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Best Bets: Where do you want your action in college basketball this weekend?

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Here is everything you need to know when betting the biggest games this weekend.

As always, this is coming out before the Vegas lines for Saturday’s games, so we are using projections from KenPom, Torvik and Haslametrics to walk through how the game will play out. 

No. 16 TEXAS TECH at No. 11 KANSAS, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Kansas 66, Texas Tech 63
  • HASLAMETRICS: Kansas 67, Texas Tech 64
  • TORVIK: Kansas 67, Texas Tech 64

This matchup is a tough one to parse.

On the one hand, Kansas has been in a funk offensively that centers around the fact that they don’t have enough perimeter shooting, Marcus Garrett has been a non-factor offensively and teams can throw two bodies at Dedric Lawson with reckless abandon. But the crux of the issue stems from KU’s size. They’ve been forced to play small without Udoka Azubuike and they’ve struggled on the defensive end of the floor without being able to matchup with the size of teams that go big while being unable to take advantage of the mismatch offensively.

Texas Tech is the third-best defense nationally, according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, so that does not bode well for Kansas. But the Red Raiders really struggle to score at times, and they — like Kansas — tend to play four guards with Jarrett Culver at the four.

The result is a fascinating matchup between a potential top five pick in Culver and one of the best defensive players in the country in Garrett. We’ll also get to see Tariq Owens, an athletic marvel and one of college basketball’s best shot-blockers, going head-to-head with the all-american Lawson.

PICKS: If the line is Kansas (-3), I think that I would probably lean Kansas, although I don’t love it. The Jayhawks have struggled this season, but they are still undefeated at home and on neutral courts. Their real struggles have come on the road, where they are just 1-5 this season. I know Texas Tech won in the Phog last year, and I firmly believe that the Red Raiders are a top 15 team with a top ten coach in the sport, but I can’t pick against Bill Self in this spot, not when he has a team that’s lost two in a row and three of four.

that said, I think the under might be the best that I like more here, depending on where the line opens. If it is in the low-to-mid 130s, hammer the under.

No. 9 NORTH CAROLINA at No. 15 LOUISVILLE, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Louisville 79, North Carolina 77
  • HASLAMETRICS: Louisville 82, North Carolina 80
  • TORVIK: Louisville 81, North Carolina 78

The game of the weekend, in large part due to the fact that just three weeks ago, Louisville went into Chapel Hill and beat down the Tar Heels, handing Roy Williams the worst loss that he’s ever suffered at home as the head coach at UNC.

Neither team has lost since then, meaning that this is now a matchup between the two teams in the ACC that have been keeping pace with Duke and Virginia at the top of the league. The question I have heading into this game is how North Carolina decides to lineup. Louisville’s preferred lineup features Malik Williams at the five with Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora — a pair of athletic, versatile combo-forwards — flanking him on the frontline. This will be a problem for the Tar Heels if they opt to roll out their typical, two-big look. Sutton, in particular, was sensational in the first meeting, finishing with 17 points, nine boards, seven assists and four steals in his breakout game.

If I was coaching North Carolina, I would play Luke Maye at the five with Cam Johnson and Nassir Little joining him, matching up with the versatility Louisville will have on display. But I also would have been doing this since the first day of the season, so the assumption of rational coaching probably shouldn’t come into play here.

North Carolina tends to go as Coby White goes. Roy Williams’ offense is heavily reliant on point guard play, and as a volume scorer that is A) a freshman and B) not all that adept at making teammates better at this point in his career, it makes sense. He can be somewhat streaky, and when he’s bad, UNC is beatable.

Louisville does have some really good on-ball defenders, specifically Khwan Fore and Darius Perry, so if they can once again do a job on White — he had four points, four turnovers, and three fouls in 19 minutes in the first meeting — I think Louisville wins.

PICKS: I do think that this game will be close. If the line opens at Louisville (-1) I would lean the Cardinals here. If it opens at Louisville (-5), then I’d probably want to be on UNC’s side, although I would feel less good about that bet.

