Late Night Snacks: Teams do harm to NCAA tournament resumes on Super Bowl Sunday

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Game of the Day: No. 23 Minnesota 62, Iowa 59 

The Golden Gophers found a way to win at home, as Austin Hollins’ three-pointer with 11.6 seconds remaining gave Minnesota a 60-59 lead. Two things that stand out from this one: Iowa allowing a needed resume-building win slip from their grasp and the lack of production from Minnesota’s bench. On the first point, Fran McCaffery’s team is now 3-6 in Big Ten play, and losing contact with the top half of the conference is a major issue for the Hawkeyes in their quest to get into the NCAA tournament discussion. As for Minnesota’s reserves, who didn’t even attempt a shot much less score, someone has to step up this month despite Tubby Smith’s desire to lean on his starters for production if they’re to have a shot at knocking off No. 13 Michigan State on Wednesday night.

Important Outcomes 

1. Georgia Tech 66, Virginia 60 

The Cavaliers have done themselves no favors when it comes to their NCAA tournament resume. While Tony Bennett’s team has some good wins they also have stunning losses that will not help their cause, and this one can be added to the list. Virginia led 57-48 with 8:12 remaining but scored just three points the rest of the way, and the Yellow Jackets took advantage with a game-ending 18-3 run. Mfon Udofia scored 15 points to lead the way with Robert Carter Jr. and Chris Bolden scoring 14 apiece for Georgia Tech. Joe Harris led all scorers with 18 points.

2. Providence 55, Villanova 52

Jay Wright’s team has two wins over Top 5 teams on their resume, and now they’ve also got a season sweep at the hands of Providence. Bryce Cotton’s three-pointer with just over two seconds remaining proved to be the difference, with the Friars avoiding an epic collapse after leading by nine with two minutes remaining. Cotton finished with 18 points and six rebounds and Josh Fortune added 15 on five three-pointers. Darrun Hilliard shot 3-of-13 from the field but still managed to score 17 points (10-of-10 FT) to lead Villanova.

3. Wisconsin 74, Illinois 68

John Groce brought Brandon Paul off the bench today and the move didn’t work, as Illinois’ leading scorer struggled offensively and as a team the Fighting Illini continued to have issues defensively. Wisconsin shot 55.6% in the second half and Ben Brust led three Badgers in double figures with 20 points. Illinois may have shot just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc but if they show the ability to get stops consistently their chances of winning would have improved greatly. Now 2-7 in conference play, Illinois has a lot of work to do if they’re to factor into the NCAA tournament conversation.

Starred

1) F Rhamel Brown (Manhattan) 

Brown posted his fourth double-double of the season in the Jaspers’ 57-49 win over Saint Peter’s, scoring 21 points (8-of-10 FG), grabbing ten rebounds and blocking seven shots.

2) G Shabazz Napier (Connecticut) 

In the Huskies’ 64-59 overtime win over South Florida the junior point guard accounted for 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

3) F Josh Huestis (Stanford) 

Huestis finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots in Stanford’s 81-73 win over Oregon State.

Struggled

1) G Brandon Paul (Illinois)

Head coach John Groce made the decision to bring Paul off the bench and Illinois’ leading scorer didn’t react well, shooting 3-of-13 from the field in a 74-68 loss to Wisconsin.

2) G Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

Marble went scoreless for the first time since his freshman year in the Hawkeyes’ 62-59 loss at No. 23 Minnesota, attempting just two shots in 17 minutes of action.

3) Villanova 

Rough day for the Wildcats, who shot 27.5% from the field and committed 18 turnovers in their 55-52 loss to Providence.

Other Notable Happenings 

1) Stanford picked up its third consecutive victory, beating Oregon State 81-73 in Palo Alto. Chasson Randle scored 20 points and Josh Huestis added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinal, who have been successful in part due to their improved perimeter shooting (14-of-25 3PT on Sunday). Next up for Stanford is a trip to Arizona on Wednesday, and a win there could vault them into the Pac-12 race.

2) No. 12 Louisville closed the first half on a 37-15 run, going on to beat No. 25 Marquette 70-51. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva combined to score 32 points for the Cardinals, and as a result of Louisville’s win the top seven teams in the Big East standings are separated by just one game in the loss column.

3) Mackey McKnight scored 21 points to lead five Lehigh starters in double figures in the Mountain Hawks’ 85-76 win at Army. Lehigh remains in a tie for first place in the Patriot League with Bucknell, and with Lafayette two games back at 4-3 in the standings the two preseason favorites have some separation at the halfway point.

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

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.

Oakland’s Greg Kampe hosting charity golf event with big-name coaches

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Oakland head coach Greg Kampe hosted a successful charity event for cancer research two years ago by allowing people to bid online to play a round of golf with some of college basketball’s best coaches.

