Late Night Snacks: Harvard, Princeton stay perfect in the Ivy League

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Game of the Day

Harvard 67, Cornell 65

The Crimson almost let a 21-point lead get away from them. Harvard didn’t score for the final four minutes, as Cornell went on a 13-0 run.  Errick Peck’s 3-pointer was off the mark as Harvard stayed perfect in the Ivy League. An important victory as Harvard keeps a half game lead over Princeton in the standings. Those two teams meet on Saturday at Harvard.

Important Outcomes

Princeton 63, Brown 46

The Tigers have now won six straight games and hold a perfect 4-0 record in league play. Princeton is the only other undefeated team in the Ivy besides Harvard. Princeton hosts Yale on Sunday, followed by a road game against Dartmouth. Next week they make the trip to Cambridge to play the Crimson, which could potentially be for first place. Denton Koon had team-high 17 points, while Ian Hummer added 15.

Utah State 63, San Jose State 36

The Aggies are doing damage control. A four-game losing streak in January has left them out of the top of the conference, currently held by Louisiana Tech and followed by New Mexico State and Denver. Utah State is only three and a half out of first place and after winning three straight the Aggies can make a statement with a two-game home stand against Denver and New Mexico State this week.

Loyola (MD) 63, Siena 51

Six days removed from a double overtime win over MAAC-leading Niagara and Loyola continued its winning ways with a double-digit victory over Siena. Erik Etherly had a season-high 25 points to help the Greyhounds separate themselves from Canisius, Rider and Iona — all hold 8-5 records, good for third place. Loyola is in sole possession of second place, one game out of first.

UNC-Asheville 90, VMI 79

The win keeps UNC-Asheville at 9-2, which is good for the best record in the Big South. The Bulldogs hold a half game lead over Charleston Southern in the South Division while High Point leads the North Division with a 7-3 conference record.

Starred

Siyani Chambers, Harvard

Although the freshman missed a crucial free throw in the game’s final minutes, Chambers finished with 18 points and 11 assists, his third double-double on the season and second consecutive. The freshman has exceeded expectations this season and narrowly has the Crimson in first place in the Ivy League

Stan Okoye, Virginia Military 

In a loss, Okoye was the game’s leading scorer and rebounder with 34 points and 16 rebounds. While it was a season-high in rebounds, it was the fourth time the 6-foot-6 senior dropped 30 in a game this season. D.J. Covington also had a standout game in the loss with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Spencer Butterfield, Utah State

For the fifth consecutive game, Butterfield finished with a double-double. This time it was 22-point, 10-rebound performance in a win for the Aggies. The 6-foot-3 junior scored his game-high 22 points of 9-of-11 shooting.

O.D. Anosike, Siena

For the 14th time this season, the Siena senior has recorded a double-double. In a loss to Loyola (MD), the 6-foot-8 senior recorded 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Struggled

Austin Morgan, Yale

The Bulldogs leading scorer shot a woeful 1-for-10 from the field for only nine points. Coming off a 20-point performance in loss to Dartmouth, Yale still picked up the 68-59 win against Penn on Friday night.

Columbia free throw shooting

The Lions went 10-of-17 from the line, in a three-point loss to Dartmouth. Columbia was not much better from behind the arc, shooting 3-of-20 (15 percent), as opposed to Dartmouth’s 47 percent shooting from deep.

San Jose State offense

The Spartans shot 27 percent from the field for the game, 20 percent from behind the arc, only tallying 36 points in a loss to Utah State. D.J. Brown, San Jose State’s leading scorer, with 16 points shot 5-of-13, however he was 4-of-9 from three. The rest of his team was 0-for-11 from deep.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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.