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NCAA Basketball News and Notes – November 6, 2018

Take a look at some of the latest news and notes from the world of College Basketball:

NCAA Season To Start With Big Matchups

While many of the top-25 teams in the nation will start off the season against unranked opponents, four of the top ten ranked teams will be squaring off with one another starting on Tuesday.  In the first matchup, you have number one Kansas squaring off with number 10 Michigan State. For Kansas, this will be the unveiling of forward transfer Dedric Lawson. After sitting out last season after transferring from Memphis, Lawson averaged a double-double not only in his last year at Memphis, but also in the two exhibition games for the Jayhawks (24.5 points, 10.5 rebounds).  While not as highly profiled as his brother, KJ Lawson also transferred to Kansas from Memphis. The two transferred after being upset that their father was demoted to an administrative role at the University by then head coach Tubby Smith. In addition to the Lawson brothers, Kansas also has five-star recruits Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, as well as 7-foot big man Udoka Azubuike and it is no wonder that the Jayhawks are ranked so high.  For Michigan State, they will be relying more on returners than incoming talent. Despite losing Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. to the NBA, Tom Izzo and the Spartans still return guards Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward. All three of them averaged double-digit scoring last year for the Spartans.

In the nightcap, you get number two Kentucky taking on number four Duke. Like Michigan State, John Calipari and Kentucky will be starting several returning players Tuesday.  Reid Travis, PJ Washington and Quade Green are all returners, each averaging at least 9 points per game. They also have the ninth (EJ Montgomery), twelfth (Ashton Hagans) and fourteenth (Keldon Johnson) ranked freshman in the nation on their team. If freshmen recruits are your thing then Duke might be the most exciting team to watch early on this season. Coach K has quite the recruiting class of freshmen this year, led by number one ranked freshmen RJ Barrett, number two Cam Reddish, number five (and highlight machine) Zion Williamson and number 15th ranked freshman Tre Jones.  In fact, it is expected that those first three will likely be done and moving onto the NBA after just one season.  Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the freshmen adjust in their first taste of division one basketball.

NCAA Investigations Worth Keeping An Eye On

While basketball will be exciting on the court this season, it will remain interesting to keep an eye on things going off the court as well.  With continued discussion and uncovering of pay-to-play recruiting in the NCAA, programs will continue to be under a watchful eye by both the public and the NCAA this season.  Prior to last season, several coaches were arrested on accusations of payments to recruits involving both the schools, apparel companies and agents. The big schools were not immune from these accusations either, as schools like Arizona, Louisville, Kansas, Duke and Oregon were all in the limelight.  There are still more trials coming up and the continued question of whether college athletes should be paid or not is a discussion that is starting to present itself more and more. While nothing may materialize throughout the season, it is something to certainly keep an eye on as any judgments could have significant ramifications on NCAA sports, most notably college football and college basketball.

Gonzaga Forward Killian Tillie To Miss Eight Weeks

Gonzaga is ranked number three in the nation, but the Zags are going to have to start the season without one of their best players.  Killian Tillie, the 6’10” forward will likely be out until after Christmas after having ankle surgery last week. Last season, Tillie averaged 12.9 points, and 5.9 rebounds and was expected to be the Zags leading returning scorer this season.

Ugly Incident At Iona Leaves One Of Top Players Off Team

Last week, an incident at Iona left assistant coach Garfield Johns in the hospital and Roland Griffin without a team.  In an altercation over a study hall, shouting turned to violence as punches were thrown landing Johns in the hospital. For Griffin, he averaged 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds last year and was a preseason All-MAAC second-team selection, but his season is now over for Iona.

Virginia Tech Suspends Chris Clarke

This isn’t exactly the way that Virginia Tech wanted to get the season started.  Last week, the Hokies announced that it had suspended senior Chris Clarke for the foreseeable future.  Last season, Clarke had averaged just under 25 minutes a game and averaged 8.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.  No reason was given for why Clarke was suspended, but for the ACC Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, it isn’t a good way to get the season started.

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