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LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 5 Xavier beats No. 1 Villanova, No. 8 Iowa and No. 9 Arizona fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 5 Xavier 90, No.1 Villanova 83

The top two teams in the Big East met at the Cintas Center, with the Musketeers picking up the win to move within a game of first place. In total six Musketeers reached double figures with Edmond Sumner and JP Macura scoring 19 apiece, as they gave the Villanova defense fits all night. The question now: does Chris Mack’s team have what it takes to play deep into the NCAA tournament?

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Wisconsin 67, No. 8 Iowa 59: Zak Showalter limited Peter Jok to four second half points as the Badgers won for the nine time in their last ten games. Bronson Koenig scored 15 points and Nigel Hayes 12 for Wisconsin, which added another quality win to its résumé. And the biggest reason for the improvement in Greg Gard’s team has been the play of his reserves.

Colorado 75, No. 9 Arizona 72: Colorado also added another quality win to its résumé, as they held off the Wildcats in Boulder. Josh Scott accounted for 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the win, and George King added 14 points and seven rebounds. Ryan Anderson led the Wildcats with 19 points and ten rebounds, but Arizona will now nd help if they’re to win another Pac-12 title.

BUBBLE BANTER: Colorado, Wisconsin pick up big wins, VCU falters

No. 7 North Carolina 80, NC State 68: No. 7 North Carolina rebounded from a slow start to win at NC State. The Tar Heels didn’t have an answer for Cat Barber (32 points) early, but the Wolfpack were unable to do enough to keep UNC under wraps on the other end of the floor. Brice Johnson finished with 22 points and 11 boards for North Carolina, which leads the ACC, but Marcus Paige continues to struggle offensively.

STARRED

Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma: 26 points and 14 rebounds in the Sooners’ home win over Oklahoma State.

Chris Hass, Bucknell: 30 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the Bison’s 86-83 double overtime win at Lafayette.

Edmond Sumner and JP Macura, Xavier: Sumner and Macura scored 19 points apiece, with Sumner also accounting for six rebounds and nine assists, in the Musketeers’ 90-83 win over No. 1 Villanova.

STRUGGLED

Maverick Rowan, NC State: Rowan scored eight points, shooting 2-for-12 from the field, in the Wolfpack’s 80-68 loss to No. 7 North Carolina.

Nick Faust, Long Beach State: Three points on 1-for-9 shooting and three turnovers in the 49ers’ loss at UC Irvine.

Devonte Brown and Khristian Smith, Indiana State: Brown and Smith combined to score 12 points on 4-for-21 shooting in the Sycamores’ 66-44 loss at Northern Iowa.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 3 Oklahoma took control of its game against Oklahoma State in the second half, outscoring the Cowboys by 19 points as they won by the final score of 71-49. Ryan Spangler was the star for the Sooners, finishing with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
  • Pittsburgh missed out on a quality win, as they lost at home to No. 11 Louisville 67-60. Quentin Snider led four Cardinals in double figures with 14 points while also dishing out seven assists, and Damion Lee added 13 points.
  • No. 13 Oregon won its school-record 24th straight home game, beating Washington State 76-62. Elgin Cook finished with 24 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks, and Chris Boucher added 18 points, 13 boards and four blocked shots.
  • No. 21 Texas A&M avoided a bad loss, beating Mississippi State 68-66 in College Station. Danuel House scored all 16 of his points in the second half, and Tyler Davis finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
  • No. 23 Notre Dame rebounded from its close loss at Georgia Tech with a 69-58 win at Wake Forest, limiting the Demon Deacons to 31.4 percent shooting. Zach Auguste posted a double-double for the Fighting Irish with 18 points and 12 rebounds, with Steve Vasturia (16 points) and Demetrius Jackson (15) also scoring in double figures.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Houston picked up its 20th win of the season, beating UCF 88-61 in Orlando. The Cougars, who will in all likelihood need to win the AAC tournament to go dancing, haven’t won 20 games in a season since 2013.
  • Wednesday was an important night for bubble teams in the Atlantic 10, with VCU, George Washington and St. Bonaventure all in action. While the Colonials (73-61 win at Richmond) and Bonnies (80-76 win over Duquesne) took care of business the Rams didn’t, losing 76-69 at George Mason.
  • Bucknell retained a one-game lead on Lehigh in the Patriot League as they won 86-83 at Lafayette in double overtime. The Bison host Navy Saturday, while Lehigh (winners of eight straight) visits Army.
  • Marquette picked up 66-61 win at Creighton, which could be a crippling blow to the Bluejays’ NCAA tournament hopes. Henry Ellenson posted his 17th double-double with 22 points and ten rebounds.
  • San Diego State wrapped up the outright Mountain West title with a 71-61 win at Wyoming, despite Wyoming’s Josh Adams scoring 27 points. The Aztecs lead second place Fresno State by four games, and if they won out this would be the largest margin for a league champion in Mountain West history.
  • UC Irvine, which lost to first-place Hawai’i Saturday night, grabbed sole possession of second place in the Big West with a 90-69 win over Long Beach State. The Anteaters (10-3) are ahead of the 49ers (9-4) by a game, and they hold the head to head tiebreaker due to their sweep of the season series.
  • Stephen Thompson Jr.’s three-pointer as time expired gave Oregon State an 82-81 win over Washington in Corvallis. And with both teams looking to play their way into the NCAA tournament, this finish is an important one for both teams.

