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Pregame Shootaround: Are you ready for the year’s most intriguing matchup?

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SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE (All times EST) 

12:15 p.m.: No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 10 Stanford (CBS)
2:45 p.m.: No. 1 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Kentucky (CBS)
5:15 p.m.: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 6 North Carolina (CBS)
6:10 p.m.: No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Mercer (TNT)
7:10 p.m.: No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin (TBS)
7:40 p.m.: No. 3 Creighton vs. No. 6 Baylor (CBS)
8:40 p.m.: No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 Memphis (TNT)
9:40 p.m.: No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 8 Gonzaga (TBS)

RECAP: Catch up on Saturday’s action

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 1 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Kentucky

Simply put, this may be the single most anticipated game of the season given all that is on the line here. The team chasing 40-0 against the team that was supposed to go 40-0. The thoroughbred, NBA prospects against the overlooked junkyard dogs. Wichita State vs. Kentucky. It will not be better than this.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 6 North Carolina

This matchup lost a bit of its luster when Georges Niang broke his foot on Friday night, but Iowa State is still an awfully talented team that will be tough for North Carolina to matchup with. The key for Iowa State will be to keep the Tar Heels off of the offensive glass, while North Carolina may end up playing quite a bit of zone to eliminate the mismatches that Fred Hoiberg is so good at exploiting.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin

SFA is a well-coached, disciplined and veteran team that has played together for a very long time. They were able to withstand every punch that Havoc threw at them. I’m not sure they have anyone that can matchup with Kyle Anderson, but if the Lumberjacks can control tempo, they’ll have a shot at taking down the Bruins.

THREE KEY INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPS

  • Josh Huestis vs. Andrew Wiggins: Stanford has a ton of size along their front line, but they are going to have their work cut out for them trying to slow down Andrew Wiggins as the true small forward on their roster, Anthony Brown, plays off-guard for them.
  • Baylor’s zone vs. Doug McDermott: Providence went to a 2-3 zone when they beat Creighton in the Big East tournament title game. Baylor plays a zone, and they have a ton of length in it, but that’s no guarantee it will slow down McDermott. The more important matchup may be finding a way to get to shooters like Jahenns Manigat and Ethan Wragge.
  • Aaron Gordon vs. Sam Dower: Aaron Gordon is one of the most versatile defenders in the country and he should be able to hold his own against Dower in the post, the question is going to be whether or not he can stay out of foul trouble. Arizona does not have a lot of depth on their roster.

NOTABLES

  • There are quite a few folks out there that believe that No. 1 seed Virginia was lucky to earn a top seed, and when it comes down to it, they won’t be the most talented team on the floor when they go up against No. 8 Memphis. But how will the Tigers fare against the vaunted Virginia packline defense?
  • There will be at least one more double-digit seed in the Sweet 16, and it will be the winner of No. 11 Tennessee and No. 14 Mercer. How will the Bears handle Tennessee’s offensive, I mean front line of Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon?

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.

Washington State coach begins game on opponent’s bench

Ernie Kent
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In September, during the Coaches vs. Cancer Gala in Spokane, Washington, there was a live auction, which included the chance to be Idaho’s honorary coach for a regular season during the 2016-17 season.

Washington State head coach Ernie Kent’s $2,000 bid more than tripled the next highest bid, according to the Spokesman Review.

On Wednesday night, during Washington State’s game against the Vandals, Kent sat next to his counterpart on the Idaho bench.

Kent returned to his side of the court following the game’s first possession.

Behind 16 points from Ike Iiroegbu, the Cougars defeated the Vandals, 61-48.

 

Given Washington’s struggles, just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

Lorenzo Romar
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We tried to warn you what was coming on Wednesday night.

We tried to tell you just how bad things were for Washington right now, that, according to a coach that had faced the Huskies this season, “they were so ******* bad defensively” that “they looked like they hadn’t been coached.”

That’s not a good look for anyone, let alone a head coach that has missed the NCAA tournament the last five seasons despite having five first round picks come through his program during that time.

Which is why you shouldn’t have been surprised that the Huskies were gutted by No. 8 Gonzaga, losing 98-71 in a game that was never competitive at any point. And, given that Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is on the Washington roster, it’s the nightmare scenario.

So.

We need to start talking about the elephant in the room, because there’s a lot to unpack here:

Just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

RELATED: What has gone wrong with Washington this season?

