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The First Four got started last night, and it gave those interested a chance to find True TV on their dials for the first time. Apparently Shaq has his own viral video show. Yeah, I’ll pass.

Oh, did I mention that Kentucky lost to Robert Morris last night. So there’s that.

Let’s hit the links.
 
 
Read of the Day:
The rise of Victor Oladipo from lightly recruited prospect to National Player of the Year candidate. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Les Carpenter’s take on Robert Morris’ monumental win over Kentucky last night in the first round of the N.I.T. Read it. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
Top-seeded Kentucky upset by Robert Morris in first round of NIT: The defending national champions lost on the road in the first round of the N.I.T. to the Colonials of Robert Morris.

Ten crazy things to expect from March Madness: We are told to expect the unexpected. Here are ten unexpected things that you should expect to see.

Picking Winners: Why I think St. Louis will upset Louisville in the Sweet 16: Louisville is one of the two best defenses in the country. But the Billikens went 2-0 against the best defense in the country. If there is team that’s going to beat Louisville in the Sweet-16, it’s Saint Louis.

Please don’t use MTSU’s loss as proof they didn’t deserve a bid: The Blue Raiders are better than their performance last night. Their loss to Saint Mary’s doesn;t validate the argument that they didn’t belong in the Big Dance.

NC A&T survives Liberty in First Four, advances to play No. 1 Louisville: No. 16 North Carolina A&T shot 51.9 percent from the floor, twelve percentage points above its season average, outlasting fellow No. 16 seed Liberty, 73-72, in the opening game of the First Four.

VIDEO: Picking your brackets with … ytterbium: Physicists use elements to determine NCAA tournament winners. I’m glad this is a video because I was never good at chemical equations.

Ten moments that defined March Madness (plus two the NCAA won’t show you): Our collection of the best plays moments and games that have helped to define March Madness.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Butler, Xavier and Creighton will announce their intentions to join the new Big East today. (Sporting News)

– Whatever they decide to call leftovers from the Big East, their tv deal won’t be worth nearly as much as they thought. (Deadspin)

– ACC coaches were not happy that the conference received just four bids to the NCAA tournament. (CBS Sports)

– Wait, so the same ACC coaches voted for conference player of the year, and Erick Green only got two first place votes? That’s not cool. (Fayetteville Observer)

– What will the Kentucky freshman do now that their season is over? Will they stay or will they go? Following the loss to Bobby-Mo last night, they seemed to hint at returned at Lexington to take care of some unfinished business. (The Dagger)

– This is one of the bigger questions as we enter the first real day of the NCAA Tournament: Will the Big Ten’s meat grinder of a season affect teams’ tournament stamina? (USA Today)

– Ten mid-major stars that can bust your teams brackets. Mike Muscala. Remember the name. (ESPN)

– Some interesting statistical analysis on in the impact high-usage players have against the Syracuse zone. (Hoop Vision)

– This is probably the first thing Rick Reilly has written at ESPN that I’ve enjoyed reading. Even if you don’t enjoy his stylings, I suggest you read this. (ESPN)

– Statistical analysis on just how much strength of schedule effects seeding. (Cracked Sidewalks)

– Belmont will be king of the brackets…..if it was run using the academic progress rating. (Inside Higher Ed)

– Stanford wants to contend for the Pac-12 title next season. Could that indicate that Johnny Dawkins seat will start to heat up? (Oakland Tribune)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– The wife of FGCU head coach Andy Enfield is really, really, really, really hot. (The Big Lead)

– A great-read on J.J. Reddick, who kinda admits that he may have been a prick in college. (Grantland)

– The best bets to make on second round games. (Mercury News)

– ESPN is running a bracket pool that will benefit a victim of the Newtown shooting. (ESPN)

– Some quick numbers on filling out the perfect bracket, plus the best picture ever. (USA Today)
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Georgia Tech sophomore Julian Royal will transfer at the end of the semester. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

– Buffalo fired head coach Reggie Witherspoon on Friday. The former-head coach held a press conference inside his house to convey his shock by the school’s decision. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Cal State Northridge is parting ways with head coach Bobby Braswell after 17 years of service. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Duke assistant Chris Collins is strongly rumored to be considering the the vacancy at Northwestern. (Duke Hoop Blog)

– Two Wagner players, center Naofall Folahan and guard Eric Fanning, have decided to transfer out of the program. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
.GIF of the Day:
Archie Goodwin got clotheslined from behind on a fast break. Ouch.
source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
March Madness extends to the N.I.T.


 
 
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Kentucky fans flood Facebook page of official John Higgins’ company with negative reviews

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Unhappy with how John Higgins performed at his part-time job, Kentucky fans did their best trash him at his full-time gig.

The Facebook page of the referee’s Omaha-based roofing company was flooded by Big Blue Nation with negative comments and reviews after they were displeased with the official’s work in the Wildcats’ Elite Eight loss to North Carolina.

