The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 4 Preview

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The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

Here’s what to watch for on Friday.

Game of the Night: Eastern Kentucky vs. Murray State
The two best OVC teams not named Belmont square off in the nightcap of the OVC tournament on Friday night in Nashville. The Colonels won the only meeting between the two schools during league play. Last time out, Isaiah Canaan dropped 24 points, but two EKU players scored twenty as well. It’s likely that Murray State gets invited to one of the smaller postseason tournaments, but nonetheless, it’s also possible that this could be Isaiah Canaan’s final game as a collegiate player.

Player to Watch: Colt Ryan, Evansville
The last time Evansville was on the hardwood, Colt Ryan dropped 31 points on the very same Indiana State team he faces today. Ryan is the best scorer in the MVC not named Doug McDermott. The senior guard has only failed to score at least 20 points in just one of his last ten games, and is averaging 28ppg in his last four.

Miscellaneous Madness:
Three teams with at least 20 losses won games in their conference tournament, and two of those teams still remain alive. Liberty (13-20) defeated No.1-seed High Point in the Big South Quarterfinals and will now face No.2-seed Gardner-Webb in the semifinals on Saturday. Loyola Marymount (10-22) defeated both Portland and San Francisco in the WCC Tournament and face Santa Clara tonight. Prior to beating Portland, the Lions had not won in 55 days. They’ve now won on back-to-back nights.

Friday Schedule:

Atlantic Sun Conference Semifinals
2:30 p.m. – USC-Upstate (5) vs. Mercer (1)
8:30 p.m. – Stetson (3) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2)

Horizon League Quarterfinals
6 p.m. – Youngstown State (6) vs. Wright State (3)
8:30 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago (5) vs. Green Bay (4)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Round
7:30 p.m. – Siena (9) vs. Marist (8)
9:30 p.m. – St. Peter’s (10) vs. Fairfield (7)

Missouri Valley Conference Quarterfinals
1:05 p.m. – Drake (9) vs. Creighton (1)
3:30 p.m. – Indiana State (5) vs. Evansville (4)
7 p.m. – Missouri State (7) vs. Wichita State (2)
9:30 p.m. – Illinois State (6) vs. Northern Iowa (3)

Ohio Valley Conference Semifinals
7 p.m. – Tennessee State (4) vs. Belmont (1)
9 p.m. – Eastern Kentucky (3) vs. Murray State (2)

Southern Conference First Round
11:30 a.m – Georgia Southern (9) vs. Wofford (8)
1:30 p.m. – Furman (12) vs. Samford (5)
6 p.m. – UNC-Greensboro (10) vs. Chattanooga (7)
8 p.m. – The Citadel (11) vs. Western Carolina (6)

Sun Belt Conference First Round
7 p.m. – Louisiana-Monroe (11) vs. Western Kentucky (6)
7:30 p.m. – North Texas (9) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8)
9:30 p.m. – Troy (10) vs. Florida Atlantic (7)

West Coast Conference Quarterfinals
9 p.m. – Loyola Marymount (9) vs. Santa Clara (4)
11:30 p.m. – San Diego (6) vs. BYU (3)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Ingram scores 15, leads No. 6 Duke past pesky Yale 80-61

Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Freshman Brandon Ingram scored 15 points and played a key role in the defensive switch that helped No. 6 Duke beat Yale 80-61 on Wednesday night.

Matt Jones had 17 points and Grayson Allen scored 15 for the Blue Devils (5-1), while Ingram sparked Duke out of a lethargic start with his pressure as the front man after the switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense.

Freshman Luke Kennard finished with 12 points for the Blue Devils, who finally took control with a 17-2 run during a 5 1/2-minute span that bridged the halves. Duke outscored Yale 42-25 in the second half.

Justin Sears scored 19 points and Makai Mason had 13 points for the Bulldogs (3-2). The preseason favorites in the Ivy League led for all but 90 seconds of the first half but shot just 30 percent after the break.

The clear difference was Duke’s switch late in the first half to that zone defense with the 6-foot-9 Ingram out in front – where he could disrupt Yale’s ballhandlers, get his 7-3 wingspan into passing lanes and pester the perimeter shooters.

Yale, which shoots 40 percent from 3-point range, was just 4 of 15 in this one. Duke finished with 12 steals and forced 13 turnovers, turning them into 16 points.

That defensive pressure sparked the game-turning run, with the zone forcing turnovers on consecutive trips down court that Duke turned into transition buckets.

Ingram later took a steal coast to coast for a layup that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead at 48-38 with 16:43 to play. Allen capped the decisive run with a layup on the next trip down court.

They eventually pulled away, pushing the lead into the 20s on a jumper with 2 1/2 minutes left by Amile Jefferson, who finished with 12 rebounds.

The lopsided final score was surprising because Duke was in trouble for virtually the entire first half. Yale routinely outworked the Blue Devils and generated easy baskets – none easier than Mason’s unimpeded drive across the lane for a layup that put the Bulldogs up 27-20 with 7 1/2 minutes left before the break.


VIDEO: Colorado player ejected for biting another player

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Colorado is playing Air Force tonight.

For some reason or another, Colorado’s Tory Miller got mad at Air Force’s Hayden Graham.

So he bit him.


At least he didn’t pretend that he teeth hurt after getting bit.

Miller, obviously, was ejected. Colorado ended up winning the game.