No. 1 seed Indiana survives No. 9 Temple, advances to the Sweet 16

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There’s a reason that the slogan for the NCAA tournament is ‘survive and advance’.

It doesn’t matter how you play. It doesn’t matter how ugly the performance is or how many points you give up to the other team’s star. All that matters is that, when that final buzzer sounds, you have more points that the team that you are playing.

That’s good news for Indiana, as they gave up 31 points to Khalif Wyatt but made enough plays down the stretch to hold on and beat No. 9 seed Temple 57-52, avoiding the indignity of becoming the second No. 1 seed to lose in the first weekend of this year’s NCAA tournament. The Hoosiers will advance. They will be playing No. 4 seed Syracuse in DC next weekend. They still are one of the most talented teams left in the tournament and still can win a national title.

That’s what is important.

But that doesn’t mean that Hoosier fans are going to feel confident about the way that their boys played on Sunday afternoon. There were plenty of concerns coming out of this win.

Let’s start with the obvious: Victor Oladipo got lit up by Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt scored 20 of Temple’s first 24 points. He finished with 31 on the afternoon. During the first half, Tom Crean was forced to switch both Will Sheehey and Remy Abell over to Wyatt for stretches to try and cool down his hot hand. In the second half, he put Oladipo back on Wyatt, but one of the nation’s best on-ball defenders was forced to face-guard the Temple star.

So Wyatt went and stood at half court, completely taking Oladipo out of the defensive possession, until the shot clock wound all the way down. Then he went and got the ball, sizing up Oladipo and trying to beat him 1-on-1. It worked, too, and if one play had gone differently — with the score tied and 1:26 left, Oladipo gambled on a steal and missed, leaving Wyatt with a wide-open path to the basket, but Wyatt pulled up for an awkward, off-balance and rushed three and missed instead of penetrating — the outcome might have played out differently.

Should I mention the fact that all this happened while Temple’s other scorer, Scootie Randall, was 0-12 from the floor?

Honestly, I wouldn’t be too concerned about that. Indiana did a good job defensively overall, and Wyatt is a talented kid and a big-game player; he was going to get his regardless of who was guarding him.

The bigger issue came on the offensive end of the floor. Indiana’s much better when they can get into transition and operate out of a secondary break than when they have to set up and run offense in the half court. We know this. But on Sunday, every set for the last 30 minutes devolved into some kind of 1-on-1, whether it was Oladipo trying to be his man or Indiana standing around, trying to pound the ball into Zeller on the block. Zeller finished with 15 points, but he was 4-10 from the floor with six turnovers. Indiana, as a team, shot just 4-13 from three.

Now, some of that credit needs to be given to the Owls. Fran Dunphy is an excellent game-planner and Temple is a team that is notorious for playing to the level of their competition. There’s a reason they can beat Syracuse in MSG and take Kansas to the final minute in Lawrence while also losing at home to Duquesne. And to be fair, the Hoosiers are good enough on that end that they should be able to figure out their offensive problems.

The Hoosiers aren’t going to win a national title the way they played on Sunday, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

But they made the plays when they had to: Christian Watford’s block on Anthony Lee, Victor Oladipo drilling a three with less than a minute left.

And, at the end of the day, they will still be in the tournament. They are still capable of winning a title.

Survive and advance.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.