Elijah Johnson overlooked as Kansas’ best weapon

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It’s no secret that Anthony Davis and Deshaun Thomas have been killing it during the NCAA tournament. Thomas leads all players in scoring, while Davis the favorite to win MOP for the Final Four.

But they’re hardly the only ones.

This instructive post by Dan Hanner over at RealGM.com details the offensive ratings, percentage of minutes played and percentage of possessions used. Basically, who’s playing, who’s scoring well and who’s playing the largest roles.

For Kentucky, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb could stand to be more aggressive, while Jared Sullinger’s been more efficient for Kentucky while using more possessions. Louisville’s Russ Smith still isn’t scoring efficiently, but he’s somehow been better than he was during the regular season while using even more possessions. (Russ-diculous indeed.)

Then there’s Kansas guard Elijah Johnson, one of the few Jayhawks who’ve been able to score during their Final Four run. (Center Jeff Withey also deserves some kudes.)

Johnson’s boosted his scoring from 10 ppg to 13.5 ppg, his shooting percentage from 42.5 percent to 51 percent and is shooting 11 percentage points higher from beyond the arc. Considering he’s played more minutes than any other Jayhawk, he’s probably undervalued as a major factor for Saturday’s game.

“I’ve become much more mature,” he said. “I think I’ve understood how the college system works.  I understand how college basketball is supposed to be played. I think it shows in my game.”

The nice part for Kansas and coach Bill Self? He could be even better.

“I think Elijah is probably as talented or right up there as talented as any guard we’ve recruited here when you talk about explosiveness, touch, vision, being able to slide.  I mean, he has all the physical attributes, plus he’s got a great skill set,” Self said.

“He’s played great the last month for us, probably been as good a performer as we’ve had in the tournament. But, again, I think he’s still got another big step to take.”

That’s a promising sign considering Johnson will probably be the go-to guy for Kansas next season.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.