Late Night Snacks: Georgetown likely NIT bound following loss to DePaul

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Wednesday’s Bubble Banter

GAME OF THE DAY: UCF 94, Temple 90 (2OT)

Outside of keeping their seasons alive there wasn’t much on the line in this contest, and that motivation proved to be enough in a game that needed two extra sessions. Isaiah Sykes scored 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the way for UCF, who will take on top-seed Cincinnati on Thursday night. Quenton DeCosey scored 28 points and Will Cummings 25 for the Owls, who finished its tough season with a record of 9-22.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) American 55, Boston University 36

Mike Brennan’s Eagles, picked to finish ninth in the Patriot League’s preseason poll, won the automatic bid thanks in large part to their stifling defense. Playing man for much of the first half, American’s 2-3 zone made life difficult for the Terriers in the second half. And in their three-game run to the Patriot League crown American allowed no more than 0.87 points per possession, with BU scoring 0.64 points per possession.

2) DePaul 60, Georgetown 56

John Thompson III’s Hoyas needed to make a run in New York City to feel good about their chances of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. That won’t be happening, as Billy Garrett Jr. and Forrest Robinson helped lead the Blue Demons to their first Big East tournament win since 2009. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks combined to score 38 points for the Hoyas but they didn’t receive much help offensively, resulting in the close loss.

3) Colorado 59, USC 56

For bubble teams avoiding bad losses is just as important as picking up quality wins, and that’s exactly what the Buffaloes did in Las Vegas. Askia Booker played well, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Colorado also benefitted from USC shooting 5-for-22 from beyond the arc. The win sets up a very important matchup with Cal on Thursday, with the Golden Bears having defeated Colorado by a point in the regular season finale for both.

STARRED

1) Isaiah Sykes (UCF) 

Skyes scored 36 points to go along with nine rebounds and three steals in the Knights’ 94-90 double overtime win over Temple.

2) Jeremy Ingram (North Carolina Central) 

Ingram made nine of his 12 shots from the field, finishing the Eagles’ 92-46 win over Howard with 30 points, two assists and two steals.

3) Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

Accounted for 18 points (6-for-10 FG), seven rebounds and seven assists in the Cowboys’ 80-62 win over Texas Tech.

STRUGGLED

1) D.J. Irving (Boston University)

Shot 1-for-10 form the field in the Terriers’ 55-36 loss to American in the Patriot League title game.

2) Alex Barlow and Kellen Dunham (Butler) 

Combined to shoot 3-for-21 in Butler’s 51-50 loss to Seton Hall in the first round of the Big East tournament.

3) Tahj Shamsid-Deen (Auburn) 

