Surprise! Wisconsin’s whole much greater than the sum of its parts

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Only a Wisconsin Badger player  could shoot 2-16 from the floor and allow his primary defensive assignment to score a career high 38 points, yet still find a way to be the unofficial player of the game.

Yes that’s right. The Wisconsin Badgers pulled off a huge 70-65 victory over Kansas State, one that was earned with the collective effort of all its players. The act was tough to follow after that gobbeldygook ending to known as Butler – Pittsburgh. But if you’re a college basketball junkie you may have appreciated Kansas State – Wisconsin just as much, as both teams posted efficiency ratings above 118 and changed leads a handful of times.

That aforementioned unofficial player of the game, Jordan Taylor – despite getting fairly embarrassed for 38 by the newly anointed most prolific scorer in Kansas State history, Jacob Pullen – knocked down a momentum-shifting three late, and game up with the game ending block on Pullen to help secure victory for Bucky. Just like that, Taylor went from goat to hero.

Taylor accumulated a bevy of supporters this season after temporarily being left off the final Cousy Award ballot, only to be mysteriously added with no real official word. Some even went as far to call him the game’s best point guard, but tonight he struggled mightily on both ends of the floor, struggling mightily on offense and getting repeatedly dribbled around by Pullen, as the Wildcat senior capped off a bittersweet career in his final college basketball game.

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The victory was quintessential of the philosophy employed up in Madison. Never a program to chase McDonalds All-Americans or players anxious to jump into the NBA Draft, Wisconsin’s victory was attributable to all nine of its players that saw minutes tonight.

I’ve bashed the Badgers recently for being just an average program that’s masked by their near invincibility at the Kohl Center, but tonight’s win came in dramatic fashion, and there’s no doubt that this is as proud a program in America. One that is making me munch on a little bit of crow this evening.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.