Late Night Snacks: Devonte Brown, Indiana State lead exciting night of conference tournaments

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Games of the Day

Indiana State 51, Evansville 50

Devonte Brown blocked Ned Cox’s layup attempt as time expired as the Sycamores held on to top the Aces 51-50 in the quarterfinal of the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal. Brown’s block was a great counter to a long in bounds pass that landed in the hand of Cox. Brown led Indiana State with 11 points. Justin Gant knocked down a free throw to give the Sycamores the one-point lead.

Loyola Marymount 60, Santa Clara 58

What is Loyola Marymount doing? The team that lost 14 straight, now has won three straight. The team that won one conference game has now won three straight … all in the West Coast Conference Tournament. Anthony Ireland hit a shot to put the Lions up one, but LMU fouled on the ensuing possession. Brandon Clark missed the front-end of the one-and-one and LMU hit a free throw to sneak out a 60-58 win. Loyola Marymount will attempt to keep the magic going against (ahem) Gonzaga, (ahem) the No. 1 team in the nation.

UW-Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 63

Rare we go three games of the day, but it’s March and Sultan Muhammad forced his way in when he hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining, pushing Green Bay past ICU in the Horizon League quarterfinals.

Important Outcomes

Kent State 68, Akron 64

This could be the downfall of the Zips. Alex Abreu is suspended indefinitely after being arrested and Akron is without an experienced point guard and knockdown 3-point shooter. The Golden Flashes are the second team to top the Zips in three games, after Akron rallied off 19 consecutive wins.

Harvard 56, Columbia 51

The Crimson had regained the lead of the Ivy League following a win over Columbia and Yale upsetting Princeton. Harvard had lost two straight, including one to Princeton, which lost them the top spot in the smartest league in the nation. The Crimson wrap up the season Saturday at home against Cornell. If the Crimson win and Princeton losses one of its last two games, Harvard will be dancing for the second straight season.

San Diego 72, BYU 69

BYU’s comeback fell short when Matt Carlino’s last-second three didn’t fall. The Cougars needed to make a run in the WCC Tournament and after the upset loss to San Diego, BYU will dread Selection Sunday.

Starred

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

The senior point guard has his Racers in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game following his 29-point, six-assist performance in an 81-73 win over Eastern Kentucky.

Doug McDermott, Creighton

The national player of the year candidate dropped 23 points and grabbed seven boards in a win over Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals.

Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount

Ireland has his Lions alive, as LMU reached the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, thanks in large part to his 23 points and seven steals. The Waterbury, Conn. native also hit a shot to put the Lions up for good with 5.2 seconds remaining. He’ll need to be just as good in the semifinals when the Lions take on top-ranked Gonzaga.

Struggled

Daniel Barnes, Illinois-Chicago

The Flames second leading scorer (12.1 points per game) was held to 1-of-10 shooting, en route to a five-point performance in a heartbreaking loss to UW-Green Bay in the Horizon League quarterfinals.

Akron 3-point shooting

The Zips struggled from behind the arc, shooting a dismal 22 percent of 6-of-27 3-point shooting. Alex Abreu was not in action after being suspended indefinitely. Abreu is shooting 39 percent from behind the arc on the season.

Colton Ryan, Evansville

The Aces’ leading scorer was held to more than half his season average of 20 points per game. In a one-point loss to Indiana State, Ryan shot 4-for-18 from the field for eight points. He dropped 31 points on Indiana State six days earlier.

Conference Tournament Recap

Atlantic Sun

Mercer 72, USC Upstate 64
Florida Gulf Coast 72, Stetson 58

Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast advance to conference finals

Horizon League

Wright State 66, Youngstown State 59
UW-Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 63

Winners advance to semifinals

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Siena 70, Marist 64
Fairfield 54, St. Peter’s 47

Winners advance to quarterfinals

Missouri Valley Conference

Creighton 65, Drake 53
Indiana State 51, Evansville 50
Witchita State 69, Missouri State 59
Illinois State 73, Northern Iowa 65

Winners advance to the semifinals

Ohio Valley Conference 

Belmont 82, Tennessee State 73
Murray State 81, Eastern Kentucky 73

Belmont and Murray State advance to conference finals

Southern Conference

Georgia Southern 60, Wofford 44
Furman 55, Sanford 51
UNC Greensboro 87, Chattanooga 81
Western Carolina 76, Citadel 61

Winners advance to quarterfinals

Sun Belt Conference

Western Kentucky 74, LA-Monroe 60
LA-Lafayette 74, North Texas 55
Troy 81, Florida Atlantic 79 OT

