Player of the Week: Doug McDermott, Creighton

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Player of the Week: Doug McDermott, Creighton

If you didn’t know any better, you would probably think that the 32 points and 11 boards that Doug McDermott had at Bradley on Wednesday would be his best performance of the week. The All-American had been struggling a bit in recent weeks, and as a result the Bluejays, almost unfathomably, found themselves creeping ever closer to the bubble. As long as they won at Bradley, Creighton could probably lose their last two games and find themselves with an at-large bid. McDermott stepped up.

And then he made it really easy to forget those 32 points and 11 boards.

McDermott reverted back to vintage Dougie McBuckets form on Saturday, scoring 41 points on 15-18 shooting — 5-8 from three — as Creighton knocked off Wichita State in one of the most impressive offensive performances of the season. Not only did the win ensure that Creighton would be in the tournament and come against a league rival, it was the de facto MVC regular season title game, as both the Shockers and the Bluejays entered the final game of the regular season tied for first place.

Maybe we need to put McDermott back into the National Player of the Year discussion.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:

G: Elijah Johnson, Kansas: Who can forget Johnson’s performance on Monday night at Iowa State. In one of the toughest environments in the country, Johnson scored eight points in 32 seconds to force overtime and then was responsible for the first 13 Jayhawk points in OT. He finished with 39 and seven assists. Throw in the 12 points, 10 assists and five boards he had in a win over West Virginia, and Johnson’s confidence finally seems to be peaking.

G: Derrick Marks, Boise State: The Broncos may have sealed up an NCAA tournament bid on Saturday with a 78-65 win over Colorado State at home, and Marks was the biggest reason why, as he scored a career-high 38 points on 13-18 shooting, hitting 4-7 from three.

F: Ryan Kelly, Duke: In Kelly’s first game back from a foot injury, he went for 36 points as the Blue Devils knocked off Miami in Cameron Indoor Stadium. What else needs to be said?

F: Otto Porter, Georgetown: Porter has been absolutely sensational over the past two months, and that didn’t change this week. He had 22 points, five boards and four assists — as well as the game-winning basket in double-overtime — to beat UConn at UConn, and followed that up with 28 points and eight boards as the Hoyas knocked off Rutgers on Saturday night.

C: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota: Mbakwe set the tone in Minnesota’s win over Indiana on Tuesday, scoring 10 points and grabbing four boards in the first six minutes en route to a 21-point, 12-board performance. He completely outplayed Cody Zeller as well. The win looks like it may have turned around the Minnesota season as well, as they blew out Penn State on Saturday after the Nittany Lions beat Michigan.

Bench: Larry Drew II (UCLA), Dwayne Evans (St. Louis), Alex Kirk (New Mexico), Omar Strong (Texas Southern)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: