Late Night Snacks: Recapping the second FULL day of college hoops

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TEAM OF THE DAY: Florida Gulf Coast

Is there even a conversation here?

Florida Gulf Coast didn’t just knock off No. 2 seed Georgetown. The 15th-seeded Eagles spanked them. They won by 10 in a game they were up by 19 points during the second half. There were alley-oops (plural) and tip-dunks. There were clutch threes and one epic choke-job. There was the defining moment of the NCAA tournament to date:

While Eddie Murray and Chase Fieler were dunking all over the Hoyas, Sherwood Brown was dancing on the court and shaking Reggie Miller’s hand and hugging cheerleaders. It was everything that makes the NCAA tournament great: the upset, the celebration by a team you’ve never heard of, the palpable anguish of the nationally relevant program losing in the opening round, the cursing you hear from next door as your neighbor screams about losing a Final Four team from their bracket.

MORE: Florida Gulf Coast coach’s wife will be a hot topic

Davidson-Marquette was fun. Harvard-New Mexico was an upset. But this was the first bit of Madness we’ve gotten in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Who else was impressive?:

  • Ole Miss: The Rebels picked up their most impressive win of the season by knocking off No. 5 seed Wisconsin on Friday. The best sign? They did it on a night where Marshall Henderson missed 12 of his first 13 shots from the field. Ole Miss will advance to take on No. 13 seed La Salle.
  • La Salle: Speaking of the Explorers, they picked up an upset win over No. 4 seed Kansas State, hanging on to beat the Wildcats despite completely blowing an 18 point halftime lead. La Salle is your clubhouse favorite to be the second weekend cinderella.
  • Minnesota: The Golden Gophers caught UCLA on the perfect day. Not only were they getting the Bruins without Jordan Adams, but Friday morning also happened to see a story published about how Shabazz Muhammad has been lying about his age. The result? UCLA didn’t show up, and the Gophers reaped the benefits.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Andre Hollins, Minnesota

Since we’re on the topic of the Gophers, Hollins finished with 28 points, nine boards and five assists on 8-16 shooting, hitting 5-8 from three. That’s what set the tone for Minnesota, who, with the exception of a single game in February when they knocked off Indiana, has been atrocious for more than three months. The Gophers landed a 20 point win over UCLA on Friday night. They advanced to the round of 32 for the first time in Tubby Smith’s Minnesota tenure. Will that be enough to save his job if Minnesota can’t get past Florida?

Who else was good?:

  • Khalif Wyatt, Temple: Wyatt had 31 points, five assists and three steals as Temple hung on to beat NC State on Friday. The Owls were up 38-22 at the break, but they needed some clutch free throws from Wyatt down the stretch to hang on.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott finished with 27 points and 11 boards for the Bluejays as they managed to stave off No. 10 seed Cincinnati in the opening round. Creighton will get a shot at Duke next.
  • Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin had 21 points, eight boards and five assists in a win over No. 10 seed Oklahoma.
  • Brett Comer, FGCU: Comer wasn’t the guy throwing down the dunks for the Eagles and he wasn’t the leading scorer that will top the box score. He’s the engine that makes Andy Enfield’s team run, finishing with 12 points, 10 assists and six boards in the win over Georgetown.
  • PJ Hairston, UNC: UNC needed a late run to avoid blowing a 17 point lead to Villanova, but the Tar Heels were able to pull out the win thanks in large part to 23 points, five boards, three assists and three steals.

GAME OF THE DAY: La Salle 63, Kansas State 61

The Explorers were dominant for the first 20 minutes on Friday night, as they opened up a 44-26 lead at the half on the Wildcats while slicing up the Kansas State defense with their talented perimeter attack. But once Jordan Henriquez and company finally woke up, Kansas State went on a run. They outscored La Salle 31-12 in the first 12 minutes of the second half, completely erased the deficit and setting up a thrilling finish. After Jerrell Wright hit two free throws with 30 seconds left, Kansas State missed on two shots that could have won the game.

PHOTOS: The best images from a wild Friday

Bruce Weber will not be happy about the loss. He was trying to call a timeout as Angel Rodriguez was dribbling out the clock.

FIVE THOUGHTS:

1) I guess the Atlantic 10 is pretty good: Four days into the tournament, and the Atlantic 10 has yet to lose a game. Butler, St. Louis and VCU all won on Monday, while La Salle — who also won the play-in game — and Temple won as lower seeds on Friday. The only other league that received multiple bids to the tournament to go undefeated thus far? The Missouri Valley.

