Late Night Snacks: No. 3 Miami survives, No. 20 Wisconsin rolls

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Game of the Day: James Madison 72, Delaware 71 

The Blue Hens entered Sunday’s game against JMU with a chance to pull within a game of first-place Northeastern (in the loss column) in the CAA, but a lob from Devon Moore to Andre Nation with less than a second remaining gave James Madison the win in Newark. As a result of the win JMU is now tied for second with Towson (10-5), and with the Tigers banned from postseason play due to their APR score the Dukes lead the race for the two-seed in next month’s conference tournament. Delaware’s Devon Saddler led all scorers with 23 points, while Moore and Rayshawn Goins paced JMU with 19 apiece.

Important Outcomes

1. No. 3 Miami 45, Clemson 43

Sometimes teams simply have to gut out wins, especially on the road, and that was the case for the Hurricanes as they scored seven of the game’s final eight points to win at Clemson. A Kenny Kadji three-pointer in the final minute gave Miami the lead for good, and they’re now 12-0 in the ACC. Three games up on No. 2 Duke with six conference games remaining, Miami is in excellent position to win their first-ever ACC regular season title. Kadji finished with 12 points to lead the Hurricanes, and Jordan Roper led the Tigers with a game-high 19. But Clemson shot just 30.4% from the field, which left the door open for a Miami comeback.

2. No. 20 Wisconsin 71, No. 13 Ohio State 49 

This one was ugly from the start for the Buckeyes, who shot 37.5% from the field and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. It didn’t help matters that they were unable to slow down Wisconsin on the other end, as the Badgers shot 52.7% on the afternoon. Ben Brust and Jared Berggren scored 15 apiece to lead four Badgers in double figures, and Bo Ryan’s swing offense resulted in Wisconsin shooting 22-of-36 inside the three-point arc. Deshaun Thomas scored 18 to lead all scorers but outside of Sam Thompson (ten points) the other Buckeyes struggled mightily on offense.

3. Iowa 72, Minnesota 51 

With 12:57 remaining in the first half Minnesota led 21-5 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It all went downhill from there, as Iowa stormed back and left no doubt by the end of the game. Andre Hollins scored just three points and Rodney Williams went scoreless in ten minutes of action for Minnesota, who is now tied with the Hawkeyes and Illinois for sixth in the Big Ten. The question for Iowa is whether or not they can climb back into the NCAA tournament conversation, but Fran McCaffery’s team has some work to do given their poor non-conference strength of schedule ranking (323).

Starred

1. G Trey Burke (Michigan) 

29 points (9-of-16 FG), five assists and three rebounds (without a turnover) in the Wolverines’ 79-71 win over Penn State.

2. G Allen Crabbe (California) 

Things got a bit heated between Crabbe and head coach Mike Montgomery (h/t @Stephen_Nelson) early in the second half but the junior finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals in the Golden Bears’ 76-68 win over USC. For his part Crabbe offered the following in the postgame press conference:

3. F Stephen Lumpkins (American) 

Lumpkins played 42 of a possible 45 minutes in the Eagles’ 64-61 overtime win over Holy Cross, accounting for 17 points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

Struggled

1. South Florida

The Bulls haven’t fared well this season after getting to the NCAA tournament in 2012. Now 1-12 in Big East play, the Bulls shot 24.5% from the field in their 59-41 loss to No. 12 Louisville. USF finished the game with more turnovers (16) than field goals (13).

2. Minnesota 

The Golden Gophers hit six of their first nine shots and led Iowa 21-5. For the remainder of the game Minnesota shot 11-of-38, losing a game they led by 16 at one points by 21 (72-51).

3. Northwestern

The Wildcats nearly established a new record for fewest points scored in a game during Bill Carmody’s tenure but got going late in their 62-41 loss to Illinois. Northwestern shot 25% from the field and attempted 27 three-pointers, making five. And just like South Florida, Northwestern’s turnovers (14) beat out their made field goals (12).

Three Facts 

1. Wichita State picked up a big win, 68-67 at Illinois State, to take over sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley. A Cleanthony Early three-pointer capped an 8-0 rally that began with a flagrant 1 called on Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael with 41.2 seconds remaining.

2. Niagara was once again without the services of leading scorer Antoine Mason (ankle) but point guard Juan’ya Green made up for his absence, scoring 18 points to lead the Purple Eagles to a 60-56 win at Manhattan. The win keeps Niagara alone atop the MAAC standings, and with Rider’s win over Marist later in the day Rider is almost guaranteed of not having to play in the first round of next month’s conference tournament (the bottom four teams play in the first round).

3. No. 9 Arizona was too reliant on the three-pointer, attempting 22 of their 53 shots from beyond the arc (making six), but thanks to some big plays late from seniors Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill the Wildcats held off Utah 68-64 in Salt Lake City. Jarred DuBois led Utah with 16 points, but it was another case of “close but no cigar” for a team that’s played better than their 11-14 record would indicate.

Video James Madison’s game-winner at Delaware (at the 2:05 mark)

Top 25 Scores 

No. 3 Miami 45, Clemson 43
No. 4 Michigan 79, Penn State 71
No. 9 Arizona 68, Utah 64
No. 12 Louisville 59, South Florida 41
No. 20 Wisconsin 71, No. 13 Ohio State 49

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

4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.