Creighton v Duke

Duke takes away Doug McDermott, the 3-ball to knock off Creighton

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As they proved in a 66-50 win on Sunday night, No. 2 seed Duke turned out to just be a horrific matchup for No. 7 seed Creighton to draw in the round of 32.

Because the Blue Devils aren’t a great defensive team. They were 29th nationally, according to Kenpom, in adjusted defensive efficiency. They play guys like Quinn Cook and Seth Curry, who aren’t exactly known for their ability as ball-hawks.

What they do well, however, is defend the three-point line and defend the scouting report. Duke only allows opponents to shoot 30.5% from beyond the arc, and they only allow 26.8% of their opponent’s field goal attempts to come from deep, which is the 22nd-lowest percentage in the country. It’s their game-plan. They want to chase you off the three-point line.

And Creighton?

Well, the three-ball just so happens to be as important to them as it is to any team in the country. They’re the nation’s best three-point shooting team, getting more than a third of their points from beyond the arc. It should be pretty obvious what Duke was focusing on stopping on the defensive end of the floor.

To their credit, Duke executed that game-plan to perfection. The Bluejays shot just 2-19 from three on Sunday, which is an impressive number in and of itself. Now think about it like this: Creighton still had a chance until two Tyler Thornton free throws with 2:44 left on the clock put Duke back up 12. You could see it in Creighton’s body language that they were all-but ready to throw in the towel. In that final 2:44, the Bluejays managed to fire off seven shots, all from beyond the arc. They made one.

That means that, with the game in doubt, Creighton, who puts so much stock into their ability to shoot the three, took just 12 of their 46 field goals — 26.1%, about a third less than their season average — from beyond the arc, making one.

When you combine that with the fact that Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Amile Jefferson defended Creighton’s all-american Doug McDermott about to perfection — he finished with 21 points, but he was 12-12 from the line and 4-16 from the field, as he didn’t hit a field goal for the last 25 minutes of the game — and it’s no wonder that Duke was able to beat Creighton and advance to the Sweet 16.

Their reward? They’ll get to play No. 3 seed Michigan State and Tom Izzo in Indianapolis.

Duke is going to need to do a lot more than simply stop the three ball to beat the Spartans.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.