Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Arizona falls, but status of Brandon Ashley more important

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Syracuse 91, No. 17 Duke 89 (OT)

The first meeting between these two storied program as members of the same conference did not disappoint, with the Orange needing overtime to beat the Blue Devils. Duke made 15 three-pointers against the Syracuse zone and scored 32 points in the paint, but Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson fouling out late in regulation robbed them of their two best front court players. Syracuse’s C.J. Fair scored 28 points to lead all scorers, while it was Rasheed Sulaimon who led five Blue Devils in double figures with 16. His three-pointer as time expired forced overtime.


1) California 60, No. 1 Arizona 58

Justin Cobbs’ jumper with nine tenths of a second remaining proved to be the difference, but it was the play of big men David Kravish (14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks) and Richard Solomon (12 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks) that put the Golden Bears in position to win the game. The biggest issue for Arizona: the health of Brandon Ashley, who injured his right foot early in the game and per head coach Sean Miller’s post game comments there’s a concern that he may have broken the foot. That would be a far bigger issue for Arizona than the fact that they suffered their first loss of the season.

2) No. 25 Texas 81, No. 6 Kansas 69

Rick Barnes’ Longhorns are now a game out of first place in the loss column, with Isaiah Taylor scoring 23 points and Jonathan Holmes adding 22 to lead the way offensively. Also of note for Texas was the play of young big men Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley, who more than held their own against Kansas’ talented front court. As for the Jayhawks, they’ve allowed three straight opponents to shoot better than 40% from the field, and while that may not seem like a big deal Bill Self-coached teams are generally better defensively than that.

3) Georgetown 64, No. 7 Michigan State 60 (OT) 

Did Georgetown save its season with this win? That remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that the Hoyas were in desperate need of some good news. They also welcomed back Jabril Trawick, who missed time with a broken jaw. Gary Harris scored 20 for Michigan State, but without Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson the sophomore guard didn’t receive enough help.


1) Alan Williams (UCSB)

Williams tallied 27 points, 20 rebounds and four assists in the Gauchos’ 82-67 win over UC Davis.

2) Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)

Harvey made ten of his 15 three-point attempts, scoring 38 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists in the Eagles’ 94-90 overtime win over Northern Colorado.

3) Juwan Staten (West Virginia) 

35 points on 8-for-13 shooting, five assists and four rebounds in the Mountaineers’ 81-71 win over Kansas State.


1) Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell (Arizona) 

Arizona’s starting backcourt had a rough night in Berkeley, with Johnson shooting 1-for-14 and McConnell not registering a single assist in the Wildcats’ 60-58 loss at Cal.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Wiggins shot 2-for-12 from the field and scored seven points in the Jayhawks’ 81-69 loss at No. 25 Texas.

3) Ashton Moore (The Citadel)

Moore made just two of his 14 attempts from the field, scoring six points in the Bulldogs’ 62-43 loss at Davidson.


  • No. 3 Florida used stifling defense to roll over another overmatched opponent, beating Texas A&M 69-36 in Gainesville. And on Tuesday night against Missouri, Chris Walker will make his debut.
  • No. 4 Wichita State moved to 23-0, beating Evansville 81-67 after recovering from a slow start. The Shockers, who trailed by 15 in the first half, led by as much as 19 in the second.
  • The wildest finish of the day: that would be Sacramento State’s 78-75 win over Weber State. Dylan Garrity’s 75-footer may have won it, but read this recap of the final 15 seconds by Jonathan Reed of Big Sky Basketball.
  • No. 24 Ohio State picked up a win they really needed, beating No. 14 Wisconsin 59-58 in Madison. And as a result of this it’s now the Badgers who have lost five of their last six.
  • Aaron Harrison led four players in double figures with 21 points and No. 11 Kentucky won 84-79 at Missouri. An Alex Poythress blocked shot in the final minute sealed the outcome.
  • Baylor ended its skid with a 76-70 win at No. 8 Oklahoma State, with Brady Heslip (20 points) and Gary Franklin Jr. (11) playing well in place of the injured Kenny Chery. As for the Cowboys, they need more from Marcus Smart.
  • Chris Collins’ Northwestern Wildcats won again, beating Minnesota 55-54 in Minneapolis with Drew Crawford scoring 17 points to lead the way.
  • Halil Kanacevic scored 18 points to lead Saint Joseph’s to a 73-68 win over No. 21 UMass in Philadelphia. The Minutemen, who began A-10 play 3-0, are now 4-3.
  • Gabriel Olaseni established new career highs with 15 points and 12 rebounds as No. 15 Iowa beat Illinois, 81-74.
  • Kevin Olekaibe and Deville Smith made key plays down the stretch to lead UNLV to a 73-69 win over Boise State. Dave Rice’s Runnin’ Rebels moved to 6-3 in Mountain West play.
  • Tyler Haws scored 33 points to lead BYU to an 84-71 win over Saint Mary’s, moving into a tie for second place in the WCC with San Francisco.


Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean gets her piece of the net

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Loyola-Chicago’s hero — their 98-year old chaplain, Sister Jean — got her reward for being the good-luck charm that got the Ramblers to the Final Four.

Think about this:

  • The Ramblers beat Miami on a game-winning three with 0.3 seconds left
  • They beat Tennessee on a jumper with 3.6 seconds left that bounced off the rim, the backboard and the rim again before going in.
  • They needed a three with 7.6 seconds left to help them hold off Nevada in the Sweet 16.
  • A senior that never averaged more than 8.3 points and that had a season-high of 14 points against something called Eureka this season went for a career-high 23 points to get the Ramblers to the Final Four.

She earned this piece of the net.

The Atlanta Falcons are trying to recruit Sister Jean from Loyola

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The Atlanta Falcons are American sports’ most cursed franchise now that the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series.

Hell, Atlanta sports in general are a minefield of terrible losses, blown seasons and heartbreak.

Which is why the Falcons, who may or may not have blown a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, are trying to get Sister Jean on their payroll:

Stay away, Falcons.

Sister Jean is ours.

Sincerely, College Basketball

No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago advances past Kansas State, to Final Four

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Sister Jean strikes again!

Ben Richardson, a senior guard who’s never averaged more than 8.3 points in a season, broke double-figures just four times during his senior year and had a season-high of 14 points that came in a game against something called Eureka, scored went 6-for-7 from three and scored a career-high 23 points for No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago as college basketball’s latest Cinderella finished off their run to the Final Four with a 78-62 win over No. 9-seed Kansas State.

A No. 11-seed is the lowest-seeded team to ever reach a Final Four, and Loyola is just the fourth No. 11-seed to get to the Final Four. LSU did it in 1986, George Mason made it in 2006 and VCU reached the Final Four out of a play-in game in 2011.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this win was that it was never really in doubt. Kansas State led 3-2 for 17 seconds in the first half … and that’s it. The Ramblers opened the game on a 15-5 run, took a 36-24 lead into the break and led by as many as 23 points in the second half.

Perhaps this is what says it all — The Ramblers emptied their bench to let the walk-ons get some run.

In the Elite Eight.

Their bench players dribbled out the clock to send them to the Final Four.

For a team that needed game-winning jumpers in the final 10 seconds in the first three rounds of the tournament, Kansas State was the lowest seeded team that the Ramblers played in the tournament. I guess it’s fitting that they were the game they finally won comfortably.

And to be frank, this is the postseason run that we all needed this year.

Let’s start with the basics: Nobody wants to see Kansas State in the Final Four. I’m sorry Kansas State fans, but that’s the truth. This run has been fun, it might have saved Bruce Weber’s job and I’ve gained a whole new level of respect for the fight and the grit that guys like Barry Brown Jr., Cartier Diarra and Xavier Sneed play with.

But if you are going to give me the choice between seeing a miracle mid-major run to the final weekend of the college basketball season or a middling power conference program that happened to get hot against a lucky draw in the NCAA tournament, I’m taking the mid-major.

Every. Single. Time.

And I guarantee that I’m not the only one.

If we’re not going to get a blueblood, give me the little guy.

