1. The curious case of Shabazz Muhammad took another turn Thursday when UCLA announced that the freshman forward would be out for two to four weeks due to a right-shoulder strain. Muhammad still hasn’t been cleared to compete in games while the NCAA investigates unofficial visits and any possible extra benefits prior to his enrolling at UCLA. He is in the midst of a 45-day practice period while his case is being investigated. There’s no way to tell whether this is going to be an Enes Kanter-like decision (ineligible for the season at Kentucky after a slow investigation), a Renardo Sidney situation (eligible but after an extended game penalty at Mississippi State) or if Muhammad is eventually cleared without missing games. But it appears Muhammad for certain won’t be available for the Bruins’ key early games against Georgetown on Nov. 19, in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the Legends Classic, then possibly the next night against Indiana or Georgia. The Bruins also play San Diego State in Anaheim, Calif., Texas in Houston and host Missouri in December. UCLA cannot afford to try to earn an NCAA bid solely through its Pac-12 play, and a long Muhammad absence could prove fatal to this team’s tourney chances. UCLA is also still awaiting word on the eligibility of fellow freshman Kyle Anderson -- himself fairly important to the Bruins' chances.
2. The Big Ten serves no purpose in putting out just a top three in a preseason poll. There’s simply no point. No one’s feelings will be hurt if they’re picked 10th or 12th. The coaches know where they stand in the conference pecking order heading into the season. If you’re going to have a poll, have a full poll. Meanwhile, the top three released Thursday were Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State. I know I only saw a snapshot of Michigan State and haven’t yet seen Michigan or Ohio State in person, but I will be surprised if the Spartans don’t finish in the top three of the Big Ten yet again with their size, length, and experience returning.
3. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said he felt much better a year after learning he had Parkinson’s disease, and after having to deal with the effects of insomnia, which led to anxiety over his inability to sleep. Kennedy isn’t as cautious with his speech and is moving much more fluidly. He was in good spirits at SEC media day Thursday in Hoover, Ala. He also said that he wants to play Texas after the series took a hiatus due to the Aggies' departure for the SEC from the Big 12. He said he spoke with Longhorns coach Rick Barnes about it recently, but Barnes said it’s above both of them and out of their hands. Kennedy agreed.