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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Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

AP
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.