RTC Circle of March 1

The Morning Mix

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Championship Week has begun and already we’ve witnessed a fairly shocking upset. Longwood (7-24) knocked off UNC-Asheville (16-16) in the first round of the Big South Tournament. In non-Championship Week action, Ohio State beat Indiana in Assembly Hall, and punches were thrown at the end of the St. John’s-Notre Dame game.

Let’s hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 5 Georgetown @ Villanova
7:00 p.m. – No. 7 Michigan @ Purdue
7:00 p.m. – No. 13 Oklahoma State @ Iowa State
7:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ Maryland
8:00 p.m. – Richmond @ No. 21 VCU
9:00 p.m. – No. 16 Saint Louis @ Xavier
11:00 p.m. – Stanford @ Cal
 
 
Top Stories:
Stifling defense leads No. 14 Ohio State to win over No. 2 Indiana:Aaron Craft is known for his relentless defense. But the junior guard got some help on Tuesday night from Shannon Scott, as the guards thwarted the Hoosiers en route to a 67-58 road win.

Indiana flirting with losing grip on top seeds in NCAA, B1G tourneys: All of a sudden, Indiana, who many believed to be the best team in the country heading into Tuesday night, no longer has themselves locked into a No. 1 seed thanks to a disappointing loss on Senior Night to Ohio State.

Ejections made after fight breaks out between Notre Dame, St. John’s (VIDEO): Sir’Dominic Pointer and Cam Biedscheid got into a fight as Jack Cooley was heading to the bench for the final time at the Joyce Center. It was an ugly way to end Senior Night.

Illinois hits bad shooting slump in loss to Iowa: Shooting slumps have plagued Illinois for much of their recent losing streak. The Illini shot just 29 percent from the floor during last night’s 63-55 road loss to Iowa.

Arkansas made their statement to the committee: we stink: It’s not just that Arkansas is bad on the road. They’re just not very good in general.

DJ Cooper does something that’s never been done before: The Ohio senior guard became the first person in NCAA history to register a career stat line eclipsing 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds, and 300 steals.

NBC Sports Network to broadcast opening round of A-10 tournament: The NBC Sports Network will broadcast the opening round of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Opening round games will take place on Thursday, March 14.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– As expected, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum will not play against Colgate in the Patriot League quarterfinals. (SB Nation)

– Any rumors of Tim Floyd possibly leaving UTEP for USC appear to be untrue. (Miner Rush)

– According to Dennis Dodd of CBS, federal laws may have been broken during the investigation of Jim Calhoun and Nate Miles. (CBS Sports)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Indiana lost at home on Senior Night, but still got to cut down the nets. Wait. That doesn’t make any sense. Pat Forde explains. (Yahoo Sports)

– The state of the bubble is starting to get interesting now that Selection Sunday is just 11 days away. (Sports Illustrated)

– Eric Prisbell ranks the conference tournaments. (USA Today)

– This read on Ben McLemore and what his back story can teach us about poverty in America is really intriguing. CBT’s own Rob Dauster wrote a similar piece last week. (Think Progress)

– Cincinnati is in a weird place with realignment. But the Bearcats should like what they got from the Big East settlement. (Down the Drive)

– The ACC Player of the Year award could go to one of a handful of players, and it all depends on your definition of the award. (Wilmington Star News)

– Doug McDermott one his second straight MVC Player of the Year award. (Omaha World Herald)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Maryland will be wearing their special “White-Ops” uniforms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything very special about these uniforms. (CSN Washington)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
This folks, is the “Circle of March”. It’s gotten a slight face-lift, but I love it. As teams continue to fall out of the NCAA Title picture, the circle will get smaller and smaller, until only one team remains. (Rush The Court)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
As Jack Cooley was leaving the court at the Joyce Center for the final time, a fight broke out between Sir’Dominic Pointer and Cam Biedscheid.