Kampe is back again this year as he’s hoping to eventually raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

According to a report from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Kampe has 11 high-profile names that fans can play with this year.

  • Tom Izzo, Michigan State
  • Frank Martin, South Carolina
  • Rick Barnes, Tennessee
  • Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
  • Chris Holtmann, Butler
  • Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
  • Greg Kampe, Oakland
  • Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
  • Steve Lavin
  • Fran Fraschilla
  • Bill Raftery

Fans can find more details about the auctions and all of the details here.

The minimum bid is $15,000 per coach. A “buy now” bid of $24,000 is also available.

Each round includes the following, according to the event’s website:

Up for auction will be 11 spectacular packages, featuring a private dinner with elite basketball coaches and VIPs, a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, June 4, and an afternoon of golf on Monday, June 5 at Oakland Hills Country Club on the South Course. The winning bidders and their two guests will round out the foursomes with their selected VIP: Rick Barnes, Mick Cronin, Fran Fraschilla, Chris Holtmann, Tom Izzo, Greg Kampe, Steve Lavin, Frank Martin, Bill Raftery, Stan Van Gundy, or Kevin Willard.

There are a lot of great selections to choose from for this sort of thing, but I can’t imagine a better afternoon than playing golf with Bill Raftery and a few friends. There are some other tempting choices on this list, but that’s the one I would have to jump at.

If you think 137 players declaring for the draft is stupid, you’re probably stupid

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The NBA Draft’s full early entry list came out on Tuesday afternoon, and there were 137 underclassmen listed on it.

137.

For 60 spots in the NBA Draft, only 30 of which guarantee you a contract in the NBA.

And that’s before you factor in the 45 international players that also declared for the NBA Draft, as well as the crop of seniors — Josh Hart, Monte’ Morris, Jaron Blossomgame, Alec Peters — that are going to end up hearing their names called. All told, there are going to be roughly 200 players competing to be one of the 60 people that end up getting drafted on June 22nd, and you don’t have to be any good at math to realize that 200 is a much, much bigger number than 60.

This unleashed a torrent of bad takes on the decision of these players.

And bad may not be doing those takes justice.

Because the bottom-line is this: You cannot paint the decision on whether or not to go pro with a broad brush.

For some players, making money of any kind is something they need to do to support their family, whether it’s what they’ll get with a first round guarantee, the $75-100,000 they’ll get for making a training camp roster to subsidize their time in the D-League while teams develop them or the money they can make in the D-League or overseas. You don’t know what their financial situation is. Maximizing their ability to capitalize on every available dollar they can make off of their athletic gifts may be more important than working towards a degree.

And it’s worth noting here that a guaranteed contract isn’t the only way to make a living in professional basketball. To say nothing of the money that can be made overseas or the number of second round picks and undrafted players that make guaranteed money — which is more than you probably realize — it needs to be noted that D-League salaries are getting a bump this year with the new CBA.

The NBA has also instituted something new called a “two-way contract”. Without getting into the legalese, it’s essentially a retainer worth well into the six figures that they will be able to give to two players that will allow them to retain that player under contract while sending them between the D-League and the NBA roster. In a sense, it creates an extra 60 NBA roster spots for players that have 0-3 years worth of professional basketball on their résumé.

Some players are simply declaring without signing with an agent because they want to get feedback directly from NBA personnel on what their professional prospects. Some will hear that they need to return to school to work on their body, or work on their jumper, or mature as a person to be able to handle everything that comes with being a professional. Others will be told they’re going to make a lot of money by staying in the draft, or that they need to go back to school because, frankly, they are not professional basketball players. Not getting invited to the NBA combine is a pretty good indication of where you stand in the eyes of NBA teams.

Still other players are putting their name into the draft to leave their options open should they be recruited over by the program they are a part of. Take Frank Jackson, for example. If he can return to school and thrive as Duke’s point guard, maybe he turns into a top 20 pick. But what happens if Trevon Duval, the best point guard in the Class of 2017 and a top five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, picks Duke? Would it be in Jackson’s best interest to come back to Duke when he won’t be playing the position that he needs to learn to play to turn himself into a lasting NBA player?

Jackson, like the roughly 100 underclassmen that have declared without an agent, has until May 24th to make his decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. Until then, he can return to school without damaging his eligibility.

The entire reason that the NCAA changed their rules to allow players to test the waters is so that they can make the most important decision of their lives with as much information as humanly possible. This thing exists for the sole purpose of allowing the kids to have as much knowledge about their options as possible.

And that is exactly what these kids are doing.

So the idea that this rule, or players taking advantage of that rule, however high that number may be, is a bad thing is stupid.