No. 1 Virginia advances to Sweet 16, showdown with No. 4 Michigan State

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Remember when everyone was concerned about the fact that No. 1 Virginia was losing by 10 to No. 16 Coastal Carolina in the first half?

Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

The Cavaliers pounded No. 8 seed Memphis on Sunday night, shooting 55.6% from the floor in a 78-60 win that felt like it was closer to a 40 point win than an 18 point win. Joe Harris led the way with 16 points as five players reached double figures in a performance that was quintessential Virginia: Memphis couldn’t get a good look until the game was no longer in doubt while Virginia’s execution offensively was flawless.

The win sends the Cavaliers onto the Sweet 16, where they will face-off in a highly-anticipated battle with No. 4 Michigan State.

When the brackets were released, the Spartans were immediately tabbed as the trendy pick to win the National Title. That’s what happens when a team with as much talent as there is on Michigan State’s roster finally gets healthy. But don’t think for a second that Virginia didn’t notice how much they were being overlooked.

Remember, this is a team that won the ACC regular season title — by a couple of games — and tournament title. They have one of the best defenses in the country and an offense that has opened up ever since the decision was made to put the ball into London Perrantes hands more.

The ‘Hoos are good, and they’ll be looking to prove it to the team the nation has dubbed as the East Region’s best.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.