The simple answer? Scalding. Romar is one of just three Power 5 head coaches that have missed the NCAA tournament for five straight seasons without having to find new employment. You don’t get six tournament-less years and survive, not at this level.

But there’s more to the conversation that simply relaying the number of first round picks he’s failed to get to the Big Dance.

Four of those five first round picks played in two different seasons, meaning that in the other three seasons, Washington was led by C.J. Wilcox, the No. 28 pick in 2014, and Nigel Williams-Goss. In 2011-12, Washington had Terrence Ross, then a sophomore, and freshman Tony Wroten on the roster. They started slowly out of the gate, going 7-6 in non-conference play, before winning the Pac-12 regular season title outright. They missed out on the NCAA tournament in large part due to the fact that the conference as a whole went 1-29 against the RPI top 50; only two Pac-12 teams earned bids that season. Ross and Wroten both left after the season.

The other year that Washington had two first round picks was in 2015-16, which both Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray shocked everyone by becoming one-and-done talents. Both were drafted almost entirely on potential; Chriss was clueless defensively, fouling out of 15 of the 34 games he played, while Murray’s jumper left him a long way away from impacting an NBA game. The conversation about this Washington team would be totally different right now if Fultz had those two on the floor with him.

Part of the reason those two were able to leave early was because of Romar’s coaching style – he lets his most talented players play regardless of whether or not they’re making mistakes – and in part because the 2016 draft was bad.

Romar is, in part, a victim of circumstance, even if he dug himself into this whole in the first place.

RELATED: For Michael Porter Jr., Washington was all about family first

Washington is still paying Romar a relatively small amount. After the 2010 season, when he led the Huskies to his third Sweet 16, Romar got a 10-year contract extension worth $1.7 million annually. It runs three more years after this season and comes with a $3.2 million buyout, which isn’t massive but is expensive for an athletic department that projected to operate at a $15 million deficit in 2016. Then you have to consider what it would cost to hire an upgrade on Romar.

For comparison’s sake, Tubby Smith made $1.8 million in 2015-16 at Texas Tech and got a raise to more than $3 million-a-year for the next five years at Memphis despite the fact that he wasn’t the guy the school initially targeted. But Brad Underwood will make $1.2 million a year for five years at Oklahoma State, which makes him the lowest-paid coach in the conference.

If new Washington AD Jennifer Cohen wants to hire a new coach, she’d certainly be able to afford a replacement that we be, at the least, a respectable name, but there’s no guarantee that a replacement is going to have any kind of success there. Romar is far and away the most successful coach Washington has ever had. He’s been to six NCAA tournament and three Sweet 16s in his 15 seasons. The Huskies reached the Final Four in 1953, and in the nearly 50 years between that day and the day that Romar was hired, Washington reached just six NCAA tournaments and two Sweet 16s.

Romar is not having the same level of success that he had when guys like Brandon Roy and Isaiah Thomas were on his roster, but Washington is still somewhat relevant due to the pros that are coming through Seattle. There’s no guarantee that any replacement will make Washington more likely to get to the NCAA tournament, but at least Husky fans get Markelle Fultz this season and Michael Porter Jr., a top five prospect and the son of current U-Dub assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., next season.

That’s certainly more enjoyable than rooting for, say, Washington State.

And it’s certainly a factor that Cohen has to consider. Porter clearly picked Washington because Romar, his godfather, is part of the family.

“As we continue to look where we’re going and where we think we can go and what our plan is, then I’ll have more information about it,” Cohen said at her introductory press conference. “But absolutely, I’m 100 percent behind him right now.”

And if Washington can’t get back to the Big Dance?

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” she said. “So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

CBT Podcast: ESPN’s Dana O’Neil discusses her book about Villanova

Villanova head coach Jay Wright celebrates as he cuts down the net after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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On today’s podcast, I was joined by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil, one of my personal favorite writers who has penned a book chronicling how Jay Wright was able to build the Villanova program into a national title winner.

Dana spent seven years as a beat-writer for the Wildcats before making the move to ESPN, and she has some great stories about how the book came together and, frankly, how that Villanova team came together.

It’s a little “Inside Baseball”, but it was a fun conversation about a book that you know is going to be really good.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

VIDEO: World War II Veteran play anthem on harmonica before Pearl Harbor Invitational

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Peter DuPre’, a veteran of World War II, opened last night’s Pearl Harbor Invitational between Seton Hall and California with a moving rendition of the National Anthem, which he played on his harmonica.