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Re-ranking the 2012 recruiting class

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July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career.

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2012, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

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1. Gary Harris (25)

A two-year starter at Michigan State, Harris averaged 14.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game as a Spartan. Harris managed to collect multiple honors as a collegian, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2013 and first team all-conference in 2014. Harris’ production was good enough to get him selected 19th overall by Chicago in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Bulls trading his draft rights to Denver that night.

Harris has been a key perimeter option for the Nuggets, developing into one of the better two-way guards in the NBA. Last season Harris averaged a career-high (to this point) 17.5 points per game last season, and last fall he agreed to a four-year deal worth $84 million. If Harris can stay healthy, which has been an issue each of the last two seasons, there’s a good chance he’ll continue to improve moving forward.

2. Steven Adams (5)

A native of New Zealand, Adams would be considered one of the best big men in the class after a stint at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Adams would go on to play one season at Pittsburgh, where he averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Adams’ decision to turn pro was criticized by more than a few people, but ultimately the move to turn pro was a good one.

Adams was selected by Oklahoma City with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and after a quiet rookie season he’s developed into one of the better centers in the NBA. Adams and the Thunder agreed to a four-year extension worth $100 million just before the start of the 2016-17 season, and last year he established new career bests in points (13.9 ppg) and rebounds (9.0 rpg).

3. Buddy Hield (86)

Hield is one of two players on this list to have won a national Player of the Year award while in college, with Denzel Valentine being the other. A guard known more for his defense as a freshman at Oklahoma, Hield was a tireless worker who developed himself into one of the best shooters in recent college basketball history. A native of The Bahamas, Hield was a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, and as a senior he averaged 25.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game on a team that reached the Final Four.

Drafted sixth overall by New Orleans in the 2016 NBA Draft, Hield was sent to Sacramento in February 2017 in the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Last season, his first full campaign with the Kings, Hield averaged 13.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

4. Denzel Valentine (81)

Valentine was one of the most versatile players in college basketball during his time at Michigan State, where as a senior he not only earned Big Ten Player of the Year but the AP and NABC national player of the year awards as well. After averaging 19.2 points, 7.8 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game Valentine was drafted by Chicago with the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In two seasons with the Bulls, Valentine’s averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

5. Marcus Smart (10)

After winning Big 12 Player of the Year as a freshman, many expected the Flower Mound (Texas) HS product to leave Oklahoma State. That didn’t happen, as Smart returned to Stillwater for his sophomore season, and despite improving his scoring by nearly three points per game he endured what was a heavily-scrutinized campaign. In two seasons at Oklahoma State, Smart averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game, numbers that would get him selected by Boston with the sixth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

An All-Rookie Team selection, Smart has developed into one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders. While the jump shot does need some work, there’s no questioning Smart’s toughness or willingness to do whatever the Celtics need. Smart’s work led to him being rewarded with a new contract worth $52 million over four years this summer.

6. Kris Dunn (16)

After earning a spot in the McDonald’s All American Game, Dunn would spend four seasons at Providence with one being shortened due to injury. By the time Dunn left campus he had established himself as one of the best players in Providence and Big East history, winning at least a share of Big East Player of the Year in each of his last two seasons. He was also named Big East Defensive Player of the Year in both of those seasons, and a second-team All American in 2016.

Drafted by Minnesota with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Dunn struggled as a rookie before being traded to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler deal. The change of scenery has worked out for Dunn so far, as last season he averaged 13.4 points, 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.

7. T.J. Warren (17)

If there’s one thing T.J. Warren was best known for at NC State, it was his ability to get buckets. Warren more than doubled his scoring average from freshman to sophomore year, averaging 24.9 points per game and winning ACC Player of the Year in 2014. Shooting 52.5 percent from the field that year, Warren also averaged 7.1 rebounds per game for the Wolfpack.

After two seasons in Raleigh it was off to the NBA, with Warren being drafted by Phoenix with the 14th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. In four seasons with the Suns, Warren’s averaging 13.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game with the 2017-18 campaign being his most productive to date. Last season Warren, who agreed to a four-year extension worth $50 million last September, averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

8. Willie Cauley-Stein (40)

Cauley-Stein, who in addition to being a very good basketball player was also a quality wide receiver in high school, spent three seasons at Kentucky where he averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The 7-footer would then enter the 2015 NBA Draft, with Sacramento selecting him with the sixth overall pick. Cauley-Stein’s third season has been his best to date, as he averaged 12.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

Entering the final season of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 campaign will be a big one for Cauley-Stein. A productive 2018-19 could either land him a long-term deal with the Kings or a good contract elsewhere.

