NCAA Basketball News and Notes: February 6, 2019

Ryan K

With the Super Bowl behind us, it’s finally time for college basketball to take over the sporting spotlight. Let’s take a look at the top headlines from the past week.

Bad Break

Michigan State announced late last week that junior Joshua Langford will miss the rest of the season due to a stress injury in his foot. Langford hasn’t played since the end of December. Prior to that, he was the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 15 points per game. The Spartans were hoping to get him back at some point this season, so confirmation that he’s not coming back is a big blow, as it leaves them without a lot of backcourt depth.

Stumbling Spartans

While Michigan State has gotten used to playing without Langford, they have also suffered their first slump of the season. The Spartans have lost three games in a row, all against unranked teams. MSU’s first loss was to Purdue, who is 9-2 in Big Ten play. However, losses to Indiana and Illinois were both against teams with losing records in conference play. Michigan State’s schedule is only going to get more difficult down the stretch, so Tom Izzo better find some answers soon before things continue to spiral out of control.

Strong and Steady

Other than Michigan State, who figures to drop out of the top-10 next week, there haven’t been too many major shakeups at the top of the polls. The likes of Tennessee, Duke, Virginia, Kentucky, and Michigan keep rolling. As expected, Gonzaga and Nevada are having little trouble cruising through their mid-major leagues. There could be some movement with Duke facing Virginia this weekend, but right now, the top eight teams in the country all look solid and consistent.

No Coming Back

The NCAA ruled last week that Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa has been ruled ineligible for both this season and next season. A former Adidas consultant testified that De Sousa’s guardian had received $2,500. The NCAA stated that De Sousa was responsible for third-party involvement in his recruiting regardless of whether he knew about it. Kansas has held the native of Angola out this season while waiting for a ruling from the NCAA. Now his entire collegiate career is in jeopardy, as he wouldn’t be eligible to play until the 2020-21 season.

Kansas AD Jeff Long responded by saying his faith in the NCAA “has been shaken.” Head coach Bill Self called it a “mean-spirited and vindictive punishment.” Without De Sousa available, the Jayhawks are in a dog fight in a crowded Big 12 as they try to keep their streak of 14 consecutive regular championships alive.

Wait and See

There’s been little that has slowed Virginia this season, although the no. 3 Cavaliers are a little concerned at the moment over the health of guard Ty Jerome. The junior missed Saturday’s 56-46 win over Miami with a back injury. His status remains uncertain for this weekend’s heavyweight clash against Duke. Jerome leads the Cavs with five assists per game and is one of three players averaging double figures at 13 points per game. Starting Saturday, the Cavs play four of their next five games against ranked teams. That stretch will likely decide whether Virginia repeats as ACC champs, so it’s crucial that Jerome be healthy and available.

Foot Trouble

Elsewhere in the ACC, the Virginia Tech Hokies are dealing with the absence of Justin Robinson, who currently has his left foot in a protective boot. The senior missed games both Saturday and Monday due to the injury and remains out indefinitely. Robinson is averaging over 14 points per game while also dishing out 5.5 assists every time out. He’s arguably the most important player for the no. 11 Hokies. On top of that, Virginia Tech has been limited to a six-man rotation without him. The Hokies have a fairly manageable schedule over the next couple of weeks, but they still need Robinson back as soon as possible.

No Regrets

As his star continues to rise, Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson spoke this week about soaking up the college experience and not thinking about the NBA Draft, even though he’s expected to be the top overall pick this summer. Williamson went so far as to say that he wouldn’t have gone straight to the NBA out of high school even if he were allowed. “This is the only time I get to experience college,” said Williamson. “Even if I could’ve went straight from high school (to the NBA), I would’ve come to college. I feel like college is something I couldn’t miss out on.”

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