2) Which is why San Diego State is so important: The Mountain West is now 2-3 in the tournament after San Diego State picked up a win over Oklahoma on Friday night. Combine that with Colorado State’s definitive win over Missouri on Thursday, and that’s all we get out of the league that everyone fell in love with this season. None of the three losses came to lower-ranked teams. That’s not exactly a rousing compliment for the conference.

3) Kansas should be happy Georgetown lost: And not just because they are in the same region. The Jayhawks looked absolutely atrocious in their matchup with No. 16 seed Western Kentucky today. The Hiltoppers could not score in the second half, and Kansas only managed to win by seven points. If everyone wasn’t obsessed and focused on how the Hoyas played, we may be talking about how bad the Jayhawks looked.

4) Since were’e talking about comebacks: How about the one by Colorado. The Buffs used a 23-2 run to take a 44-39 lead midway through the second half, and then couldn’t find a way to score the rest of the game. No. 7 seed Illinois eventually won, 57-49, to advance and take on Miami.

5) Have you seen tomorrow’s schedule yet?: Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

A season of highs and lows ends for Kansas in the Elite 8 again

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For the second season in a row, Kansas was one-win shy of a Final Four appearance, falling to Oregon, 74-60, in the Elite Eight on Friday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

This comes a year after Kansas, as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, fell to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite 8.

Just as stars such as Perry Ellis struggled in that regional final, so did KU’s freshman phenom Josh Jackson, whose quick two personal fouls that saddled him on the bench and appeared to take him out of the game mentally. Devonte’ Graham, averaging 20.0 points per game in the tournament, was 0-for-7 from the field. Frank Mason III’s first-half performance assured that Oregon would completely run away with the game before halftime.

The loss put an end to a tumultuous season for the Jayhawks.

Kansas entered the 2016-17 season as one of the favorites to win the national championship. The Jayhawks went on to win the Big 12 regular season title for an unprecedented 13th consecutive season. Frank Mason III, in the eyes of many, was the wire-to-wire national player of the year.

However, for all its accomplishments on the court, Kansas faced more than its share of issues off-the-court. Lagerald Vick, who was under university investigation for allegedly striking a female student. Carlton Bragg was arrested — and subsequently suspended — for drug paraphernalia. There was also the affidavit released a day before the start of the NCAA Tournament for the Jayhawks, detailing the incident outside a Lawerence bar from December involving both Vick and Josh Jackson. Even Devonte Graham’s arrest for an unpaid ticket made headlines during this string of non-basketball related news.

The Jayhawks downplayed talks of distraction before the start of the NCAA Tournament and backed it up by dominating opponents through the first three rounds. The average margin of victory was 30.0, and that includes victories over Michigan State and a 32-point beatdown of a Purdue team that held a massive mismatch on the interior.

It looked like Self was destined to add to his Hall of Fame résumé; a third trip to the Final Four — first since 2012 — was in front of essentially a home crowd. Instead, Oregon handed the Jayhawks their worst tournament defeat in the Bill Self era.

Seven times under Self, KU has made the Elite Eight and was sent home.

Perhaps, all would have been forgiven — or at the very least, overshadowed — had KU cut down the nets in Arizona.

Instead, its season ended in an all too familiar place.

Elite 8 Preview: Sunday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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No. 4 FLORIDA (-3) vs. No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA, 2:20 p.m., CBS: If you’re a fan of uptempo, wide-open basketball, of teams running beautiful offensive sets, spreading the floor and using the three-point line like it should be used, this game probably is not going to be for you.

This is going to be as physical and as tough as any game you watched all season long. Both the Gamecocks and the Gators are top five teams in defensive efficiency, and both of them get out and pressure defensively, Florida in the full court and South Carolina in the half court. They shun shooters for the toughest athletes on their roster. They pride themselves in being tougher, both mentally and physically, than whoever they end up playing.

And they think that a game played in the 50s is beautiful basketball.

So bet the under if you can.

But the pick I like is Florida here. Their ability to defend is going to make it very difficult for South Carolina’s offensive renaissance to continue, and their guards will be able to make the plays offensively that South Carolina dares you to make.

PREDICTION: Florida (-3)

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. No. 2 KENTUCKY, 5:05 p.m. CBS: This is the rematch we all wanted, right?

Ever since that day three months ago, when Kentucky got 47 points from Malik Monk in a 103-102 win over North Carolina in Las Vegas, I don’t think there is a soul in the country that would have told you otherwise.

