10 tidbits to know: Great coaching in the state of Maryland

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Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week.

1. Mark Turgeon has done an excellent job with this Maryland team. 14-3 overall, 2-2 start in ACC play and now a Top 25 win under his belt this year.  The Terrapins beat the Wolfpack with Alex Len as the leading scorer with 10 points.  Nine guys were in the scoring column last night for Turgeon.

2. Speaking of the state of Maryland: Can we talk about the job Pat Skerry is doing at Towson?  Skerry inherited a train wreck when he arrived.  Last season the Tigers had one victory.  Last night Towson beat Delaware, moved to 4-1 in CAA play and are 9-9 overall.

3. The bounce back win of the week has to be St. John’s.  Over the weekend the Red Storm were sleep walking through a blowout home loss to Georgetown.  Less than 3 days later, Steve Lavin’s team beats #20 Notre Dame at home.  After Louisville and Syracuse, the rest of the league’s match-ups are difficult to predict to say the least.

4. 6’2 senior guard Greg Gantt from Florida Atlantic is now 4th in the nation in scoring at 22.4 ppg.  Gantt became the Owls all-time leading scorer in their Dec. 27th win at Troy.

5. The only guard this year to dish out more total assists than Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse is D.J. Cooper from Ohio University.

6. David Imes had 5 three pointers for Hofstra as the Pride narrowly missed starting 3-1 in conference play.  Despite a well documented season of suspensions and injuries, Mo Cassara’s club is 2-2 in CAA play.  The Pride take on George Mason this weekend.

7. He ranks 6th nationally in terms of percentage, but 1st in my book for efficiency.  Jordan Hulls from Indiana has taken more 3 pointers than anyone else in the Top 10 for 3 pt shooting percentage by far. Hulls is 42-81 from downtown – good for 51.9% on the year.

8. Speaking of shooters, Sean Armand from Iona is simply one of the best shooters in the country.  When his career is all said and done, he will be one of the best shooters the MAAC has ever seen.  He is just the 2nd player in Iona history to make more than 200 career three pointers and he’s still a junior.  Armand has 17 three pointers in Iona’s last 4 games.

9. Memphis is 13-3 overall and is off to a strong 3-0 start in Conference USA play.  But do you know who’s coming into town this weekend to play at FedEx Forum?  Tommy Amaker’s Harvard team — the Crimson will play anyone, anytime, at any place.

10. This is an NBA nugget but I’ll leave you with a quote that every hoops junkie and coach will love.  It comes from Alan Stein, who is a professional strength & conditioning coach:

“The people at the Thunder repeatedly tell me that to this day, Kevin Durant still practices like a rookie on a 10-day contract.” – @AlanStein

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

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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: