Late Night Snacks: Mike Brey should always wear sleeves

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Games of the Day

1. Arkansas State 73, Central Arkansas 72: Cameron Golden hit a three with 4.8 seconds left to cap off an 8-0 run over the last two minutes as the Red Wolves knocked off Corliss Williamson’s club. UCA called a timeout to diagram a play, but they turned the ball over when LaQuentin Miles stepped out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left. After Raeford Worsham missed both ends of a 1-and-1, a prayer from Miles was almost answered when a heave hit the front of the rim.

2. Kansas State 66, Delaware 63: Cramping in the legs of Jamelle Hagins and Jarvis Threatt allowed the Wildcats to go on a quick, 15-8 surge to take a 54-43 lead with eight minutes left in the game. But Delaware’s Devon Saddler brought the Blue Hens back. Saddler, who played the final eight minutes without two-thirds of the team’s big three, scored 32 points and hit a number of tough jump shots to give the Blue Hens a fighting chance in the final minutes.

With 1.0 seconds left, Saddler was fouled on a three-pointer down 66-62, but he missed the first of three free throws.

3. No. 4 Michigan 67, Pitt 62: Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardway Jr combined for 61 of Michigan’s 67 points, but it wasn’t until the second half, when John Beilein used those four to go small and throw a 1-3-1 zone at the Panthers that the Wolverines finally made a run to take the lead. Pitt looked very good, but a lack of penetrators on the wing made it tough for Jame Dixon’s team to attack the zone.

Important Outcomes

1. Wichita State 75, Iowa 63: I know this is going to sound weird, but this is somewhat of a statement win for Wichita State. Granted, Iowa is still a middle of the pack Big Ten team, but they are improved enough that they should compete for an NCAA tournament spot this season. Wichita State graduated quite a bit of talent from last year’s team, but have now improved to 6-0 on the season, which includes a win at VCU. Cleanthony Early, a 6-foot-8 JuCo transfer, had 25 points and nine boards while Malcolm Armstead finished with 14 points, five assists and five boards.

2. No. 8 Kentucky 81, Morehead State 70: We’ve all seen the video of Sean Woods losing his temper on a player on the sideline, so I’m not going to get into that here. Instead, I’ll talk about the fact that Kentucky struggled against the pressure that the Eagles were able to provide without Ryan Harrow on the floor. Archie Goodwin finished with 28 points and four assists, yes, but without Harrow in the mix, Kentucky has even more work left to do.

3. SMU 83, Rider 70: Don’t look now, but SMU is 5-0. Granted, only four of those wins came against D-I schools, only one of those four came against a team from a BCS conference, and that team happened to be TCU. But keep in mind, this team went 13-19 last year and own just three Conference USA games. Beating bad teams is an improvement from last year.

Starred

1. James Southerland, Syracuse: Southerland had arguably his best game at Syracuse on Wednesday night, finishing with 22 points, grabbing five steals and hitting 4-6 from beyond the arc in a 73-53 win over Princeton. His role on this team is to be problematic in their zone and to knock down open threes. I think it’s safe to say he did just that.

It’s also worth noting that, as a team, Syracuse had 19 steals in the game. The length they have in that zone is not fun to go up against.

2. George Beamon, Manhattan: Beamon was the biggest reason that Manhattan entered this season as the favorite to win the MAAC, but he began the season on the bench as he battled an ankle injury. He made his debut in grand fashion on Wednesday, scoring 29 points on 10-15 shooting to lead the Jaspers to a 67-56 win over a Hofstra team that had just beaten Marshall and South Dakota State.

3. Michael Lyons, Air Force: I love big-time scorers that fall below the national radar, and Lyons plays that role to perfection. He had 29 points on 11-15 shooting on Wednesday night as the Falcons knocked off Montana State 86-72.

Struggled

1. DePaul: The Blue Demons lost to Western Kentucky. Six days after losing to Gardner-Webb.

2. Anyone on Butler not named Rotnei: Those named Rotnei were 10-19 from the floor and 6-13 from three for 27 points. Those not named Rotnei were 12-42 from the floor and 1-15 from three for 34 points in a 78-61 loss to Illinois in the Maui Invitational title game.

3. Chris Udofia, Denver: Udofia came into Wednesday’s game with Colorado State averaging 17.7 points. He finished with two points on 1-6 shooting. Denver lost, 60-53.