9. Fred VanVleet (138)

Ranked outside of the Top 100, VanVleet would ultimately develop into one of the greatest players in Wichita State program history by the time he’d exhausted his eligibility. A reserve on the 2013 team that reached the Final Four, VanVleet won Missouri Valley Player of the Year as a sophomore running the point for a team that was undefeated until its second round loss to eventual national runner-up Kentucky. VanVleet would won a second Larry Bird Award as a senior, and in four seasons at Wichita State he averaged 10.2 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Undrafted in 2016, VanVleet managed to earn himself on Toronto’s roster as a rookie and is now a key option off of the Raptors bench. After averaging 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game as Kyle Lowry’s backup last season, VanVleet was rewarded with a new deal worth $18 million over the next two seasons.

10. Jerami Grant (64)

Grant is one of the few players in this class who’ve received solid paydays after their rookie deals, as the Thunder signed him to a three-year deal worth $27 million last month. Prior to entering the NBA Grant played two seasons at Syracuse, where as a sophomore he averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the program’s inaugural season in the ACC.

Philadelphia selected Grant with the 39th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, and after two-plus seasons with the 76ers he was dealt to Oklahoma City. Grant averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Thunder last season.

11. Kyle Anderson (3)

Anderson ended up spending two seasons at UCLA, where he averaged 12.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. As a sophomore Anderson led the Pac-12 in assists with an average of 6.5 per game, with his playmaking ability a key reason why the Bruins won 28 games, the Pac-12 tournament title and reached the Sweet 16 in Steve Alford’s first season at the helm.

From there it was off to the NBA, with San Antonio selecting Anderson with the final pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. In four seasons with the Spurs, Anderson averaged 4.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, with the 2017-18 season being his best (7.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg). This summer Anderson cashed in, with Memphis signing him to a four year deal worth $37.5 million.

12. Terry Rozier (80)

Rozier made significant strides from his freshman to sophomore season at Louisville, averaging 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game and earning second team All-ACC honors. Rozier would then enter the NBA draft, with Boston selecting him with the 16th overall pick. While Rozier didn’t see much playing time as a rookie he’s steadily worked his way into the Celtics rotation, last season helping propel a team that was without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While Irving’s return from injury could impact Rozier’s playing time this upcoming season, he could very well be headed towards a nice payday next summer…be it in Boston or elsewhere.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

13. Nerlens Noel (2)

Noel’s lone season at Kentucky was limited to just 24 games due to a torn ACL suffered in a loss at Florida, and his injury was the death knell for a team that would ultimately lose to Robert Morris in the first round of the Postseason NIT. Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots per game at Kentucky, and despite the injury he was still selected by New Orleans with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Noel’s draft rights were traded to Philadelphia, where he averaged 10.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in two-plus seasons before being traded to Dallas. Dallas is where things went off the rails for Noel, as in the summer of 2017 his former agent turned down a deal that would have paid Noel $70 million over four years. This did now work out for Noel, as he ultimately signed a one-year deal worth $4 million and averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 30 appearances last season. Noel agreed to a deal with the Thunder this summer, where he hopes to turn things around.

14. Sam Dekker (13)

After averaging 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman reserve, Dekker would be a key starter on Wisconsin teams that reached the Final Four in consecutive seasons. The 2012 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball would earn second team All-Big Ten honors in each of his final two seasons at Wisconsin, and he was named to the All-Tournament Team after the Badgers’ run to the national title game in 2015. From there it was off to the NBA, with Dekker being drafted 18th overall by Houston in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Limited to three games as a rookie due to a back injury, Dekker made 77 appearances for the Rockets in 2016-17 before being traded to the Clippers as part of the Chris Paul deal. Last season Dekker averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, with L.A. trading him to Cleveland earlier this summer.

15. Nik Stauskas (71)

Stauskas arrived on the Michigan campus with a reputation for being a high-level shooter, and he certainly lived up to that in his two seasons in Ann Arbor. Shooting better than 44 percent from three, Stauskas averaged 14.1 points per game during his Michigan career and as a sophomore was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Also a consensus second team All-American in 2014, Stauskas was part of two deep NCAA tournament runs as the Wolverines reached the title game in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014.

