Freshly Squeezed (3/19)

Dancin’

ehdu
Syracuse.com

Syracuse entered the ACC Tournament feeling pretty good about their NCAA Tournament chances for the first time since 2013.

Despite being without leading scorer Tyus Battle due a lower back injury, the Orange defeated Pittsburgh, 73-59, in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night. Syracuse trailed the Panthers, 36-30, at halftime, but used an 8-0 run with all 8 points scored by Buddy Boeheim to take a 43-39 lead early in the second stanza. The Orange would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

After shooting 60-percent from three-point range in the first half, Pittsburgh cooled down and shot just 30.8-percent from deep after the break. Conversely, Syracuse heated up from beyond the arc down the stretch, shooting 54.6-percent from three in the second half.

Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers with 24 points, on 8-of-16 from three-point land, and seven rebounds. Sidy N’Dir added 10 points in the losing effort.

Boeheim paced Syracuse with 20 points, on 6-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Elijah Hughes and Frank Howard scored 18 points apiece. Hughes also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists, and came away with two steals.

bbp
Democrat and Chronicle

The Orange squared off with Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday night. Battle missed his second straight game with a lower back injury. After rallying back from as much as a 17 point deficit in the first half, Syracuse tied the game at 46 on a triple by Boeheim with 13:02 to go. The Blue Devils pulled away down the stretch to win 84-72.

In a turnover plagued affair, Duke outshot the Orange as the Blue Devils shot 53.7-percent from the floor, compared to 48.1-percent shooting for Syracuse.

The real difference in the game was that Duke has the best player in the country and the likely #1 pick in the NBA Draft Zion Williamson. Williamson, who returned after missing five consecutive games with a sprained knee, erupted for 29 points on a perfect 13-of-13 from the floor, 14 rebounds, and five steals. Fellow freshman phenomenon RJ Barrett tallied 23 points, on 8-of-16 from the field, and six rebounds. Freshman point guard Tre Jones finished with 15 points and eight assists.

Howard led the Orange with a career-high 28 points, on 11-of-2o shooting, and three assists. Boeheim poured in 15 points, while Oshae Brissett finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Despite the loss, Syracuse entered the NCAA Tournament with a record of 20-13. Howard was named to the ACC Tournament Second Team, while Williamson was named the MVP after Duke won the championship game over Florida State, 73-63, Saturday night.

Battle is expected to return in the NCAA Tournament, but playing without him in the ACC Tournament gave others the opportunity to step up, specifically, Howard and Boeheim.

tbi
Syracuse.com

Player of the Week: Frank Howard

fhdu
The Daily Orange

This week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Frank Howard. After a lower leg injury caused him to miss the first four games of the season, Howard did not play to the form he showed he was capable of during his junior campaign. The senior point guard averaged 23 points on 50-percent shooting in Battle’s absence at the ACC Tournament. With Battle back and Howard and Boeheim shooting with confidence, the Orange just might be poised to make another run in the “Big Dance.”

Up Next: The NCAA Tournament vs. #9 Baylor

For the first time since 2013, Syracuse did not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. This year, the Orange were firmly in and earned the 8-seed in the West Region. Syracuse will take on the 9-seed Baylor in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tip-off is set for Thursday night at 9:57pm. The game will be seen on truTV. The Bears are 19-13 overall and are coming off an 83-66 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. Baylor is led by Tristan Clark who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

If the Orange were to defeat the Bears, they would take on the winner of the game between the 1-seed Gonzaga and the 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson, who defeated Prairie View in the First Four Tuesday night.

2018-19 Big Ten Preview

Last season, the Big Ten was the most disappointing Power Five conference in the country. Will it be more of the same in 2018-19?

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BT Powerhouse

Let’s take a look at how the Big Ten will shake out in 2018-19.

1.)Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State went 30-5 a year ago, but fell to Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are still the most talented team in the Big Ten that will likely have a down year for the second year in a row. Sharp-shooting guard Cassius Winston and big man Nick Ward, along with Joshua Langford will look to get Tom Izzo deep into the “Big Dance” once again.

2.)Michigan Wolverines

The National Runner-Up, Michigan Wolverines will look to get back to the Final Four in 2018-19. The Wolverines lost Mo Wagner to the NBA Draft and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to graduation, but return a nucleus of Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, Jordan “Swaggy” Poole, and Isaiah Livers. John Beilein flirted with an opportunity to coach the Detroit Pistons, but decided to return to coach in Ann Arbor. Look for Michigan to challenge their in-state rivals for the top spot in the Big Ten this year.

3.)Nebraska Cornhuskers

After finishing fourth in the Big Ten a year ago, Nebraska was on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday. James Palmer Jr. will look to get the Cornhuskers back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.

4.)Indiana Hoosiers

Archie Miller was able to land Indiana’s top high school recruit, Romeo Langford. Langford, along with senior Juwan Morgan, have Hoosier fans excited for what they will see in Bloomington this year. Indiana will look to challenge near the top of the Big Ten and make it back to the “Big Dance” for the first time under Miller.

5.)Wisconsin Badgers

ethan
SBNation

Wisconsin is coming off a disappointing 2017-18 season where they missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Big man Ethan Happ and sophomore guard Brad Davidson back and will look to get the Badgers back where they belong.

6.)Purdue Boilermakers

carsen
Purdue Athletics

Matt Painter is tasked with having to replace four starts from a team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen a year ago. Carsen Edwards will be one of the best players in the country, but it is a question as to who will step up in a supporting role. Look for Purdue to find themselves on the right side of the bubble this season.

7.)Maryland Terrapins

Maryland lost their best player from a year ago, Kevin Huerter, to the NBA Draft. The Terrapins could be on the bubble this year, but could find their way to the “Big Dance” if Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan live up to the possible NBA Draft hype that they have been generating this offseason.

8.)Iowa Hawkeyes

Fran McCaffrey could be coaching for his job this season. Iowa has not made it to the NCAA Tournament since 2016. Tyler Cook leads a high powered offense, but if the Hawkeyes want to go dancing again they will need to step it up on defense.

9.)Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State won the NIT last year and they were poised to make a top of the conference this year. Unfortunately, for them, Tony Carr departed State College for the NBA Draft. Without Carr, Lamar Stevens and the Nittany Lions will should find themselves back in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten and back in the NIT.

10.)Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State was one of the most surprising teams in college basketball a season ago in their first year under Chris Holtmann. The Buckeyes will have a rebuilding year in 2018-19 as they will be without the services of do-everything forward, Keita Bates-Diop, who declared for the NBA Draft and Jae’Sean Tate who graduated.

11.)Minnesota Golden Gophers

Jordan Murphy
Pioneer Press

Richard Pitino may be joining his father in the ranks of the unemployed if he fails to make the Golden Gophers relevant in the Big Ten this year. Minnesota was a Top 25 team during the non-conference portion of the schedule a year ago before injuries and off-court issues derailed their season. Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey could make the Golden Gophers a surprise team this year.

12.)Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern was unable to make back-to-back trips to the “Big Dance” after getting there for the first time in school history in 2017. With the key members of that 2017 team gone, 2018-19 will be rebuilding year as the Wildcats return to a newly renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena.

13.)Illinois Fighting Illini

Brad Underwood will rely heavily on his guards Trent Frazier and freshman Ayo Dosumu, but there are still many unanswered questions in the Illini frontcourt. Underwood is definitely rebuilding the program at Illinois, but they will probably spend another season the cellar of the Big Ten.

14.)Rutgers Scarlet Knights

It’s pretty clear that Rutgers is only in the Big Ten to capture the Metropolitan New York media market as both the football and basketball program have yet to have any success since joining the league. Last year, the Scarlet Knights won two games in the Big Ten Tournament after winning only three conference games in conference play all season. Rutgers will undeniably be the laughing stock of the Big Ten once again this season.

