Late Afternoon Snacks: St. Mary’s almost gave us our first upset of the tourney

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Game of the Day

No. 6 Memphis 54, No. 11 St. Mary’s 52: This was as close as we got to an upset, as the Gaels scored to close the gap to two with just seconds left, then alertly face-guarded the Tigers on the in-bounds pass, causing a turnover. Matthew Dellavedova got the final shot he wanted – a three pointer from the wing – but it was a little bit too strong. The Tigers were led by Joe Jackson’s 14 points, but serious concerns about their offensive prowess will come to a head as they advance to face Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.

Meaningful Results

No. 3 Michigan State 65, No. 14 Valparaiso 54: The Spartans held Valpo stars Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk to ten points combined, and that was enough to get them to the next round. Crusaders Erik Bugg, Matt Kenney and Ben Boggs scored in double figures, but without big plays from their studs, Valpo was doomed. Keith Appling and company advance to face Memphis.

No. 6 Butler 68, No. 11 Bucknell 56: This was one of those games that attracted upset-seekers, but Butler played strong up front, getting a 14 point, 16 board double-double from Alex Smith in the post. Bucknell center Mike Muscala was decent, putting up nine points and hauling down ten rebounds, but that wasn’t nearly enough to power the Bison to the round of 32.

No. 9 Wichita State 73, No. 8 Pittsburgh 55: No, I will not call this an upset. I will admit that I didn’t expect it to be won quite so handily by the Shockers, who have a new tourney mantra: “play angry”. The inside-out trio of Carl Hall, Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead worked well together in this one, as the more mobile team beat the bigger team. WSU’s three-point shooting – a miserable 10 percent on the day – could be a serious concern in the next round.

No. 4 St. Louis 64, No. 13 New Mexico State 44: 7’5″ Aggie Sim Bhullar was big on the boards, snagging 11 errant shots, but he was a bust in the scoring column, with just four points to his name. St. Louis, on the other hand, lived up to the hype we’ve been showering on them all week, clamping down defensively and following Dwayne Evans’ 24 points into the next round.

Starred

Derrick Nix, Michigan State: 23 points, 15 rebounds to help the Spartans advance.

Darryl Evans, St. Louis: Evans was the hero as the Billikens beat up on New Mexico State, but one gets the sense that he’s just one of several St. Louis players future opponents should be very, very scared of.

Joe Willman, Bucknell: Much credit due to Willman, who busted his butt trying to make up for Mike Muscala’s muted play. Willman’s effort is today’s example of valiant play even in defeat.

Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss: No, he hasn’t stepped foot on the floor yet, but Henderson won the pre-game press conference, and made some lifelong friends in the press corps. Read up, and root for this willing villain to survive and advance, just for the fun of it.

Struggled

Tray Woodall, Pitt: Not a good final career game for Woodall. He scored just two points and gave up five turnovers before leaving early with five fouls.

New Mexico State shooters: The Aggies hit just 27.9 percent from the floor, and 12.5 percent from deep. Even the freebies weren’t falling – NMSU hit just 61.5 percent from the stripe.

Will Bogan, Valparaiso: The Valpo starting guard was 0-3 on the day, scoring exactly zero points in 26 minutes.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.