Late Night Snacks: Oregon holds off Arizona State in battle of Pac-12 undefeateds

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Game of the Day: Oregon 68, Arizona State 65 

When the season began who expected tonight’s meeting between the Ducks and Sun Devils to be a matchup of teams still undefeated in conference play? Not sure if even the most passionate of fans of the two teams would have envisioned such a scenario but that’s exactly what happened in Eugene. Once again Dana Altman’s team relied on its offensive balance as they completed a 2-0 weekend against the Arizona schools, with four starters reaching double figures.

Carlos Emory, Damyean Dotson and Tony Woods scored 14 points apiece and Dominic Artis added ten for Oregon who is now 3-0 in Pac-12 play. Jahii Carson led all scorers with 20 points (seven rebounds and four assists as well) but a Carrick Felix shot as time expired fell left on the basket as ASU dropped to 3-1 in the conference. If there’s one statistic that stuck out in Oregon’s victory it’s the fact that they outscored Arizona State by nine at the foul line. The Ducks shot 14-of-15 from the charity stripe while Arizona State made just five of their eight attempts.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 15 Ohio State 56, No. 2 Michigan 53

Thanks to the Buckeyes there are no more undefeated teams in college basketball. Deshaun Thomas was the lone Buckeye to reach double figures as he led all scorers with 20 points, but Ohio State’s defense (Michigan did help them out by settling for three-pointers down the stretch instead of attacking the basket on occasion) helped make up for a cold second half from the field. Trey Burke (15 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (12) led the way for the Wolverines but shot a combined 9-of-28 from the field in doing so. The question now: who should be number one in the polls come Monday?

2.  Evansville 71, No. 23 Wichita State 67 

The Shockers were far too generous with the basketball on Sunday afternoon and the Purple Aces made sure to take advantage, scoring 27 points off of 22 Wichita State turnovers. Malcolm Armstead scored 21 points and Cleanthony Early added 16 to lead Wichita State, who shot 54.3% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc while also out-rebounding Evansville 33-19. But those turnovers and the 24 points and eight assists tallied by Evansville guard Colt Ryan proved to be too much to overcome.

3. No. 22 Michigan State 66, Nebraska 56 

Essentially there were two victories in this one for the Spartans: the game itself and the fact that Branden Dawson was able to return to the game after having his left leg buckle on a drive to the basket in the second half. Without Brandon Ubel (fractured elbow) the Huskers hung around for much of the game (David Rivers led the way with 18 points and six rebounds) but the Spartans closed the game on an 11-2 run (6-of-6 FT). Derrick Nix led the way for Michigan State with 17 points and five rebounds, and Adreian Payne added 14 off the bench.

Starred

1. G Sean Armand (Iona) 

When Armand gets rolling from deep look out. That’s what happened in the Gaels’ 97-87 win over Canisius as Armand hit nine three-pointers and finished with 32 points. He also tallied five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

3. G Colt Ryan (Evansville) 

Ryan shot 9-of-19 from the field but without him the Purple Aces don’t upset No. 23 Wichita State. Ryan finished with 24 points and eight assists and had a hand in every field goal made by Evansville in the second half (scoring three himself and assisting on the other six).

3. G Chaz Williams (UMass) 

Williams tallied 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the Minutemen’s 77-73 win at Fordham. UMass moves to 1-1 in the Atlantic 10 with the victory, and if they’re to contend this was a game they had to have after losing at Saint Louis on Thursday night.

Struggled

1. Maryland and Miami

The Hurricanes left with the 54-47 win and that’s the objective. But neither team shot the ball well at the Bank United Center. The worst numbers: Maryland shooting 31.6% from the field, the two teams shooting a combined 8-of-35 from three and the Hurricanes going 5-of-13 from the foul line. Another issue Maryland needs to address: Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard continue to struggle (1-of-13 combined, two points).

2. Seton Hall 

Wichita State wasn’t the only team to do itself in with turnovers, as the Pirates committed 15 of their 17 turnovers in the first half of a 67-55 loss to Providence. The other problems for Seton Hall: Providence scoring 23 second chance points on 22 offensive rebounds and another front court injury. Brandon Mobley left the game in the first half with a right shoulder injury and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

3. Penn State 

Without Tim Frazier the Nittany Lions are bound to have rough games offensively and that’s exactly what happened in their 60-42 loss at Purdue. As a team Penn State shot 25.9% from the field and the three players expected to pick up the slack with Frazier done for the year, D.J. Newbill, Jermaine Marshall and Brandon Taylor, combined to shoot 10-of-39 from the field (that means the rest of the team shot 5-of-19).