Made just one of his ten shot attempts in the Tigers’ 74-56 loss to South Carolina in the first round of the SEC tournament.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • American: Rutgers outlasts USF
    A missed box out with five seconds remaining allowed Rutgers’ J.J. Moore to grab a key offensive rebound in the final seconds, leading to the Scarlet Knights beating USF 72-68. Rutgers advances to take on two-seed Louisville in the quarterfinals.
  • Atlantic 10: Fordham’s Ryan Canty dominates the glass
    Ryan Canty’s struggled with foul trouble at times this season but that wasn’t the case in Fordham’s 70-67 win over George Mason. Canty grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked three shots in the win, and next up for the Rams is a game against five-seed Dayton on Thursday.
  • ACC: Georgia Tech ends Boston College’s season
    Brian Gregory’s Yellow Jackets beat the Eagles for the third time this season, winning 73-70 in overtime. Georgia Tech advances to play Clemson on Thursday, with Wake Forest (beat Notre Dame) and Miami (beat Virginia Tech) moving on as well. Wake will play Pittsburgh on Thursday, with the Hurricanes facing N.C. State.
  • Big 12: Baylor, Oklahoma State take care of business
    No surprises on day one in Kansas City, with the Cowboys coasting past Texas Tech and Baylor holding off TCU. Oklahoma State gets another shot at Kansas, which will be without Joel Embiid, on Thursday and Baylor plays two-seed Oklahoma.
  • Big East: Seton Hall hangs on to beat Butler
    Kevin Willard’s Pirates will play top-seed Villanova on Thursday afternoon thanks to a 51-50 win over Butler. The Bulldogs rallied late but fell just short, with guard Kellen Dunham and Alex Barlow combining to shoot 3-for-21 from the field.
  • Conference USA: Host UTEP among winners on day two
    UTEP isn’t one of the top four seeds in the Conference USA tournament but having the event on their home floor makes the Miners a threat to win the automatic bid. Tim Floyd’s team beat East Carolina 77-68, advancing to play Southern Miss in one of Thursday’s quarterfinals. The other winners: Charlotte (over UAB), Old Dominion (over Marshall) and Tulane (over North Texas).
  • MEAC: Coppin State knocks off Hampton
    Top-seed North Carolina Central rolled in its opener but two-seed Hampton wasn’t as fortunate, as they fell 83-77 to Coppin State. The two winners advance to Friday’s semifinals, with NCCU taking on the winner of Thursday’s Savannah State/Norfolk State contest and Coppin State playing the winner of the Morgan State/Florida A&M quarterfinal.
  • MAC: Seeds hold to form on day two
    Just two games in Cleveland on Wednesday as the Mid-American Conference staggers its bracket to favor the teams who performed the best during the regular season. Ohio and Eastern Michigan advanced, setting up quarterfinals against Akron and Buffalo, respectively.
  • Mountain West: Utah State rallied to stun Colorado State
    Leading by nine with 1:35 remaining, Colorado State looked well on its way to meeting San Diego State in the quarterfinals. But Utah State had other ideas, storming back to win 73-69. In the other two first-round games Fresno State held off Air Force, and Boise State throttled San Jose State in a game they led 25-0 at one point.
  • Pac-12: Bubble teams go 3-0
    With Oregon (88-74 win over Oregon State) presumed to be safely into the NCAA tournament field, Utah and Stanford joined Colorado as teams needing to win on Wednesday. Utah made key plays late to hold off Washington, and Stanford managed to beat Washington State. All four winners will have the opportunity to strengthen their case on Thursday, with the top four seeds providing the opposition.
  • SEC: Two winners and one coaching change
    Both lower-seeded teams won on Wednesday, with Mississippi State beating Vanderbilt and South Carolina defeating Auburn. That loss was also the final game for Auburn head coach Tony Barbee, who was relieved of his duties shortly after the game’s end.
  • Southland: No surprises on opening day
    Five-seed Nicholls State and Six-seed Oral Roberts advanced, with Nicholls State beating Southeast Louisiana 71-64 and ORU holding off McNeese State 66-62. Next up for Nicholls State is a game against Northwestern State, and ORU will face Sam Houston State on Thursday.
  • SWAC: Texas Southern wins its opener
    Texas Southern beat Grambling State 79-54, with Aaric Murray scoring 18 points and blocking six shots to lead the way. In the other quarterfinal Prairie View A&M whipped top-seed Southern, 64-46. With the Jaguars and Tigers falling, just one team ineligible for postseason play (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) remains in the event.

VIDEO: Did South Carolina get away with a blatant travel after risky full-court pass?

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South Carolina is heading to its first Final Four in school history with a 77-70 win over No. 4 seed Florida in the East Region on Sunday

But the Gamecocks’ historic win also came with some late controversy.

With South Carolina clinging to a two-point lead with 53.7 seconds left, the Gamecocks opted to make an extremely risky full-court pass that was caught by Duane Notice.

Then Notice took about four or five steps before he was fouled by Florida’s Chris Chiozza to send him to the line.

It looks like Notice had a pretty blatant travel on the play. It’s a ridiculous catch in traffic that has to make South Carolina football fans proud but Notice is clearly walking after making the catch. Notice knocked down two free throws to make it a two-possession game as it became 72-68 with 50 seconds left.