Drafted eighth overall by Sacramento in 2014, Stauskas’ best production in the NBA came as a member of those 76ers teams in 2015-16 and 2016-17 that were seemingly more focused on amassing “assets” and getting key young players healthy than winning games (that approach has worked for Philly). Philadelphia traded Stauskas to Brooklyn during the 2017-18 season, and last month he agreed to a one-year deal with Portland.

16. Glenn Robinson III (11)

Robinson spent two seasons at Michigan, the first of which being a campaign in which he made 39 starts and averaged 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on a team that reached the national title game. As a sophomore Robinson would increase his scoring to 13.1 points per game before turning pro, with Minnesota selecting him 40th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Robinson, who’s played for the Timberwolves, 76ers and Pacers, will look to earn a spot in the Pistons rotation this season.

17. Yogi Ferrell (19)

A 2012 McDonald’s All American, Ferrell was the starting point guard from Day 1 at Indiana. As a freshman Ferrell averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game on a team that won 29 games and reached the Sweet 16 before being knocked off by Syracuse. While Ferrell’s numbers were much better sophomore year, with the point guard earning second team All-Big Ten honors, the team struggled and finished with a 17-15 record.

Led by Ferrell the Hoosiers would be better the next two seasons, with Ferrell earning first team all-conference honors both years and landing on multiple All-America teams as a senior. That wasn’t enough to get Ferrell drafted but he’s managed to fight his way into the NBA, spending time with the Nets and Mavericks in his first two seasons. This summer Ferrell agreed to a two-year deal with Sacramento, where he’ll compete with Frank Mason III for the backup point guard job.

18. Georges Niang (69)

Niang’s career at Iowa State went down as one of the best in program history, as he was part of four NCAA tournament appearances and two Big 12 tournament titles. As a senior Niang was a consensus second team All-American, and the two-time first team All-Big 12 selection was also the winner of the Karl Malone Award (nation’s best power forward). One question that will likely linger in Ames for years to come is what could the Cyclones have achieved in 2014 had Niang not broken his foot late in Iowa State’s first round win over North Carolina Central.

After four years at Iowa State Niang was selected by Indiana with the 50th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Niang’s appeared in a total of 32 games for the Pacers and Jazz over the last two seasons, with the latter signing him to a standard contract (as opposed to a two-way) last month.

19. Marcus Paige (34)

A McDonald’s All American, Paige enjoyed a successful four-year career at North Carolina in which he earned first team All-ACC honors as a sophomore and was a three-time Academic All-American as well. Some of Paige’s second half performances as a sophomore were good enough for the nickname of “Second Half Marcus” to be created, and as a senior he helped lead the Tar Heels to the national title game.

Paige’s double-clutch three tied the game in the final seconds, but it would become a mere footnote thanks to Villanova’s Kris Jenkins. Selected by the Jazz with the 55th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Paige spent his rookie season in the G-League and would appear in five games with the Hornets last season. Paige recently agreed to a contract with KK Partizan in Serbia.

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

20. Ryan Arcidiacono (57)

While there are other players on this list who’ve been more impactful as professionals, Arcidiacono was part of a recruiting class that had a significant impact on the Villanova progam. Arcidiacono (and classmates such as Daniel Ochefu) arrived on the Villanova campus on the heels of a dip that occurred following the program’s Final Four run in 2009, and by the time his career was finished he was a Big East Player of the Year (shared with Kris Dunn in 2015) and a national champion (2016).

After averaging 11.1 points and 3.7 assists per game in four seasons at Villanova, Arcidiacono was signed by the Spurs as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Since then he’s spent most of his career in the G-League, appearing in eight games with the Chicago Bulls last season.

