Late Night Snacks: Shockers move to 31-0 and eight ranked teams fall to unranked foes

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: Southeast Missouri 118, Murray State 115 (2OT)

This OVC contest was wild, with the Redhawks holding on for the three-point win despite giving Murray State one last shot at the tie with less than a second remaining in the second extra session. How’d it happen? SEMO’s Nino Johnson was hit with a technical foul with four tenths of a second remaining for hanging on the rim. Luckily for the Redhawks after making the free throws the Racers turned the ball over, thus ending the game. Jarekious Bradley led the way for the winners with 24 points and 14 rebounds, with Jarvis Williams pacing the Racers with 25 points and 15 rebounds. And as a result of this outcome Belmont is the outright OVC champion.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 2 Wichita State 68, Missouri State 45

Gregg Marshall’s Shockers finished its regular season with a 31-0 record, beating Missouri State convincingly to cap what’s been an incredible run thus far. Cleanthony Early scored 19 points and Ron Baker added 11 for Wichita State, which limited the Bears to 31.4% shooting from the field. Next up for the Shockers is the Missouri Valley conference tournament, and three wins there would make them the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated.

2) Oklahoma State 72, No. 5 Kansas 65

There was no bigger winner amongst bubble teams on Saturday than the Cowboys, who knocked off the Big 12 champions in Stillwater thanks in large part to Marcus Smart. Smart scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half, and over the final 11:53 he accounted for 14 points and three assists without committing a turnover. As for Kansas, they committed 22 turnovers and that combined with the health of Joel Embiid is of far greater concern than the result.

3) No. 12 Virginia 75, No. 4 Syracuse 56

The last time Virginia took the court in the ACC tournament as the top seed was way back in 1981, when Ralph Sampson was patrolling the paint and Terry Holland the sidelines. Thanks to an impressive second half put together by the current edition of the Cavaliers that 33-year streak will come to an end in a couple weeks, with Virginia shooting 57.7% in the second half against Syracuse. Malcolm Brogdon led four Virginia players in double figures with 19 points, and Virginia’s performance on the boards also factored into the outcome.

STARRED

1) D.J. Covington (VMI)

33 points (12-for-17 FG), 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in VMI’s 86-66 win at Longwood.

2) Jared Brownridge (Santa Clara) 

38 points (12-for-22 FG), seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the Broncos’ 86-78 win at Pepperdine.

3) Tim Williams (Samford)

32 points (10-for-11 FG), six rebounds and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 93-86 win over Western Carolina.

STRUGGLED 

1) Kendall Anthony (Richmond)

Anthony shot 2-for-20 from the field in Richmond’s 66-43 loss at Rhode Island.

2) Sheldon Strickland (Charleston Southern) 

Strickland made just one of his ten field goal attempts, finishing the Buccaneers’ 63-61 loss at Coastal Carolina with three points, six rebounds and five assists.

3) Askia Booker and Xavier Talton (Colorado) 

Colorado’s starting backcourt combined to shoot 2-for-16 from the field, scoring seven points in their 75-64 loss at Utah.

NOTABLES

  • No. 1 Florida extended its win streak to 21 games with a 79-61 win over LSU in Gainesville. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points off the bench to lead the way.
  • UConn didn’t make a field goal over the final 7:39 but the Huskies made nine of their 13 free throw attempts, beating No. 11 Cincinnati 51-45 in Hartford.
  • Two other Big 12 bubble teams, Baylor and West Virginia, avoided what would have been crushing defeats by beating Texas Tech and TCU, respectively.
  • The same can be said for SEC teams Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee, with all three winning by comfortable margins.
  • No. 21 Memphis picked up a solid win for its resume, beating No. 7 Louisville 72-66 to complete a sweep of the season series. The Cardinals looked to be well on their way to sole possession of first place in the American, but Memphis would come back thanks to some solid defense.
  • No. 18 Michigan State had everyone back on the floor but they didn’t look good at all, falling 53-46 at home to Illinois. Is this a matter of the players needing more time together, or should Tom Izzo be worried about this team’s postseason prospects?
  • Oklahoma converted 16 Texas turnovers into 23 points in their 77-65 win over the Longhorns. Isaiah Cousins scored 24 points and Buddy Hield added 17 for the Sooners.
  • LIU-Brooklyn point guard Jason Brickman became the fourth player (Bobby Hurley, Chris Corchianni and Ed Cota being the others) in NCAA history to compile at least 1,000 assists in a career, reaching the mark during the Blackbirds’ 81-62 loss to Bryant. The final assist count for Brickman, whose college career came to an end on Saturday: 1,009.
  • Justin Martin racked up 19 points and 16 rebounds to lead Xavier to a 75-69 win over No. 9 Creighton in Cincinnati.
  • For the second consecutive game No. 10 Saint Louis was made to pay for its turnover issues, committing 17 in a 67-56 loss at VCU. The Billikens have now lost two straight.
  • No. 16 Michigan clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title with a 66-56 win over Minnesota. Michigan can win the title outright with a victory at Illinois on Tuesday night.
  • No. 17 Kentucky came out sluggish at South Carolina, digging themselves a hole that proved too difficult to climb out of with the Gamecocks winning 72-67.
  • Harvard’s one win away from a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament after beating Columbia 80-47. Next up: at Yale on Friday, with the Bulldogs being the only team capable of catching the Crimson in the standings.
  • Gonzaga made quite the statement in its regular season finale, whipping rival Saint Mary’s 75-47 in Moraga.
  • Stephen F. Austin moved to 16-0 in the Southland with a 75-62 win at Southeast Louisiana, with Desmond Haymon leading four Lumberjacks in double figures with 17 points.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

