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How the Final Four teams have fared against each other

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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.

Four-star PG Jaylen Fisher de-commits from UNLV

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Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.

Four-star point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, announced via social media that he’s decided to de-commit from UNLV.

“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”

Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.

After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.

As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.

h/t Memphis Commercial-Appeal

NCAA rule change that impacts Memphis coaching staff now official

Memphis forward Dedric Lawson (1) goes up for a shot between Connecticut forward Shonn Miller (32) and guard Daniel Hamilton, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the finals of the American Athletic Conference men's tournament in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, March 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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One of the more popular topics in college basketball in recent weeks was the status of Memphis assistant coach Keelon Lawson and sons Dedric and K.J. in the aftermath of the school hiring Tubby Smith. Would Smith keep the elder Lawson on staff as an assistant, thus in all likelihood ensuring that Dedric and K.J. would return as well? Would he let go or attempt to reassign Keelon, and as a result risk losing two players from an already limited roster?

Ultimately Smith decided to reassign Keelon to a non-coaching position, making him director of player development. And with the NCAA having a rule that those with a connection to a prospective student-athlete had to serve in a coaching capacity for the player’s first two seasons, the question was whether or not Memphis would need a waiver to pull off the move.

Luckily for Memphis the NCAA was looking into an alteration of the rule, and on Thursday with the NCAA not taking action on Proposal 2015-30 the change became official.

Under the new rule a coach’s two years on staff would begin immediately upon his arrival. In the case of Lawson this is key as he spent a year on former Memphis head coach Josh Pastner’s staff before Dedric and K.J. enrolled. With the two-year requirement ruled to be served under the new proposal, Smith could reassign Keelon Lawson without having to ask the NCAA for a waiver.

The next step as far as Memphis is concerned is Dedric, who ultimately entered his name into the NBA Draft pool (without an agent), withdrawing and returning to school for his sophomore season. As a freshman Dedric was the best freshman in the American Athletic Conference, averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Tigers. DraftExpress.com currently ranks him 28th amongst college freshmen, which makes him no sure thing to be drafted should he decide to stay in the draft.

At the very least the next month should result in Dedric receiving constructive feedback from NBA scouts and executives that he can use to improve next season.

K.J. played in just ten games last season due to a lingering Achilles tendon issue, averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. The hope is that K.J. will be granted a medical redshirt for last season, thus preserving a year of eligibility.

Chattanooga men’s hoop coach McCall gets 2-year extension

Chattanooga head coach Matt McCall directs his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) Chattanooga men’s basketball coach Matt McCall has received a two-year contract extension after leading the Mocs to an NCAA Tournament appearance in his debut season.

The school announced the extension Thursday. McCall’s contract now runs through the 2021-22 season.

Chattanooga went 29-6 last season to set a school record for victories. The Mocs captured their first Southern Conference regular-season title since 1994 and also won the league’s postseason tournament to earn their first NCAA bid since 2009.

Indiana beat Chattanooga 99-74 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Athletic director David Blackburn said in a statement, “We had great confidence in who we hired a year ago, and that never wavered. This is in recognition of him and his staff’s great work in equipping our student-athletes for success.”

Jim Valvano’s title-winning N.C. State team to finally get White House visit

FILE - In this April 5, 1983, file photo, North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano embraces sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles moments after Charles had dunked a shot to give North Carolina State the win over Houston in the national championship game at the Final Four of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
(AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
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The N.C. State men’s basketball team never got invited to the White House after they won the 1983 National Title.

It wasn’t a tradition in those days. They spoke with President Ronald Reagan, but they did so from the confines of a television studio in Raleigh. It’s commonplace now to see title winners from all sports making their way to the Oval Office to shake hands with our nation’s leader, but back then, the funding and invitation weren’t always available.

And that never say right with the guys on that team. Since Lorenzo Charles, whose memorable dunk was the title-winning bucket, passed away in 2011, that team has had a reunion every spring, and the topic of going to the White House to celebrate the win always came up. That inspired Thurl Bailey, who was the No. 7 pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, and his friend, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, to write letters to President Obama requesting that the ’83 iteration of the Wolfpack get their White House visit.

“As definitive as a National Championship sounds, as an athlete there always seems to be unfinished business,” Bailey told N.C. State’s website. “You’re always looking for the next challenge, the next opportunity. This was it for me.  If I could get this done, it would be yet another story for me and the other members of that team to be able to pass along to our kids, grandkids and generations after that.”

Bailey’s efforts proved successful.

On Thursday, N.C. State announced that President Obama had not only received the letters, but he has issued a May 9th invitation for that 1983 team to visit him in Washington, D.C., meaning that Bailey, Dereck Whittenburg and the rest of that 1983 title-winning team will finally get to meet the Commander-in-Chief.

“The joy and the euphoria of winning a national title against all odds, as well as the pain and devastation of losing members of that family, are important parts of who I am,” Bailey said. “Contacting President Obama was one piece of our incredible journey that had eluded us for far too long.”

Los Angeles to host new college basketball doubleheader

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) A new men’s basketball doubleheader will be played in Los Angeles featuring Arizona, BYU, Gonzaga and Southern California.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the one-day event, to be played at Staples Center on Dec. 3.

The Wildcats will play the Zags and the Cougars will face the Trojans.

Tickets will go on sale May 4. Game times and television broadcast information will be announced later.