Winners advance to quarterfinals

West Coast Conference

Loyola Marymount 60, Santa Clara 58
San Diego 72, BYU 69

Winners advance to semifinals

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Quinnipiac set to hire Villanova assistant Baker Dunleavy as new head coach

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Quinnipiac will introduce Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy as the team’s new head coach on Tuesday, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Dunleavy has helped the Wildcats to a national championship and multiple Big East championships as the team’s associate head coach. A former walk-on for Villanova who transitioned into a director of operations and later an assistant coach, Dunleavy is the son of Tulane head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. Baker’s brother, Mike Dunleavy Jr., is still playing in the NBA as well.

The 34-year-old Dunleavy has experience with a championship program at Villanova so it will be interesting to see what he can do running his own program for the first time. Quinnipiac hired Dunleavy to replace Tom Moore, who was fired after 10 years with the program.

The Bobcats went to an NIT and made a few other postseason appearances under Moore but the program has never been to the NCAA tournament since making the transition to Division I in the late ’90s.

Report: Duquesne hires Akron’s Keith Dambrot as new head coach

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Duquesne has hired Akron head coach Keith Dambrot to the same position, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman.

The 58-year-old Dambrot has been head coach at Akron since 2004 as he’s helped the program to three NCAA tournament appearances.

The former high school coach of LeBron James at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron, Dambrot won two Ohio state championships with James before becoming an assistant coach at Akron in 2001. Dambrot eventually took over the head job over from Dan Hipsher.

Dambrot is reportedly getting a seven-year deal from Duquesne so the Dukes are making a major investment in him to turn around the basketball program.

Duke’s Christian Laettner shouts out North Carolina’s Luke Maye on Twitter after winning jumper over Kentucky

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Duke and North Carolina don’t have much in common.

But the historic college basketball rivals now have the distinction of earning late Elite Eight wins over Kentucky that involved a No. 32 making the winning shot.

Blue Devil legend Christian Laettner is famous for his 1992 buzzer-beater over Kentucky in the Elite Eight and he made sure to give some love to North Carolina sophomore Luke Maye after his own Elite Eight shot knocked out the Wildcats.

Rice’s Marcus Evans becomes one of top available transfers

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Rice sophomore guard Marcus Evans will transfer and play his final two seasons elsewhere, he announced on Monday.

The 6-foot-2 Evans has been a major scorer the last two seasons for the Owls as he averaged 19.0 points per game this season after putting up 21.4 points per game as a freshman.

With Rice head coach Mike Rhoades taking the VCU opening and the program struggling to consistently win, Evans seeking to play elsewhere should not come as much of a surprise.

Evans will have to sit out a transfer season before having two more years of eligibility but he should be one of the best options available this offseason. A proven scorer who has become more well-rounded this season, Evans could be a high-quality addition to any program this offseason.

A native of Chesapeake, Virginia, it will be interesting to see if Evans decides to play closer to home.

NBA Draft Stock Watch: Who has helped themselves in the NCAA Tournament?

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The term ‘prisoner of the moment’ is never more fitting than when weighing just how valuable an NCAA Tournament star turn is for a kid’s potential success as an NBA player.

We see it every year. Big tournament performances during deep runs in the dance is a great way to inflate draft stock while disappointing exits are an easy way to hurt it, even if it goes against the season-long data that is telling us something about a player. 

Who are the players that helped themselves the most this March? And who may have put a damper on their chances of hearing their name called early on draft night?

STOCK UP

Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina: Thornwell has played his way into the discussion as a potential first round pick by leading South Carolina to the Final Four. He has the physical tools to be an excellent defender in the NBA, and he certainly has the toughness and physicality, but it’s his shot-making that is the game-changer for him. He shot 39.4 percent from three on the season and is hitting 43.2 percent from beyond the arc in the tournament, and while the knuckle-ball action on his jumper is concerning, at some point it’s fair to wonder whether or not his less-than-ideal form is less important than the fact that it goes in. Thornwell, who was the SEC Player of the Year this season, will be an interesting 3-and-D candidate come draft night, and the spotlight on him from averaging 25.7 points while leading the Gamecocks to the Final Four will only help.