4. Robert Covington, Tennessee State: Covington entered the season with some NBA folks curious about his potential. Through six games, TSU is 1-5, and he’s averaging 12.7 points while shooting 33.3% from the floor and 24.0% from three. An 81-70 loss to Monmouth was rock bottom, as Covington was 3-14 from the floor, 0-3 from three and had just 12 points.

Three Facts

1. Vander Blue: Blue took an ugly fall late in Marquette’s 72-64 win over USC out in Maui, but it looks as if it’s nothing too serious. “One doctor here said he didn’t tear his ACL, just sprained it,” Buzz Williams said.

2. Ian Miller: Miller suffered a bone bruise in his right foot and was in a walking boot, but he’s expected back by Tuesday. The Seminoles struggled to beat North Florida without him.

3. Mike Brey: Brey is a George Washington alum, a former player and now the head coach at Notre Dame. This is how he showed up to his postgame press conference:

source:

(Photo credit: @cbrinks5)

Notable Results

Texas 69, Mississippi State 55

SDSU 79, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 43

Elon 65, South Carolina 53

Frank Kaminsky trolls Arizona after high school teammate Sean O’Mara gets winning basket for Xavier

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No. 11 seed Xavier’s upset win over No. 2 seed Arizona left a lot of people stunned late Thursday night. Naturally, people took to Twitter to share their opinions of the Musketeers advancing to the Elite Eight to face No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Some of those with comments on Arizona’s loss included members of Wisconsin’s back-to-back Final Four teams in 2014 and 2015. You might recall that the Badgers eliminated the Wildcats in both years in the Elite Eight to make the trips to the Final Four–so there is some history here between the two schools.

The Twitter comments started with former Wisconsin guard Ben Brust questioning Arizona head coach Sean Miller for going away from his big men. Brust’s “should have kept touching the big Serb” comment would indicate that getting touches for Arizona center Dusan Ristic was important–although others were pointing out freshman Lauri Markkanen’s minimal involvement in the Arizona offense during the last 10 minutes.

That’s when former Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky entered the discussion and promptly shut things down.

Wisconsin’s personal history with Arizona hit closer for Kaminsky than a normal game when Xavier junior big man Sean O’Mara scored the game-winning bucket for the Musketeers with just under a minute left.

There’s a major connection here. O’Mara hails from Benet Academy in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, the same high school program that produced Kaminsky.

So Kaminsky made sure to mention that after the loss.

When Kaminsky was a senior and Benet started its season 29-0 and was nationally ranked in the USA Today High School rankings, O’Mara was the freshman big man that Kaminsky was beating up in practice every day.

While Kaminsky has turned into a productive member of the Charlotte Hornets rotation this season, O’Mara is having himself a solid 2017 NCAA Tournament run as he’s averaging 12.3 points a game after putting up 6.1 per game during the regular season.

We definitely know who Kaminsky will be rooting for when it comes to the West Region.

Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Saturday, March 25

6:09 p.m., TBS, San Jose
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 Xavier (Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson)

8:49 p.m., TBS, Kansas City
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Oregon (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson)

Sweet 16 Preview: Friday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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Thursday brought us a thrilling night of college basketball. Oregon won a thriller. Gonzaga did, too. Kansas put on a show, toying with the Big Ten champs. 

And that was just the appetizer for what’s on tap Friday night.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (-7.5) vs. No. 4 BUTLER, 7:09 p.m. (CBS): As weird as it sounds for a team that finished second in the Big East, that swept Villanova and that has a combined three wins over Arizona and Xavier, Butler is basically back to being a mid-major in the South Region. That’s what happens when you get stuck in a region with three of the biggest brands in the sport.

And don’t think, for a second, that Butler is going to be overmatched here. They’ve proven, time and again this season, that they are good enough to play with the best of the best even if their roster, on paper, doesn’t look that way.

But here’s the thing about North Carolina: If they play their best basketball game, they should be able to run through the Bulldogs. That’s a big ‘if’, however, especially if Joel Berry II plays the way that he has played in the first two games of the tournament. North Carolina goes as Berry goes, and he’s 3-for-21 from the floor in those two games.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (-7.5)

No. 3 BAYLOR (-3.5) vs. No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA, 7:29 p.m., (TBS): Baylor’s front line is massive. Johnathan Motley is an all-american in the middle, Jo Lual-Acuil was one of the nation’s most improved players this season there’s an argument to be made that Terry Maston has been the most important player for the Bears in this tournament. That’s where Baylor’s strength lies, and they play to it. The Bears want to play slow and they want to pound the ball into the paint.

