*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)
No. 12 OKLAHOMA at TEXAS (-2), Sat. 6:15 p.m. (ESPN)
The most entertaining game of the weekend features the two-best NBA prospects in the Big 12. Trae Young will be going up against Mo Bamba, although the two play vastly different positions. This is a big game for Texas, who currently sits right about the 8-9 game in most bracket projections. The key here is going to be how Oklahoma opts to attack this Texas defense. The Longhorns are one of college basketball’s best on that end of the floor, and they’ve been aided offensively by the fact that Bamba is starting to turn into the dominating prospect that we thought he would be all season long. One of the strengths for Bamba as a prospect is that he is able to move his feet well enough to play pick-and-roll defense at a high level. This will be a great chance to prove that.
- PREDICTION: I think Oklahoma gets the job done. Young snapped out of the funk that he was in for a week or two with a 44-point, nine-assist outburst against Baylor, and I think we see something similarly impressive on Saturday. Oklahoma (+2)
No. 9 ARIZONA (-4) at WASHINGTON, Sat. 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12)
Washington is quietly the best story in the Pac-12. After Lorenzo Romar was fired for a 9-22 season that included No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, Mike Hopkins has come in and turned the Huskies into a tournament team. After a win over Arizona State on Thursday night, they are now 6-3 in league play. This will be their biggest test yet.
- PREDICTION: I think Arizona is finding their rhythm. Allonzo Trier is playing smart, efficient basketball, Rawle Alkins was back against Washington State and it looks like they are starting to find ways to be effective offensively with Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic on the floor together. Arizona (-4)
KANSAS STATE at No. 15 WEST VIRGINIA (-6), Sat. 4:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Is this the game where West Virginia rights the ship? We spent a long time talking about West Virginia on the podcast here, so I’ll let you listen, but it is worth noting: Kansas State is pretty good.
- PREDICTION: I think this is the game where the Mountaineers get it going again. I would not want to be around Bob Huggins after losing by 16 points to Iowa State. West Virginia (-6)
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?
You mean other than the Super Bowl? Plenty:
- No. 10 TEXAS TECH at TCU (-2), Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN): Texas Tech has had some road woes this season, and TCU has been snakebit in close games. TCU(-2)
- No. 21 KENTUCKY at MISSOURI (-2), Sat. 2:00 p.m. (CBS): Kentucky won at West Virginia after trailing by 17 and beat Vanderbilt at home after trailing by 14. So they’re going to be Missouri after trailing big in the second half. Book it. Kentucky (+2)
- No. 2 VIRGINIA (-6) at SYRACUSE, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (ACC Net): Virginia is the slowest team in the country. Syracuse is the eighth-slowest team in the country. Virginia has an historically good defense. Syracuse is simply very, very good. Bet the under
- USC at UCLA (-3), Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2): USC has suddenly turned into one of the hottest teams in college hoops, but they haven’t really beaten anyone in their run. That will chance Saturday. USC (+3)
- BYU at No. 14 GONZAGA (-11), Sat. 10:00 p.m. (ESPN2): BYU has won three straight at Gonzaga. That streak will end. By a lot. Gonzaga (-11)
- SETON HALL at No. 1 VILLANOVA (-14), Sun. 12:00 p.m. (FOX): In theory, Seton Hall is the kind of team that can give Villanova a fight, and 14 points is a lot of points. The Pirates cover. Seton Hall (+14)
Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.
The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.
While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.
Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.
Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.
The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.
Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.
Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.
Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.
Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.
On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.
Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.
The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.
Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.
Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.
Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.
Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.
The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.
Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.
While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.
That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.
But there’s not enough money to pay the players.
Everyone is broke.
Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.