Florida was obviously flat in the second half and didn’t deserve to win on Sunday. But it makes you wonder what might have happened if a travel was called on Notice and the Gators had a chance to tie with under a minute left instead of it being a two-possession game.

South Carolina advances to first Final Four in program history with win over Florida

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South Carolina entered this year’s NCAA tournament, their first NCAA tournament since 2004 and their fifth NCAA tournament in the last 43 years, having never won two consecutive tourney games in the history of the program.

On Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden, Frank Martin led the Gamecocks to their fourth straight win and their first trip to the Final Four.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 11 of his 26 points in the final 10 minutes, leading No. 7 seed South Carolina back from a 40-33 halftime deficit for a 77-70 win over No. 4 seed Florida. P.J. Dozier added 17 points and Chris Silva finished with a critical 13 points and nine boards, coming up with some huge offensive rebounds and hustle plays defensively in the second half.

After shooting 7-for-12 from three in the first half, Florida missed their all 14 attempts from beyond the arc in the second 20 minutes. South Carolina’s defense, which is second nationally this season, according to KenPom, and which allowed 40 points to the Gators in the first half, buckled down in the final minutes, forcing turnovers and taking the Gators out of what they wanted to do offensively. They shot just 11-for-35, or 31.4 percent, from the floor after halftime and didn’t get a clean look at the rim in the final five minutes of the game.

That’s how South Carolina plays. That’s who they are. It’s physical and it’s ugly and it’s just so effective when they’re able to make shots at the other end of the floor. And that is where this team has changed in March. The Gamecocks lost six of their last nine games heading into the NCAA tournament, failing to score more than 1.00 points-per-possession in five of those six losses.

But the story of this game isn’t how this South Carolina team has changed.

The story is how the program has changed.

The Gamecocks were a 10-win team that went 2-14 in the SEC the year before they Frank Martin away from Kansas State, a hire that was made thanks to a falling out with his athletic director, and boy, does that look like a coup now. He was responsible for leading Kansas State, which isn’t exactly a program known for basketball success, to their only Elite 8 since 1988. He’s now led South Carolina to their first Final Four in the history of the program.

South Carolina will advance to Phoenix to take on No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the Final Four.

A season of highs and lows ends for Kansas in the Elite 8 again

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For the second season in a row, Kansas was one-win shy of a Final Four appearance, falling to Oregon, 74-60, in the Elite Eight on Friday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

This comes a year after Kansas, as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, fell to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite 8.

Just as stars such as Perry Ellis struggled in that regional final, so did KU’s freshman phenom Josh Jackson, whose quick two personal fouls that saddled him on the bench and appeared to take him out of the game mentally. Devonte’ Graham, averaging 20.0 points per game in the tournament, was 0-for-7 from the field. Frank Mason III’s first-half performance assured that Oregon would completely run away with the game before halftime.

The loss put an end to a tumultuous season for the Jayhawks.

Kansas entered the 2016-17 season as one of the favorites to win the national championship. The Jayhawks went on to win the Big 12 regular season title for an unprecedented 13th consecutive season. Frank Mason III, in the eyes of many, was the wire-to-wire national player of the year.

However, for all its accomplishments on the court, Kansas faced more than its share of issues off-the-court. Lagerald Vick, who was under university investigation for allegedly striking a female student. Carlton Bragg was arrested — and subsequently suspended — for drug paraphernalia. There was also the affidavit released a day before the start of the NCAA Tournament for the Jayhawks, detailing the incident outside a Lawerence bar from December involving both Vick and Josh Jackson. Even Devonte Graham’s arrest for an unpaid ticket made headlines during this string of non-basketball related news.

The Jayhawks downplayed talks of distraction before the start of the NCAA Tournament and backed it up by dominating opponents through the first three rounds. The average margin of victory was 30.0, and that includes victories over Michigan State and a 32-point beatdown of a Purdue team that held a massive mismatch on the interior.

It looked like Self was destined to add to his Hall of Fame résumé; a third trip to the Final Four — first since 2012 — was in front of essentially a home crowd. Instead, Oregon handed the Jayhawks their worst tournament defeat in the Bill Self era.

Seven times under Self, KU has made the Elite Eight and was sent home.

Perhaps, all would have been forgiven — or at the very least, overshadowed — had KU cut down the nets in Arizona.

Instead, its season ended in an all too familiar place.

Elite 8 Preview: Sunday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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No. 4 FLORIDA (-3) vs. No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA, 2:20 p.m., CBS: If you’re a fan of uptempo, wide-open basketball, of teams running beautiful offensive sets, spreading the floor and using the three-point line like it should be used, this game probably is not going to be for you.

This is going to be as physical and as tough as any game you watched all season long. Both the Gamecocks and the Gators are top five teams in defensive efficiency, and both of them get out and pressure defensively, Florida in the full court and South Carolina in the half court. They shun shooters for the toughest athletes on their roster. They pride themselves in being tougher, both mentally and physically, than whoever they end up playing.

And they think that a game played in the 50s is beautiful basketball.

So bet the under if you can.

But the pick I like is Florida here. Their ability to defend is going to make it very difficult for South Carolina’s offensive renaissance to continue, and their guards will be able to make the plays offensively that South Carolina dares you to make.

PREDICTION: Florida (-3)

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. No. 2 KENTUCKY, 5:05 p.m. CBS: This is the rematch we all wanted, right?

Ever since that day three months ago, when Kentucky got 47 points from Malik Monk in a 103-102 win over North Carolina in Las Vegas, I don’t think there is a soul in the country that would have told you otherwise.

There are two major differences between these two teams now and those two teams then. The biggest is the presence of Theo Pinson, North Carolina’s best perimeter defender. Pinson has dealt foot injuries all season long, and when these two got together in December, he was not yet healthy enough to play. I assume that he will draw the assignment of Malik Monk, chasing around the man that had definitively been Kentucky’s most dangerous scorer. Pinson will make life more difficult for Monk than it was the first time around.

But is he going to spend the entire game on him?

Because after De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst against UCLA on Friday night, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Pinson may be better suited to taking on the task of keeping Fox from getting into the paint. Whatever Roy Williams opts to do, the bottom line is pretty simple — if he needs to find a way to keep Kentucky’s back court in check.

The other difference between now and then is that Bam Adebayo has been playing up to his potential for the past six weeks. He was solid earlier in the year. He can be dominant at times now, and that is going to be critical for the Wildcats, who are going to be outsized by a significant margin by UNC’s front line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and they are one of the only elite teams that thrives playing two bigs at the same time. In other words, one of Wenyen Gabriel or Derek Willis are going to have to deal with Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley. That’s a matchup that favors UNC, which is why Aebayo is going to have to play up to his size.

In the end, I think Pinson’s presence and North Carolina’s size advantage will be too much.

But if Fox and Monk play their game, they can carry Kentucky a long, long way.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (2.5)

Lawrence Police Department trolls Bill Self following Elite Eight loss

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Kansas had its season ended with a 74-60 loss to No. 3 seed Oregon.

The Jayhawks were the top seed in the South region. They were playing a de facto at the Sprint Center, which is 40 miles away from the school’s campus. As you can imagine, fans in Lawrence were likely unhappy, especially since it’s the second year in a row KU has been bounced one-game shy of the Final Four.

The Lawrence Police Department, while prepping for potential riots, couldn’t help tweeting a joke at the future Hall of Famer’s expense.

Bill Self’s teams have been eliminated seven times in the Elite Eight during his tenure at Kansas. He’s led the Jayhawks to a pair of Final Fours, winning the national championship in 2008.

Kansas finished the season 31-5.