Late Night Snacks: Kansas falls, Indiana triumphs, Florida continues to roll

1 Comment

Game of the Day: No. 3 Indiana 81, No. 1 Michigan 73

We came into the weekend knowing that this was the marquee matchup on the Saturday slate and it didn’t disappoint. It was a game of runs in the first half, but Indiana never seemed out of control at any one point. Victor Oladipo continued to show how important he is to the championship hopes of this Indiana team, scoring 15 points and affecting the game on the defensive end of the floor.

Point guard Trey Burke did everything he could for the Wolverines with 25 points, five rebounds, and eight assists, but there wasn’t enough offensive firepower in the end to topple Indiana and retain the No.1 overall spot. Glenn Robinson III was disrupted on the offensive end and never seemed comfortable. Tim Hardaway, Jr., picked up his third foul early in the second half and that got him out of his rhythm for a stretch.

Indiana now takes sole possession of the Big Ten, but that conference race is far from over.

Important Outcomes 

1. Oklahoma State 85, No. 2 Kansas 80

It’s not every day you see a team come into Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence and walk out with a win. The key to Oklahoma State’s ability to do so Saturday was the play of its backcourt, Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. It is a signature win for Oklahoma State, which now finds itself right in the thick of the race in the Big 12. Kansas is still the overwhelming favorite, but coach Travis Ford’s team is building its postseason resume.

2. No. 4 Florida 78, No. 16 Ole Miss 64

The Gators continue to steamroll through the SEC schedule. In what is a down year for the conference, Florida has just Kentucky left to beat to prove that it undisputedly reigns supreme in the conference. The Gators continue to feed off their defense, holding Ole Miss to 38 percent shooting from the floor.

3. No. 14 Miami 78, No. 19 NC State 77

After trouncing then-No. 1 Duke, Miami continues to pick up steam in the ACC and is looking more and more like the team to beat. They needed a tip-in in the final seconds from Reggie Johnson to get a road win Saturday at NC State, but coach Jim Larranaga has the Hurricanes in business in the final month of the season.

Starred

1. Oklahoma State backcourt (Markel Brown 28 points | Marcus Smart 25 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals)

This one-two punch was the biggest reason that the Cowboys were able to get a big conference win on the road at Allen Fieldhouse over No. 2 Kansas on Saturday. Smart had nine points in the final 2:19 of regulation to help Oklahoma State score the upset.

2. Jack Cooley (26 points, 16 rebounds)

Cooley’s huge double-double helped Notre Dame avoid an upset loss on the road to DePaul. He was efficient, going 9-of-15 from the floor, and didn’t turn the ball over in the overtime victory.

3. Cody Zeller (19 points, 10 rebounds)

Rob Dauster calls him “the nation’s best role player“. Regardless of what his role was Saturday, he was a key to Indiana’s ability to outlast Michigan and get a key conference win. The Hoosiers are now in position to possibly regain the No. 1 overall spot that they held earlier in the season.

Also of Note: Trey Burke, Michigan (25 points, 8 assists) | R.J. Hunter, Georgia State (38 points, 12-of-18 FG, 10-of-15 3pt FG) | Mike Muscala, Bucknell (11 points, 19 rebounds) | Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State (17 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks)

Struggled 

1. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (2 points, 1-of-6 FG)

Robinson III looked more like a true freshman than he has at perhaps any other point this season. He was never able to find his stride on the offensive end and had just one dunk in transition on the night. Without his production, Trey Burke was forced to shoulder more of the load offensively, along with Tim Hardaway, Jr.

2. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (2 points, 0-of-10 FG)

St. John’s came into the game hot, but Harrison was cold. Georgetown was able to disrupt him on the offensive end and take the biggest asset out of the game for the Red Storm.

3. Chase Tapley, San Diego State (2 points, 1-of-7 FG)

Tapley was shaken up early in San Diego State’s loss Air Force Saturday, which perhaps contributed to his poor shooting afternoon and his low production in 35 minutes on the floor. Without him, Jamaal Franklin and James Rahon combined for 30 shots in the loss.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Sweet 16 Preview: Thursday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Sweet 16 kicks off on Thursday night, and the games are going to be terrific.

Oregon-Michigan should be thrilling, Gonzaga-West Virginia is a fascinating contrast of styles and Kansas-Purdue features arguably the two best players in college basketball.

Oh, and then there’s Arizona-Xavier, with Sean Miller and Chris Mack doing battle.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (-1.5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS): So this run that Michigan on, is it a fluke?

Frankly, I don’t think that it is. Derrick Walton has been awesome for the better part of two months while Michigan’s perimeter shooters have always been shooters and the duo of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner are legit. I honestly do not believe that the Wolverines are a team of destiny after the plane crash. They are just really good and a perfect roster for John Beilein to tinker with.

That’s why they’re favored on Thursday night. But here’s the thing … Oregon is pretty good themselves. Dillon Brooks is going to be guarded by a big man, which should be a matchup that Brooks can take advantage of, and Tyler Dorsey has been playing terrific basketball since the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

If you like small-ball, spread-the-court basketball, you’ll love this game.

PREDICTION: Michigan (-1.5)

No. 1 Gonzaga (-3) vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m. (TBS): On paper, I think Gonzaga should win this game. They have a good back court in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins, a pair of talented point guards that have won a lot of games in their career. Gonzaga is also the best defensive team in the country. So if they don’t turn the ball over against West Virginia’s press and they make it difficult for West Virginia to score in the half court and get into their press, they should be able to win this thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

My concern with Gonzaga is game-pressure. They didn’t handle it well down the stretch against BYU in their one loss of the season, and I’m not convinced that they win that second round game against Northwestern if the officials don’t blow the goaltending call. How are they going to handle an endless wave of Mountaineers in their face?

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-3)

No. 1 Kansas (-5) vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): More than any other game this weekend, I’m fascinated to see how these two teams decide to try and play each other. Kansas has, essentially, one big man that Bill Self can trust, and he’s going up against a Player of the Year candidate in Caleb Swanigan and one of the best big men in the country at drawing fouls in Isaac Haas. Will Self double-team Swanigan knowing that Purdue may be more effective offensively when Swanigan can find shooters out of the double-team, or will he risk Lucas getting in foul trouble by trying to guard Swanigan one-on-one?

Then, at the other end of the floor, how will Purdue deal with the Kansas back court? Frank Mason III, the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, and Devonte’ Graham are a nightmare for anyone to deal with, let alone a team that struggles against penetrating guards and that lacks rim protection. It should be a fascinating coaching battle.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-5)

No. 2 Arizona (-7.5) vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m. (TBS): On paper, Arizona should be able to handle a Xavier team that doesn’t have Edmond Sumner or Myles Davis. That said, as we all know, Chris Mack and Sean Miller are very close and used to work together. Mack knows everything that Miller is going to do and vice versa. I think this game will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair that comes down to the final minutes.

PREDICTION: Xavier (+7.5)

Shayok and Reuter transferring from Virginia

Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images
3 Comments

Virginia announced the departure of two players Wednesday.

Marial Shayok and Jerred Shayok will both transfer out of the program, the school said.

“Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future.”

Shayok, a a 6-foot-5 junior, played 20.9 minutes per game last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. The Ottawa native started 23 games in three seasons with Virginia.

Reuter played a minimal role for the Cavaliers, averaging just 10.8 minutes and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
1 Comment

There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
1 Comment

Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.