 
 
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VIDEO: Fordham tops VCU at the horn in OT

In this Oct. 6, 2015, photo, VCU men's NCAA college basketball coach Will Wade talks to his team during practice at the Franklin Street Gym in Richmond Va. VCU surged at the end of last season, winning the Atlantic 10 tournament to earn its fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. (Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT (
Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP
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Down 12 at halftime, VCU needed a second-half comeback to force overtime at Fordham.

There was nothing VCU could do to counteract Fordham’s game-winner.

Antwoine Anderson’s jumper as time expired in overtime gave Fordham a 69-67 victory Wednesday night.

After winning eight-straight games, VCU has now dropped back-to-back games with a loss to Davidson coming last weekend. The loss will likely bring up the same questions that were there after a less-than-steallar non-conference showing for VCU, given Fordham had lost 10 of 12 coming into the night.

Allonzo Trier suspended after failing PED test

Arizona head coach Sean Miller talks with guard Allonzo Trier (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern State in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)  ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT
Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP
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The suspension that Arizona guard Allonzo Trier is currently serving is due to positive test for performance-enhancing drugs during the preseason.

Trier, who has missed the first 18 games of the season, confirmed the news with a statement released late on Wednesday night that said he has “never knowingly taken a banned substance.”

According to a statement released by the university, Trier has been cleared by the NCAA after an appeal, but he cannot suit up for the Wildcats until the drug is completely out of his system.

“After finding out that I was given a banned substance by a well-intentioned, but misguided person not associated with the University after an injury, I presented this information to the NCAA,” Trier said in the statement. “The NCAA agreed that I had no knowledge of receiving the substance and my eligibility was restored. Although I can practice and travel with the team, I am not allowed to resume playing in games until the substance completely leaves my body even at a trace amount.”

There is no timetable for his return, but the door is open for a return.

As a freshman last season, Trier averaged 14.8 points and shot 36.4 percent from three. He was Arizona’s best isolation scorer and their leading returning scorer.

Without Trier, Arizona has looked like a Pac-12 title contender. They are 16-2 on the season and undefeated in league play heading into their games at the LA schools this weekend.

VIDEO: James Blackmon saves Indiana with buzzer-beating three

HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: James Blackmon Jr. #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers calls out a play during the second half of the second game of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Indiana won the game 103-99. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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There is plenty of reason to criticize James Blackmon Jr., and I did plenty of it in this story I wrote about Indiana earlier this month.

It’s also pretty obvious that Blackmon has been Indiana’s best player this season, and he backed that up on Wednesday night. Blackmon kept Indiana from falling to 2-4 in the Big Ten by burying a three at the buzzer to beat Penn State in Happy Valley.

The bigger issue for Indiana fans is the status of O.G. Anunoby’s knee. Indiana’s star forward went down with a non-contact injury in the first half and did not return to the game in the second half. I’m not going to play armchair physician here, but this does not look good.

This shot from Blackmon may have saved the Hoosiers from embarrassment, but where there season goes from here is still a major question mark.

VIDEO: Woodard game-winner topples No. 7 West Virginia

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02:  Jordan Woodard #10 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts in the second half against the Villanova Wildcats during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Welcome back, Jordan Woodard.

The Oklahoma senior, playing in his just third game back from injury, went coast-to-coast to hit a game-winning shot with under 3 seconds to play against West Virginia to give the Sooners an 89-87 victory in overtime.

The Sooners had just 12 turnovers against Press Virginia while shooting 49 percent from the field. Woodard had a chance to win the game in regulation for Oklahoma after he made a shot and was fouled, but the 86.7 percent free-throw shooter missed the shot from the charity stripe. He finished with 20 points.

West Virginia, which was ranked No. 1 by KenPom, shot 43.7 percent overall and 28 percent from 3-point range.

It may be just one loss, but it can only be considered a significant setback for the Mountaineers in their quest to finally be the team to end Kansas’ 12 year run at the top of the Big 12. Not only is losing a home game a blow, but losing one to a team the Jayhawks have already beaten in Allen Fieldhouse is a double-whammy.

