the age of 32.

Thirty-eight years later, Pitino’s Providence ties helped him land at St. John’s after three seasons at Iona, a small Catholic school in New Rochelle, just north of New York City.

Shanley previously was the president of Providence. He helped turn around a lagging men’s basketball program by hiring coach Ed Cooley and investing in facilities upgrades.

“If I wasn’t a Providence Friar, he would have never even considered it,” Pitino said.

Shanley attempted to lure Pitino away from Louisville and back to Providence years ago, but he didn’t know much about the coach personally back then. He said he talked to a lot of people about Pitino this time around.

“I’d say my behind-the-scenes wisdom person was Mike Tranghese, the former commissioner of the Big East,” Shanley said. “He got me Ed Cooley last time, and I think we came out pretty well this time, too.”

Cooley was hired by Georgetown on Monday.

Pitino said he’s bringing his entire staff with him from Iona, which announced the hiring of Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tobin Anderson to replace Pitino earlier in the day.

Pitino will try to become the first coach to take six different schools to the NCAA Tournament as he gets one more shot on the big stage.

“I deserve it,” he said, “because I’ve earned it.”

Tobin Anderson leaving FDU to replace Rick Pitino at Iona

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NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Tobin Anderson is leaving NCAA Cinderella Fairleigh Dickinson after one fairy-tale season and replacing Rick Pitino at Iona.

Iona athletic director Matt Glovaski announced the hiring a day after Pitino left to take the job at St. John’s of the Big East Conference.

Anderson led the No. 16 seed Knights to a win over No. 1 Purdue in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last week, only the second time a No. 16 seed has knocked off a top-seeded team. UMBC beat No. 1 Virginia in 2018.

“Iona University represents everything my family and I were looking for in a school, a basketball program and a campus atmosphere,” Anderson said in a statement. “Our goal is to build upon the tremendous tradition of Iona basketball and elevate the program to greater heights.”

Iona of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference was knocked out of this year’s tournament by UConn on Friday.

“We have long known him to be a fantastic coach and an even better person,” Glovaski said. “Now, with his team’s impressive run in the NCAA Tournament, everyone paying attention to March Madness also knows this. We’re delighted that he will be at the helm of our men’s basketball program.”

Anderson led FDU to a 21-16 overall record and 10-6 in Northeast Conference play. The Knights lost to Merrimack in the conference title game but got the NCAA berth because Merrimack was ineligible to compete as a transitioning school from Division II.

FDU, one of the shorter teams in the 68-team field, beat Texas Southern in a First Four game and followed that with the upset over Purdue. Florida Atlantic knocked the Knights out of the tournament on Sunday.

FDU had a 4-22 record in 2021-22. Anderson was hired after running the program at St. Thomas Aquinas, located less than 25 miles (40 km) from Iona’s campus. In nine seasons, he turned the team into a perennial Top 25 program in Division II after inheriting a team that won just five games prior to his hire.

Anderson got his first taste of Division I coaching, serving as an assistant at Siena for two seasons from 2011–2013. Before his time at Siena, Anderson was a head coach at the Division III level at Hamilton College and Clarkson University in upstate New York. He worked as an assistant at Clarkson and Le Moyne College.

Anderson graduated from Wesleyan University in 1995.