Late Night Snacks: Two undefeated teams go down and No. 3 Ohio State survives

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 3 Ohio State 64, Notre Dame 61

Notre Dame had their marquee victory all locked up. Losses at home to Indiana State and North Dakota State were nullified. The Irish were back in the conversation as one of the best teams in the ACC. With less than a minute left, they had taken a 58-50 lead on No. 3 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden. And then it all went awry, as the Irish missed two free throws, committed four turnovers and fouled a three-point shooter and lost, 64-61.

The good news for the Irish? For 19 minutes in the second half, they dominated one of the best teams in the country. As disappointing as the finish was, Notre Dame is a talented team that looks like they are getting close to finding their stride.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 13 Oregon 100, BYU 96 OT

You knew that pitting Oregon and BYU against each other would result in an uptempo, high-scoring game filled with fast breaks and threes. That’s exactly what happened. The added bonus? BYU was in control for most of the game, only trailing in regulation when Oregon scored the first basket of the game. But Oregon came storming back, choking away a chance to win in regulation when Elgin Cook missed two free throws with just 1.8 seconds left. They would eventually go on to win in overtime.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 7 Oklahoma State got 23 points and 11 boards from Markel Brown in a 78-73 win over No. 20 Colorado. Brown’s first double-double of the season was a needed boost with the Oklahoma State big men struggling.

2) Cullen Neal scored 24 points for New Mexico, allowing to Lobos to forget about missing Hugh Greenwood and help them pick up a much-needed, 75-68 win over Marquette. Raphielle Johnson wrote a couple of stories off of this game.

3) No. 18 Kansas dominated Georgetown, winning 86-64 despite getting just 12 points on 3-for-10 shooting from Andrew Wiggins. Their four big men combined to shoot 14-for-16 from the floor.

STARRED

1) Adreian Payne went for 33 points in a dominating performance against Texas as No. 5 Michigan State knocked off the Longhorns 92-78. He was 10-for-13 from the field.

2) J.P. Tokoto finished with 22 points, 11 boards, five steals, four blocks and two assists in a 97-85 overtime win over Davidson.

3) Julius Randle popped off for 29 points and 10 boards, shooting 8-for-10 from the floor, as No. 19 Kentucky erased an eleven point deficit in a win over Belmont.

STRUGGLED

1) Chaz Williams finished with just 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting as No. 22 UMass picked up their first loss of the season to Florida State.

2) Gary Bell Jr. finished just 1-for-7 from the floor as No. 21 Gonzaga suffered a damaging loss against Kansas State in Wichita.

3) Jordan Clarkson went for 25 points, eight assists and six boards for No. 23 Missouri, but the rest of his supporting cast had an off-night as the Tigers lost to Illinois 65-64.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 5 Michigan State 92, Texas 78
  • No. 6 Louisville 85, FIU 56
  • No. 8 Villanova 88, Rider 67
  • No. 15 Memphis 77, Southeast Missouri 65
  • No. 16 Florida 66, Fresno State 49
  • No. 24 San Diego State 65, McNeese St. 36

NOTABLES

  • N.C. State has one of the best forwards in the ACC (if not America) in sophomore T.J. Warren, and he led the Wolfpack to a 90-79 win over East Carolina with 32 points and eight rebounds.
  • D.J. Irving scored 25 points to help lead Boston University to an 83-77 win at Maryland. The Terrapins turned the ball over 17 times, and it’s clear that their issues are bigger than not having PG Seth Allen.
  • With point guard Rysheed Jordan out due to a family illness, St. John’s scored 96 points in their nine-point win over Youngstown State. D’Angelo Harrison scored 29 points and became the school’s all-time leader in made three-pointers.
  • J.D. Weatherspoon scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Toledo’s 71-67 win over Cleveland State, moving the Rockets to 11-0 in the season.
  • Siyani Chambers scored 27 points to lead Harvard to a 74-68 win over Vermont, moving the Crimson to 10-1 on the year.
  • VCU ripped off a 31-0 first-half run against Virginia Tech, coasting to an 82-52 victory over the Hokies. VCU beat both in-state ACC teams this season.
  • Jermaine Marshall scored 27 points and Jahii Carson fell three rebounds short of a triple-double (16 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds) in Arizona State’s 76-62 win over Texas Tech.
  • Isaiah Philmore and Matt Stainbrook scored 17 points apiece in Xavier’s 77-74 win at Alabama.
  • Jarvis Threatt scored nine of his team-high 29 points in overtime as Delaware outlasted Bryant 108-107. Dyami Starks led all scorers with 35 points in a losing effort.

4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.