There are two major differences between these two teams now and those two teams then. The biggest is the presence of Theo Pinson, North Carolina’s best perimeter defender. Pinson has dealt foot injuries all season long, and when these two got together in December, he was not yet healthy enough to play. I assume that he will draw the assignment of Malik Monk, chasing around the man that had definitively been Kentucky’s most dangerous scorer. Pinson will make life more difficult for Monk than it was the first time around.

But is he going to spend the entire game on him?

Because after De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst against UCLA on Friday night, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Pinson may be better suited to taking on the task of keeping Fox from getting into the paint. Whatever Roy Williams opts to do, the bottom line is pretty simple — if he needs to find a way to keep Kentucky’s back court in check.

The other difference between now and then is that Bam Adebayo has been playing up to his potential for the past six weeks. He was solid earlier in the year. He can be dominant at times now, and that is going to be critical for the Wildcats, who are going to be outsized by a significant margin by UNC’s front line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and they are one of the only elite teams that thrives playing two bigs at the same time. In other words, one of Wenyen Gabriel or Derek Willis are going to have to deal with Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley. That’s a matchup that favors UNC, which is why Aebayo is going to have to play up to his size.

In the end, I think Pinson’s presence and North Carolina’s size advantage will be too much.

But if Fox and Monk play their game, they can carry Kentucky a long, long way.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (2.5)

Lawrence Police Department trolls Bill Self following Elite Eight loss

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Kansas had its season ended with a 74-60 loss to No. 3 seed Oregon.

The Jayhawks were the top seed in the South region. They were playing a de facto at the Sprint Center, which is 40 miles away from the school’s campus. As you can imagine, fans in Lawrence were likely unhappy, especially since it’s the second year in a row KU has been bounced one-game shy of the Final Four.

The Lawrence Police Department, while prepping for potential riots, couldn’t help tweeting a joke at the future Hall of Famer’s expense.

Bill Self’s teams have been eliminated seven times in the Elite Eight during his tenure at Kansas. He’s led the Jayhawks to a pair of Final Fours, winning the national championship in 2008.

Kansas finished the season 31-5.

Gonzaga passes the title of best program without a Final Four to Xavier in win

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In 1999, Gonzaga was not yet “Gonzaga”.

A No. 10 seed in just their third NCAA tournament, the Zags won three games against high-major competition, coming within a possession of reaching the Final Four in a loss to No. 1 seed UConn.

UConn, at that point, was one of the best programs in the country under Jim Calhoun, but the knock on the Huskies at that point was that they couldn’t win the big one. They had been to three Elite 8s and three more Sweet 16s in the previous eight seasons, but it wasn’t until they knocked off that Gonzaga team that they finally were playing on college basketball’s biggest stage.

For 18 years, Gonzaga tried and failed to get to a Final Four, becoming one of the nation’s premier basketball programs without having the postseason success to legitimize themselves in the eyes of idiots around the country. That ended on Saturday night in San Jose, as No. 1 seed Gonzaga ended No. 11 Xavier’s thrilling run to the Elite 8 and passing on the torch that UConn passed to them.

Xavier can now claim the title of the best basketball program that has yet to make a Final Four, which is both a compliment and a curse.

The Musketeers have been to the NCAA tournament 25 times since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They’ve been to nine Sweet 16s and three Elite 8s. They had a winning record in NCAA tournament play until Saturday’s loss and now lay claim to the title of the team with the most NCAA tournament wins without an appearance in the Final Four.

Xavier is going to get there eventually. Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the business. Hell, if Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner both return to school, it could very well be next season that they snap that streak. It’s coming at some point.

I don’t even think it’s an insult to say this about Xavier. I don’t think it’s a shot at the program or the coaches that have come through it. Getting to the Final Four is hard. Bill Self is a lead-pipe lock to be a Hall of Famer, and he’s been to just two Final Fours in his career. He’s 2-7 in the Elite 8, and if Derrick Rose could make his free throws, the discussion of just how good of a coach Self is if he can’t win a title would be raging with the Jayhawks flaming out of the tournament on Saturday night.

But as with Gonzaga and UConn before them, Xavier is going to have that monkey on their back every time they suit up in March.

VIDEO: Tyler Dorsey hits dagger after dagger in upset of Kansas

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Tyler Dorsey is building himself quite the reputation for being a big-shot maker.

He hit the game-winner that got Oregon to the Sweet 16. He hit two threes at the end of the first half to push Oregon’s lead to 11 points over Kansas. And he hit this three, the dagger through the heart of Kansas:

Dorsey finished with 27 points. He’s scored at least 20 points in every game since the NCAA tournament began.