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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Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.

Washington State coach begins game on opponent’s bench

Ernie Kent
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In September, during the Coaches vs. Cancer Gala in Spokane, Washington, there was a live auction, which included the chance to be Idaho’s honorary coach for a regular season during the 2016-17 season.

Washington State head coach Ernie Kent’s $2,000 bid more than tripled the next highest bid, according to the Spokesman Review.

On Wednesday night, during Washington State’s game against the Vandals, Kent sat next to his counterpart on the Idaho bench.

Kent returned to his side of the court following the game’s first possession.

Behind 16 points from Ike Iiroegbu, the Cougars defeated the Vandals, 61-48.

 

Given Washington’s struggles, just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

Lorenzo Romar
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
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We tried to warn you what was coming on Wednesday night.

We tried to tell you just how bad things were for Washington right now, that, according to a coach that had faced the Huskies this season, “they were so ******* bad defensively” that “they looked like they hadn’t been coached.”

That’s not a good look for anyone, let alone a head coach that has missed the NCAA tournament the last five seasons despite having five first round picks come through his program during that time.

Which is why you shouldn’t have been surprised that the Huskies were gutted by No. 8 Gonzaga, losing 98-71 in a game that was never competitive at any point. And, given that Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is on the Washington roster, it’s the nightmare scenario.

So.

We need to start talking about the elephant in the room, because there’s a lot to unpack here:

Just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

RELATED: What has gone wrong with Washington this season?

The simple answer? Scalding. Romar is one of just three Power 5 head coaches that have missed the NCAA tournament for five straight seasons without having to find new employment. You don’t get six tournament-less years and survive, not at this level.

But there’s more to the conversation that simply relaying the number of first round picks he’s failed to get to the Big Dance.

Four of those five first round picks played in two different seasons, meaning that in the other three seasons, Washington was led by C.J. Wilcox, the No. 28 pick in 2014, and Nigel Williams-Goss. In 2011-12, Washington had Terrence Ross, then a sophomore, and freshman Tony Wroten on the roster. They started slowly out of the gate, going 7-6 in non-conference play, before winning the Pac-12 regular season title outright. They missed out on the NCAA tournament in large part due to the fact that the conference as a whole went 1-29 against the RPI top 50; only two Pac-12 teams earned bids that season. Ross and Wroten both left after the season.

The other year that Washington had two first round picks was in 2015-16, which both Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray shocked everyone by becoming one-and-done talents. Both were drafted almost entirely on potential; Chriss was clueless defensively, fouling out of 15 of the 34 games he played, while Murray’s jumper left him a long way away from impacting an NBA game. The conversation about this Washington team would be totally different right now if Fultz had those two on the floor with him.

Part of the reason those two were able to leave early was because of Romar’s coaching style – he lets his most talented players play regardless of whether or not they’re making mistakes – and in part because the 2016 draft was bad.

Romar is, in part, a victim of circumstance, even if he dug himself into this whole in the first place.

RELATED: For Michael Porter Jr., Washington was all about family first

Washington is still paying Romar a relatively small amount. After the 2010 season, when he led the Huskies to his third Sweet 16, Romar got a 10-year contract extension worth $1.7 million annually. It runs three more years after this season and comes with a $3.2 million buyout, which isn’t massive but is expensive for an athletic department that projected to operate at a $15 million deficit in 2016. Then you have to consider what it would cost to hire an upgrade on Romar.

For comparison’s sake, Tubby Smith made $1.8 million in 2015-16 at Texas Tech and got a raise to more than $3 million-a-year for the next five years at Memphis despite the fact that he wasn’t the guy the school initially targeted. But Brad Underwood will make $1.2 million a year for five years at Oklahoma State, which makes him the lowest-paid coach in the conference.

If new Washington AD Jennifer Cohen wants to hire a new coach, she’d certainly be able to afford a replacement that we be, at the least, a respectable name, but there’s no guarantee that a replacement is going to have any kind of success there. Romar is far and away the most successful coach Washington has ever had. He’s been to six NCAA tournament and three Sweet 16s in his 15 seasons. The Huskies reached the Final Four in 1953, and in the nearly 50 years between that day and the day that Romar was hired, Washington reached just six NCAA tournaments and two Sweet 16s.

Romar is not having the same level of success that he had when guys like Brandon Roy and Isaiah Thomas were on his roster, but Washington is still somewhat relevant due to the pros that are coming through Seattle. There’s no guarantee that any replacement will make Washington more likely to get to the NCAA tournament, but at least Husky fans get Markelle Fultz this season and Michael Porter Jr., a top five prospect and the son of current U-Dub assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., next season.

That’s certainly more enjoyable than rooting for, say, Washington State.

And it’s certainly a factor that Cohen has to consider. Porter clearly picked Washington because Romar, his godfather, is part of the family.

“As we continue to look where we’re going and where we think we can go and what our plan is, then I’ll have more information about it,” Cohen said at her introductory press conference. “But absolutely, I’m 100 percent behind him right now.”

And if Washington can’t get back to the Big Dance?

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” she said. “So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

CBT Podcast: ESPN’s Dana O’Neil discusses her book about Villanova

Villanova head coach Jay Wright celebrates as he cuts down the net after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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On today’s podcast, I was joined by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil, one of my personal favorite writers who has penned a book chronicling how Jay Wright was able to build the Villanova program into a national title winner.

Dana spent seven years as a beat-writer for the Wildcats before making the move to ESPN, and she has some great stories about how the book came together and, frankly, how that Villanova team came together.

It’s a little “Inside Baseball”, but it was a fun conversation about a book that you know is going to be really good.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

VIDEO: World War II Veteran play anthem on harmonica before Pearl Harbor Invitational

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Peter DuPre’, a veteran of World War II, opened last night’s Pearl Harbor Invitational between Seton Hall and California with a moving rendition of the National Anthem, which he played on his harmonica.