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2018-19 College Basketball Reset: Get caught up on the college basketball season

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2018-19 College Basketball Reset: Get caught up on the college basketball season

Well it is about time that college basketball is back at center stage. Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone it is nice to have everyone joining us. 

Each team is about halfway through conference play, just a month away from the league tournaments. The landscape is pretty clear (including the bubble), so here is where the sport stands as we reset the season. 

Front Runners for Player of the Year: 

Zion Williamson, F, Duke

Even if you have been under a rock for the first three months of the season, you've heard of Zion Williamson and there is a good reason why. He is undoubtly the most electric player in college basketball this season. Perhaps, the most electric since Kevin Durant. 

Every time Duke plays, it is must-see television because of Williamson. He's lived up to the hype and has not disappointed once. It's hard to say that of an 18-year-old. 

He's a lock for 20 points and a Sportscenter worthy dunk in every game. No one can matchup against him and the biggest question surrounding his talent is when will he shut it down to prepare for the NBA.

If Williamson does not win Player Year, it will be an upset. 

R.J. Barrett, F, Duke

If it wasn't for Williamson, it might be a runaway contest for R.J. Barrett. His season has been just as impressive as Williamson's. 

Barrett, with his ability to shoot the three, is likely a better NBA prospect over his teammate. But despite being better in several statistical categories, Barrett will be second-fiddle to Williamson this season. 

Both should be the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the NBA draft and are the most dangerous post duo in the country. 

Markus Howard, G, Marquette

At 5-11, Markus Howard has been a huge performer for a Marquette team that was waiting to jump to the next level. At any moment he can rattle off 10, 12 points in a row, flipping a game on its head. 

Three times this season he's scored 40-plus points, including a 53-point highlight reel performance against Creighton.  

If you have not watched a Marquette game this season, find one to squeeze into your calendar. 

Grant Williams, F, Tennessee

Grant Williams is the face of the top team in the country. He's a ball hawk, can shoot and leads his team in nearly every statistical category - and that is as a forward on a 3pt-happy team.

He's similar in style to Barrett, but there isn't a superstar flying around above him on the roster. 

Game of the Year (so far): Duke vs. Gonzaga

This is a no contest. At the time it seemed like the rest of the college basketball season was going to go downhill after this Nov. 21 game.

Duke was flying around with a formidable NBA starting-five and some were guessing that the Blue Devils might not lose a game all year. Gonzaga was playing like a stereotypical mid-major with a chip on their shoulder and looking overmatched.

But the Zags never folded and threw the first punch of the contest. Nearly every possession the Blue Devils looked like the pendulum was swinging their way and Gonzaga responded every time. 

It culminated with Barrett being blocked on a game-tying shot in an 89-87 victory for Gonzaga.

Rui Hachimura matched up with the two superstars from  Duke, Barrett and Williamson. They combined for 45 points. Hachimura had 20. 

If the National Championship Game is anywhere close to the level of this matchup, we're in for a show. 

Breakout Star: 

Ja Morant, G, Murray State

There is not a better mid-major sophomore in college basketball. Ja Morant has turned the Murray State Racers into the dangerous team that scores 82 points a night.

And he is responsible for over 34 of those points through his points and assists. 

Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan

No one expected Michigan to return as a national championship contender this season. And no one expected Ignas Brazdeikis to be the guy to be carrying them at this point in the season.

They lead the Big Ten. A four-star freshman is leading them there.

Chris Clemons, G, Campbell

To some he's not a breakout star. He's been putting up ridiculous numbers for three years now.

As a 5-9 senior for the Campbell Camels, he's leading the country in scoring with 29.2 ppg.

Teams you need to watch: 

Buffalo

Buffalo has the experience, played in the tournament a year ago and will receive a moderate seed in the tournament if they keep it up. 

They have impressive early season victories over West Virginia and Syracuse, but some silly losses hurt their resume.

The Bulls will not be one of the Final Four contending teams, but no one will want them on their side of their bracket.

Nevada

One of the early season favorites has diminished the past several weeks, mainly because they play in the Mountain West. The Nevada Wolfpack have five starters that all could start on a high-major team and, if they all are playing to their potential, might be the best in the country.

They will be a popular pick to go far into the tournament this season. 

Wisconsin

Every year a Power 5 team with a star player will take advantage of an upset, i.e. Michigan. The Badgers have the 2018 Wolverines written all over them. Ethan Happ helps too.

Marquette

When you have a guy like Howard that can score at-will you can win any contest. Clear a path for Marquette and they will take care of business against teams seeded below them.

Four teams that can't win the National Championship: 

Virginia Tech

Too many injuries and they have an offense that only relies on their 3pt game. It does not bode well for a team looking to make a run.

Kansas

Hard to say this about a team that always wins one of the biggest conference championships of the year, but the Jayhawks without Udoka Azubuike look like just a good team. 

Purdue

Betting against Carsen Edwards is not a good strategy, but there is a severe drop-off after him on their roster. No depth for the Boilermakers. 

Tennessee

They're good yes, but there is not enough to justify having them go far in the tournament. Sure they beat Gonzaga at a neutral site, but if you have them going far you could look foolish.

Local Reset:

Virginia: A lock to make the tournament and they will go a lot farther than they did last year. They have a talented offense to match their defense.

Virginia Tech: A great year for the Hokies and they will be in barring a massive collapse.

Maryland: Should be in the tournament, not exactly sure want to think of them.