21. Taurean Prince (UR)

Unheralded out of high school, Prince developed into a key option for Baylor during his four seasons in Waco and is now an established pro with the Atlanta Hawks. As a junior Prince was one of the nation’s top reserves (and Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year), averaging 13.9 points per game for a Baylor team that won 24 games. The following season Prince was moved into the starting lineup, with the wing averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

After earning first team All-Big 12 honors as a senior Prince was selected 12th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft by Utah, which traded his draft rights to Atlanta. Prince’s NBA career has been similar to his time at Baylor, as after being a reserve as a rookie he started all 82 games last season and averaged 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

22. R.J. Hunter (UR)

Hunter made the decision to play for his father at Georgia State, and together they would spark a rebuild that would ultimately lead to an NCAA tournament appearance in 2015. The CAA Rookie of the Year and a first team all-conference selection in 2013, Hunter would be named Sun Belt Player of the Year in each of the following two seasons. He had a penchant for making big shots throughout his career at Georgia State, with none bigger than the one that propelled the Panthers past Baylor in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament (and sent his injured father off of his stool in front of the team bench).

However the sailing hasn’t been as smooth in the NBA, with Hunter struggling to establish himself after being selected by Boston with the 28th pick in the 2015 draft. Hunter’s appeared in a total of 44 games for three NBA franchises, including five with the Rockets last season. Hunter spent most of last season with the Rockets’ G-League affiliate.

23. Shabazz Muhammad (1)

Muhammad was long considered the best prospect in the Class of 2012, but his season in college didn’t lack for controversy thanks in part to a question regarding his age that wasn’t of Muhammad’s own doing. After one season at UCLA in which he shared Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and was an honorable mention All-American — a season capped by Ben Howland getting fired — Muhammad headed to the NBA. He was a lottery pick by the Timberwolves, and even averaged 13.5 points one season, but his inconsistency from beyond the arc capped his effectiveness. He eventually ended up getting traded to, and signed by, Milkwaukee in 2018.

24. Anthony Bennett (7)

Part of the CIA Bounce grassroots program that also produced the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis, Bennett finished out his high school career at Findlay Prep before making the short move over to UNLV. Bennett’s lone season as a Runnin’ Rebel was a good one, as he averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In June 2013 Cleveland would make Bennett the top pick in the NBA draft, making him the first Canadian to be picked in that spot (Wiggins would be next).

Bennett’s four season in the NBA were rough to say the least, as after one season he was dealt to Minnesota in the trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland. Following a year in Minnesota, Bennett would have stints with Toronto and Brooklyn before being waived by the Nets in January 2017. Bennett didn’t make the Suns roster out of training camp last season, and he spent the year playing with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League.

25. Perry Ellis (24)

Of course there was no shortage of jokes regarding Perry Ellis’ collegiate career and how long it seemed to last (he played four years), but he was a productive power forward during his time at Kansas. Ellis moved into the starting lineup ahead of his sophomore season and would remain there until graduation, and for his career he averaged 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. A two-time first team All-Big 12 selection, Ellis was also a second team All-American as a senior.

Undrafted in 2016, Ellis spent the 2016-17 season with the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA G-League before making the move overseas. Last month Ellis agreed to a deal with s. Oliver Wurzburg in Germany.

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

Isaiah Austin (4)

Austin was quite productive during his two seasons at Baylor, averaging 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. A member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team as a sophomore, Austin was expected to be a first round pick when he entered the 2014 NBA Draft. However during the pre-draft process Austin was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, and at the time it was deemed to be too risky to allow him to play professionally. This story does have a happy ending however, as he was medically clear to resume playing in late 2016 and has since played for teams in Serbia, China, Taiwan and Lebanon.

Ricardo Ledo (6)

When Ledo made the decision to stay home and play at Providence, Friar fans were excited about the possibility of he and Kris Dunn sharing the floor. But it never happened, as Ledo was not cleared to play by the NCAA and would ultimately turn pro after one year with the program. Selected by Milwaukee with the 43rd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Ledo appeared in 28 total games over the course of two seasons with the Mavericks (who acquired his draft rights from Milwaukee) and Knicks. Ledo’s spent much of his career overseas, most recently agreeing to a one-year deal with Pallacanestro Reggiana last month.

Alex Poythress (8)

A Top 10 prospect out of high school, Poythress found it difficult to live up to those lofty standards during his time at Kentucky. Poythress averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Wildcat, with his 2014-15 season limited to eight gamed due to a knee injury. Poythress has appeared in 31 NBA games, 25 of those coming as a member of the Pacers last season, and he’s currently a free agent after being waived in early July.

Rico Gathers (37)

Gathers had a solid-if-unremarkable career as one of the sport’s best rebounders while at Baylor, and when he graduated, he opted not to pursue a basketball career and instead joined up with the Dallas Cowboys as the latest in a long line of basketball players turned tight ends.