No. 7 KENTUCKY at FLORIDA, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Kentucky 64, Florida 62
  • HASLAMETRICS: Kentucky 62, Florida 61
  • TORVIK: Kentucky 63, Florida 62

I might be a bad person to speak on this, but I am just not sold on Florida this year. The metrics love them because they’ve lost a lot of close games, but they’ve still lost those games. And now they are playing without Keith Stone while Jalen Hudson has been about as effective as Henry Hudson this season.

Kentucky, on the other hand, is absolutely rolling. Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans have emerged, Reid Travis is starting to understand what his role is and P.J. Washington has been arguably the best player in college basketball over the course of the last ten days.

PICKS: I have no idea what this line is going to look like when it opens. The metrics are all projecting a close, low-scoring game, but this is also Kentucky. I thought they would open up as three or four point favorites against Kansas and the line opened at six.

I do think Kentucky wins this game, but I don’t expect it to be a blowout. Florida may start three freshmen, but they are tough and competitive and the O-Dome is never an easy place to play. I’d take Kentucky up to about (-4), but given that these are two of the top ten defenses in American and that neither of them are playing all that fast this year, the better bet may end up being the under if the total opens in the 130s.

No. 21 MARYLAND at No. 24 WISCONSIN, Fri. 9:00 p.m. (FS1)

  • KENPOM: Wisconsin 68, Maryland 62
  • HASLAMETRICS: Wisconsin 67, Maryland 62
  • TORVIK: Wisconsin 67, Maryland 62

I think Wisconsin wins this game. They are playing at home, the Kohl Center has historically been one of the toughest places in the country to win and, frankly, the Badgers are just the better basketball team. I don’t think Bruno Fernando gets the best of Ethan Happ (but it’ll be fun to see him try) and Brad Davison strikes me as precisely the kind of pest that will keep Anthony Cowan from getting into a rhythm.

PICKS: This is a Friday night game, so the lines are already out. It makes sense that Wisconsin would be favored by five since that is more or less what all the metrics are projecting. They are also projecting that this game ends up under 130, and the total opened at 133.5 The Badgers are very, very slow. Maryland is just very slow. Throw in the fact that Wisconsin has a top five defense and that they have failed to reached 16 points in the first half twice in league play — including at Maryland — and the under seems like the best bet you can get.

No. 12 VIRGINIA TECH at No. 23 N.C. STATE, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (ACCNET)

  • KENPOM: Virginia Tech 78, N.C. State 77
  • HASLAMETRICS: Virginia Tech 79, N.C. State 76
  • TORVIK: Virginia Tech 79, N.C. State 78

This is a fascinating game matchup. N.C. State loves to press, loves to run and is as good at forcing turnovers as anyone in college basketball. That works against some teams. I don’t think it will work against a Virginia Tech team that essentially starts three point guards — Justin Robinson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Wabissa Bede — and is the second-best three-point shooting team in college basketball.

PICKS: I know they’re on the road and I know the Wolfpack just took Virginia to overtime, but if this ends up as a pick-em or with the Hokies getting points I will be all over that line.

TEXAS at No. 20 IOWA STATE, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

  • KENPOM: Iowa State 74, Texas 66
  • HASLAMETRICS: Iowa State 75, Texas 65
  • TORVIK: Iowa State 75, Texas 67

Texas, coming off of an impressive win at home against Kansas, now heads on the road to take on the Cyclones in Hilton Coliseum.

Isn’t life in the Big 12 fun?

Texas will grind you down defensively, but they’ve actually shown to be pretty capable of playing small this season even it their win over Kansas came because they played big. And while this group is now just 1-4 on the road with the one win coming against a Dean Wade-less Kansas State team, their three Big 12 road losses were by an average of three points. That includes a loss at Kansas.

PICKS: Iowa State is might just be the best team in the Big 12, and I do think that they win this game, but if the line creeps up towards the Cyclones (-10), then I would probably lean the Longhorns. Their record doesn’t quite show how good they have been against a monstrous schedule.

No. 22 MISSISSIPPI STATE at OLE MISS, Sat. 3:30 p.m. (SECNET)

  • KENPOM: Ole Miss 76, Mississippi State 75
  • HASLAMETRICS: Mississippi State 77, Ole Miss 77
  • TORVIK: Ole Miss 77, Mississippi State 74

I felt like I had to mention this game in a weekend preview because it is a rivalry game between two good teams in the SEC, but I honestly want no part of betting it. I do not think Ole Miss is all that good, and while I feel a little bit better about the Bulldogs, Mississippi State also lost at home to this Ole Miss team in January.

PICKS: If this game ends up a pick-em, I would lean towards the home team, but I will have my action elsewhere this weekend.

ST. JOHN’S at No. 2 DUKE, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Duke 90, St. John’s 71
  • HASLAMETRICS: Duke 96, St. John’s 71
  • TORVIK: Duke 93, St. John’s 73

The thing about this St. John’s team is that they are not all that well-coached and they have not been all that good in the Big East this year. Think about it like this: The Big East has just two teams that are above .500 in league play and the Johnnies are not one of them. They are well and truly on the bubble right now.

PICKS: 20 points is a lot of points to cover, but I just cannot see this St. John’s team finding a way to hang with Duke. They basically do the same thing that Duke does — create mismatches, play with versatile athletes, win on talent — but they’re just not as good as the Blue Devils.

Throw in the fact that Shamorie Ponds is going to have to deal with Tre Jones, and I’ll ride Duke to cover.

INDIANA at No. 6 MICHIGAN STATE, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Michigan State 79, Indiana 62
  • HASLAMETRICS: Michigan State 82, Indiana 62
  • TORVIK: Michigan State 80, Indiana 63

Indiana is an absolute train wreck this season. The Hoosiers have lost seven straight games, their star player looks like he has checked out and the lack of confidence with this group is palpable. Michigan State, on the other hand, has been rolling. They are now rated above Michigan on KenPom and look like they are hitting their stride.

PICKS: I love the Spartans. For starters, they are actually a better team without Josh Langford. As good as Langford is, he does not fit the role that he is asked to play as well as Aaron Henry and Kyle Ahrens. The latter two are better athletes and better defenders that can shoot but that don’t see the ball stick in their hands. Langford was ruled out for the year on Wednesday.

The Spartans are also coming off of a mollywhopping at Purdue in a game that was played on an island on big CBS on a Sunday afternoon with no football. Everyone watched it, which means that hopefully public money will move the line in our favor.

Go Green.

Bill Self has “no knowledge” if Kansas will be among schools receiving notice of allegations

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NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs Stan Wilcox told CBS Sports last week that at least six schools will receive notice of allegations stemming from evidence and testimony that emanated from the federal government’s probe into corruption in college basketball, with two schools likely to be served early next month.

“We’re moving forward and you’ll see consequences,” Wilcox said.

If one of those schools is Kansas, which was often at the center of developments in the saga, it’s unknown to Jayhawks coach Bill Self.

“I have no knowledge of who he was talking about or anything like that,” Self said Monday, according to the Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World. “But certainly the fan bases of all the (programs) that were mentioned, I’m sure, are very interested in what he meant by that.”

It’s not surprising that Self wouldn’t be in the know here, but his comments echo those made by others critical of Wilcox’s statements, with allegations of prejudgement by the NCAA given allegations haven’t even been formally submitted to schools.

“So now that’s it over, we’re going to be moving forward with a number of Level I cases that will help people realize that, ‘Yeah, the enforcement staff was in a position to move forward,'” Wilcox told CBS Sports.

Upwards of 20 schools were mentioned in the federal probe.

