How the Final Four teams have fared against each other

Leave a comment

Now that the Final Four field is set, it’s time to take a look at the four teams and how familiar they are with each other. Florida, the top overall seed, has played all three teams this season. While the Gators, who went 21-0 against SEC competition, swept all three meetings with No. 8 Kentucky their two defeats this year have come at the hands of No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 7 UConn.

Below is a look at each possible matchup, beginning with the two games that are guaranteed to take place.

6:09 p.m. EST: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 7 UConn (TBS) 

This season’s meeting: UConn 65, Florida 64 (December 2, 2013)

The Huskies won in Storrs, with Shabazz Napier’s jumper as time expired being the difference. Napier made nine of his 15 shots from the field and scored a game-high 26 points, with DeAndre Daniels adding 14 to go along with seven rebounds. Casey Prather (19 points, seven rebounds), Patric Young (17, seven rebounds) and Scottie Wilbekin (15) all reached double figures for Florida, and it should be noted that Wilbekin left the game with just over three minutes remaining with a sprained ankle (also, Kasey Hill missed the game due to injury).

Series Record: Tied, 1-1

NCAA Tournament history: Florida’s win in this series came in the Sweet 16 of the 1994 NCAA tournament, with the Gators beating the Huskies 69-60 in overtime. With the game tied at 57 with 3.4 seconds remaining in regulation Donyell Marshall missed two free throws, sending the game into overtime. A critical Craig Brown three with just over a minute remaining in overtime gave Florida a four-point lead.

Approx. 8:49 p.m. EST: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Kentucky (TBS)

Series Record: Kentucky leads, 3-1

The Wildcats and Badgers have not met this season but they do have NCAA tournament history, with Kentucky beating Wisconsin 63-57 in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA tournament. Marquis Estill scored a career-high 28 points in that one, making 12 of his 18 field goal attempts.

Other Possible Matchups

Florida vs. Kentucky: 3-0 this season; Kentucky leads the all-time series 94-37

Florida won both regular season meetings by double figures, beating the Wildcats by ten in Lexington (February 15) and by 19 in Gainesville (March 8). However with the stakes higher in the SEC tournament final Kentucky put forth its best effort, losing to Florida by a single point (61-60). Michael Frazier II and Patric Young scored 14 points apiece to lead four Gators in double figures, with a 15-point advantage from deep (24-9) and the Harrison twins and Julius Randle combining to shoot 8-for-29 from the field factoring into the Florida victory.

Florida vs. Wisconsin: 59-53 Badgers on November 12; all-time series tied at two wins apiece

In this season’s meeting the Gators were without two key pieces, as both Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith were serving suspensions at the time. Also of note: Michael Frazier II, now in the starting lineup, scored 20 points off the bench. Sam Dekker scored 16 points to lead three Badgers in double figures, and Wisconsin outscored Florida by 12 points (27-15) from beyond the arc. These two programs have never met in the NCAA tournament.

UConn vs. Kentucky: UConn leads the all-time series 3-1

All four games in this series have been played in the last eight years, with two being played in the NCAA tournament. In the 2006 Round of 32 the Huskies held off the Wildcats 87-83 in Philadelphia, and in the 2011 Final Four they beat Kentucky 56-55 in the national semifinals. All four games have been played on neutral courts, and Kentucky’s lone victory came at Madison Square Garden in 2009 (64-61).

UConn vs. Wisconsin: UConn leads the all-time series, 1-0

The Huskies and Badgers have met just once in their respective histories, with UConn winning 76-57 on November 24, 2008 in the finals of the Paradise Jam. Jerome Dyson scored 21 points and Jeff Adrien added 14, with Hasheem Thabeet earning tournament MVP honors.

LaVar Ball having ‘zero’ interaction with UCLA team bodes well for next season

Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the NBA Draft looming in less than a month, the biggest talking point has been just how much of an impact LaVar Ball is going to have on his son, Lonzo’s, NBA career.

It’s a question worth asking given the, ahem, outspoken nature of the eldest Ball.

But in the collegiate ranks, that’s a question that’s been asked about UCLA regarding next season. While Lonzo and LaMelo, who is finishing up his sophomore season in high school, are the stars that get the majority of the attention, there is another Ball brother that will be enrolling at UCLA next season: LiAngelo.

LaVar has already said that he expect Gelo to be a one-and-done player, which may not jibe with how good Gelo actually is. He’s not Lonzo and he’s not LaMelo. He’s not a dynamic athlete or a lead guard. He’s a 6-foot-5, 200 pound shooter with limitless range but limited upside. There’s a reason Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect.

What’s going to happen when UCLA, a top 15 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25, doesn’t give Gelo Lonzo-esque minutes or shots next season? How will LaVar handle it if his second son is coming off the bench for the Bruins?

Steve Alford doesn’t seem concerned about it, telling a reporter from the LA Times that LaVar was “never at practice, never called me” and was around the team “zero.”

“I think all parents probably should know that moving on to the collegiate level anyway,” Alford said. “It’s not high school, it’s not AAU. Your son’s on scholarship; your son’s at UCLA getting an incredible opportunity academically and athletically.

“Playing time, shots, that kind of stuff — we don’t entertain some of those phone calls anyway. I never had any issues at all with LaVar.”

It will be interesting to see if that continues next season.

The Bruins have a chance to be pretty good. Maybe not quite as good as last season, maybe not a Pac-12 title favorite or even the best team in LA — USC is loaded — but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them end up as a top four seed in the NCAA tournament with Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh returning and Jaylen Hands headlining the recruiting class.

Will LaVar be able to handle UCLA’s success if it comes at the expense of his son’s?

NCAA: Former USF assistant provided extra benefits, lied to NCAA investigators

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
1 Comment

The NCAA has alleged that former South Florida assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided roughly $500 in impermissible benefits and initially lied to NCAA investigators about it, according to the Tampa Bay Times, who obtained the NCAA’s summary disposition report.

Oliver Antigua is the younger brother of Orlando Antigua, who was the head coach at USF until he was fired in January. Now an assistant on Brad Underwood’s staff at Oklahoma State, Orlando was not alleged to have committed an NCAA violation in the report.

Oliver is alleged to have provided the extra benefits to two student-athletes while they were being tutored by the sister-in-law of Gerald Gillion, a special assistant to Orlando who resigned last fall, four months after Oliver did. USF has already self-imposed a $5,000 and reduced their scholarships from 13 to 12, according to the report.

“The University of South Florida and the NCAA continue to work together to resolve the inquiry into violations of NCAA bylaws and university standards by a USF intercollegiate athletic program,” according to a statement released by the school. “USF anticipates having a final resolution with the NCAA sometime this fall. Until the process concludes and the matter is fully resolved, USF cannot provide further comment.”

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

Leave a comment

Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

1 Comment

Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

Leave a comment

The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.