Brice Johnson (49)

Serving as a reserve in his first two seasons at North Carolina, Johnson was a key starter for the Tar Heels as both a junior and a senior. During his final season in Chapel Hill, Johnson averaged 18.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The Clippers selected Johnson with the 25th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but he’s been unable to establish himself as a rotation-caliber big man in the NBA. Johnson’s appeared in a total of 21 games during his two-year NBA career, and he’s a free agent after being waived by Memphis in March.

Wesson, No. 6 Ohio State unload on Penn State 106-74

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kaleb Wesson scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds for his ninth career double-double, helping No. 6 Ohio State rout Penn State 106-74 on Saturday.

Ohio State scored 100 points against a Big Ten rival for the first time since 1991.

Four players hit double figures for the Buckeyes (9-0, 1-0 Big Ten), who shot 57.4 percent from the field. Andre Wesson scored 15, and sophomores Duane Washington Jr. and Luther Muhammad each had 14.

Izaiah Brockington scored 19 points and Seth Lundy added 10 for the Nittany Lions (7-2, 0-1), who lost for the second time in four games and gave up 100 points for the first time since 2017. Penn State managed just 25 rebounds, far below its average of 44.

Senior Lamar Stevens, Penn State’s leading scorer averaging 17.9 points, managed just 11 against the Buckeyes and fouled out after getting a technical with 13:26 left in the second half.

Ohio State started the first half 1 for 6 from beyond the arc, but started draining 3-pointers in the second half, hitting 14 of 26 for 53.8 percent for the game. The Buckeyes were led by Washington, who hit four straight and Kaleb Wesson who shot 4 for 6 from long range, including three straight in the second half. Ohio State now has back-to-back games with 10 or more 3-pointers.

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: After showing early promise, Lions ran into Ohio State’s potent offense.

Ohio State: Solidified its standing as a Top 10 team, dominating every facet of the game and dispatching Penn State with ease.

UP NEXT

Penn State: At Maryland Tuesday.

Ohio State: At Minnesota Dec. 15.

Balanced effort leads No. 24 Butler past Florida 76-62

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INDIANAPOLIS — Sean McDermott and Aaron Thompson each scored 16 points to lead No. 24 Butler to a 76-62 win over Florida on Saturday.

Thompson made 6 of 7 shots and delivered seven assists. McDermott contributed a team-high seven rebounds.

Jordan Tucker added 13 points off the bench for the Bulldogs (9-0). Kamar Baldwin, who was averaging a team-high 17.5 points for Butler, scored 12 points.

Baldwin picked up two fouls in the first 3-plus minutes of the game and was limited to 11 minutes in the first half. The senior guard finished with three fouls.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. led Florida (6-3) with 17 points. Andrew Nembhard and Noah Locke each scored 11.

The Bulldogs shot 52% percent while holding the Gators to 44%. Butler made 9 of 20 3-pointers while Florida was 6 of 21. Each team had 10 turnovers.

The Gators, who trailed by nine at halftime, narrowed the deficit to six points twice before the Bulldogs pulled away. Butler’s largest lead was 19 points at 61-42 with 7:33 remaining.

Butler finished the first half with a 19-5 run to take a 35-26 lead at halftime. Trailing 21-16, the Bulldogs had an 11-0 run.

Butler owns the nation’s longest streak of consecutive non-conference home victories at 56.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: After a solid start on the road, the Gators’ four-game winning streak end with a thud. Entering the game with a 30% average from 3-point range, Florida shot 23%.

Butler: The Bulldogs won their third meeting with an SEC opponent in the last four games, previously beating Missouri 63-52 in the Hall of Fame Classic on Nov. 24 and host Mississippi 67-58 Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Florida: Home game against another Big East opponent Providence on Dec. 17.

Butler: Travels to No. 18 Baylor on Tuesday.

No. 18 Baylor beats No. 12 Arizona 63-58 as fans get free tickets

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WACO, Texas — MaCio Teague scored 19 points, Freddie Gillespie had 17 points and 13 rebounds and No. 18 Baylor defeated No. 12 Arizona 63-58 on Saturday for the Wildcats’ first loss.

Admission was free at Baylor’s campus arena because the Bears were playing Oklahoma in the Big 12 football championship game, which started about the same time 100 miles north of Waco at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

It was supposed to be the first true road game for the Wildcats (9-1), but their fans might have outnumbered the Baylor contingent. They loudly chanted “U of A” before the Baylor introductions but had a hard time getting into the game early, with Arizona giving up a 15-0 run and shooting 33 percent in the first half.

The Wildcats, whose 52-game home winning streak was stopped by Baylor last December, did enough to stay close and had the fans chanting several times in the second half.

Arizona finally got the deficit under six by scoring five points on one possession to get within 57-56 with less than two minutes remaining. Jemarl Baker Jr. hit a 3 as a foul was called and Zeke Nnaji made both free throws.

Teague, who was 9 of 10 on free throws, made a pair at the other end, then blocked a 3-point attempt by Nico Mannion, who led the Wildcats with 15 points. Leading by four, Baylor got another block from Gillespie in the final minute.

Nnaji scored 12 for Arizona, which made just two of 18 3-pointers after coming in sixth in the nation at 43% shooting from long range. The last miss came from Josh Green with a chance to tie in the final seconds.

The Bears (7-1) started hot in the fourth-ever Top 25 matchup in Waco but cooled off while Arizona simply stayed cold. Baylor shot 30% to 27% for the Wildcats, who came in fourth in the nation in scoring at 87.1 points per game.

The Wildcats stayed close by making free throws. Mannion was 8 of 8 and Chase Jeter matched Teague by going 9 of 10. Arizona was 28 of 34 from the line.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats didn’t play well in their first real test this season, and first true road game against ranked team since beating rival Arizona State 77-70 in February 2018. Arizona won’t have to wait long for the next one. No. 9 Gonzaga visits next Saturday.

Baylor: The Bears took control early without a lot of help from Jared Butler, third in the Big 12 in scoring coming in. The sophomore guard didn’t score until after the 15-0 run that put Baylor up 22-8 and finished with 13 points.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Omaha at home Wednesday.

Baylor: Butler at home Tuesday.

Best Bets: Previewing the weekend’s biggest college basketball games

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There are no Vegas lines for these games just yet. All analysis will be based on KenPom projections, which typically end up close to the opening lines anyway.

No. 7 NORTH CAROLINA at No. 5 VIRGINIA, Sun. 4:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Virginia 61, North Carolina 55
  • TICKETS: Click here

I am going to be fascinated to see where the line for this game opens up, because neither of these teams are playing all that well right now, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Virginia was blown out by unranked Purdue on the road, 69-40, while North Carolina is coming off of a drubbing at the hands of Ohio State in their own building, 74-49.

My initial lean here is going to be the Virginia side, depending on how much they are laying, but I do think that the best bet would likely be the under assuming the line opens at or around 116. The logic is relatively simple, really. Virginia has still been one of college basketball’s most intimidating defenses this season despite what happened against Purdue. While nice, 69 points doesn’t sound like a lot, but the 1.19 points-per-possession the Boilermakers did post was one of just four times in the last two-plus years that a team has done that against Virginia.

Purdue has done it twice.

That’s because the Boilermakers run the precise kind of action you need to run to beat the Pack-Line. There is a ton of motion, guys running off of screens every which way and action happening simultaneously on both sides of the floor. This is not what North Carolina does, and when combined with the fact that – as shown in the video embedded below – the Tar Heels have basically one option offensively right now, leads me to believe that the Wahoos will control tempo, overwhelm UNC defensively and keep this game in the 50s.

Think about it like this. Ohio State-UNC finished at 123 total points. Virginia is the only defense in the country ranked higher on KenPom that Ohio State, and Virginia is a full 100 spots lower offensively.

PICKS: I like Virginia -5 and below, and I like the under for everything 115 and above.

No. 12 ARIZONA at No. 18 BAYLOR, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Baylor 75, Arizona 71
  • TICKETS: Click here

There are a couple of things to take into account here.

For starters, this game is being played in Waco, but there are some real questions about just how much of a home court advantage the Bears are going to have here. The football team is in the Big 12 title game, which will be played at the same time. I have a feeling that is going to take priority for the majority of the Baylor fanbase. Baylor has resorted to giving away free tickets to make sure the stands are filled.