Wichita State’s Landry Shamet out sick against Tulane

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Wichita State guard Landry Shamet will miss the Shockers’ game against Tulane on Wednesday night as he sits out due to illness.

Dressed in street clothes for the AAC conference clash, Shamet has put up All-American-caliber numbers for Wichita State this season as he’s putting up 14.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Without Shamet in the lineup, it gives Samajae Haynes-Jones a potential shot at minutes as he’s fallen out of the rotation over the last several weeks. Wichita State is still heavily favored against Tulane at home on Wednesday but they have an important three-game stretch to close out the conference season. The Shockers have to go on the road to play SMU and UCF before closing out the conference slate with an important home game against Cincinnati.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III out for the fourth straight game with knee injury

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Duke star freshman big man Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night as he continues to battle a knee injury.

The 6-foot-11 freshman suffered a mild knee sprain in his right knee in Duke’s game against North Carolina on Feb. 8 as he’s missed the Blue Devils’ last three games — all wins. Bagley will miss Duke’s contest against Louisville on Wednesday as he’s also missed games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Clemson.

Duke still has three regular-season games after Wednesday before the ACC tournament starts as Bagley still has plenty of time to heal and recover before the postseason begins.

Bagley is putting up 21.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for Duke this season as he’s a consensus top-five pick in most 2018 NBA mock drafts. Without Bagley in the lineup, Duke has continued to play well and win games as they’ve still had big man Wendell Carter to handle things on the interior.

 

Rick Pitino: ‘I had no knowledge’ of the violations that led to banner coming down

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Disgraced ex-Louisville head coach Rick Pitino spoke at a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon and denied any knowledge of the violations that were committed by Andre McGee, any potential NCAA violations involving the recruitment of Brian Bowen and pushed for Louisville to file an injunction against the NCAA’s decision to remove the 2013 national title banner.

“I take full responsibility for everyone I hire,” Pitino said. “To say I’m disappointed with the NCAA ruling is a gross understatement.”

“I have apologized many times. I feel awful for what happened. I’ve run a clean program all my life. [Sitting where you are], I would agree with you. It looks bad. I’ve coached for 41 years. For 35, as a head coach, nothing has come up.”

Pitino went on to say that he “hired the wrong person” when he made the decision to bring McGee onto his staff. McGee is the one that was responsible for hosting the parties and bringing the strippers and sex workers to them.

“I had no knowledge of the reprehensible things that went on in that dormitory,” Pitino said. “Did a few of [my players] partake in parties they didn’t organize? Yes, they did. That had nothing to do with an extra benefit,” going on to add that attending these parties were not the reason that Louisville won the 2013 national title.

Pitino also denied any involvement in the recruit of Bowen, a five-star prospect that committed to Louisville in a deal that was supposed to get his family paid $100,000 from Adidas.

“In 40 years of coaching, I have never been involved, directly or indirectly, in any effort to pay any money or extend any improper benefit to any recruit or recruit’s family members or representatives,” he said.

Pitino said that he has not had any discussions about coaching again or looking for a job this spring, but he did say that he does “miss it.” He also urged the new University of Louisville administration to fight this decision in court, to file an injunction and do what they can to keep Louisville from having to sacrifice a national title banner.

No other Division I basketball program has ever had a national title vacated.

“The NCAA,” Pitino said, “cannot rewrite history by taking a banner down.

John Wall is heading back to school to get a business degree

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John Wall, the former Kentucky star that helped launch Coach Cal’s one-and-done movement in Lexington, is planning on using a piece of that $207 million contract extension that he signed last July for summer school.

“I’m going back to school this summer to get my business degree,” Wall told the Washington Post this week. “That’s what I’m focusing on. I promised my dad that.”

Wall’s dad died when he was eight years old, and anyone that knows his story knows that it hasn’t been the easiest path for Wall to get from that moment to this moment.

So good for John.

Seriously.

I do believe that it is important to educate yourself, even if that education is something as simple as learning how to run a business on your own.

But I also think that, in the larger context of basketball and, specifically, the one-and-done rule, this is important to note. Wall left school as a 19-year old, made a whole bunch of guaranteed money on his rookie deal, got more guaranteed money on his first contract extension and now is working under a contract that will pay him nine figures with a crooked number in front. Throw in endorsement deals, and by the time Wall hangs up his sneakers, he could end up banking close to half a billion dollars.

That’s more than enough money to be able to pay for three years worth of classes at Kentucky to finish his undergrad degree, get a master’s and become a PhD. For Wall, that financial hit would be like the financial hit you or I take for adding chips and guac at Chipotle. (But not queso. We pretend their queso doesn’t exist.)

My point is this: The time a person has to educate themselves never ends. The time that Wall, or any professional athlete, has to profit off of their ability does, and much sooner than most think.

So the next time you decide to criticize a player for leaving school early to chase their professional dreams or because they’re just looking to get paid or because they don’t care about education, just think about this.

USC guard to leave school, turn pro

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It appears that De’Anthony Melton’s college career has come to an end.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard for the USC Trojans announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving school. Melton, a sophomore, was caught up in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball and has not played in a game this season.

“I have reached a crossroads wherein I have decided to focus on honing my strengths and improving upon my weakness for competition at the next level,” Melton said in a statement.

And athletic wing with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Melton averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals as a freshman. He is considered a potential first round pick.