“I just think to predetermine what’s going to happen before investigations are done, I think that comes pretty strong,” Self said, per the Journal-World. “I was shocked to read that something could be said that was not specifically intended for anyone, but it made all 20 schools that were mentioned in the FBI deal and their fan base feel like it was.”

Wilcox did confirm, however, that the NCAA will not have access to a reported wiretap that was alleged to feature Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend discussing financial arrangements around the recruitment of Zion Williamson, who ultimately went to Duke and is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft later this week. No such wiretap was entered into evidence during a trial.

Wilcox’s statements regarding the investigations were atypical, and symbolic of the situation the NCAA finds itself in. The government announced its investigation nearly two years ago, and the twists, turns and revelations of that probe have played out publicly in court rooms, legal documents and news reports over that whole time while the NCAA, understandably, sat out its hands while the legal process was playing out. That leaves many wondering when and how the governing body of the sport will react while the NCAA likely wants to send a message that programs can’t act with impunity. But when you’re judge and jury, as the NCAA is, any whiff of a decision being made before the conclusion of its own investigation is going to draw justified criticism – particularly from the schools whom it effects the most.

 

 

LaMelo Ball to continue professional career in Australia

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LaMelo Ball will never make it to a college campus after all.

Lonzo’s youngest brother and the baby of the Ball family announced on Monday afternoon that he will be continuing his professional career playing for the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian National Basketball League. He previously suited up for a professional team in Lithuania. There had been some speculation that he would try to get himself cleared to play collegiately, but few believed there was any real possibility of getting cleared by the NCAA.

Which means that LaMelo will be heading down under before entering the 2020 NBA Draft.

And I am sure that the family name and memories that we all have of a 6-foot-nothing LaMelo Ball cherry-picking to try and score 100 points while shooting ridiculous, off-balance, step-back threes every possession will make the majority of people reading this scoff at the idea of LaMelo getting drafted, but the truth of the matter is that he is a very real NBA prospect.

He’s 6-foot-7 now. He has the passing, the deep shooting range and the ball-handling to be projectable as a wing player in the NBA. He’s still just 17 years old, believe it or not, and there is still room for him to grow into his still-developing frame. The big concern with him is two-fold — toughness and defense — and those questions are going to get answered playing in the NBL, a league that is much more physical than its Aussie reputation would lead you to believe.

Ball has very limited experience playing against that level of competition. Even when he was in Lithuania, he was not playing against the top tier of the nation’s professional teams. He is going to be tested and required to prove himself if he wants to be a first round pick, but I feel very confident in saying this: Every 2020 mock draft that you read this week is going to include Ball’s name in there somewhere. That’s the kind of potential that he has.

USC grad transfer Thornton picks Boston College over Gonzaga

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Derryck Thornton is heading back to the ACC.

On Monday, multiple reports surfaced that the USC grad transfer and former Duke point guard would be heading to Boston College for his final season of eligibility. Thornton was a five-star prospect as a high school junior, opting to leave school and enroll at Duke a year early. He was a part of the class that also included Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter, but he left the program after one up-and-down year that saw him start just 20 games and averaged 7.1 points and 2.6 assists.

Thornton headed back west to USC, where he averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 assists as a junior.

His return to the ACC is most notable for who he did not pick. Thornton was initially thought to be a Gonzaga lean, as the Bulldogs are in the market for a veteran point guard after losing Josh Perkins. Thornton was one of their main targets, but he instead opted on heading to the program that turned Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman into all-league players and, in Robinson’s case, a lottery pick.

That, in theory, is huge for BC, who could use the injection of talent, but even with Thornton in the fold, this doesn’t exactly look like a tournament team.

It’s far more interesting Gonzaga. As it stands, the starting point guard spot looks like it will be Admon Gilder’s — a grad transfer from Texas A&M that would ideally play off-the-ball — if freshman Brock Ravet can’t handle the job. The remaining crop of point guard grad transfers don’t appear to be the kind of players that will be able to impact a season for a team that is expected to be as good as Gonzaga is.