The Bonus

In No. 20 NC State’s win over No. 1 Duke on Saturday the students stormed the floor, with Will Privette being one of the revelers. The wheelchair-bound Privette discussed his experience with Nicole Auerbach of USA Today hours after the game (credit C.J. Leslie with an important assist) and today he posted the video he shot with his iPhone on YouTube.

Video credit: @thrill21

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

A season of highs and lows ends for Kansas in the Elite 8 again

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For the second season in a row, Kansas was one-win shy of a Final Four appearance, falling to Oregon, 74-60, in the Elite Eight on Friday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

This comes a year after Kansas, as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, fell to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite 8.

Just as stars such as Perry Ellis struggled in that regional final, so did KU’s freshman phenom Josh Jackson, whose quick two personal fouls that saddled him on the bench and appeared to take him out of the game mentally. Devonte’ Graham, averaging 20.0 points per game in the tournament, was 0-for-7 from the field. Frank Mason III’s first-half performance assured that Oregon would completely run away with the game before halftime.

The loss put an end to a tumultuous season for the Jayhawks.

Kansas entered the 2016-17 season as one of the favorites to win the national championship. The Jayhawks went on to win the Big 12 regular season title for an unprecedented 13th consecutive season. Frank Mason III, in the eyes of many, was the wire-to-wire national player of the year.

However, for all its accomplishments on the court, Kansas faced more than its share of issues off-the-court. Lagerald Vick, who was under university investigation for allegedly striking a female student. Carlton Bragg was arrested — and subsequently suspended — for drug paraphernalia. There was also the affidavit released a day before the start of the NCAA Tournament for the Jayhawks, detailing the incident outside a Lawerence bar from December involving both Vick and Josh Jackson. Even Devonte Graham’s arrest for an unpaid ticket made headlines during this string of non-basketball related news.

The Jayhawks downplayed talks of distraction before the start of the NCAA Tournament and backed it up by dominating opponents through the first three rounds. The average margin of victory was 30.0, and that includes victories over Michigan State and a 32-point beatdown of a Purdue team that held a massive mismatch on the interior.

It looked like Self was destined to add to his Hall of Fame résumé; a third trip to the Final Four — first since 2012 — was in front of essentially a home crowd. Instead, Oregon handed the Jayhawks their worst tournament defeat in the Bill Self era.

Seven times under Self, KU has made the Elite Eight and was sent home.

Perhaps, all would have been forgiven — or at the very least, overshadowed — had KU cut down the nets in Arizona.

Instead, its season ended in an all too familiar place.

Elite 8 Preview: Sunday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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No. 4 FLORIDA (-3) vs. No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA, 2:20 p.m., CBS: If you’re a fan of uptempo, wide-open basketball, of teams running beautiful offensive sets, spreading the floor and using the three-point line like it should be used, this game probably is not going to be for you.

This is going to be as physical and as tough as any game you watched all season long. Both the Gamecocks and the Gators are top five teams in defensive efficiency, and both of them get out and pressure defensively, Florida in the full court and South Carolina in the half court. They shun shooters for the toughest athletes on their roster. They pride themselves in being tougher, both mentally and physically, than whoever they end up playing.

And they think that a game played in the 50s is beautiful basketball.

So bet the under if you can.

But the pick I like is Florida here. Their ability to defend is going to make it very difficult for South Carolina’s offensive renaissance to continue, and their guards will be able to make the plays offensively that South Carolina dares you to make.

PREDICTION: Florida (-3)

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. No. 2 KENTUCKY, 5:05 p.m. CBS: This is the rematch we all wanted, right?

Ever since that day three months ago, when Kentucky got 47 points from Malik Monk in a 103-102 win over North Carolina in Las Vegas, I don’t think there is a soul in the country that would have told you otherwise.

There are two major differences between these two teams now and those two teams then. The biggest is the presence of Theo Pinson, North Carolina’s best perimeter defender. Pinson has dealt foot injuries all season long, and when these two got together in December, he was not yet healthy enough to play. I assume that he will draw the assignment of Malik Monk, chasing around the man that had definitively been Kentucky’s most dangerous scorer. Pinson will make life more difficult for Monk than it was the first time around.

