Monday’s Overreactions: Kansas is better than Gonzaga, Memphis is real, UNC is not

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Payton Pritchard, Oregon

I’m not sure if Payton Pritchard should be the favorite for National Player of the Year, but at this point, he certainly is a favorite. On Saturday, in a 71-70 overtime win over Michigan in Ann Arbor, Pritchard had 23 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds, but that doesn’t really do justice to the performance that he had that day.

Pritchard scored the final nine points for Oregon in regulation. He scored six of their eight points in overtime. He did it all while going toe-to-toe with Zavier Simpson, one of the best on-ball defenders in the sport, as Dana Altman opted to turn his offense into the Payton Pritchard Show.

As of today, Pritchard is averaging 19.2 points, 5.9 assists and 4.1 boards while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor and 38.6 percent from three for a top ten team that is going to climb in this week’s poll. That’s the stuff that Players of the Year are made of.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Memphis Tigers

I think it’s probably hyperbolic to say that Memphis had the most impressive win of the season on Saturday.

Stephen F. Austin won in Cameron Indoor. Evansville won in Rupp. Ohio State won in the Dean Dome by 25 points. There have been some absolutely bonkers things happening in college basketball this season, and included among them have been some truly terrific wins.

What I will say is that there has not been a result that has changed my opinion more about the winning team than the win that No. 13 Memphis just landed in Knoxville on Saturday against No. 19 Tennessee.

The reason I say that is because of everything that went wrong leading up to and during this game.

Let’s start with the obvious. Not only were the Tigers playing without James Wiseman, who might be the best player in the country this year, but they were without another starter – and their best shooter – in Lester Quinones. They started four freshmen playing in a rivalry game on the road for the first time against a top 20 team, and they got sucked into play that team’s pace. They missed 13 of their first 14 shots, trailed by 12 points in the first half and, with nine minutes left before the break, had managed to score all of five points.

Everything about the way this game played out makes me think Memphis should have lost by 20.

And they won.

Maybe these freshmen are better than we thought they would be?



I’ve made this point plenty over the years, but I was reminded of it on Saturday, as Gonzaga went into the McKale Center, knocked off No. 15 Arizona in convincing fashion and put themselves in a position to receive plenty of No. 1 votes in this week’s AP Poll: The proof of Gonzaga’s status as college basketball royalty is their ability to lose players to the NBA earlier than expected and still find a way to manage as a very legitimate contender for a national title.

Last offseason, the Zags lost Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell and Josh Perkins. That’s four starters, three of whom left early for the NBA draft. At least two, and maybe three, depending on your feelings on Rui, of those early entrants were something of a surprise. And yet, it hasn’t slowed Gonzaga down one bit. Like I said, they very well may be the best team in college basketball this season. This comes just two years after Mark Few pulled off a similar feat, surviving the loss of Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins earlier than expected and still trotting out a team that was a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

This is something that Villanova has struggled with since winning the 2018 national title. This is something that Virginia is struggling with after winning the 2019 national title. Those are two of the most successful and consistent programs we’ve seen this decade.

So while I’m not exactly breaking news here, I think that it is important to point this out.

Gonzaga’s ability to maintain through the talent erosion that permeates college hoops is remarkable.


Having said all that about Gonzaga, I still think that the Jayhawks are the best team in the country.

And I know that the Zags, and arguably Ohio State, still have the better resume. I get that. But if you forced me to pick one of those teams to win on a neutral court, I think that I’m still taking Kansas. The Jayhawks may have the best point guard in college basketball in Devon Dotson. They have arguably the most unstoppable force in the sport in Udoka Azubuike. They have myriad wings – Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Tristan Enaruna, Isaiah Moss – and the size to play with two bigs. They can give a two point guard looked with Dotson and Garrett on the floor together.

To be clear, I made this argument on the Monday Overreactions podcast last week as well. I’m in on this Kansas team.


Has there been anything more surprising than seeing a Georgetown resurgence come with the departure of James Akinjo, Josh LeBlanc, Myron Gardner and Galen Alexander?

The former two left the program three games ago. The latter left on Friday. In the three games that have elapsed since then, the Hoyas are 3-0 on the season with wins at Oklahoma State, at SMU and over Syracuse at home. Mac McClung is averaging 26.3 points during that stretch and Jim Boeheim is telling everyone that the Hoyas are better now that they got rid of the kid that never passed.

I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Akinjo was ball-dominant. From what I’ve been told by sources and people around that program is that Akinjo did not get along all that well with Patrick Ewing or with McClung, and that getting those four out of the locker room has improved the culture and the team environment.

The Hoyas are going to be shorthanded this season. There are just seven scholarship players on the roster, and while the ideal world would be that Akinjo, LeBlanc and the rest of those guys would be able to fit in with that roster – more talent is never a bad thing – I think that losing them might end up being addition by subtraction.


Look, it is going to happen a lot this season.

That’s just the way that this is going to work. The top teams are not as good as top teams in recent years. This isn’t a perfect gauge, but it does provide some context: Ohio State’s adjusted efficiency margin on KenPom right now is +27.07. There were eight teams last season that had a higher AdjEM, and last year was not exactly considered a great season for college hoops.

Would we have been all that surprised if a top ten-ish team lost on the road in league play last year?

Probably not.

And it’s the way that this is probably going to work more often moving forward. We are getting more conference games earlier in the season, as leagues push to 20 games. We are getting top teams playing tougher schedule. We are seeing a push to get some of the big time matchups on neutral courts.

Better competition earlier in the year means more teams are going to be taking losses early.

That, to be frank, is probably a good thing for the sport, even if it means the undefeated runs we see become less frequent.


The Tar Heels have now lost three in a row and four of their last five games. They are going to be playing without Cole Anthony for a while, it seems, and they have a pretty tough schedule coming up. They play at Gonzaga on Wednesday, they get UCLA on a neutral on Saturday and then they host Yale next Monday before diving into ACC play.

Without Anthony, this team simply cannot score. They are bad offensively with him. They are, frankly, not that much more talented that a mid-major without him. The win over Oregon on a neutral is going to carry some weight on Selection Sunday, but there is a lot to be worried about with this group.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.