Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Michigan rolls, Notre Dame, Oklahoma earn big conference wins

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Game of the Day

Oklahoma 74, Baylor 71

Brady Heslip’s shot fell off the rim as Oklahoma held on to a 74-71 win. The Sooners were up by as many as 16, but the Bears chipped away at the lead, twice getting it to a single point. Oklahoma is now second in Big 12 standings with the win, aided by 20 points from both Amath M’Baye and Steven Pledger. Isaiah Austin had 21 points and 21 rebounds as the freshman continues to shine for Baylor

Xavier 66, Dayton 61

Matt Derenbecker’s last-game three rimmed out as Dayton’s came up short in a 66-61 loss to Xavier. The two rivals swapped leads four times in the final two minutes. The Musketeers held a 30-16 advantage on the glass. The Musketeers continue its streak of 28 straight wins over the Flyers in Cincinnati. Dayton has won in Cincy in 33 years.

Also of Note: New Mexico tops Wyoming by four 63-59 on the road.

Important Outcomes

Florida State 73, Maryland 71

Michael Snaer hit a game-winning shot to give the Seminoles a big conference win over Maryland. The win keeps Florida State above .500 in conference play at 4-3. The Seminoles are a game out of a share of second place in ACC standings. Maryland, has lost three of four, and is now on the wrong end of the bubble.

Notre Dame 65, Villanova 60

Villanova, after two home wins against top-5 teams, lost on the road to the Notre Dame, after the Irish had dropped two of three in South Bend. The Irish shot 9-of-21 from the three, thanks in large part to freshman Cameron Biedscheid’s five 3-pointers. The win gives Notre Dame in a tie for third place in the Big East. Villanova have lost four of six, albeit the two wins come against Louisville and Syracuse in a five-day span. The Wildcats have three winnable games before a road game against No. 24 Cincinnati.

Stanford 76, Oregon 54

Oregon suffered its first conference loss as Stanford rolled past the tenth-ranked Ducks late Wednesday night. Oregon is without freshman guard Dominic Artis, who is sidelined with a foot injury. Stanford uses the win to climb back to .500 in the Pac-12 play.

Also of Note: Indiana rolls past Purdue 97-60. All five starters score in double figures. Indiana hosts No. 1 Michigan on Saturday.

Starred

Player of the Year candidates

Mason Plumlee, Duke: 32 points, nine rebounds, two blocks in a 75-70 win against Wake Forest. Doug McDermott, Creighton: 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists in a 91-77 win against Missouri State. Trey Burke, Michigan:  18 points, eight assists, zero turnovers in a 68-49 win against Northwestern for No. 1 Michigan.

Anthony Hickey, LSU

The nation’s leader in steals caused problems all night for Missouri’s offense. In the second half, he did his damage on the offensive end with 14 of his 20 points after halftime to go along with four assists and two steals. Oregon had only one scorer in double figures, Carlos Emory with 12. Stanford shot 52 percent from the field (57 from three) in a home win.

Florida

The Gators are rolling in SEC play, winning all seven games by a minimum of 17 points. Florida rolled past South Carolina 75-36. Saturday Florida hosts Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss, with Florida looking for its 10 consecutive win.

Also of Note: Jack Cooley (17 points, 16 rebounds)Isaiah Austin (21 points, 21 rebounds)

Struggled

Philadelphia schools

Villanova beat Louisville and Syracuse in back-to-back games — the first unranked team to be consecutive top-5 teams since 2001 — but lost on the road to Notre Dame. La Salle welcomed Butler and VCU to the A-10 by beating both of them in a five day span. The Explorers lost by one at home to UMass.

UCLA

The Bruins have lost two of three after winning 10 straight, including a overtime loss to USC on Wednesday. UCLA shot 38 percent from the field (2-of-19 from three).

Alex LenMaryland

Only four points, five rebounds for the Terrapins sophomore star. Len was limited to only 17 minutes in what could be a devastating loss to Maryland’s resume. Maryland is now 3-5 in the ACC following a loss to Michael Snaer and Florida State.

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.