2018-19 Big Ten First Team

*Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Cassius Winston, Michigan State

Romeo Langford, Indiana

James Palmer, Jr., Nebraska

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Second Team

Anthony Cowan, Maryland

Tyler Cook, Iowa

Charles Matthews, Michigan

Juwan Morgan, Indiana

Nick Ward, Michigan State

Third Team

Brad Davidson, Wisconsin

Joshua Langford, Michigan State

Lamar Stevens, Penn State

Jordan Murphy, Minnesota

Bruno Fernando, Maryland

*Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year

Big Ten Tournament Preview

Big Ten Tournament: February 28-March 4, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

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logodesignlove.com

The Big Ten will host their men’s basketball conference tournament in the “Mecca” for the first time in its history. The Tourney will feature four teams destined for a run in the NCAA Tournament and teams fighting to build their resume for an at-large bid or to secure an automatic bid. The first three rounds will be televised on the Big Ten Network, while the semifinals and finals will be viewable on CBS.

NCAA Tournament Locks: Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan

Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan each have a legitimate chance for bragging rights within the conference as they compete for a postseason conference title.

Michigan State has battled through a brutal end to their season off the court, but rattled off 12 straight victories after losing to Michigan on January 13. First-Team All-Big Ten performer, Miles Bridges, is in the All-American conversation, averaging 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and Cassius Winston has been brilliant down the stretch. The sophomore guard is averaging 12.5 points, 6.9 assists, and is shooting 56.5% from three. After clinching the Regular Season Big Ten crown, the Spartans will look to follow that up with another trophy in Garden and a one-way ticket to a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans will open Friday at noon against the winner of nine seed Wisconsin and the eight seed Maryland.

Ohio State is one of the best surprises in college basketball, let alone the Big Ten, this season. The Buckeyes are the two seed in this year’s conference tournament and are poised to make a run in New York and in the “Big Dance.” Led by Big Ten Coach of the Year, Chris Holtmann, and Big Ten Player of the Year and potential All-American, Keita Bates-Diop (averaging 19.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game), Ohio State has already beaten both Michigan State and Purdue as part of their 15-3 mark in conference. A Big Ten Tournament title would be a nice addition to the trophy case. The Buckeyes will open Friday at 6:30pm against the winner of seven seed Penn State and ten seed Northwestern.

keita
The Pantagraph

Purdue was perfect in conference play before they lost three straight to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. As the three seed, the Boilermakers will look to make their case for a one seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong showing at MSG. The balanced attack, led by First-Team All-Big Ten performer Carsen Edwards (averaging 18.2 points per game), will have a chance for revenge against both the Buckeyes and the Spartans in the semifinals and the finals if chalk holds in hopes of attaining the title of Big Ten Champion. Purdue will open at 9pm on Friday against the winner of #14 Rutgers/#11 Minnesota vs. the six seed Indiana.

Michigan is my sleeper pick in both the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines will look to defend their conference tournament title. Michigan is the five seed and will have to play an extra game in the “Big Apple” as Nebraska controlled the tie breaker to claim the four seed. The Wolverines are riding a five game win streak into the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan is outscoring its opponents 77.6-63.4 over that stretch. Look for Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Addur-Rahkman, who combine to average 26.7 points per game, to lead the Wolverines to back-to-back Big Ten Tournament Championships. Michigan will open at 2:30pm on Thursday against the winner of twelve seed Iowa and thirteen seed Illinois.

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WOODtv.com

On the Bubble: Nebraska, Penn State

Nebraska is 13-5 in conference play. Normally, that record in a major conference means your ticket to the NCAA Tournament is already punched prior to your conference tournament, but a weak nonconference schedule, combined with a lackluster bottom of the Big Ten this year has Nebraska on the outside of the bubble looking in. The Cornhuskers will likely need two wins at the Garden to feel good about their chances at an at-large bid. If chalk holds, wins over Michigan and Michigan State would put them in a good position. Although Nebraska’s highlights have mainly come from the reactions of their bench, the Cornhuskers are led by First-Team All-Big Ten performer, James Palmer Jr.—the junior guard averaging 17.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. With the Big Ten Tournament a week earlier than the rest of the major conference tournaments, an early exit could mean for a long, anxious week for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will open Friday at 2:30pm against the winner of #13 Illinois/#12 Iowa vs. the five seed Michigan.