De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: Fox solidified his standing as a potential top five during the tournament. The red flags are still there — Can he make threes in the NBA? — but at the end of the day, the NBA Draft is about whether or not you want one guy or the other guy. This is a draft that is absolutely loaded at the point guard spot, and for the second time this season, Fox outplayed a guy that many have slotted above him, Lonzo Ball. In the Sweet 16, he put up 39 points, the most impressive individual performance of the tournament, as Kentucky skated by UCLA more easily than most of us expected. Ball should probably still be considered the better, but when you’re sitting in that room making those decisions, it’s not going to be easy to bypass the guy that bested him twice.

Jordan Bell, Oregon: Bell, a senior, has been one of the best defensive players in the country all season long, and never was that more apparent than when he went for 11 points, 13 boards, eight blocks and four assists against Kansas in the Elite 8. He totally changed that game, making Landen Lucas look like an eighth grader without any confidence and forcing the Jayhawks to miss a number of shots in the lane simply because they were aware that Bell could be lurking. He was probably worth a second round pick already, but that game very likely ensured that he will here his name called at some point on draft night.

Tyler Dorsey, Oregon: Dorsey is a shot-maker. That’s what he brings to the table offensively. He can score. He’s gone for at least 20 points in all seven tournament games — Pac-12 and NCAA — that Oregon had played this year, and he hit innumerable big shots in the process, including a game-winner against Rhode Island in the second round and a pair of absolute daggers against Kansas. Undersized scorers come a dime-a-dozen at that level, but Dorsey ensured that he will get a shot this spring.

D.J. Wilson, Michigan: Wilson has been one of the most intriguing prospects in college basketball this season given his size, athleticism and skill-set, and the attention that Michigan got as the darling of the conference tournaments and the first weekend of the NCAA tournament certainly didn’t hurt. I’m not convinced he’s in a position to be a first round pick, but I am certain that, if he opts to declare for the draft and sign with an agent, there will be a team willing to bet on the meteoric rise he had this year continuing.

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STOCK DOWN

Lonzo Ball, UCLA: With all the hype surrounding the Ball family heading into his showdown with De’Aaron Fox and Kentucky in the Sweet 16, you would’ve expected Lonzo, who has been terrific this season, to shine on the biggest stage. But that’s not how it went. He was completely overshadowed by Fox, who went for a career-high 39 points when they went head-to-head, bowing out of the tournament with nothing but a Sweet 16 to show for it. There’s a risk in making over-arching judgements on a player based off of one or two games when a season’s worth of data is telling you something else, but it is fair to note that Ball was outplayed in both of his matchups with another potential top five pick at his position.

Josh Jackson, Kansas: We’ve seen all season long what Josh Jackson can do on a basketball court, and one bad game where he got into foul trouble in the first four minutes is not going to change the way that scouts view his ability on the court. The concern with Jackson has nothing to do with basketball. It’s the off-the-court stuff, and it’s his temper. The biggest red flag surrounding him right now is an incident at a bar where he did more than $1,000 worth of damage to a person’s car. He got a few technical fouls this season. Against Oregon, he got into it with Duck players. Whether that affected his play, only Jackson will know, but it’s not all that hard to connect those dots. It’s easier to teach a 19-year old that cares too much to tone it down — the maturity that comes with getting older certainly helps — than it is to get a guy with no heart to be intense and tough, but that’s something NBA teams are going to have to consider when they decide whether to take Jackson in the top three of a draft this loaded.

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Justin Patton, Creighton: Patton is incredibly talented and loaded with promise, but after seeing the dip in his production once Mo Watson went out with a torn ACL — 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game on a 74 percent shooting vs. 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds on 61 percent shooting post Watson — is concerning. Throw in that he was totally underwhelming against an undersized front line of Rhode Island in a first round loss, and there will be questions asked about whether or not he is a guy that is worth a first round pick.

Luke Kennard, Duke: Kennard, by all accounts, had a terrific season. He’s a skilled scorer that can get his buckets in a number of different ways. He’s a lights-out shooter with an advanced array of moves to create space to get his shot off and a knack for scoring around the rim with both hands. But the concerns with him is whether or not he will be able to do so against guys that are as athletic and strong as NBA wings are. Picking a second round matchup with a South Carolina team loaded with those kind of defenders to have his worst game of the season wasn’t exactly ideal timing.

Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart does everything well, and he certainly proved throughout the season that he had improved on the things that he needed to improve — shooting, playmaking, ability off the dribble. But the concern with Hart is whether or not he’s going to be able to get his own shot when the guys he plays against are bigger, quicker, more athletic and just as tough as he is, and the way Villanova bowed out of the tournament — with Hart being unable to create a shot or draw a foul on a drive to the rim — is a perfect summation of the concerns NBA teams have about him.