Sam Prescott

Pregame Shootaround: The First Four tips in Dayton

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 12 NC State vs. No. 12 Xavier, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)

Xavier is heading to a familiar arena after spending years as a member of the Atlantic 10. Hopefully that serves as an advantage for the Musketeers. They go head-to-head with NC State, a team that was able to sneak into the field with an ACC Tournament win over struggling Syracuse (and some added lobbying from Coach K). The Wolfpack are dangerous with one of the field’s most dynamic scorers in T.J. Warren, the ACC Player of the Year.

Xavier will counter with a gifted scorer of their own in lead guard Semaj Christon, Warren’s prep school teammate at Brewster Academy (N.H.). He forms a one-two punch with Matt Stainbrook, who will be back from a knee injury.

The winner of this game gets a favorable Round of 64 matchup. Saint Louis, the No. 5 seed in the Midwest, is a talented team, which won 19 straight games at one point this season and cracked the top 10. However, the Billikens have dropped four of their last five games.

OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 16 Albany vs. No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)

The No. 4 seed from the American East Tournament and the No. 4 seed from the Northeast Conference Tournament meet in the First Four to start the NCAA tournament.

Julian Norfleet scores 17.5 points per game for the Mountaineers. Rashad Whack, the team’s leading scorer, averaged 23.0 points per game in the NEC Tournament. The Great Danes have Australian native Peter Hooley, averaging 15.7 points per game. He’s one of four Albany players to average double figures in points.

The winner of this one has the pleasure of facing the top overall seed Florida, which hasn’t lost since Dec. 2.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? No. 6 Georgia State vs. No. 3 Clemson, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Robert Morris in the NIT … as an No. 8 seed. The Colonials will look to pull off the first round upset for the second year in a row against top-seeded St. John’s.

2) Florida Gulf Coast needs to upset No. 1 Florida State in the NIT first round. Then No. 4 Georgetown needs to top West Virginia. If that happens, the NIT will get a Georgetown-Dunk City rematch. I’d watch that.

3) Belmont and Green Bay, two very good mid-major teams that slipped up in their respective conference tournaments, go head-to-head in the NIT first round.

4) VMI’s high-power offense travels to New York to take on Canisius’ top scorer Billy Baron. That game headlines the CIT slate of games on Tuesday.

5) Indiana State is a pretty good mid-major team with a solid senior point guard in Jake Odum. How does he handle the Arkansas pressure?

NIT

  • No. 8 Robert Morris vs. No. 1 St. John’s, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • No. 8 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 1 Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Georgetown, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
  • No. 5 Belmont vs. No. 4 Green Bay, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • No. 8 High Point vs. No. 1 Minnesota, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • No. 6 Indiana State vs. No. 3 Arkansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
  • No. 7 Davidson vs. No. 2 Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • No. 5 Utah vs. No. 4 Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

CBI

  • Stony Brook vs. Siena, 7 p.m.

CIT

  • VMI vs. Canisius, 7 p.m.
  • Wright State vs. East Carolina, 7 p.m.
  • Norfolk State vs. Eastern Michigan, 7 p.m.
  • Chattanooga vs. East Tennessee State, 7 p.m.
  • Alabama State vs. Sam Houston, 8 p.m.
  • Columbia vs. Valparaiso, 8:05 p.m.
  • Portland State vs. San Diego, 10 p.m.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.