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Lincoln Journal Star

Penn State is further off the bubble than Nebraska is. At 19-12 overall, 9-9 in conference play, the Nittany Lions will likely need to cut down the nets in NYC to get to the Dance. Penn State is the seven seed after losing the tie-breaker for the six seed to Indiana. The Nittany Lions are led by First-Team All-Big Ten performer Tony Carr, who is averaging 19.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. The journey to the automatic bid begins Thursday at 6:30pm against the ten seed Northwestern.

Here’s a look at the 2018 Big Ten Tournament Bracket:

big ten
Big Ten Network

Prediction:

Semis: Michigan def. Michigan State, Purdue def. Ohio State

Final: Michigan defeats Purdue in the title game.

All-Tournament Team:

Mo Wagner, Michigan (Tournament MVP)

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State

Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Mid-Season All-American Watch List

Players to Watch as Conference Play Begins

As the end of 2017 approaches, so does the midway point in the college basketball season. Aside from Michael Porter Jr. suffering a season-ending injury in the first ten minutes of his collegiate career, the rest of my All-American picks, Miles Bridges, Bonzie Colson, Allonzo Trier, and Grayson Allen, have all lived up to the expectations. The following is a list of five other players that have taken the college basketball scene by storm in the first half of the season.

Marvin Bagley III, Forward, Duke

Bagley III
Bleacher Report

Marvin Bagley III’s choice to reclassify into the class of 2017 propelled Duke to being an early favorite to win both the ACC and the National Championship. No one has been able to find an answer for Bagley and he is averaging 21.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Bagley has performed his best against Duke’s toughest competition. As of right now, Bagley is a leading candidate to be the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Blue Devils will resume conference play when they host 24th ranked Florida State at 11am on Saturday.

Trae Young, Guard, Oklahoma

Trae Young elected to stay home in Norman and is lighting up the college basketball world, averaging a double-double, as a freshman. Young leads the nation in both points and assists per game, averaging 28.7 points and 10.4 assists per contest. The freshman dazzled as he scored 26 points and dished out an NCAA record 22 assists against Northwestern State. Oklahoma is now ranked 12th in the country after going 10-1 in non-conference play and will take on undefeated and 10th ranked TCU on the road on Saturday at 2pm.

trae
SB Nation

Deandre Ayton, Forward, Arizona

Deandre Ayton is a 7’1” 250 pound freshman forward from Nassau, Bahamas and is one of the nation’s top young big men. Ayton is averaging a double-double with 19.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He is evolving to a point that some think he could surpass Marvin Bagley III as the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. With fellow 7-footer Dusan Ristic in the front court and another All-American contender Allonzo Trier in the back court, Arizona has rebounded from their struggles in the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis and will look to take the Pac-12 by storm. The Wildcats will open conference play when they host in-state rival and college basketball’s biggest surprise team, undefeated and 3rd ranked Arizona State, on Saturday at 9pm.

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Tuscon Weekly

Jordan Murphy, Forward, Minnesota

Jordan Murphy leads a Minnesota team that struggled to live up to the hype toward the end of non-conference play. Murphy, the nation’s leading rebounder, has been a steady force throughout averaging 19.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per contest. The Big Ten is weaker than normal this year and the Golden Gophers, behind Murphy, will have a chance to make noise when they resume conference play at home on Wednesday, January 3 versus Illinois at 9pm.