College Basketball 2019-2020 Preseason Top 25

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There is so much that is going to happen between now and the time that next season starts that it almost seems foolish to publish a preseason top 25 today.

But we’re doing it anyway!

A couple of notes: Who is going to head to the NBA is very much in the air right now. There are still a number of freshmen that have yet to announce where they are playing their college ball. The transfer market has barely heated up. For decisions that are up in the air, you’ll see an asterisk next to their name. We’re making predictions on what certain players will do and ranking based off of them. 

So with all that said, here is the preseason top 25.

1. MICHIGAN STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins, Nick Ward
  • WHO’S BACK: Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Foster Loyer, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Julius Marble
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Kyle Ahrens, Aaron Henry, Xavier Tillman

2. KENTUCKY

  • WHO’S GONE: P.J. Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis
  • WHO’S BACK: E.J. Montgomery, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickly, Nick Richards
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks, Johnny Juzang, Dontaie Allen, Nate Sestina
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks, E.J. Montgomery

3. DUKE

  • WHO’S GONE: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Marques Bolden
  • WHO’S BACK: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Cassius Stanley
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey

4. KANSAS

  • WHO’S GONE: Lagerald Vick, Dedric Lawson, Quintin Grimes, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore
  • WHO’S BACK: Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Silvio De Sousa, Mitch Lightfoot, David McCormack
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaiah Moss, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Isaac McBride, Christian Braun
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Devon Dotson, Isaiah Moss, Ochai Agbaji, Silvio De Sousa, Udoka Azubuike

5. VILLANOVA

  • WHO’S GONE: Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Jahvon Quinerly
  • WHO’S BACK: Jermaine Samuels, Cole Swider, Saddiq Bey, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Rountree, Brandon Slater
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Collin Gillespie, Bryan Antoine, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

6. LOUISVILLE

  • WHO’S GONE: Christen Cunningham, Khwan Fore, Akoy Agau
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Steve Enoch, Malik Williams, Darius Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Samuell Williamson, Jaelyn Withers, Josh Nickelberry, Fresh Kimble, David Johnson, Aidan Igiehom, Quinn Slazinski
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Fresh Kimble, Samuell Williamson, Dwayne Sutton, Jordan Nwora, Malik Williams

7. MARYLAND

  • WHO’S GONE: Bruno Fernando
  • WHO’S BACK: Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith, Serrel Smith Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Darryl Morsell
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Chol Marial, Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell, Donta Scott
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Jalen Smith

8. VIRGINIA

  • WHO’S GONE: De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Jack Salt
  • WHO’S BACK: Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff, Kihei Clark
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, Kadin Shedrick, Justin McKoy
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kihei Clark, Casey Morsell, Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff

9. TEXAS TECH

  • WHO’S GONE: Jarrett Culver, Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens, Brandone Francis, Norense Odiase, Khavon Moore
  • WHO’S BACK: Chris Beard, Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew, Andrei Savrasov
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jahmius Ramsey, Chris Clarke, T.J. Holyfield, Kevin McCullar, Russel Tchewa, Terrence Shannon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jahmius Ramsey, Davide Moretti, Deshawn Corprew, T.J. Holyfield, Chris Clarke

10. GONZAGA

  • WHO’S GONE: Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Josh Perkins, Zach Norvell, Geno Crandall, Jeremy Jones
  • WHO’S BACK: Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev, Corey Kispert
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Admon Gilder, Drew Timme, Oumar Ballo, Brock Ravet, Anton Watson, Martynas Arlauskas, Pavel Zahkarov
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Brock Ravet, Admon Gilder, Corey Kispert, Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev

11. SETON HALL

  • WHO’S GONE: Michael Nzei
  • WHO’S BACK: Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Tyrese Samuel
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quincy McKnight, Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu

12. NORTH CAROLINA

  • WHO’S GONE: Coby White, Nassir Little, Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams, Seventh Woods
  • WHO’S BACK: Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Cole Anthony, Armando Bacot, Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cole Anthony, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks

13. ARIZONA

  • WHO’S GONE: Justin Coleman, Ryan Luther, Brandon Randolph
  • WHO’S BACK: Dylan Smith, Chase Jeter, Brandon Williams, Alex Barcello, Ira Lee
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Max Hazzard, Terry Armstrong, Christian Koloko, Zeke Nnaji, Stone Gettings
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Max Hazzard, Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Ira Lee, Chase Jeter

14. UTAH STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: Quinn Taylor
  • WHO’S BACK: Sam Merrill, Neemias Queta, Diogo Brito, Brock Miller, Abel Porter
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Alphonso Anderson, Liam McChesney, Sean Bairstow
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Diogo Brito, Abel Porter, Sam Merrill, Brock Miller, Neemias Queta

15. SAINT MARY’S

  • WHO’S GONE: Jordan Hunter
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Ford, Malik Fitts, Tommy Kuhse, Tanner Krebs, Dan Fotu, Jock Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Alex Ducas, Kyle Bowen
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jordan Ford, Tommy Kuhse, Tanner Krebs, Malik Fitts, Jock Perry

16. XAVIER

  • WHO’S GONE: Ryan Welage, Zach Hankins, Kyle Castlin, Elias Harden
  • WHO’S BACK: Quentin Goodin, Naji Marshall, Paul Scruggs, Tyrique Jones
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kyky Tandy, Dahmir Bishop, Zach Freemantle, Jason Carter, Daniel Ramsey, Dieonte Miles
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jason Carter, Tyrique Jones

17. LSU

  • WHO’S GONE: Tremont Waters, Naz Reid, Kavell-Bigby Williams
  • WHO’S BACK: Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams, Marlon Taylor, Darius Days
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Trendon Watford, James Bishop
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor, Trendon Watford, Emmitt Williams

18. BAYLOR

  • WHO’S GONE: King McClure, Makai Mason, Jake Lindsey
  • WHO’S BACK: Tristan Clark, Mario Kegler, Jared Butler, Devonte Bandoo, Mark Vital, Freddie Gillespie, Matthew Mayer
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jordan Turner, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, Mark Vital, Mario Kegler, Tristan Clark

19. MEMPHIS

  • WHO’S GONE: Jeremiah Martin, Kyvon Davenport, Mike Parks Jr., Raynere Thornton, Kareem Brewton, Antwann Jones Jr.
  • WHO’S BACK: Tyler Harris, Alex Lomax, Isaiah Maurice
  • WHO’S COMING IN: James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Malcolm Dandridge, Damian Baugh, Lance Thomas, Precious Achiuwa, Boogie Ellis
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyler Harris, Boogie Ellis, D.J. Jeffries, Precious Achiuwa, James Wiseman

20. AUBURN

  • WHO’S GONE: Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar, Horace Spencer, Chuma Okeke
  • WHO’S BACK: Samir Doughty, J’Von McCormick, Danjel Purifoy, Anfernee McLemore, Austin Wiley
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaac Okoro, Tyrell Jones, Jaylin Williams, Babatunde Akingbola, Allen Flanigan, Jamal Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: J’Von McCormick, Samir Doughty, Danjel Purifoy, Isaac Okoro, Anfernee McLemore

21. TENNESSEE

  • WHO’S GONE: Admiral Schofield, Kyle Alexander, Jordan Bone, Grant Williams
  • WHO’S BACK: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Yves Pons, Derrick Walker Jr., John Fulkerson, D.J. Burns, Jalen Johnson
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Josiah James, Drew Pember, Olivier Nkamoua, Davonte Gaines
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Josiah James, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson

22. CREIGHTON

  • WHO’S GONE: Sam Froling, Kaleb Joseph, Connor Cashaw
  • WHO’S BACK: Davion Mintz, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Jacob Epperson, Damien Jefferson, Marcus Zegarowski
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Shereef Mitchell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Davion Mintz, Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Jacob Epperson

23. VCU

  • WHO’S GONE: Michael Gilmore
  • WHO’S BACK: Marcus Evans, Isaac Vann, Deriante Jenkins, Marcus Santos-Silva, Vince Williams, Mike’L Simms, P.J. Byrd, Malik Crawford
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jarren McAlister
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Evans, Isaac Vann, Vince Williams, Deriante Jenkins, Marcus Santos-Silva

24. OHIO STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: C.J. Jackson, Keyshawn Woods
  • WHO’S BACK: Kaleb Wesson, Andre Wesson, Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington, Kyle Young, Justin Aherns, Musa Jallow, Jaedon LeDee
  • WHO’S COMING IN: D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney, EJ Liddel, Ibrahima Diallo, CJ Walker
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: C.J. Walker, Duane Washington Jr., Luther Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Kaleb Wesson

25. DAVIDSON

  • WHO’S GONE: Nathan Ekwu, Dusan Kovacevic
  • WHO’S BACK: Kellan Grady, Jon Axel Gudmundson, Luka Brajkovic, Luke Frampton, Kishawn Pritchett, Carter Collins, David Czerapowicz, Bates Jones
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Hyunjung Lee, David Kristensen
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kellan Grady, Jon Axel Gudmundson, Luke Frampton, Kishawn Pritchett, Luka Brajkovic

New-look Virginia back to work after winning NCAA title

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Tony Bennett’s first offseason as a national champion coach has come with benefits on the recruiting trail. His first season at Virginia after winning the title, however, will bring challenges.

Five players who helped Virginia beat Texas Tech to capture the first basketball title in school history are gone, and that’s four more than expected. Center Jack Salt graduated, and guards De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy declared for the NBA draft. Seldom-used Marco Anthony transferred.

Recruiting was already well underway before the Cavaliers won it all, but Bennett said Wednesday the result “certainly can’t hurt and I think it has helped. It validates a lot of good stuff that’s happened in the past.”

Virginia hopes the spoils of those improvements are evident quickly in incoming freshmen guard Casey Morsell, big men Justin McKoy and Kadin Shedrick and junior college shooting guard Tomas Woldetensae.

Virginia opened its summer practice period on Tuesday, and Bennett said he’s not sure just yet who will be ready to contribute.

“Everyone will have ample opportunity, the newcomers, so to speak,” he said. “To say who, you just don’t know. … There are some opportunities out there. So it’s the returners and we can go down the list of the guys we brought in, but I think they’re excited about the opportunity.

“There’s always a learning curve any time you go from whether it’s high school to college or junior college to college or coming from a redshirt to being eligible. … Going up a level and playing in the ACC, for any of these guys, there’s the challenge of the physicality and the level of talent and the speed.”

Woldetensae, a left-handed shooter, averaged 17.3 points per game and shot 47.6 percent from 3-point range last season at Indian Hills Community College.

“We thought we needed to add some experience and a quality player on the perimeter and when he was mentioned and we did our homework and watched film and all those kinds of things,” he said. “His personality came out as a young man of character and we always start there. He seemed wanting to challenge himself at a very high level.”

The Cavaliers were delighted that Mamadi Diakite decided to come back for his senior year after testing the professional waters. And they added senior transfer Sam Hauser, who averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds last season at Marquette. Hauser will be eligible to practice with the team, but won’t be able to play until 2020-21.

Bennett’s offseason included numerous speaking engagements, recruiting, talking to NBA scouts about his players and some time to decompress.

He also checked an item off his bucket list when, with his father, longtime college coach Dick Bennett, he played Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. That, he said, “was amazing.”

Now, it’s back to work.

“I’m grateful for the busy-ness of it,” he said of the offseason. “It means something good happened.”