Late Night Snacks: Four autobids decided; should BYU be concerned?

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GAME OF THE DAY: North Dakota State 60, IPFW 57

In a tremendous back-and-forth contest for the Summit League Conference Tournament title, Taylor Braun and the Bison pulled off a win in the final minutes after falling in the Summit League title game to South Dakota State last season. The Bison will be a trendy upset pick in the NCAA Tournament because they are a senior-laden team that shoots a nation-leading 51 percent from the field.

Check out the NCAA Tournament Primer for North Dakota State here.


1) Gonzaga 75, BYU 64

The Zags are heading to the Big Dance for the 16th consecutive time after knocking off the Cougars in Las Vegas for the WCC Conference Tournament title. Gonzaga is dancing, again, but the bigger question is how this will affect BYU’s NCAA Tournament at-large hopes? The Cougars now sit at 23-11 (13-5 WCC) with an RPI of 30 and a strength of schedule that was at 39 entering the Gonzaga game. With a couple of sub-150 RPI losses, BYU shouldn’t feel too safe, but the Cougars did make it to the championship game in the WCC. It’s worth noting that BYU beat Mount St. Mary’s — the NEC conference champs — earlier in the season and their RPI should improve just a tiny bit with that win. BYU will take any help it can get right now as they sit right on the bubble.

Check out the NCAA Tournament Primer for Gonzaga here.

2) Milwaukee 69, Wright State 63

Picked to finish dead-last in the Horizon League in the preseason, the Panthers pulled off another road win on Tuesday after winning at Green Bay in the semifinals. Since senior guard Jordan Aaron returned from suspension, the Panthers haven’t lost and with two consecutive road wins against solid opponents, this team will be a scary 15 or 16 seed in the field of 68.

Check out the NCAA Tournament Primer for Milwaukee here.

3) Mount St. Mary’s 88, Robert Morris 71

At 16-16, Mount St. Mary’s was an unlikely NCAA Tournament team, but after winning the NEC Conference title game over Robert Morris, they’re going dancing. Robert Morris never led and Mount St. Mary’s led by double-digits the entire second half as five players finished in double-figures for the Mountaineers.

Check out the NCAA Tournament Primer for Mount St. Mary’s here.


1) North Texas junior guard Chris Jones made two free throws to push the game into overtime and won it with two more as No. 10 seed Mean Green beat No. 15 seed Rice in the first round of the Conference-USA tournament. Marshall was also a winner over Florida Atlantic in day-one action at the C-USA tournament.

2) Summit League Player of the Year Taylor Braun struggled to find his offense in the first half, but had a key three-point play on a driving layup with 12 seconds left to give North Dakota State a four-point lead it would never relinquish. Braun finished with 15 for the Bison.

3) Sam Dower paced Gonzaga with 20 points and 13 rebounds on 10-of-16 shooting in the Bulldogs’ win over BYU. Dower was the only member of Gonzaga’s team to have more than seven field goal attempts in the win.


1) Matt Carlino struggled to only 8 points — way below his season-average of 13.9 points — on 3-for-12 shooting as the BYU junior guard fouled out in the loss to Gonzaga.

2) IPFW struggled to only 22 points in the second half and blew a five-point halftime lead in the Summit League title game loss to North Dakota State. The Mastodons just couldn’t find a go-to player down the stretch as three players tied for the team lead with nine points.

3) The Robert Morris defense picked a bad night to play poorly. Mount St. Mary’s shot 60 percent from the field — 44 percent from three-point range — as Robert Morris never recovered from a 20-point, first-half deficit.

Reports: Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley mulling UConn, Pitt options

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Even before Rhode Island’s NCAA tournament came to an end Saturday in the Round of 32 against Duke, speculation was running wild about the future of Rams coach Dan Hurley.

Stay or go. If it’s go, where to?

There was no clarity, but maybe some progress Monday.

Both Connecticut and Pittsburgh, the prime candidates to pry Hurley away from Rhode Island, spoke with the coach, but no decision had yet been reached, according to multiple reports.

Hurley was set to meet with Rams athletic director Thorr Bjorn on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Heart Connecticut Media’s Jeff Jacobs reported that UConn was “closing in on an agreement” with Hurley but that Pitt was continuing its pursuit.

Hurley has led the Rams to the NCAA tournament the last two years and signed a seven-year contract with Rhode Island worth approximately $1 million per year last off-season. UConn was paying Kevin Ollie, who led the team to the 2014 NCAA title before being fired after this season, an average of $3 million per season while Kevin Stallings reportedly was due a buyout of nearly $10 million when he was fired by Pitt this season.

What Hurley will have to weigh beyond the financial circumstances will be his ability to win at either UConn or Pitt, should he decide to move on from Rhode Island.

Ollie – well, really Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – showed you can win a national title out of the AAC at UConn. The league adding Wichita State only strengthens that point. Pitt, meanwhile, may be a tougher job now than it was when Jamie Dixon had it rolling since their move from the Big East to the ACC.

CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament

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Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic joined Rob Dauster for an epic, two-hour podcast on the first weekend of the tournament. It was so good that we had to split the podcast into two parts. On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the South and West Regions, from Sister Jean to UMBC to Nevada’s comebacks to Kentucky’s chances at a Final Four.

On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the East and Midwest Regions, from Villanova and Duke steamrolling to Michigan State collapsing to Syracuse and Clemson and Texas Tech and Purdue. It’s all in there.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Eight viral heroes from first weekend of March Madness

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One of my favorite parts of the NCAA tournament is seeing who comes out of nowhere to turn into a viral celebrity during this month of madness.

By my estimation, we had eight true candidates for the award of March Madness Viral Celebrity of the Year. Here they are:


He was more fired up for Houston’s success in the tournament than any Houston fan in the history of basketball in the city of Houston.


Jordan Poole is spelled a lot like Jordan Peele, which inevitably led to people tweeting at Peele instead of Poole. Peele’s thank you tweet was a highlight of the first weekend.


Having to answer questions from a bunch of reporters after suffering the most humiliating moment of your life is not an easy thing to do. Having to answer ridiculous and stupid questions could be intolerable, which is why I loved Ty Jerome’s response to a stupid question he was asked:


I loved seeing Robert Williams’ teammate do a panotmine windmill in the background while Williams was throwing down a windmill in real time on Providence:


Nevada head coach Eric Musselman has led his team to the Sweet 16, cussed on live television and gone shirtless to celebrate with his team, but the star of the Musselman family is his daughter Mariah:


He really does have great hair:

2. @UMBCAthletics

This dude lived the dream of every twitter user out there. When your shot is there, you have to take it.


Mic drop:

VIDEO: Eric Musselman celebrates Nevada win without a shirt

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Nevada head coach Eric Musselman went shirtless to celebrate his team’s come-from-behind win over No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Sunday.

I guess this is better than dropping F-bombs live on national TV. Maybe that’s why they had Steve Lappas talking over him …

Penny Hardaway to be named next Memphis head coach

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The worst-kept secret in college basketball no longer appears to be a secret: Penny Hardaway is going to be the next coaching at the University of Memphis.

ESPN is reporting that a deal has been agreed upon. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is reporting that Penny was waiting for his season to end with East High School before he made anything official. NBC Sports can confirm that an announcement is expected to be made early this week, likely as soon as Tuesday, to introduce the former Memphis and NBA star as Tubby Smith’s replacement.

The truth, however, is that we all knew this was what would be happening the second that Memphis formally fired Tubby Smith. Hell, we knew it a month before that decision was made final. This was always how it was going to play out.

What’s interesting to me is now the discussion of whether or not Penny will be able to handle being a Division I head coach, because it’s been hit or miss with basketball programs hiring legends of their past. Chris Mullin and St. John’s hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Fred Hoiberg was quite successful at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie won a title with UConn then fell off a cliff. Patrick Ewing’s start wasn’t great, but he was better than expected.

Where does Penny fall on this scale?

Well, let me just drop this section of a column from Geoff Calkins in here:

Hardaway isn’t a guy who woke up one morning and decided he’d like to be a Division I head coach. He’s not a former player who got bored with retirement and decided he’d like to do something other than play golf.

Hardaway started coaching at middle school. Middle school! Because an old friend needed some help.

Then he built one of the best AAU programs in the country. Then he spent years coaching a high school team.

Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to roll up his sleeves and do the work? Does that sound like someone who is just in it for the glory and the glitz?

The truth is, if it weren’t for Hardaway’s iconic stature, he might be characterized as a grinder, as a guy who worked his way up from the lowest levels of basketball on the strength of his relationship with the kids.

I think that this is going to work out for both Penny and Memphis, especially if Penny hires a staff that can help him with the intricacies of running a college basketball program.