Sweet 16 Preview: Thursday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Sweet 16 kicks off on Thursday night, and the games are going to be terrific.

Oregon-Michigan should be thrilling, Gonzaga-West Virginia is a fascinating contrast of styles and Kansas-Purdue features arguably the two best players in college basketball.

Oh, and then there’s Arizona-Xavier, with Sean Miller and Chris Mack doing battle.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (-1.5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS): So this run that Michigan on, is it a fluke?

Frankly, I don’t think that it is. Derrick Walton has been awesome for the better part of two months while Michigan’s perimeter shooters have always been shooters and the duo of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner are legit. I honestly do not believe that the Wolverines are a team of destiny after the plane crash. They are just really good and a perfect roster for John Beilein to tinker with.

That’s why they’re favored on Thursday night. But here’s the thing … Oregon is pretty good themselves. Dillon Brooks is going to be guarded by a big man, which should be a matchup that Brooks can take advantage of, and Tyler Dorsey has been playing terrific basketball since the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

If you like small-ball, spread-the-court basketball, you’ll love this game.

PREDICTION: Michigan (-1.5)

No. 1 Gonzaga (-3) vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m. (TBS): On paper, I think Gonzaga should win this game. They have a good back court in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins, a pair of talented point guards that have won a lot of games in their career. Gonzaga is also the best defensive team in the country. So if they don’t turn the ball over against West Virginia’s press and they make it difficult for West Virginia to score in the half court and get into their press, they should be able to win this thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

My concern with Gonzaga is game-pressure. They didn’t handle it well down the stretch against BYU in their one loss of the season, and I’m not convinced that they win that second round game against Northwestern if the officials don’t blow the goaltending call. How are they going to handle an endless wave of Mountaineers in their face?

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-3)

No. 1 Kansas (-5) vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): More than any other game this weekend, I’m fascinated to see how these two teams decide to try and play each other. Kansas has, essentially, one big man that Bill Self can trust, and he’s going up against a Player of the Year candidate in Caleb Swanigan and one of the best big men in the country at drawing fouls in Isaac Haas. Will Self double-team Swanigan knowing that Purdue may be more effective offensively when Swanigan can find shooters out of the double-team, or will he risk Lucas getting in foul trouble by trying to guard Swanigan one-on-one?

Then, at the other end of the floor, how will Purdue deal with the Kansas back court? Frank Mason III, the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, and Devonte’ Graham are a nightmare for anyone to deal with, let alone a team that struggles against penetrating guards and that lacks rim protection. It should be a fascinating coaching battle.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-5)

No. 2 Arizona (-7.5) vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m. (TBS): On paper, Arizona should be able to handle a Xavier team that doesn’t have Edmond Sumner or Myles Davis. That said, as we all know, Chris Mack and Sean Miller are very close and used to work together. Mack knows everything that Miller is going to do and vice versa. I think this game will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair that comes down to the final minutes.

PREDICTION: Xavier (+7.5)

Shayok and Reuter transferring from Virginia

Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images
3 Comments

Virginia announced the departure of two players Wednesday.

Marial Shayok and Jerred Shayok will both transfer out of the program, the school said.

“Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future.”

Shayok, a a 6-foot-5 junior, played 20.9 minutes per game last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. The Ottawa native started 23 games in three seasons with Virginia.

Reuter played a minimal role for the Cavaliers, averaging just 10.8 minutes and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
1 Comment

There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
1 Comment

Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.