Where Baylor struggles, however, is with their guard play. Manu Lecomte and Jake Lindsey are not exactly Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, and if we’ve learned anything about South Carolina this season, it’s that their defense can be a nightmare for opponents to try and run offense against. They don’t pressure in the full court, but their half court defense is just as tough and as physical and as frustrating as West Virginia’s. I think the first one to 60 wins this game, and I think South Carolina gets it done.

PREDICTION: South Carolina (+3.5)

No. 2 KENTUCKY (even) vs. No. 3 UCLA, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): Does it get any better than this?

Do you really need me to tell you that a matchup between two of the four best teams in college basketball, two teams that can legitimately win a national title, playing in the Sweet 16 is must-see TV?

You shouldn’t.

You probably know all the storylines by now, too, so I’m going to say this: I think this game comes down to how UCLA decides to matchup with Kentucky’s guards. My best guess at what happens is that Aaron Holiday chases Malik Monk around all those screens while Lonzo Ball draws De’Aaron Fox, mostly to save his legs but in part because he has the length to challenge a jump shot while playing far enough off to keep his from getting into the lane.

PREDICTION: I think Kentucky wins, but I love the over (165.5)

No. 4 FLORIDA (-1.5) vs. No. 8 WISCONSIN, 9:59 p.m. (TBS): Florida is one of the best defensive teams in the country. They have length and athletes everywhere on the floor, and head coach Mike White knows it. They pressure, they overplay passing lanes and they make life miserable for opposing playmakers. Wisconsin, like Baylor, is a team that plays through their bigs, but unlike Baylor, a post-up for Nigel Hayes or Ethan Happ is like their point guard getting an isolation. Both guys are just such great passers out of the post that Greg Gard doesn’t have to worry as much about the lack of playmakers in his back court.

I think that is a huge advantage for Wisconsin in what could otherwise be thought of as a bad matchup.

But more than anything, I trust Wisconsin’s vets more in NCAA tournament games than just about anyone else. This is going to be the 17th NCAA tournament game for Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, the most of anyone in the tournament. They’ve both played in two Final Fours and two more Sweet 16s. Hayes and Koenig are the two career leaders in NCAA tournament scoring, and Koenig may be the single-most clutch shooter left in the tournament. I’ll bet on that.

PREDICTION: Wisconsin (+1.5)

No. 11 Xavier advances to the Elite 8 with upset win over No. 2 Arizona

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Trevon Bluiett scored 25 points, Malcolm Bernard scored all 15 of his points in the second half and No. 11 seed Xavier, despite being down eight points with less than four minutes left in the game, rallied to beat No. 2 seed Arizona, 73-71, to advance to the Elite 8.

Arizona is going to regret that loss. As good as Allonzo Trier was in building that eight-point lead — he finished with 19 points, including a run where he scored 15 straight points — he went into full hero-ball mode in the final minutes, a stretch where Arizona’s point guard issues came into plain view. I’m sure that there are going to be Arizona fans that are upset with Sean Miller about the way that the final four minutes played out, but remember: this Arizona team lost Ray Smith, Terrence Ferguson and were without Allonzo Trier for the first 19 games of the season, and Miller still led them to a share of the Pac-12 regular season title and the Pac-12 tournament title.

He’s an incredible coach.

Arizona is lucky to have him.

He’ll breakthrough eventually.

But the story of this game isn’t Arizona or Sean Miller, it’s Chris Mack. It’s Xavier.

The Musketeers have now won three games in the NCAA tournament. As of March 9th, the Musketeers had won three games in the previous five weeks — all three of which came against DePaul — and were heading into a game against Butler in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament with, quite literally, their NCAA tournament bid on the line. They were very much on the bubble, evidence being the No. 11 seed they earned after adding a top 15 win to their résumé.

The Musketeers have been without Edmond Sumner (torn ACL) since the end of January and without Myles Davis (left the team) since the beginning of January. They were two of the three most important players on the Xavier roster heading into the season, and as of today, head coach Chris Mack is fielding a name whose only point guard is a four-star freshman named Quentin Goodin.

They shouldn’t be here.