Georgetown: Their victory over St. John's gave them some bubble action, but they need to make statements to be in serious consideration.

VCU: A border-line at-large team and is more than capable of winning the A-10 Tournament in March.

George Mason: Sitting at second place in the A-10, the Patriots are looking to make some noise this season. They started conference play at 7-1.

UMBC: After a slow start, the nation's favorite underdogs reeled off five straight and are a contender in the America East conference.

Old Dominion: The Monarchs are atop Conference-USA and are 12-1 in their home building. 

Radford: Remember these guys? The ones that knocked off Notre Dame and Texas? They've lost some bad games since then but are the face of the Big South Conference.

Liberty: It will be a true shame if they do not make the tournament, either as an at-large or by winning the Atlantic Sun. The Flames only have five losses this season. 

Norfolk State: Undefeated in the MEAC, they are currently in line for the automatic bid. 

MORE NCAA NEWS

The legend of Mac McClung continues with 30-foot buzzer-beater in win vs. Providence

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The legend of Mac McClung continues with 30-foot buzzer-beater in win vs. Providence

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jessie Govan scored a career-high 33 points with 14 rebounds and Georgetown got two clutch 3-pointers before beating Providence 96-90 in double overtime Saturday.

He had two free throws early in the second overtime to put Georgetown ahead and added three in the final minute to help seal the game.

James Akinjo added 20 points and nine assists for the Hoyas (12-5, 2-2 Big East). Akinjo made three free throws with 15.6 seconds left in the first overtime before knocking down a long 3-pointer at 3.4 seconds to tie it at 86, forcing the second OT.

Mac McClung had 16 points, including a long buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game at 73 at the end of regulation.

Alpha Diallo had 24 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for the Friars (10-6, 0-3). He had the go-ahead 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in regulation, a trey that put Providence up 84-80 with 26.9 to go in the first overtime, and two free throws for an 86-83 lead with 13.7 left.

Nate Watson added 21 points and Drew Edwards 19, both career highs for the Friars.

There were 26 ties and 13 lead changes.

More than just a mixtape, Hoyas' Mac McLung drops career-high 38 points in win over Little Rock

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More than just a mixtape, Hoyas' Mac McLung drops career-high 38 points in win over Little Rock

The Mac McClung to Allen Iverson comparisons are outlandish and, as Wizards forward and former Georgetown star Jeff Green noted previously, unfair. At a minimum, any side-by-side talk is wildly premature even though McClung is the most electric guard to play for the Hoyas since the Basketball Hall of Famer roamed the Hilltop in the mid 90’s.

In the 12th game of his college career, McClung made the comparison slightly tangible at least for one day.

The social media sensation – in this case we mean the 6-foot-2 guard from Gate City, Virginia – scored a career-high 38 points in Georgetown’s 102-94 overtime win over Little Rock Saturday afternoon. Based on some internet sleuthing, that’s more points than any Hoyas freshman since Jim Barry dropped 39 and 41 during the 1962-63 season.

In between notables like Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Iverson, Green and Otto Porter suited up for Georgetown. McClung’s scoring performance topped them all.

He sank 10 of 21 shots from the floor including four 3-pointers, several assertive driving layups and a dunk to satisfy the fans familiar with his aerial work via YouTube videos. 

McClung hit 14 of 16 free throws, though the two misses in the final seconds of regulation kept Little Rock alive for a game-tying 3–pointer at the buzzer. His 4-point play with 46 seconds remaining in overtime, set up by a pass from fellow freshman James Akinjo, sealed the win.

“I just tried to stick to the game plan,” the deferential McClung said of his performance. "James did a lot of great things too. We just try and feed off each other’s energy.

Akinjo, hardly a supporting player, had 25 points and seven assists.

“It becomes real fun,” Akinjo said of playing with McClung. “You get the crowd involved. He’s making shots; I make a couple plays here and there. It’s real fun playing with him. He makes it easier for me and our team as well.”

Head coach Patrick Ewing started the kids together in the season opener.

“They’re ability to create and get to the hole, they used that to their advantage today,” Ewing said after the Hoyas improved to 9-3 in their penultimate non-conference game of the regular season.

Anybody that watched highlights of McClung dominate high school games and set the state of Virginia single-season record, surpassing Iverson in the process,  knows he can get to the rim. It’s why the buzz popped leading to his arrival on the Hilltop and the comparisons began.

"It's not hype. The kid is good," Green said of McClung in November. "You can't put these expectations (on him). What have people been calling him? White Iverson. There's no other player that's gonna be Allen Iverson. He's gonna be who he's gonna be."

McClung was all kinds of good against Little Rock. More notable than the scoring fest, at least by those on the media side and long-time fans eager to hear from the team’s stars, is what happened postgame. McClung and Akinjo joined Ewing for the postgame press conference.

Georgetown’s long-standing policy dating back to at least Ewing’s arrival in 1981 precludes freshmen from engaging officially with reporters. No matter the talents and interest, the Hoyas never waver from this approach.

Then McClung and Akinjo entered. They were still wearing their gray home uniforms rather suits, another new wrinkle. Ewing left the press conference noting the pair needed a shower.

Little stunk about McClung’s work Saturday.

“We’re excited about the win, but we’re excited to get back (to practice) and keep growing,” McClung said on a day his legend took another leap.

That doesn’t mean those Iverson comparisons should re-start. It just means McClung had quite the day.