Temple v Indiana

Sweet 16 Resets: The East Region

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On Thursday evening, the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 play will begin, meaning we’ll be four days away from finding out who the four teams are that will be playing for the national title in Atlanta. And in case you spent the past four days living under a rock or on a really, really long flight that didn’t have WiFi, here’s what you missed in the East Region.

Click here to browse through all of our Sweet 16 previews:

WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington DC

WHEN: Thursday

WHAT HAPPENED?: Well, chalk happened. The East Region ended up being the only region where all of the top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. It wasn’t without excitement, however. No. 1 Indiana nearly got picked off by No. 9 Temple and Khalif Wyatt’s 31 points. No. 2 Miami needed a ridiculous step-back three from Shane Larkin and a questionable out of bounds call to get past No. 7 Illinois. No. 3 Marquette not only needed Butler Magic to fail in the round of 32, they pulled their own version of Marquette Magic to get past Davidson in the opening round. Believe it or not, No. 4 seed Syracuse had the easiest path to the DC, beating No. 13 Montana and No. 12 Cal in the first two rounds.

FAVORITE: Indiana Hoosiers

At this point, it has to be the Indiana Hoosiers, as they spent much of the season as the No. 1 team in the country, won the brutal Big Ten outright and have two all-americans on their roster. It also just so happens that Indiana matches up well with all three teams in the region. That said, they matched up well with Temple, and the Owls were a possession or two away from pulling off the upset.

KEY PLAYER: Victor Oladipo, Indiana

Syracuse’s most important player is 6-foot-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Miami’s most important player is point guard Shane Larkin. Marquette’s most important player is off-guard Vander Blue. Victor Oladipo is arguably the best on-ball defender in the country. He’ll draw the key matchup in every game.

WHY AN UNDERDOG WILL WIN: I’m not even sure there is an underdog in this region, to be honest with you. But if there is, it is probably No. 4 seed Syracuse. For them to win, they are going to need their zone to be creating turnovers and getting out on shooters, and they are going to need Carter-Williams to play the way he did back in December, not the way he did in February. Throw in some consistent shooting from James Southerland and Brandon Triche, and the Orange may have a chance.

THE TEAMS:

No. 1 INDIANA HOOSIERS
How they got here: Beat No. 16 James Madison 83-62 and No. 9 Temple 58-52.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 4 Syracuse, 9:45 p.m. ET CBS
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No. 2 MIAMI HURRICANES
How they got here: Beat No. 15 Pacific 78-49 and No. 7 Illinois 63-59.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2000
Next up: No. 3 Marquette, 7:15 p.m. ET CBS
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No. 3 MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
How they got here: Beat No. 14 Davidson 59-58 and No. 6 Butler 74-72.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 2 Miami, 7:15 p.m. ET CBS
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No. 4 SYRACUSE ORANGE
How they got here: Beat No. 13 Montana 81-34 and No. 12 Cal 66-60.
Last Sweet 16 appearance: 2012
Next up: No. 1 Indiana, 9:45 p.m. ET CBS

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

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Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.