They shouldn’t be one game away from the Final Four, but this is what Mack does. He’s been a head coach for eight seasons, all of which have come at Xavier. This was his fourth Sweet 16, and the only time he actually entered the tournameht seeded higher than a No. 6 was last year, when the Musketeers were beaten in the second round by a Bronson Koenig buzzer-beater.

One thing that I’ve never really understood about coaching searches is why Mack’s name never gets mentioned with the likes of Dayton’s Archie Miller and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. Those are the two coaches outside the Power 5 leagues that get mentioned with every single quality opening. “Take a shot at Marshall and Miller, see if they’ll say yes, then move on.” Mack always ends up next on those lists, and I’ve never really understood why.

Part of it is probably because he’s already at a program that is in a high-major league. Part of it is because he’s a Xavier guy — he played there, spent eight seasons there during two stints as an assistant and is an Ohio native. Part of it is because Xavier is already a really good job.

But it does seem like Mack gets overlooked in all of these searches.

Take Indiana, for example.

Steve Alford is the first name everyone mentions with that job. Then it’s Miller and Marshall. If I’m Indiana’s AD, however, Mack is the guy that I go after, and not just because he’s proven that he can go into Indiana and recruit.

He’s just a flat-out terrific coach.

And if this run on top of his other three runs to the second weekend didn’t prove it to you, then the play that resulted in the eventual game-winning points should. It was simple, really, but it certainly was not something you see done in the college ranks all that often. With 50 seconds left and the game tied, Mack had his guys roll the ball up the floor and then used Bluiett, who is scorching the nets in this tournament, as a decoy, running him off of a screen to set up a duck-in for Sean O’Mara:

Not only was the play that Mack drew up beautiful, it took all of six seconds, which meant that Xavier had the lead and was guaranteed to have a shot to get the ball back to win the game regardless of what Arizona did at the other end of the floor.

That is great coaching.

And it’s past time for us to recognize that Mack belongs in the conversation among the best in the business.

No. 1 Kansas dominates No. 4 Purdue in style

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Kansas, the top-seeded team in Midwest region, didn’t just beat No. 4 Purdue, it did so in style. Fast break after fast break, 3-pointer after 3-pointer, dunk after dunk, the Jayhawks ran the Boilermakers off the floor, advancing to the Elite Eight with a 98-66 win on Thursday night in Kansas City.

It followed a familiar script as KU’s 90-70 win over No. 9 seed Michigan State in the second round. Only this time, the climax occurred sooner. Kansas was up 61-54 when Caleb Swaingan checked back into the game, playing alongside fellow Monstar Isaac Haas. Instead of Purdue’s size — the big advantage it had over Kansas — taking control, the only thing that grew was the deficit for the Boilermakers. Kansas went on an 11-0 run beginning at the 14:30 mark. By the time Haas was subbed out, the Jayhawks led 69-56. It never got closer.

Lagerald Vick threw down a 360 dunk … and the Jayhawks hadn’t even begun to pour it on yet. Now, that’s a team that’s playing with confidence.

Kansas shot 66 percent from the field in the second half and connected on 7-of-15 made 3-pointers on the evening. Purdue’s last lead was 35-33 with 4:54 remaining in the second half. That means the Jayhawks outscored the Boilermakers 65-31 for the remainder of the game.

For all that was made of Kansas matchup issues with Purdue, the Boilermakers never solved the matchup problems the Jayhawks presented. While Laden Lucas and the rest of the defense found ways to frustrate Caleb Swanigan (18 points, seven rebounds and five turnovers) and somehow, outrebounded the Boilermakers, Purdue never found a solution for penetration or 3-point shooting from KU’s stable of guards.

“Those guys, especially Caleb on the glass it’s hard to keep ’em off,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “If you look at Landen’s stats he only got four rebounds, but the story is Caleb only got seven. And if you had told this before the game that would be the give and take I would have sold out for that because he does a really good job of making sure neither one of them got it for the most part.”

Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham each had 26 points. Mason added seven rebounds and seven assists. Josh Jackson had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Vick and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk each recorded double figures too. Lucas’ play has improved as the season’s progressed. They aren’t just putting teams away in this tournament, they’re doing it in style. And it couldn’t be happening at the right time.

They know how win close games, but through three NCAA Tournament games so far, the Jayhawks aren’t willing to take any chances. They’ve elected to not just put teams away, they’ve decided to do so in style.

Kansas advances to play No. 3 seed Oregon on Saturday in the Elite Eight.