Late Night Snacks: Kansas takes down unbeaten Toledo

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Kansas 93, Toledo 83

The Jayhawks continued their difficult non-conference schedule by hosting unbeaten Toledo on Monday night and Kansas prevailed with a 93-83 victory in Lawrence. Naadir Tharpe continued his improved play of-late with 20 points and eight assists to lead the way for No. 16 Kansas as they outlasted a solid offensive effort from Toledo. Although Toledo hasn’t faced anyone the caliber of Kansas this season, they showed that they can hang with anyone in the country offensively, and they’ll be a tough team to beat in the MAC.

CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one and how if affects both Kansas and Toledo going forward.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 6 Oklahoma State 92, Robert Morris 66

The Cowboys picked up a home win over Robert Morris, but the news here is Oklahoma State losing center Michael Cobbins to an apparent Achilles’ tendon injury. Cobbins’ status going forward seems uncertain and we should know more in the coming days, but it would be a major loss for the Cowboys.

2) Louisiana Tech 102, Oklahoma 98, overtime

Busy night of hoops in the Sooner State, huh? Preseason mid-major darling Louisiana Tech withstood a ridiculous three-pointer from Cameron Clark at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, as the Bulldogs held on for the four-point win over Oklahoma. This gives Louisiana Tech a nice win going into Conference USA play after the Bulldogs fell to St. Mary’s and Oklahoma State earlier in the year.

3) St. Louis 57, Vanderbilt 49

Is America sleeping on the Billikens? St. Louis has won six straight — with their only losses on the year to unbeatens: Wisconsin and Wichita State — and their defense is one of the best in the country as the Billikens completely shut down Vanderbilt’s offense in their own gym. St. Louis held the Commodores to 33 percent shooting and 17 percent shooting from the three-point line in the win and they’ll head into the Atlantic 10 with a ton of momentum.

STARRED

1) Tennessee had a great night from its supporting cast as the Volunteers rolled past Virginia 87-52. Jordan McRae (21 points) and Jarnell Stokes (20 points) led the charge as usual for Tennessee, but it was the offensive play of Josh Richardson (20 points, 8-for-9 shooting) and Antonio Barton (14 points, 5-for-6 shooting) that took Tennessee to a new level.

2) T.J. Warren led North Carolina State with 24 points and nine rebounds as the Wolfpack escaped with a 68-64 win over UNC-Greensboro on the road. Warren knocked in 1-of-2 free throws to give North Carolina State a three-point lead with 23.4 seconds remaining before the Wolfpack got a stop to seal the game.

3) Despite missing starters Gary Bell Jr. and Sam Dower Jr., No. 24 Gonzaga cruised past San Francisco 69-41 behind a balanced scoring effort as Drew Barnham knocked in five three-pointers and finished with a team-high 15 points.

STRUGGLED

1) Southern 116, Champion Baptist College 12. Nuff said.

2) BYU fell behind 40-28 at halftime and never recovered as the Cougars fell on the road to Pepperdine 80-74 in a WCC contest. The difference in this one: three-point shooting. BYU was 1-for-11 from beyond the arc while Pepperdine was 13-for-24. BYU has now dropped four straight games.

3) VMI trailed by a point at halftime against Clemson before being blown out of the water in the second half of an 80-50 road loss. VMI averages 89 points a game, but was held to a season-low of 50 points, including only 18 in the second half.

OTHER TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 9 Baylor 81, Oral Roberts 55

Indiana hires Dayton head coach Archie Miller

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Indiana is expected to hire Dayton head coach Archie Miller, the school announced.

The deal will be for seven years, according to The Vertical. Miller had spent the last six seasons as the head coach at Dayton, getting to four straight NCAA tournaments, including the Elite 8 in 2014, while winning the last two Atlantic 10 regular season titles.

Miller had been targeted by seemingly every high major program with an opening since he reached the Elite 8, but similar to Shaka Smart when he left VCU, Miller simply waited for the right job to come long.

Indiana is the right job.

There had been some speculation that Miller wouldn’t want to take Indiana, that his dream job is Ohio State and that the idea of coaching in a fishbowl like Bloomington is not something that would be all that appealing to him. But Indiana is an elite job. It’s the kind of opening that happens once every four or five years, and if Miller had said no to the Hoosiers now, it’s very possible that an opportunity like this wouldn’t come along for years, if ever.

This hire is surprising, not because it’s the wrong hire — I think they got this right — but because Indiana actually made the right decision.

The overwhelming sentiment since Tom Crean was fired was that UCLA head coach Steve Alford would be named the next head coach at Indiana because the Hoosiers wanted an “Indiana Guy”. Alford was born in New Castle, he played at IU for Bobby Knight, he won a national title with the program. The goal was to get the Indiana fan base back, a fan base that was so estranged from the program that Indiana had to play an NIT game on the road as a higher seed because they were reportedly afraid of allowing ESPN’s cameras to see the empty seats.

But just because a hire appeases the fans doesn’t make it the right hire.

Miller was the right hire.

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

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So Friday got good.

If Zak Showalter’s game-tying three and subsequent discount double-check wasn’t enough, we had Canyon Barry’s chasedown block and, well, this game-winner from Chris Chiozza.

And all that came after De’Aaron Fox took out what felt like a season’s worth of frustration out on Lonzo Ball.

What is on tap for tonight?

No. 1 GONZAGA (-8) vs. No. 11 XAVIER, 6:09 p.m., TBS: Someone is going to be making their way to the Final Four for the first time on Saturday night, as Xavier’s Chris Mack and Gonzaga’s Mark Few square off for the right to play on the final weekend of the season.

And in a way, this is the perfect Final Four game. Both the Zags and the Musketeers are basketball schools in basketball leagues. They come from outside the power structure and have head coaches that have spurned jobs from within the power structure to remain there. They are built for a run like this, even if they were both overlooked on the way here.

Xavier was obvious. Playing without Edmond Sumner and Myles Davis, the Musketeers just haven’t been the team that they were supposed to be this season. That’s why they lost six straight games in February, but things have turned around in March, as Trevon Bluiett has put the program on his back and willed them to the Elite 8. Gonzaga is the opposite. They went 29-0 to start the season, but they have yet to be accepted as a legitimate title contender by most of the people that watch the games.

My guess on Saturday night is that the Zags make their statement and emphatically get into the Final Four.

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-8)

No. 1 KANSAS (-7) vs.  No. 3 OREGON, 8:49 p.m., TBS: This matchup is a lot tastier on paper than it is likely going to end up being on the floor. As good as Oregon has been this season, they are, essentially, Kansas light. They play two lead guards together and they play small-ball, with a natural wing lined up at the four.

The problem?

The Kansas guys are just better. Josh Jackson is a better player than Dillon Brooks. His length and athleticism should give the Oregon star fits. Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham are better than whatever combination of Payton Pritchard, Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis the Ducks opt to use.

And, for that matter, no team is playing better right now that they Jayhawks, who beat Michigan State by 20, Purdue by 32 and became the first team to score 90 points in their first three NCAA tournament games since 1995. I think that trend continues on Saturday night.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-7)

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.