NCCA Basketball: ESPN Marathon Highlights, Naismith Nominees and Upcoming Games

Welcome back NCAA basketball!

On Tuesday,the Worldwide Leader In Sports offered a 24-hour bonanza of college hoops action. Highlights included #21 Michigan State vs. #7 Kansas and #3 Kentucky vs. #9 Duke.

On Wednesday, some of the madness will continue with a smaller buffet including #22 Wisconsin vs. #10 Florida and UAB at #15 Creighton.

Now that it’s the preseason, this means it’s time for award nominees. The Naismith Award has already released its early list and there aren’t too many surprises as Kentucky and Louisville sit at the top with three players apiece.

Tuesday’s Results

In a day full of basketball, the evening games stole the show beginning with Michigan State pulling off a late, exciting win against Kansas.

Spartans Keith Appling

In the game’s final four minutes, Sparty went on a 13-5 run and upset Kansas 67-64 in the Champions Classic. This came from good play by Keith Appling of Michigan State, who hit a three-pointer at 1:38 to take the Spartans ahead 65-61.

Kansas Freshman Ben McLemore scored a layup and a free throw to make it a 65-64 game with 49 seconds remaining but Appling made a layup at the 16-second mark to enable the Spartans to win their first game of the season.

Sparty’s play was much improved after their loss last Friday to UConn, 66-62.

For the night, Appling had 19 points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals.

In the night’s second game, Duke knocked off Kentucky thanks to great play by Duke senior Seth Curry. Yes, he’s part of that Curry family with dad Dell, a former NBA player and his brother Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Curry showed experience is a good thing with his 23 points for the night while teammate Mason Plumlee added 18 points. The duo helped Duke upset Kentucky 75-68 in the second game of the Championship Classic.

The Blue Devils had a 21-7 run in the second half that led to the win sans Plumlee who spent some time on the bench due to foul trouble. But first the Wildcats came surging back with a 17-6 run but couldn’t get it done. Kentucky showed its inexperience but there’s time for improvement.

Alex Poythress led Kentucky in scoring with 20 point followed by 16 point additions each by Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin.

With Kentucky’s new lineup can they make another run at the championship? For now, the odds are 4 to 1 with Duke at 18 to 1.

Naismith List

On Tuesday the Naismith List, which honors NCAA basketball’s top player, released round one of this year’s list. It included 50 players nominated by Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors. Criteria for the players includes their performances from last year with expectations for this new season.

Round two will come in February with 30 players, followed by the final four in March. The winner will be announced on April 7, 2013.

Indiana's Cody Zeller

At the top of the list are Creighton junior Doug McDermott, a finalist from last season who will look to improve from last year’s performance and Indiana’s sophomore Cody Zeller, who has off-the-chart expectations for this season with his preseason No. 1-ranked Indiana Hoosiers.

Zeller has 7 to 2 odds to win 2012-2013 Associated Press Player of the Year.

No pressure here for this young player.

Other highlights include three players from Kentucky (Archie, Nerlens and Poythress) and three from Louisville (Behanan Chane, Diego Corgui and Siva Peyton).

Ohio State has the junior duo of Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas while seven freshmen made the list including UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad. He was the 2012 Naismith High School Boy’s Player of the Year but the UCLA player was declared ineligible by the NCAA last Friday.

Upcoming Games

While ESPN’s 24-hour marathon is complete, really, the marathon is just beginning for NCAA hoops. Here’s a look at some upcoming games and odds.

Wednesday: #22 Wisconsin vs. #10 Florida (-6.5) with 122.5 total points and UAB vs. #15 Creighton (-17)

Thursday: #1 Indiana vs. Sam Houston State and #2 Louisville vs. Samford


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