Brad Tinsley, Bradley Beal

Florida back in the Elite Eight with win over Marquette

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Bradley Beal had 21 points, six boards, four assists, two steals and two blocks while shooting 8-10 from the floor as No. 7 seed Florida advanced past No. 3 seed Marquette 68-58 and into the Elite Eight.

It is the second straight year that Florida has made it to the Regional Final, and while that’s nowhere near as impressive as winning back-to-back national titles, it should put some of the rumblings that “Billy Donovan has lost it” to rest.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the win for the Gators was that they did it despite Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combining to shoot 5-19 from the floor. If anything, this game should tell you that this Florida team is at their best when they play through Brad Beal. He’s the most consistent player the Gators have on their roster.

The other guy that deserves a ton of credit for this win is Patric Young. He didn’t score much, but he did grab five offensive rebounds. Young also made one of the biggest plays of the game. With just over two minutes left, he grabbed an offensive rebound after Marquette had cut what was once a 14 point lead to six. Marquette ended up with Jamil Wilson guarding Walker, and when the Golden Eagles tried to switch, Walker attacked, pulling up for what turned out to a dagger. He drilled a three to push the lead to nine.

As has been the norm in this tournament, the game ended with some controversy. With less than a minute left, an errant elbow from Boynton caught Wilson in the face. The referees went to the monitor to review it, but instead of calling a flagrant foul on the Florida guard, they ruled that the elbow was a “basketball play” and gave Florida two free throws.

If a flagrant 1 had been called, which many believed would have been the correct call, Marquette would have gotten two free throws and the ball back.

Florida will advance to play No. 4 seed Louisville, who knocked of No. 1 seed Michigan State, for the right to go to the Final Four. It sets up one of the most intriguing matchups of the tournament — Billy Donovan taking on his mentor and former head coach Rick Pitino.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.