West Virginia is now two games out of first place, and still has two games remaining against Kansas, which is either good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it. The Mountaineers will have to sweep the Jayhawks, steal a different one they aren’t expected to on the road or hope Kansas falters like they really haven’t in over a decade.

Yeah, there’s a lot of season left, but you don’t want the math and probability to work against you like it does with a loss like this. That is unless Oklahoma isn’t the same team it’s been through the first third of the Big 12 season, which lessens the blow some. Let’s investigate that.

Oklahoma was largely able to win this game based on its ball security. The Sooners only coughed it up  on 14.6 percent of their possessions. West Virginia has been forcing turnovers at around a 25-percent clip in Big 12 play. Woodard presence made a huge difference there (even if he had five turnovers), and Oklahoma is now 2-1 with only a loss to Kansas since his return.

Are the Sooners still one of the Big 12’s weakest teams or does Woodard make them a serious contender amid the second tier of the league? If it’s the latter, a recalibration of expectations is probably in order for a conference already considered one of the most difficult give its 10-team, round-robin format.

No. 10 Florida State hands No. 15 Notre Dame first ACC loss

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) steals the ball from Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell (5) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
AP Photo/Phil Sears
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Notre Dame shot over 70 percent on 21 3-point shot attempts, but it wasn’t enough as tenth-ranked Florida State became the first ACC team to defeat the Fighting Irish with a 83-80 win Wednesday night in Tallahassee.

Johnathan Isaac had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Seminoles, who moved into a tie for the ACC lead along with Notre Dame and North Carolina, which all sport 5-1 league records. The ‘Noles shot 50 percent from the floor and had 39 points off their bench.

The Fighting Irish made 15 of 21 3-point shots on the night, getting six from Matt Farrell and five apiece from VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia.

Florida State continues the ACC gauntlet with a home test against Louisville on Saturday while the Irish have Syracuse in South Bend on Saturday.

Here are three things to takeaway from this win for Leonard Hamilton’s club:

1. Jonathan Isaac, man: He was so good. He finished with 23 points, 10 boards and seven blocks, shooting just 7-for-9 from the floor, but it wasn’t just the plays that he made that were impressive. It was when they came. Isaac buried a pair of threes and sparked a late Florida State flurry that pushed the Seminoles out to a seven-point lead with two minutes left. He had a nasty block on a dunk attempt by V.J. Beachem, and then, after Florida State turned the ball over on their final possession, blocked two shots at the rim to help preserve the victory.

Isaac has had some issues with intensity and aggressiveness this season, and there are questions about whether or not he has the killer instinct to be a star at the next level. Tonight’s performance should quiet some of those doubters, at least for the time being.

2. This was the first time that Notre Dame looked overmatched by size and athleticism: Florida State is big, they’re athletic and they’re versatile. Notre Dame isn’t, and it showed tonight, particularly in the first half. Matt Farrell had five of his six turnovers in the first 20 minutes. As a team, the Irish finished with 18 turnovers, and just seemed to be out sync offensively for much of the game. That’s what Florida State wants to do defensively. That is their game-plan, and it worked quite well on Wednesday.

And yet, Notre Dame was still able to hang around in this one thanks to their ridiculous three-point shooting. They were 15-for-21 from beyond the arc, the 19th team to make 15 threes and shoot better than 70 percent from three since 2010 and the only one of those 19 to lose. There are a couple ways to look at that:

  1. Notre Dame’s fluky shooting kept them from getting exposed against a team that could take advantage of Notre Dame’s weaknesses..
  2. That Florida State was still able to win, and force turnovers on 23.7 percent of the possessions against the nation’s seventh-best team at protecting the ball, says more about the Seminoles than anything else.
  3. These are two excellent basketball teams that traded haymakers for 40 minutes.

No. 3 sounds about right to me.

3. Both of these teams will be in the ACC title race for the long haul: What more do either of them have to prove? Florida State has now beaten Duke and Notre Dame in their last two home games, which sandwiched an impressive performance in a loss at North Carolina. And the Irish? Their three losses this season came against Villanova, Purdue and Florida State by a combined 16 points, none of them coming at home.