Not only did fans leave obviously fake and vulgar comments on the page, they also deluged it with one-star reviews to drive down its average significantly.

Once again, the Internet is struck by its proportionality problem. What could be considered a silly bit of online pranking by a small minority suddenly turns into an avalanche of nastiness that could do real damage to someone’s life, business and family, given the importance of social media for companies in 2017. It becomes cruel when it reaches a level like this.

When there’s so many general complaints about the state of officiating in college basketball, it’s also not helpful to do something like this to one of the referees generally considered to be one of the country’s best. It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for prospective future officials to follow the career path if it brings this level of negative attention to you off the court.

Report: North Carolina to miss out on NCAA events through 2022 if HB2 not addressed by Thursday

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North Carolina is in danger of losing out on hosting NCAA events through 2022 if the state does not make changes to HB2, the controversial so-called “bathroom bill” by Thursday afternoon, according to the leader of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

“I have confirmed with a contact very close to the NCAA that its deadline for HB2 is 48 hours from now,” Scott Dupree, the head of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “If HB2 has not been resolved by that time, the NCAA will have no choice but to move forward without the North Carolina bids.”

“The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022.”

The NCAA, as it reminded North Carolina last week, is making its determinations on hosts for events from 2018-2022 this week. There was movement last week at the North Carolina statehouse for a compromise on the bill, but that apparently stalled out, the News & Observer reported, though there remain efforts to make progress on a pact.

Should lawmakers not reach an agreement in time, the state’s flagship basketball programs will be without an NCAA tournament home-court advantage that they have often enjoyed. HB2 just this past year moved the first and second rounds out of the state and to South Carolina, where No. 2 seed Duke lost to the seventh-seeded Gamecocks in their home state.

Clearly, there’s much more to consider here than NCAA tournament implications, but it’s another reminder of the economic impact the bill has made in North Carolina. This week, The Associated Press estimated it will cost the state $3.76 billion over a 12-year period.

Baylor’s Freeman to graduate and transfer

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Baylor is losing one of its contributors over the past three seasons.

Al Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard, will graduate and transfer to another school, the Bears announced Tuesday.

“Al has been a tremendous student-athlete and made great contributions to our program over the last four years, and we’re thrilled that he’s going to complete his degree at Baylor,” Bears coach Scott Drew said in a statement. “He’ll always be part of the Baylor family, and we’ll be rooting for him as he continues his career.”

Freeman, who redshirted his freshman year due to a broken wrist, started 57 games during his career in Waco and averaged 8.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He was a full-time starter as a sophomore, but made just 22 this past season and saw his minutes slashed.

As a graduate transfer, the Charlotte native will be immediately eligible at his next program for his final collegiate season.

Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner declares for NBA Draft

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Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner has declared for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent.

“First let me start by saying these three years at Xavier have been the best of my life,” Sumner said in a statement. “I have certainly been presented with some ups and downs but they have only served to make me a stronger person. This decision was very hard for me because of the love I have for X. After weighing my options with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft, fulfilling a lifelong dream. I want to thank Coach Mack and the rest of the staff for believing in me and giving me a chance when no one did! I’ll always be grateful for that. Xavier Nation I will always love you!”

Sumner, a 6-foot-6 point guard with dynamic athleticism and first round potential that averaged 15.0 points, but he is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered in January. He’s likely to be a second round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

This is a big loss for the Musketeers, but it’s one that they planned for. After his eruption last season, most expected him to put his name in the draft this season.

Duke freshman Harry Giles III declares for NBA Draft

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Harry Giles III has declared for the NBA Draft after playing just one season at Duke.

“Playing in the NBA has been my goal for as long as I can remember, and I’m so excited to take the next step in that journey,” Giles said. “My time at Duke has been a dream come true. I’ve built so many strong relationships here and I have so many people to thank, from my teammates and coaches to our medical staff and strength coach. I can’t understate how proud I am to be part of the Duke Basketball program forever.”

Giles played in 26 games for the Blue Devils. He started six games and averaged 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Giles. At one point considered to be the best player in the loaded Class of 2016, Giles has dealt with a pair of devastating knee injuries already. He underwent a third surgery right before the start of the season and never seemed like he was fully able to get back to being the player he was when he was in high school.

This is the right decision for Giles to make, as there is still some uncertainty regarding the health of his knees. Were his struggles due to the fact that he was tossed right into the middle of a college basketball season after having sat out for 14 straight months, or was this simply a result of knees that no longer allow him to be the player that he used to be?

He might still end up being a first round pick this year. At the very least, he’s make some guaranteed money if he can get into a camp. Maybe returning to school could have helped vault him into the lottery in 2018, but another year like this year would’ve firebombed his draft stock.

“With his uplifting personality and love for the game, Harry Giles has been a joy to coach,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on the basketball court. Harry has an exciting NBA future ahead of him and we are here to fully support him as a member of our brotherhood.”

I know I’m not alone when I say I hope that Giles gets healthy and succeeds in the NBA.