That said, I think that Baylor has the matchup advantage here. The Bears haven’t been playing as much zone this year but it’s still something they can fall back into, which will be tricky for an Arizona team built around three freshmen. I also think the size Baylor has inside is less than ideal for a team that relies on Zeke Nnaji quite a bit. Then throw in the fact that this is Arizona’s first true road game and first game outside of the western time zone, and I like the spot for Baylor.

PICKS: I’m refraining from betting on this. I don’t have a great feel.

No. 9 GONZAGA at No. 22 WASHINGTON, Sun. 7:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Gonzaga 73, Washington 71
  • TICKETS: Click here

A rivalry game, one where I expect Gonzaga to be favored on the road. I think I like Washington here. I don’t fully trust Gonzaga’s guard play at this point in the season, and if anyone remembers the way that the Washington-Baylor game ended the first week of the season, Isaiah Stewart completely dominated Baylor’s frontline down the stretch. I can see that happening again, considering just how much Gonzaga relies on running offense through their posts.

PICKS: I think Washington will win, so getting the Huskies on the money line at +125 would be nice.

FLORIDA at No. 24 BUTLER, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Butler 63, Florida 57
  • TICKETS: Click here

We’ve been betting Butler this season because the Bulldogs have been undervalued by the market all year. But now that they have that number next to their name and coming off of a really impressive win at Ole Miss, I think our chance to be all in on this team may have come to an end.

I also think that six points is a lot in this matchup, which I expect to be really low-scoring. The Gators can defend, are good at running teams off of the three-point line and can’t make threes themselves. They have a number of guards they can throw at Kamar Baldwin and have shown no desire to play fast at all this season. Butler is 348th in average possession length offensively.

PICKS: Let’s see where the total opens, but if it’s in the low-to-mid 120s, I think the under is the play in this game.

No. 20 COLORADO at No. 2 KANSAS, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Kansas 73, Colorado 65
  • TICKETS: Click here

I am definitely looking forward to this game because I feel like I haven’t had a chance to really watch Colorado yet this season. I saw a little bit of their game against Arizona State in the opener, but that’s it. So keep that in mind as I proceed to tout the Buffaloes. Here’s the logic: The Jayhawks want to run their offense through Udoka Azubuike in the post, and Colorado is top ten nationally in defensive two-point field goal percentage. They have big bodies, they have strong posts and they can make life tough for Azubuike inside.

PICKS: I think this line will open up higher than Colorado (+8). Getting the Buffaloes (+10.5) would make all of my wildest dreams come true.

No. 19 DAYTON vs. SAINT MARY’S, Sun. 4:00 p.m. (Phoenix)

  • KENPOM: Dayton 70, Saint Mary’s 68
  • TICKETS: Click here

I’ll be on Dayton here. What makes Saint Mary’s dangerous is their ability to spread teams out with their shooting and create mismatches all over the court. Dayton does the same thing, only they have Player of the Year candidate Obi Toppin creating mismatches, who should, in theory, be able to limit Malik Fitts’ advantage at the four. Playing this game at a neutral site is a bonus as well.

PICKS: I like Dayton up to (-4.5), and I would think about the under as well. Both of these teams are built on shooting, and neutral sites environments can be tough to shoot in. Saint Mary’s wanting to play at a slow pace will help as well.

CINCINNATI at XAVIER, Sat. 5:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Xavier 73, Cincinnati 67
  • TICKETS: Click here

My take on Cincinnati is that the Bearcats are overvalued right now. The biggest reason for that is that there seems to still be some tension between new head coach John Brannen and star guard Jarron Cumberland. I also think that Xavier is one of the teams that is being undervalued at this point. I know they struggle shooting the rock, but they are tough, they are athletic and they have a couple of game-changers in Naji Marshall, Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs. If Kyky Tandy can provide a bit of shooting and Quentin Goodin is truly out of his funk, the Musketeers are a top 20 team.

The only concern I have: This is a rivalry game. If Jarron Cumberland is ever going to play like a National Player of the Year candidate, this is the game he’ll do it.

PICKS: I will probably be staying away at Xavier (-6).

CBT Podcast: Georgetown’s problems, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a weekend preview

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Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan from the Fundamentally Sound podcast go through everything that happened in a wild week of basketball, from the four – yes, four! – blowouts of in the marquee games of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge as well as the rise of DePaul and the enigma that is Indiana. Rob also discusses the situation at Georgetown at the top, and the podcast ends with a preview of what should be a lively weekend of college hoops.