Late Night Snacks: The road to Arch Madness begins

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Game of the Night

Indiana State 77, Illinois State 75: A couple of the Missouri Valley’s legit contenders squared off in a league game tonight, and the result was pleasingly close. With :07 left in the game, Justin Gant kept things interesting, missing his second of two free throws for Indiana State, leaving the Sycamores with a mere two-point lead. Jackie Carmichael, the Redbirds’ star forward, snagged the rebound and fired an outlet to Nick Zeisloft, who missed what would have been a game-winning three-pointer had it gone. Creighton and Wichita State may be the more high-profile teams in the Valley, but it’s worth remembering that it’s a tough league night-in and night-out, on every floor.

Meaningful Results

Alabama A&M 59, Mississippi State 57: When a SWAC team takes the payday and drops you on your home floor, you’ve got issues. The visiting Bulldogs of A&M got just three points from their bench, but still proceeded to outlast their hosts, who shot just 35% from the floor.

Memphis 78, Loyola 64: The Tigers may not be as good as they had hoped this season, but beating Jimmy Patsos’ Greyhounds is hardly a simple task. Dylon Cormier dropped 25 for Loyola in the loss, but Joe Jackson filled up the stat sheet for Memphis, going for 22 points, 4 boards, 7 assists and a block.

USC 63, Dayton 61 (OT): Sounds like Eric Wise had an interesting night. The 6’6″ Trojan senior scored a season-high 19 points to help USC stave off Dayton, but he also picked up two technical fouls and was ejected from the game with 5:29 left in the second half. The Trojans went on to overtime without him and pulled out the win at the Galen Center.

Starred

Matty D: Matthew Dellavedova led St. Mary’s to a 78-62 home win over Yale, putting up a nice line of 24 points, 6 assists and a steal. The Gaels will keep it Ivy, suiting up again tomorrow against Harvard.

Josh Davis, Tulane: 18 points, 12 rebounds and a road upset of Alabama. Not a bad day for the 6’8″ junior.

Greek Mythology: In the Clash of the Titans (and Golden Griffins), the hoped-for guard duel materialized. Billy Baron led the Griffs with 20 points, 8 boards and 7 assists. Ray McCallum countered with 22, 5 and 7. In the end, Detroit took the 83-78 win over Canisius.

Struggled

Kent State: Seriously? A 77-75 win over Fairmont State? With the MAC slate just about to start? Chris Evans of the Golden Flashes scored 27 on the night, but missed the back end of a one-and-one with the game on the line, leaving Fairmont State plenty of time for a three-point try that, fortunately for the KSU faithful, fell short.

Northern Iowa: I’m just going to set this here and back away slowly: two offensive rebounds. Total. The Panthers were swamped by Wichita State, 66-41, in their MVC opener.

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

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: