Late Night Snacks: No. 20 Iowa gets its signature road victory

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GAME OF THE DAY: Akron 83, Ohio 80 (2OT)

Quincy Diggs was the difference-maker for the Zips on Sunday, as he scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds while making some key plays down the stretch for the visitors. Diggs scored Akron’s final five points of the first overtime to force a second extra session, and his basket with 34 seconds remaining in double overtime gave Akron the lead for good. Maurice Ndour led Ohio with a career-high 25 points, but it’s Akron who remains undefeated in MAC play.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 20 Iowa 84, No. 3 Ohio State 74

Fran McCaffery’s team finally grabbed the signature road victory they were looking for, with Roy Devyn Marble scoring 22 points to lead five Hawkeyes in double figures. Iowa shot 47.5% from the field and did a good job of getting into the paint against the Ohio State defense, scoring 44 points in the paint. Just as important were the 27 points Iowa scored off of 17 Buckeye turnovers. LaQuinton Ross led Ohio State with 22 points, but there are still some defensive issues that need to be addressed.

2) Washington 71, No. 15 Colorado 54

C.J. Wilcox established new career-highs for points (31) and blocked shots (four) in a game to lead Washington to the win in Seattle. The victory snaps a 12-game losing streak for the Huskies against ranked opponents, but that wasn’t the big news of the day. Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie left the game late in the first half with a left knee injury, and the severity of the injury will be learned on Monday. Washington outscored Colorado by 20 points after Dinwiddie left the game.

3) Creighton 95, Xavier 89

After falling behind 12-0 to start the game Creighton turned things around, with Doug McDermott once again leading the way offensively. He scored 35 points and Ethan Wragge knocked down five three-pointers to lead the Bluejays to the win. Xavier may have fallen short but the game Semaj Christon deserves mention as well, as he accounted for 27 points, five assists and four rebounds.

STARRED

1) Doug McDermott (Creighton)

35 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the Bluejays’ 95-89 win over Xavier.

2) C.J. Wilcox (Washington) 

A career-high 31 points on 12-for-18 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four blocks int he Huskies’ 71-54 win over No. 15 Colorado.

3) Billy Baron (Canisius) 

26 points (8-for-12 FG), eight rebounds and six assists in the Golden Griffins’ 87-67 win over Monmouth.

STRUGGLED

1) Maryland

Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins had issues on both ends of the floor in their 85-61 loss at Florida State, shooting 33.3% from the field with the Seminoles knocking down 16 three-pointers and shooting 50% overall.

2) Bowling Green

Shot 29.3% from the field and 9-for-21 from the foul line in their 45-36 home loss to Northern Illinois.

3) No. 23 Illinois

The Fighting Illini shot 28.1% from the field and 3-for-6 from the foul line in their 49-43 loss at Northwestern.

NOTABLES

  • T.J. McConnell knocked down five three-pointers (19 points, six assists) and Brandon Ashley also scored 19 as No. 1 Arizona recovered from a slow start to beat USC 73-53. The Wildcats’ 17-0 start is the best in school history.
  • UCLA saw their 23-point lead cut to nine before holding on to beat Arizona State 87-72. Kyle Anderson tallied 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead the way.
  • Anthony Brown (24 points) and Chasson Randle (23) combined for 47 points as Stanford beat No. 17 Oregon, 82-80. Oregon once again had trouble slowing down bigger guards, and that’s an issue they must address.
  • Luke Hancock and Russ Smith scored 23 points apiece as No. 12 Louisville beat SMU, 71-63.
  • Keifer Sykes scored 34 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Green Bay’s 93-86 overtime win at Milwaukee. Jordan Aaron led the Panthers with 26 points.
  • J.J. O’Brien led five players in double figures with 18 points (and 11 rebounds) as No. 13 San Diego State won 79-72 at Air Force.
  • Michael Alvarado scored 33 points and dished out four assists to lead Manhattan to an 86-79 overtime win over Marist, the Jaspers’ first full game without injured guard George Beamon.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.