Late Night Snacks: Joe Harris leads Virginia past No. 3 Duke

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Game of the Night: Morehead State 101, Tennessee State 100 

There wasn’t much on the line in this one (besides seeding for next week’s OVC tournament) but the Eagles and Tigers played a classic in Nashville, with Morehead State needing to hang on despite shooting 61.7% from the field and 60.0% (15-of-25) from beyond the arc. Angelo Warner led five Morehead State players in double figures with 23 points, but the Eagles finished the game with as many turnovers (20) as assists (20). Kellen Thornton scored 29 points and Robert Covington added 23, eight rebounds and four steals for Tennessee State, who dropped into third place in the OVC East Division with the defeat.

Important Outcomes

1. Virginia 73, No. 3 Duke 68

The result is more about the Cavaliers than the Blue Devils, who didn’t play their best but Ryan Kelly was dressed (he did not play) and that could open the door to the possibility of him playing on Saturday against No. 5 Miami. Joe Harris scored 36 points and Akil Mitchell added 19 and 12 rebounds for Virginia, who picked up a much-needed win for their resume.

Virginia’s final three regular season games are against Boston College, Florida State and Maryland, which makes their win over Duke all the more important. Duke’s loss is the 19th time this season in which a team ranked in the Top 5 has lost to an unranked opponent this season.

2. Temple 83, Detroit 78 

Originally scheduled to be played on December 28 as part of the Gotham Classic (Detroit was unable to travel due to inclement weather), the Owls and Titans played one of the more entertaining games of the night in Philadelphia. Khalif Wyatt scored all 20 of his points in the second half and knocked down two huge three-pointers late to push Temple past Detroit.

An unsung hero for Temple on this night was forward Jake O’Brien, who scored 16 points off the bench to help keep the Owls afloat when Wyatt was struggling. Ray McCallum Jr. led Detroit with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but they would have been in need of the Horizon League’s automatic bid regardless of the outcome.

3. No. 2 Gonzaga 70, BYU 65 

Gonzaga is now just one win away from the fourth undefeated WCC campaign of the Mark Few era…and possibly the top spot in the national polls for the first time in school history. Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points and Gary Bell Jr. added 15, but if the Bulldogs are to be successful in March Kevin Pangos can’t shoot as poorly as he did in Provo (2-of-13 FG, 1-of-12 3PT).

Tyler Haws led four BYU players in double figures with 19 points, and they need a win at Loyola Marymount on Saturday night to clinch the three-seed in next weekend’s WCC tournament. A loss combined with a Santa Clara win would drop them to fourth, which would mean a possible meeting with Gonzaga in the semifinals as opposed to the title game.

Starred 

1. G Damion Lee (Drexel) 

Lee was hot in the Dragons’ 81-77 win at Old Dominion, scoring a career-high 34 points on 11-of-14 shooting and grabbing ten rebounds.

2. G/F Joe Harris (Virginia) 

No. 3 Duke had no answer for Harris, who scored a career-high 36 points (12-of-20 FG) and grabbed seven rebounds in the Cavaliers’ 73-68 victory.

3. G Omar Strong (Texas Southern)

Strong was part of CBT’s #shootmore campaign during non-conference play due to his ability to get hot from beyond the arc. In the Tigers’ 79-66 win over Southern, which gave them sole possession of first place in the SWAC, Strong shot 7-of-13 from three and scored 34 points.

Struggled

1. Grambling

The Tigers (0-27, 0-17 SWAC) are down to their final shot when it comes to picking up a regular season victory. Grambling shot 32.8% from the floor in a 74-47 loss to Alabama A&M.

2. G Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) 

Sulaimon had a tough night in Charlottesville, scoring four points on 2-of-10 shooting and committing three turnovers in the 73-68 loss to Virginia.

3. G Jarred DuBois and C Jason Washburn (Utah) 

If the Utes were to have any chance of beating California in Berkeley they needed their seniors to have good nights. That didn’t happen, as they combined to shoot 3-of-17 from the field and score 11 points in the 64-46 loss.

Three Facts

1. Three teams locked up the top seed in their respective conference tournaments and the automatic bid to the Postseason NIT (should they need it) that comes with the honor on Thursday: Stony Brook (America East), Robert Morris (Northeast) and South Dakota State (Summit League).

2. Dominic Artis returned to the floor for No. 24 Oregon after missing nine games due to a foot injury, playing 12 minutes and scoring six points in the Ducks’ 85-75 win over rival Oregon State. Oregon retains sole possession of first in the Pac-12, and Artis has a week of rest before the Ducks visit Colorado and Utah to end the regular season.

3. Florida Gulf Coast kept its hopes of winning a share of the Atlantic Sun title alive with a 60-57 win over first-place Mercer, and the win also guaranteed the Eagles of their first 20-win season as a Division I member. Mercer will look to win the regular season title outright on Saturday with a win at Stetson.

Top 25 Scores

No. 2 Gonzaga 70, BYU 65
Virginia 73, No. 3 Duke 68
No. 16 Ohio State 63, Northwestern 53
No. 24 Oregon 85, Oregon State 75
No. 25 Louisiana Tech 84, Utah State 61

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

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.