Elite 8 Preview: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 11 Dayton

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On Saturday and Sunday, we will be breaking down all eight of the Elite 8 matchups. Here is our look at No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 2 Wisconsin:

WHEN: Saturday, 6:09 p.m. (TBS)

WHERE: FedEx Forum, Memphis (South Region)

MAJOR STORY LINES: Billy Donovan has led the Gators to his fourth consecutive Elite 8. But he hasn’t been to a Final Four since he was his second national title back in 2007. This time around, he’ll be going up against a No. 11 seed as a double-digit favorite. It’s time for Donovan — and Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Will Yeguete — to make a Final Four. On the other side of the court, we have Archie Miller, the younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller. Can both brothers make the Final Four? Will Archie get to the Final Four despite coaching at a place like Dayton?

KEY STATS: The bottom line is this: Florida is the No. 2 defense in the country, according to KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. And when it comes to coaching, it may be even more difficult to build a gameplan around how to beat the Gators. They simply give you so many looks defensively. They can play man or zone, they can press or play in the half court, they can try to force turnovers or focus on preventing offensive rebounds. The bottom line is that Billy Donovan’s club is the best in the business.

KEY PLAYERS: The guys that have made the difference for Dayton through three games in the NCAA tournament aren’t the guys that will get the publicity. it’s not Archie Miller and it’s not Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert. The players to keep an eye on are the forwards for Dayton: Dyshawn Pierre and Devin Oliver. The two of them are a nightmare given then ability to shoot from the perimeter.

POINT SPREAD: Florida (-10.5)

THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. Scottie Wilbekin: There isn’t a single player in the country that has consistently proven himself in big situations than Wilbekin has. All he does is hit big shots in clutch moments down the stretch, and nothing that happened against UCLA would prove otherwise.

2. Dayton’s threes: The best way to beat a favorite, especially one that will get as much action as Dayton will on Sunday, is to control the number of threes that they are able to make. Dayton shoots 37.5% from beyond the arc.

3. How long will Dayton hang around?: I hate phrasing it like that, but the bottom line is that the Flyers really don’t have any business competing with Florida, who is more or less the best team in the country at this point in the season. I’m a huge Archie Miller fan and I expect Florida to give the Flyers a fight, but that doesn’t mean that this group will be able to pull off the upset.

CBT PREDICTION: Florida

Rice promotes Scott Pera to head coach

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Rice didn’t have to look far for its new head coach.

The university announced on Thursday afternoon that associate coach Scott Pera will take over the program. He replaces Mike Rhoades who returned to VCU to fill its vacancy on Tuesday.

Pera had been with the program for three seasons following stints at Penn and Arizona State. Based on the reaction from the players, they approve of the hire.

Pera was also the high school coach of James Harden.

The Owls, coming off a 23-12 season, are expected to bring back three double-digit scorers for next season: Marcus Evans, Egor Koulechov and Marcus Jackson.

Report: NCAA affirms its Louisville allegations

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The NCAA continues to hold the position that Louisville coach Rick Pitino failed to properly monitor the program amid the scandal surrounding a former staffer and illicit parties, according to documents obtained by ESPN.

Louisville received the notice of allegations from the NCAA in January, and In its response, Louisville did not deny the NCAA’s findings, but argued that Pitino should not have been seen as failing to monitor Andre McGee, who is alleged to have organized the gatherings at Minardi Hall on the Louisville campus.

McGee is alleged to have paid for women to dance for and perform sex acts on Cardinals recruits.

The NCAA stated that Pitino “did not uphold his duties as head coach and in doing so, failed to discover” McGee’s actions and that if he “saw no red flags in connection with McGee’s interactions with then prospective student-athletes, it was because he was not looking for them,” according to ESPN’s report.

The original allegations were made by Katina Powell in a book that was published in 2015.

Louisville self-imposed a 2016 postseason ban and scholarship reductions as part of the scandal, but was looking to avoid further punishment on Pitino, who could be subject to suspension.

 

Report: Pat Kelsey will not take the UMass job

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Moments before Pat Kelsey was set to be formally introduced as the new head coach at the University of Massachusetts, the school canceled the press conference citing, “unforeseen circumstances.”

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, the former Winthrop coach has decided not to accept the job after all. Kelsey, 41, had agreed to terms with UMass on Tuesday. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports that Kelsey is heading back to Winthrop.

In five seasons at Winthrop, Kelsey compiled a 102–59 (56–30 Big South) record, leading the Eagles to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Kelsey was expected to replace Derek Kellogg, who was relieved of his duties after nine years at his alma mater. Kelsey was a smart hire. He had ties to the Atlantic 10, both as a player and an assistant coach at Xavier. His freshman recruiting class included a player out of the NEPSAC, showing that Kelsey was also familiar with the New England prep school recruiting landscape.

This has gone from a hire that was seen as a good one by many, to a nightmare scenario for UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford, who was making his first major decision in Amherst.

Other names linked to the vacancy were Vermont’s John Becker, Miami associate head coach Chris Caputo and Boston Celtics assistant coach, and former Butler and Purdue assistant, Micah Shrewsberry.

Virginia’s Thompson to transfer

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Virginia lost another member of its team Thursday.

The Cavaliers announced Darius Thompson will transfer out of the program, a day after the news of Marial Shayok and Jarred Reuter’s departures.

“Darius Thompson informed me he has decided to play his final season at another school following his graduation from Virginia,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “Although you never want to see young men transfer, I understand this is part of coaching. Darius, Marial, and Jarred feel it’s in their best interests to pursue other options for the remainder of their college careers.

“I will always appreciate the contributions they made to our program.”

Thompson, who would be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer, began his career at Tennessee before transferring to Charlottesville, where he averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 assists over two seasons. The 6-foot-4 guard shot 44.8 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from 3-point range last season.

Despite the three defections, Virginia returns a number of pieces that contributed to their 23-11 season.

As we look forward, we have a strong nucleus of players returning,” Bennett said, “and I’m excited for their continued development. As a staff, we are focused on finding student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and all the University of Virginia has to offer.”

Georgetown, John Thompson III part ways

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Georgetown has parted ways with head coach John Thompson III, sources confirmed to NBC Sports.

Thompson has been the head coach of the Hoyas for 13 seasons, going 278-151 during his tenure. He won three Big East regular season titles with the program, the last of which came in 2013, and he reached the 2007 Final Four, but in recent years the program has fallen on hard times.

Georgetown confirmed the news Thursday afternoon.

“For thirteen years, he has been one of the elite coaches in college basketball,” Georgetown president John J. DeGioia said in a statement released by the school. “His performance as a coach has been exceptional, and he has served our community with remarkable distinction and integrity, sustaining our commitment to the academic performance of our students and providing them with the very best preparation for their lives beyond the Hilltop.”

Georgetown is 29-36 over the course of the last two seasons and the Hoyas have missed the NCAA tournament in three of the last four years. They’ve failed to make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since that Final Four, losing to five double-digit seeds in their last six NCAA tournament appearances.

Thompson is the son of John Thompson Jr., the Hall of Fame head coach that built the Hoyas into a national power in the 80s and 90s. The University just invested more than $60 million into a renovation of the team’s practice facility which is now named The Thompson Center.

“We are committed to taking the necessary steps to strengthen our program and maintaining the highest levels of academic integrity and national competitiveness,” DeGioia said. “We will work immediately to begin a national search for a new head men’s basketball coach.

“I remain deeply grateful to John for all that he has done on behalf of Georgetown University.”

The news was first reported by CasualHoya.com.