Late Night Snacks: Butler tackles Gonzaga in nip-tuck Bulldog Battle

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We had an internal argument conversation about whether we should pick one game of the night each night, or leave room for the notion that more than one game might be equal to the honor. My position was that – as with evil rings of power and immortal swordsmen – there can be only one. Tonight, I’m going to stick to my guns, but oh, man was it hard. Lots and lots of great games. And yet, there’s no argument as to which one stood out tonight.

Game of the Night

N0. 13 Butler 64, No. 8 Gonzaga 63: Out of all of the fantastic games tonight, I had to pick the non-conference showdown between two rumored future members of the Catholic 7. The setting – historical Hinkle Fieldhouse – put it on top of the heap already, but then Kevin Schwartz, who was in Hawaii when Rotnei Clarke splashed his miracle shot to beat Marquette earlier this season, emulated his hero by dropping a half-court shot to win $18,000. Schwartz said he’d pay off his trip to the island first during a halftime interview. On top of all that, the game was absolutely dynamite. After a back-and-forth tennis match of a game, Gonzaga had the ball and a one-point lead with just over three seconds left. Kelly Olynyk muffed the inbounds pass, Roosevelt Jones took it to the hoop, and the game was over… or was it? The officials reviewed the play mid-floor-storming to determine if Jones had released the ball in time. They quickly (for once) ruled the play good and Butler had a huge, epic, historical, heart-palpitating win. And they did it without Rotnei Clarke, who was still recovering from a terrifying neck injury. An absolute heavyweight punch-out from beginning to end.

Watch the amazing ending here, courtesy of ESPN:

Meaningful Results

N0. 18 Michigan State 59, N0. 11 Ohio State 56: The Spartans laid claim to the Big Ten lead as Wisconsin fell to Iowa. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne led the Spartans.

No. 21 Oregon 76, No. 24 UCLA 67: Arsalan Kazemi was a starter at Rice, and is the only reason anyone has thought much about Rice basketball over the past five years. Now, after transferring to Oregon to play for Dana Altman, he’s a bench option. A bench option who scored 12 points to go with 11 rebounds to help down surging UCLA and vault the Ducks to 5-0 in the Pac 12. Oregon center Tony Woods led all scorers with 18.

Cincinnati 71, No. 25 Marquette 69 (OT): It’s only fitting that Sean Kilpatrick made the game-winning bucket for the Bearcats, since he did just about everything else before that. Kilpatrick scored 36 points on the evening, aided mightily by Titus Rubles and his ten rebounds.

Wyoming 58, No. 15 San Diego State 45: The Cowboys regulated, shutting down Chase Tapley and holding Jamaal Franklin to 13 points in a huge win that helps keep the MWC as wild as we could ever hope. And that’s without the guy who jacked somebody up in a bar fight.

No. 16 Kansas State 69, Oklahoma 60: Oklahoma, under long-time veteran (and former Kansas State) coach Lon Kruger, was starting to look like a threat in the Big 12 after a 3-0 start. Kansas State under – and I cannot stress this enough – Bruce Weber dished the Sooners their first loss in league play. Rodney McGruder scored 20.

Alabama 50, Texas A&M 49: I wish people would stop saying that Elston Turner was “held to” 13 points in a game like this. The 40 points at Kentucky is the outlier, not the 13. That said, Alabama is now 3-1 in an SEC that looks wide open. With some hideous chili stains on their non-con record, the Tide will have to keep this up all the way into the SEC tournament, but winning is like, you know, better than losing, no matter when it happens.

Starred

Kevin Schwartz: Duh.

Kwamain Mitchell, St. Louis: 29 points, 7 assists, 6 steals in a 82-80 OT loss to Rhode Island.

Ray McCallum, Detroit: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block in a 98-47 beatdown of Illinois-Chicago.

Struggled

Phil Pressey, Missouri: Two points and 10 turnovers in a big loss to Florida as the Tigers continue to fall apart without Laurence Bowers in the lineup.

Florida State: Not only did the Seminoles lose a 56-36 laugher to a rather average UVA team, but not a single Seminole player eked into double figures on the night. Worst of all, Terrance Shannon went down with a serious neck injury in the waning minutes of the game and had to be taken to the hospital on an immobilizing backboard.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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: