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Late Night Snacks: Three guards shine brightest on Saturday

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Wisconsin 85, No. 7 Oregon 77

The Badgers got 19 points out of Frank Kaminsky to lead five players in double figures and came back from 12 points down at the half to knock off an Oregon team that many people believe would pull off the upset. While the final score makes it look like the Badgers pulled away down the stretch, that was more the result of three late free throws. Joseph Young missed a three that would have tied the game with 15 seconds left.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 11 Dayton 55, N0. 3 Syracuse 53: The Flyers advanced to their first Sweet 16 in 30 years as Archie Miller and company were able to hang on down the stretch. Tyler Ennis went into takeover mode late, but he missed a pair of jump shots in the first 10 seconds that would have won the game for the Orange. The big question now: Will Ennis be back next season?

2. No. 7 UConn 77, No. 2 Villanova 65: The Huskies advanced to their first Sweet 16 under the guidance of Kevin Ollie, knocking off an old Big East nemesis to advance. Shabazz Napier was fantastic as always, but it was the play of guys off the bench that made the biggest difference.

3. No. 4 Michigan State 80, No. 12 Harvard 73: The Crimson gave the Spartans a scare, erasing a 17-point second half deficit to take the lead with less than five minutes remaining. But the popular pick to win the National Title survived, spurred on by a pair of massive threes from Gary Harris.

STARRED

1. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: The Aztecs sent Cinderella packing thanks to 30 points and eight assists from Thames. At one point in the second half, with No. 4 SDSU up 55-43 on No. 12 North Dakota State, Thames was responsible for 46 Aztec points and 15 of their 19 field goals.

2. Scottie Wilbekin, Florida: Wilbekin finished with 21 points, hitting big shot after big shot down the stretch, each one tougher than the last, as No. 1 Florida advanced past No. 9 Pitt, 61-45.

3. Shabazz Napier, UConn: He finished with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting despite playing just eight first half minutes and dealing with a tweaked left ankle and a bruised right shin.

STRUGGLED

1. Texas: The No. 7 Longhorns shot just 37.1% from the floor and allowed No. 2 Michigan to hit 14 threes in a game that wasn’t all that close.

2. Russ Smith, Louisville: No. 4 Louisville advanced to the Sweet 16 despite the fact that Smith was just 6-for-19 from the field, 1-for-6 from three and committed 13 turnovers in two games.

3. Syracuse: The Orange managed just 53 points and shot 0-for-10 from three in their loss to Dayton. C.J. Fair was 4-for-14 from the floor, Trevor Cooney was 1-for-6 and Tyler Ennis took over late but finished the night just 7-for-21, missing two game-winning shots.

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win