Yante Maten, Forward, Georgia

Georgia senior forward Yante Maten will be a key player if the Bulldogs hope to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. He ranks second in the SEC in points per game (20.2) and first in the conference in rebounding (9.3). Maten lead Georgia to a 9-2 non-conference record, including wins over St. Mary’s and Marquette. The Bulldogs will need Maten to be on the top of his game and provide senior leadership if they hope to navigate through a tougher than normal SEC slate this year. Georgia opens conference play on Sunday at 6pm versus 16th ranked Kentucky on the road.

Big Ten-ACC Challenge Preview

big ten acc

This week in college basketball features the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Below is a preview of which games are a must watch and which conference will win this year’s challenge.

Monday, Nov. 27

Wisconsin at Virginia

My game of the night on Monday, is the night cap between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Virginia Cavaliers. Wisconsin has dropped three games to ranked opponents so far this season, losing tough games to #15 Xavier, #22 Baylor, and #23 UCLA. With that being said the Badgers, led by versatile big man Ethan Happ who averages 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, will be a tough out for an undefeated, but inexperienced and untested Virginia team. The Cavaliers are led by sophomore guard Kyle Guy who is averaging 15.8 points per game. With the game in Charlottesville, I expect Virginia to pull out a close one at home.

Tuesday, Nov. 28

Louisville at Purdue

My must watch game on Tuesday is a battle between #19 Louisville and #18 Purdue in West Lafayette. The Cardinals, led by Deng Adel who is averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, are undefeated, but have yet to play a team from a power conference. The Boilermakers, led by Carsen Edwards averaging 18 points and 4 rebounds per game, finished 7th in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Coming off losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky and a win over #2 Arizona, Purdue is tested and ready to take on the Cardinals. Expect the Cardinals to win a tough one on the road.

Wednesday, Nov. 29

Miami at Minnesota

#11 Miami at #14 Minnesota is the game to watch on Wednesday. Miami is off to an undefeated start to the season, but Wednesday will be their first chance to play against nationally ranked competition. Defensively, Miami has dominated’ holding their opponents to just 54 points per game. The Hurricanes’ balanced attack is led by Dewan Huell who averages 13.4 and 7.2 rebounds per game. Minnesota is coming off a big win over #25 Alabama in the Barclays Center Classic in which Alabama was forced to play with only three players. The Golden Gophers are led by Jordan Murphy who is averaging 22 points and 12 rebounds per game. Hopefully, both teams will be able to play 5-on-5 for the whole game. My pick is for Minnesota’s offense to overcome the stout Miami defense to win a hard fought game at home.

Thursday, Nov. 30
Notre Dame at Michigan State

Save the best for last. The match-up in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge that I am looking forward to the most is Thursday’s game between Notre Dame and Michigan State. The Fighting Irish showed that they will not quit under any circumstances in defeating Wichita State in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Championship Game. Bonzie Colson can do it all; he is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Matt Farrell is one of the top point guards in the country, averaging 17 points and 4 assists per game. Michigan State has proven that it is deeper than just Miles Bridges this year. With a balanced attack and depth at all positions stepping up to overcome Bridges’ injury to help the Spartans win the PK80 Victory Bracket Championship, Michigan State will continue to be favored in most games this year. In this one, I’ll choose the upset; I’ll take the Fighting Irish on the road. This may be a match-up of my two favorite teams to watch this year and I can’t wait for a great one Thursday night in East Lansing.

I am looking forward to a great slate of games and I predict that the ACC will win the 2017 Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Take a look at the rest of my picks for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge:

Monday, Nov. 27

Maryland at Syracuse**

Tuesday, Nov. 28

Northwestern at GEORGIA TECH
FLORIDA STATE at Rutgers
ILLINOIS at Wake Forest
Iowa at VIRGINIA TECH

Wednesday, Nov. 29

DUKE at Indiana
BOSTON COLLEGE at Nebraska
Michigan at NORTH CAROLINA
PENN STATE at NC State
Clemson at OHIO STATE

*Winners BOLD

**Can’t choose. Conflict of interest