Especially when they are being led to glory by a 98-year old nun named Sister Jean.

That is the other part of this: Everything about this Loyola-Chicago team is good. They are what makes college basketball so special. They are why this event is the best sporting event in America. And they are making this run in the tournament in a year where the sport has been marred by scandal after scandal.

There was the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball that resulted in assistant coaches at four programs getting arrested. There was the arrest of the three UCLA players that turned into an international incident covered by TMZ, CNN and FOX News when LaVar Ball stood up for his son and got into a war of words with Donald Trump. There were the accusations that were levied at Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo that he covered up sexual assaults committed by players within his program. There were the reports that leaked before the start of the NCAA tournament that tied players at myriad programs with taking impermissible from a disgraced NCAA agent, and then the controversy surrounding a report that Sean Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 for Deandre Ayton.

Anyone paying attention to college basketball from afar would think that the sport is an absolute cesspool, and whether the fact that it is may or may not be true depending the way that you view amateurism and the ability of college athletes to earn money off of their likeness, the bottom-line is this: College basketball’s public image has never been worse.

Until now.

Now we have a team from the Missouri Valley — a league that Wichita State and Creighton left because it wasn’t good enough — heading to the Final Four. We have a mid-major program whose most famous member is their 98-year old chaplain. We have a program with a head coach that is so far from the glitz and glamour of $3,000 suits that he wears outfits that look like this.

This is why college basketball is the best.

Because things like this can happen.

Tonight, we are all Ramblers.

Report: Gonzaga will decide on conference future in next few weeks

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Now that Gonzaga has been eliminated from the 2018 NCAA tournament, the school has some important decisions to make regarding its basketball future.

A report at the end of February from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune said that the Bulldogs were among two teams targeted by the Mountain West Conference for future expansion. The Mountain West talks are becoming more of a reality since the Zags were ousted by Florida State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Dennis Dodd of is reporting that Gonzaga will make a conference decision in the next few weeks as the school is exploring the possibility of leaving the West Coast Conference.

Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth confirmed to Dodd that the Mountain West and Gonzaga are talking while also noting that rumors of BYU and Gonzaga being a package deal are false. Since the window is quickly closing to try to get new teams into leagues for the 2018-19 season the Gonzaga/Mountain West talks should be figured out within the next few weeks.

“I think we’re into that crunch period for sure if we’re going to try to get it done for the fall of 2018. At the same time, we’re not going to rush the decision because of timing,” Roth said to Dodd.

“In a perfect world, we’re going to be making a decision in the next couple of weeks here. But there is no such thing as perfect worlds in the crazy world of college athletics.”

While Gonzaga has dominated the WCC over the last 20 years, the conference hasn’t provided enough quality competition for the perennial top-25 program. That’s why the jump to the Mountain West would be intriguing. The Bulldogs would get a better yearly strength of schedule to help its tournament profile. The Mountain West would add a stable NCAA tournament contender that would also boost the national profile of the league.

“Our conference doesn’t get the national respect, and the Mountain West has better respect,” Roth said to Dodd. “Whether it’s significant enough for us to make that move, we’re trying to figure [that] out.”

As Dodd noted in his report, this move would have little to do with revenue for Gonzaga. This move would be made strictly for competitive purposes:

Such a move would seemingly have little to do with revenue, at least for Gonzaga. The Mountain West TV contract is worth approximately $18 million (about $1.5 million per school). Gonzaga’s current league, the West Coast Conference, gets a tiny fraction compared to that amount.

Based on an industry standard that basketball is worth only 25 percent of any media rights contract, jumping to the MWC would net Gonzaga only $375,000 per season.

Based on Roth’s quotes about the WCC and the level of national respect, it will be fascinating to see if this move happens in the next few weeks. It makes sense for both Gonzaga and the Mountain West to make this move. But a lot of other things also have to be figured out for such a move to take place. Once the college basketball season is over, this will be one of the biggest storylines to follow heading into next season.

PHOTO: Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean has her signature Nikes on

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Not only does Sister Jean have her own bobblehead, she has her own pair of signature Nikes as well: