Late Night Snacks: Big Ten race tightens as No. 9 Michigan State, No. 15 Michigan fall

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GAME OF THE DAY: Canisius 92, Siena 88 (3OT)

Billy Baron scored 40 points (ten rebounds and five assists as well) in a winning effort, with this being the 17th time a player has scored 40 points or more in a game this season. But it wasn’t easy, as Rob Poole led scored 33 points to lead the way for a Siena team that was tough throughout. The Golden Griffins, who remain tied with Manhattan in second place in the MAAC, came from behind at the end of regulation and each of the first two overtime periods before taking the lead for good on a Baron three-point play with 45.1 seconds remaining in the third extra session.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 21 Wisconsin 75, No. 15 Michigan 62

Frank Kaminsky, who finished the game with 25 points and 11 rebounds, took over in the second half as the Badgers picked up yet another win over a ranked opponent. Michigan, which chose not to double-team Kaminsky in the post, had no answer for the big man on Sunday afternoon. As for Michigan, their 32% shooting in the first half resulted in a hole that was too deep to crawl out of despite a career afternoon from Caris LeVert (25 points).

2) Nebraska 60, No. 9 Michigan State 51

Playing in a conference like the Big Ten can be a challenge, but it also provides numerous opportunities to teams in need of quality wins. Tim Miles’ Nebraska Cornhuskers took a big step forward on Sunday afternoon, beating the Spartans in East Lansing with Terran Petteway hitting key shots down the stretch. Keith Appling returned for Michigan State but played limited minutes, and the Spartans could not seem to get going. And credit for that should go to Nebraska, which now finds itself on the outskirts of the NCAA tournament bubble conversation.

3) No. 18 Creighton 101, No. 6 Villanova 80

After two games between the Bluejays and Wildcats, it’s safe to say that Villanova does not match up particularly well with Creighton. The three-point shot did in Villanova in the first meeting, but it was Creighton’s ability to get inside that made the difference in the rematch. Creighton scored 44 points in the paint, and Doug McDermott scored 39 points on 13-for-17 shooting from the field. Creighton has one of the best offensive attacks around, as they currently rank second in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency per kenpom.com.

STARRED

1) Doug McDermott (Creighton) 

Scored 39 points on 13-for-17 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds in the Bluejays’ 101-80 win over No. 6 Villanova. McDermott now ranks 13th on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list, passing Otis Birdsong and Larry Bird on Sunday night.

2) Billy Baron (Canisius) 

Baron struggled from beyond the arc (2-for-12 3PT) but still managed to score 40 points to go along with ten rebounds and five assists in the Golden Griffins’ 92-88 triple overtime win at Siena.

3) Rob Poole (Siena)

33 points (11-for-18 FG), three rebounds and three steals in Siena’s 92-88 triple overtime loss to Canisius.

STRUGGLED

1) Drew Crawford (Northwestern) 

Scored two points on 1-for-15 shooting in the Wildcats’ 54-48 loss to Minnesota. Crawford did grab a team-high 11 rebounds.

2) Dion Nesmith (Hofstra) 

Shot 2-for-11 from the field (0-for-7 3PT), scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds in the Pride’s 74-63 loss to Drexel.

3) Desi Washington (Saint Peter’s) 

Washington made just one of his ten field goal attempts, scoring three points in the Peacocks’ 74-64 loss at Quinnipiac.

NOTABLES

  • No. 4 Wichita State won its 27th consecutive game, winning 84-68 at Evansville. Ron Baker scored 26 points and Fred Van Vleet added 18, eight assists and five steals.
  • St. John’s picked up its eighth win in nine games, starting the game on a 15-0 run and beating Georgetown 82-60. D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan scored 24 points apiece for the Red Storm.
  • Temple picked up its second conference win, upsetting No. 23 SMU 71-64 in Philadelphia. That’s a bad loss for the Mustangs, who haven’t accomplished much away from home.
  • Mercer used a 52-point first half to beat Northern Kentucky 89-67, maintaining their one-game lead atop the Atlantic Sun as a result. Langston Hall scored 25 points for the Bears.
  • Joseph Young led five Ducks in double figures with 25 points as Oregon defeated rival Oregon State, 93-83.
  • Luke Hancock scored a career-high 25 points as No. 13 Louisville throttled Rutgers, 102-54. Rick Pitino’s Cardinals shot 16-for-30 from beyond the arc.

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.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: