Late Night Snacks: Seton Hall’s win over No. 3 Villanova highlights busy Thursday

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GAME OF THE DAY: Seton Hall 64, No. 3 Villanova 63

Conventional wisdom has three of the four one-seeds in the NCAA tournament spoken for, with Arizona, Florida and Wichita State being the teams occupying those spots. The fourth? That’s anyone’s guess at this point, and Villanova is seen as one of the possible options. But the Wildcats didn’t help themselves on Thursday afternoon, falling to eight-seed Seton Hall on a Sterling Gibbs jumper as time expired. Does this mean Villanova won’t get that one seed? The answer will depend on what happens in other conference tournaments, with multiple candidates still in action.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 10 Kansas 77, Oklahoma State 70 (OT) 

Playing without center Joel Embiid the Jayhawks needed an extra five minutes to beat the Cowboys, with Andrew Wiggins leading the way. Wiggins finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and three assists, continuing his recent run of excellent play. Wayne Selden Jr. added 14 points for Kansas, which takes on No. 16 Iowa State in a Big 12 semifinal. Le’Bryan Nash led four Oklahoma State players in double figures with 19 points.

2) Colorado 59, California 56

A 19-6 first half run gave the Buffaloes some needed separation, and Tad Boyle’s team will get a third shot at No. 4 Arizona on Friday. Askia Booker scored 17 points and Xavier Talton added 13 for Colorado, which looks to be on its way to the NCAA tournament as a result of this win. As for Cal, the Golden Bears lost five of their last seven to end the season and may have gone from being a tournament lock in February to the Postseason NIT.

3) Providence 79, St. John’s 74

With Bryce Cotton struggling with foul trouble the Friars needed someone to step up against St. John’s. Enter Josh Fortune, who scored 24 points to lead Providence to an important win at the Big East tournament. Four starters finished in double figures for Ed Cooley’s team, which advanced to the Big East semis and added a needed win to its NCAA tournament resume.

STARRED

1) Doug McDermott (Creighton) 

McDermott set a Big East tournament record by scoring 27 points in the first half of Creighton’s 84-62 win over DePaul. He finished the game with 35 points on 14-for-22 shooting, five rebounds and three assists.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Racked up 30 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Jayhawks’ 77-70 overtime win over Oklahoma State in a Big 12 quarterfinal.

3) Stephen Madison (Idaho)

Accounted for 26 points and 17 rebounds in the Vandals’ 73-70 win over Kansas City in a WAC quarterfinal.

STRUGGLED

1) Rutgers 

26 turnovers, 12 made field goals and 31 points in a  61-point loss to No. 5 Louisville in an American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal.

2) Mike Gesell (Iowa)

Gesell shot 0-for-10 from the field in Iowa’s 67-62 loss to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

3) UCSB

Remove Alan Williams (7-for-17 FG) and Michael Bryson (7-for-10) and the other Gauchos combined to shoot 2-for-22 in a 69-38 loss to Cal Poly in a Big West quarterfinal.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • American: Houston upsets SMU
    Thanks to wins over three of the other four top teams in the American, SMU’s seen as a team guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. But outside of those wins (two over UConn and one each against Cincinnati and Memphis) there isn’t much on the Mustangs’ resume, which makes their 68-64 loss to Houston concerning. Nic Moore struggled for SMU, and TaShawn Thomas made some big plays late for Houston. Top-seed Cincinnati outlasted UCF, with Louisville beating Rutgers by a stunning 61-point margin and UConn outclassing Memphis.
  • Atlantic 10: Dayton, UMass avoid bad losses
    UMass is in good shape with regards to the NCAA tournament but a loss to rival Rhode Island likely would have impacted their seeding. The Minutemen won 65-61, joining Dayton (an 87-74 winner over Fordham) in avoiding a damaging result. The other winners on Thursday were St. Bonaventure (over La Salle) and Richmond (over Duquesne).
  • ACC: Bojanovsky’s dunk ends Maryland’s ACC tenure
    Maryland won’t officially move to the Big Ten until July 1, but a Boris Bojanovsky dunk with four tenths of a second remaining ended the Terrapins’ 61-year run in the conference. Florida State advances to play Virginia, and that game represents a great opportunity for the Seminoles. The other winners in Greensboro: Pittsburgh (over Wake Forest), N.C. State (over Miami) and Clemson (an overtime win over Georgia Tech).
  • Big 12: Baylor keeps rolling
    Scott Drew’s Bears have won nine of their last ten games, the most recent being a 78-73 win over Oklahoma in Kansas City. Next up for Baylor is Texas, which beat a West Virginia team that match up with very well for the third time this season. Kansas and Iowa State will meet in the other semifinal.
  • Big East: Xavier holds off Marquette
    How much work Xavier still had to do entering Thursday’s games was unknown, but their 68-65 win over Marquette certainly doesn’t hurt the Musketeers’ chances of receiving an at-large bid. Xavier will play two-seed Creighton in the semis, with the Bluejays beating DePaul 84-62. Seton Hall and Providence will meet in the first semifinal.
  • Big Sky: Portland State, Northern Colorado and North Dakota advance
    The Big Sky race was highly competitive this season and the first day of the conference tournament didn’t disappoint either. Portland State eliminated reigning champion Montana, joining Northern Colorado and North Dakota in the semifinals. Next up for the Vikings is top seed Weber State, which received a bye into the semifinals. Northern Colorado and North Dakota will meet in the other semifinal.
  • Big Ten: Northwestern drops Iowa
    The Hawkeyes have now lost six of their last seven games, and they’ll be limping into the NCAA tournament as a result. Northwestern won 67-62 with Tre Demps scoring 20 points and Drew Crawford 15. The other winners on Thursday were Illinois (over Indiana), No. 24 Ohio State (over Purdue) and Minnesota (over Penn State). The Golden Gophers are on the bubble, so earning a shot at Wisconsin can help their case if they take advantage.
  • Big West: Cal Poly steamrolls UCSB
    UCSB finished second in the Big West with a 12-4 conference record and had the look of a team capable of reaching the title game. Cal Poly had other ideas, beating the Gauchos 69-38. Next up for the Mustangs is top seed UC Irvine, which beat UC Riverside 63-43. Long Beach State and Cal-State Northridge will meet in the other semifinal, with the Matadors coming back to beat Hawaii 87-84 in overtime.
  • Conference USA: Southern Miss eliminates host UTEP
    Of the four teams that finished tied atop the C-USA standings Southern Miss drew the toughest quarterfinal matchup, with host UTEP being the opponent. Donnie Tyndall’s team took care of business, beating the Miners 64-56 to advance to the semifinals where they’ll play top-seed Louisiana Tech. The other winners on Thursday were Tulsa and Middle Tennessee.
  • MAC: Eastern Michigan wins again
    The Eagles are headed to the MAC semifinals after beating three-seed Buffalo, 69-64. Karrington Ward scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for EMU, but the big story was the fact that the Eagles limited Javon McCrea to 2-for-13 shooting. They’ll take on two-seed Toledo in the semifinals, with Akron advancing to face top-seed Western Michigan on the other side of the bracket.
  • MEAC: No surprises on Thursday
    Coppin State’s win over Hampton on Wednesday was the only upset in the quarterfinals, with Morgan State and Norfolk State advancing on Thursday. Morgan State, which beat Florida A&M, will take on Coppin State Friday with the other semifinal matching Norfolk State and regular season champion North Carolina Central.
  • Mountain West: Preseason top four advance to the semifinals
    They didn’t finish the way the coaches expected them to back in October, but Boise State, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV are all in the semis of the Mountain West tournament. Boise State beat three-seed Nevada, advancing to take on New Mexico with SDSU and UNLV in the other semifinal.
  • Pac-12: No. 4 Arizona, UCLA and Stanford roll
    Colorado’s win over California was the only result to provide any drama in Las Vegas, with No. 4 Arizona whipping Utah, UCLA dropping 82 points on Oregon and Stanford beating three-seed Arizona State by 21. Arizona and Colorado will meet in one semifinal, with UCLA and Stanford meeting in Friday’s nightcap.
  • SEC: Arkansas may have punched its ticket…to the NIT
    Arkansas has two wins over Kentucky on its resume, and after a 71-69 loss to South Carolina Mike Anderson’s team will find out just how much value there is in those wins. Missouri managed to escape a similar fate, beating Texas A&M in double overtime, with LSU and Ole Miss being the other winners on Thursday. The top four seeds, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Kentucky, begin play Friday.
  • Southland: Northwestern State, Sam Houston State advance
    There were no surprises in the quarterfinals, as Northwestern State handled Nicholls State and Sam Houston State beat Oral Roberts. Next up for the Demons is top-seed Stephen F. Austin, with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi awaiting Sam Houston State.
  • Sun Belt: UT-Arlington, UALR advance
    UT-Arlington and UALR advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over UL Monroe and Troy, respectively. Next up for the Mavericks is four-seed Arkansas State, and UALR will play three-seed Louisiana in the other quarterfinal. The top two seeds, Georgia State and Western Kentucky, have byes to the semifinals.
  • SWAC: Alabama A&M eliminates Arkansas-Pine Bluff
    Just one team ineligible for postseason play remained alive in the SWAC at the start of play on Thursday, but that would change with Alabama A&M’s win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. As a result of that outcome the remaining four teams are all eligible to play in the NCAA tournament, sparing the conference some embarrassment. Alabama A&M takes on Prairie View A&M in one semifinal, with Texas Southern and Alabama State meeting in the other.
  • WAC: Two-seed New Mexico State survives
    New Mexico State was the preseason pick to win the WAC, and they remain alive thanks to a 70-68 win over Seattle. Regular season champ Utah Valley advanced with a comfortable win over UTPA, with five-seed Idaho and six-seed Bakersfield joining them in the semifinals. Utah Valley and Idaho will meet in one semifinal, with NMSU and Bakerfield meeting in the other.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.