But is he going to spend the entire game on him?

Because after De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst against UCLA on Friday night, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Pinson may be better suited to taking on the task of keeping Fox from getting into the paint. Whatever Roy Williams opts to do, the bottom line is pretty simple — if he needs to find a way to keep Kentucky’s back court in check.

The other difference between now and then is that Bam Adebayo has been playing up to his potential for the past six weeks. He was solid earlier in the year. He can be dominant at times now, and that is going to be critical for the Wildcats, who are going to be outsized by a significant margin by UNC’s front line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and they are one of the only elite teams that thrives playing two bigs at the same time. In other words, one of Wenyen Gabriel or Derek Willis are going to have to deal with Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley. That’s a matchup that favors UNC, which is why Aebayo is going to have to play up to his size.

In the end, I think Pinson’s presence and North Carolina’s size advantage will be too much.

But if Fox and Monk play their game, they can carry Kentucky a long, long way.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (2.5)

Lawrence Police Department trolls Bill Self following Elite Eight loss

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Kansas had its season ended with a 74-60 loss to No. 3 seed Oregon.

The Jayhawks were the top seed in the South region. They were playing a de facto at the Sprint Center, which is 40 miles away from the school’s campus. As you can imagine, fans in Lawrence were likely unhappy, especially since it’s the second year in a row KU has been bounced one-game shy of the Final Four.

The Lawrence Police Department, while prepping for potential riots, couldn’t help tweeting a joke at the future Hall of Famer’s expense.

Bill Self’s teams have been eliminated seven times in the Elite Eight during his tenure at Kansas. He’s led the Jayhawks to a pair of Final Fours, winning the national championship in 2008.

Kansas finished the season 31-5.

Gonzaga passes the title of best program without a Final Four to Xavier in win

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In 1999, Gonzaga was not yet “Gonzaga”.

A No. 10 seed in just their third NCAA tournament, the Zags won three games against high-major competition, coming within a possession of reaching the Final Four in a loss to No. 1 seed UConn.

UConn, at that point, was one of the best programs in the country under Jim Calhoun, but the knock on the Huskies at that point was that they couldn’t win the big one. They had been to three Elite 8s and three more Sweet 16s in the previous eight seasons, but it wasn’t until they knocked off that Gonzaga team that they finally were playing on college basketball’s biggest stage.

For 18 years, Gonzaga tried and failed to get to a Final Four, becoming one of the nation’s premier basketball programs without having the postseason success to legitimize themselves in the eyes of idiots around the country. That ended on Saturday night in San Jose, as No. 1 seed Gonzaga ended No. 11 Xavier’s thrilling run to the Elite 8 and passing on the torch that UConn passed to them.

Xavier can now claim the title of the best basketball program that has yet to make a Final Four, which is both a compliment and a curse.

The Musketeers have been to the NCAA tournament 25 times since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They’ve been to nine Sweet 16s and three Elite 8s. They had a winning record in NCAA tournament play until Saturday’s loss and now lay claim to the title of the team with the most NCAA tournament wins without an appearance in the Final Four.

Xavier is going to get there eventually. Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the business. Hell, if Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner both return to school, it could very well be next season that they snap that streak. It’s coming at some point.

I don’t even think it’s an insult to say this about Xavier. I don’t think it’s a shot at the program or the coaches that have come through it. Getting to the Final Four is hard. Bill Self is a lead-pipe lock to be a Hall of Famer, and he’s been to just two Final Fours in his career. He’s 2-7 in the Elite 8, and if Derrick Rose could make his free throws, the discussion of just how good of a coach Self is if he can’t win a title would be raging with the Jayhawks flaming out of the tournament on Saturday night.

But as with Gonzaga and UConn before them, Xavier is going to have that monkey on their back every time they suit up in March.

VIDEO: Tyler Dorsey hits dagger after dagger in upset of Kansas

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Tyler Dorsey is building himself quite the reputation for being a big-shot maker.

He hit the game-winner that got Oregon to the Sweet 16. He hit two threes at the end of the first half to push Oregon’s lead to 11 points over Kansas. And he hit this three, the dagger through the heart of Kansas:

Dorsey finished with 27 points. He’s scored at least 20 points in every game since the NCAA tournament began.