Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Duke, No. 17 Saint Louis fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Wake Forest 82, No. 4 Duke 72

This was the most surprising result of the night, with the Demon Deacons using multiple defenses in their win over the Blue Devils in Winston-Salem. Tyler Cavanaugh scored 20 points off the bench and Travis McKie added 19 for Wake Forest, which has beaten Duke, North Carolina and N.C State in the same season for the first time since 2009. As for Duke they’ve got some issues to address offensively, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski dealt with lightheadedness as well.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 11 Louisville 84, No. 18 SMU 71

Russ Smith scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half as the Cardinals beat SMU in Dallas. Defending Smith was one problem for the Mustangs, who also turned the ball over 23 times on the night. Nic Moore played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble, and both he and Nick Russell struggled with the Louisville pressure.

2) Dayton 72, No. 17 Saint Louis 67

Dayton arrived in Saint Louis in need of a quality win for its resume, and the Flyers left with the desired result. Dayton defended well in the second half and their reserves scored 31 points, outscoring the Saint Louis bench by 17. As for the Billikens, they’ve now lost three straight games and need to get things back in order ahead of the conference tournament next week.

3) No. 3 Arizona 74, Oregon State 69 

Nick Johnson scored 25 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 13 off the bench as the Wildcats held off the Beavers in Corvallis. However for as impressive as that point total may look for Johnson, his defending of Roberto Nelson was even better. Nelson scored 25 points but shot 7-for-22 from the field, and as a team Oregon State shot 19-for-30 from the foul line.

STARRED

1) F Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri State) 

In the Redhawks’ 79-61 win over Eastern Illinois in the first round of the OVC tournament, Stone racked up 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

2) G Maurice Watson (Boston University)

Watson led the Terriers to a 91-54 win over Lafayette in a Patriot League quarterfinal with 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

3) F Ryan Watkins (Boise State) 

Watkins shot 9-for-12 from the field, accounting for 27 points and 14 rebounds in the Broncos’ 83-81 double overtime loss to Nevada.

STRUGGLED

1) G Jon Severe (Fordham)

Severe made just one of his 12 field goal attempts, scoring three points in the Rams’ 77-65 loss at Rhode Island.

2) G Chris Denson (Auburn) 

Tennessee made sure to take the Tigers’ leading scorer out of the game, as Denson shot 1-for-10 from the field in Auburn’s 82-54 home loss to the Volunteers.

3) F Jesse Chuku (Lehigh) 

Chuku shot 1-for-11 from the field in the Mountain Hawks’ 54-48 loss to Holy Cross in a Patriot League quarterfinal.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS 

  • Big South: Charleston Southern the lone surprise on day one
    Charleston Southern, the fifth seed out of the South Division, beat 4N Campbell 81-71 in the first round of the Big South tournament. Arlon Harper scored 20 points and Will Saunders added 18 off the bench for the Buccaneers, who will face 1S Coastal Carolina on Thursday. Winthrop, Radford and Gardner-Webb were the other winners on Wednesday
  • Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s erases 17-point deficit
    Mount St. Mary’s trailed by as much as 17 in their quarterfinal matchup with St. Francis-Brooklyn, and with 1:53 remaining the Mountaineers trailed by 11. But Jamion Christian’s team found a way to fight back, winning 72-71 on a Rashad Whack three-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining. The lone surprise on Wednesday was Saint Francis (PA) upsetting Bryant, 55-54. Top seeds Robert Morris and Wagner advanced by comfortable margins.
  • OVC: SEMO, Tennessee Tech advance
    The start of the OVC tournament didn’t provide an upset, with Southeast Missouri State beating Eastern Illinois 79-61 and Tennessee Tech holding off SIU-Edwardsville 74-67. SEMO’s Tyler Stone was the star of the night (27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks), and Tennessee Tech’s Jeremiah Samarrippas led four Eagles in double figures with 16 points.
  • Patriot League: Army wins at Bucknell
    Just one of the four road teams managed to win on Wednesday: Army, which beat Bucknell 72-71 on a Kyle Wilson jumper with 12.5 seconds remaining. The Black Knights trailed by seven points with three minutes remaining. The top three seeds, Boston University, American and Holy Cross, all won.

NOTABLES

  • Nebraska continued its late charge towards an NCAA tournament berth with a 70-60 win over Indiana in Bloomington. Also of note for Tim Miles’ Huskers is the fact that they’re still in play for a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.
  • All three SEC bubble teams won on Wednesday. While Arkansas (Ole Miss) and Tennessee (Auburn) blew out their opponents, Missouri beat Texas A&M 57-56 in Columbia.
  • Colorado and Utah picked up valuable road win, with the Buffaloes beating Stanford 59-56 and the Utes holding off Cal by the final score of 63-59. And from a bubble standpoint, the Golden Bears have lost four of their last five and may be in trouble.
  • George Washington added a quality win to its resume, beating Saint Joseph’s 76-71 in Washington, D.C. That result means that Saint Louis wins the Atlantic 10 regular season title despite their loss to Dayton.
  • No. 9 Wisconsin won its eighth straight game, outlasting Purdue 76-70 in Madison. And given some of the other happenings across the country, don’t rule out the Badgers in the race for a one-seed.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.