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SATURDAY’S SNACKS: Florida State wins key ACC game; Creighton, SEC suffer bad losses

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SATURDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW

No. 14 Arizona won at Pauley Pavilion, and in the process exposed everything that’s fraudulent about No. 3 UCLA.

Quality win for No. 10 Florida State as they jumped out to a 16-2 lead and held on to beat No. 16 Louisville for a home ACC win. I have five takeaways on this one, including when we’ll know if this Seminoles team is a legitimate contender for the ACC title.

No. 18 Duke played their best half of the season in a 70-58 win over Miami. Matt Jones not only sparked a game-changing, 31-4 run, but he also may have been responsible for the turning point in the Blue Devil season.

Playing their first game without senior point guard Mo Watson Jr., No. 7 Creighton struggled in a home loss to Marquette. The Bluejays had some promising production from reserve guard Davion Mintz (17 points, eight assists) and Marcus Foster went nuts (30 points) but they allowed seven double-figures scorers for Marquette. Rob Dauster has a deeper look at Creighton here.

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate just how critical Kansas State’s win over No. 7 West Virginia was. There’s a chance that it can be what saves Bruce Weber’s job.

No. 5 Kentucky smoked No. 24 South Carolina, but the game itself isn’t the big story from Saturday. That would be the health of P.J. Dozier, who missed the game with back spasms, and De’Aaron Fox, who left the game with a sprained right ankle.

The SEC had a pretty bad day for its NCAA tournament hopes on Saturday. No. 19 Florida dropped a game a home against a struggling Vanderbilt team that lost four straight entering the game. That loss won’t take the Gators out of the field but it leaves them with little room for error.

Georgia was also comfortably ahead of Texas A&M by double digits in the second half on the road before squandering that lead and losing 63-62. A clock malfunction ultimately cost Georgia a possession in the end. The Bulldogs led by nine points with 2:09 left and the Aggies closed the game on a 10-0 run. That’s the kind of loss that could keep Georgia out of the NCAA tournament.

For all the concern about Indiana since O.G. Anunoby’s injury, they went out and smacked around Michigan State. The Spartans made a late run on Saturday, but the Hoosiers were in control for most of the game.

STARRED

Marcus Keene, Central Michigan: The nation’s leading scorer went off for 50 points in a win over Miami (OH).

V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame: The senior had a monster outing in an Irish win over Syracuse as he went for 30 points and shot 6-for-10 from three-point range. Beachem also added seven rebounds and two blocks.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: Happ finished with a cool 28 points, 12 boards, six assists and five blocks. No one has done that in a college basketball game since at least 2010.

Deonte Burton, Iowa State: When Burton plays well, Iowa State reaches a new level and he hit for 31 points in a double-overtime road win over Oklahoma on Saturday. Burton also had this thunderous dunk to send the game to overtime.

Josh Hart, Villanova: Adding another solid game to his Player of the Year campaign, the senior had 25 points (10-for-16 shooting), six rebounds and four assists in a Wildcat win over Providence. Hart was also 2-for-2 from three-point range and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line for the game.

Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: The senior sharpshooter knocked in the game-winning three-pointer with five seconds left for the Broncos in a WCC win over Loyola Marymount as he tallied a game-high 25 points.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Top-ranked Villanova took care of Providence for a Big East home win as Josh Hart had another strong game and Kris Jenkins added 19 points.
  • Devonte Graham led four double-figure scorers with 18 points as No. 2 Kansas moved to 7-0 in the Big 12 with a home win over Texas.
  • Gonzaga, ranked No. 4 in the country, is still the only undefeated team left in America after the Zags picked off Portland out in The Kennel.
  • No. 6 Baylor remained within striking distance in the Big 12 as they took care of TCU.
  • It was tight for a little while but No. 9 North Carolina scored 56 points in the second half and ran past Boston College for an ACC road win. Justin Jackson (22 points) and Kennedy Meeks (20 points) paced the Tar Heel offense. Rob Dauster has more on the Tar Heels winning on an off-game from Joel Berry.
  • No Dillon Brooks, no problem. No. 11 Oregon cruised past Stanford for their 16th straight win.
  • Not the prettiest win but No. 13 Butler escaped DePaul with a one-point road win in the Big East. Kethan Savage had 20 points and freshman Kamar Baldwin added 18 more points.
  • All of Notre Dame’s ACC wins came by single digits until Saturday as the No. 15 Fighting Irish ran past Syracuse for a home win. V.J. Beachem had 30 and Bonzie Colson had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
  • No. 16 Virginia got past Georgia Tech for an ACC home win as Marial Shayok had 19 points.
  • Wins continue to come easy for No. 20 Cincinnati as the Bearcats cruised to an American road win at Tulane. Cincinnati has won 10 straight games as Jacob Evans led with 15 points.
  • Easy win for No. 21 Purdue as they made quick work of Penn State for a Big Ten home win. Sophomore big man Caleb Swanigan stayed in the Player of the Year discussion with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

NOTABLE

  • It took two overtimes but Iowa State came through with the road Big 12 win at Oklahoma. The Cyclones had 31 points from Deonte Burton.
  • Sticking in the Big 12, Texas Tech suffered a bad home loss for its NCAA tournament credibility as they got blown out by Oklahoma State. Jeffrey Carroll led the Cowboys with 25 points.
  • Rutgers earned its first Big Ten win of the season with a one-point home win over Nebraska. Sophomore Corey Sanders had 25 points and the game-winner with one second left.
  • Earning its first conference road win in three years was Wake Forest as the Demon Deacons shocked N.C. State with another bad home loss. John Collins had 21 points and nine rebounds in the win.
  • D.J. Wilson had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists as Michigan won at home in the Big Ten over Illinois.

NTSB cites mechanical issue in Michigan plane incident

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YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) A preliminary investigation into the runway accident involving a plane carrying the Michigan men’s basketball team cites a mechanical problem.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday issued an update about the March 8 crash at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti Township, near the Ann Arbor school. The aborted takeoff caused extensive damage to the aircraft but only one minor injury during evacuation.

The report does not list a likely cause of the incident, but it says flight data recorder shows the right elevator – the primary mechanism controlling an airplane’s pitch – didn’t move during the attempted takeoff.

The plane carrying 109 passengers and seven crew members skidded 1,000 feet past the runway. The team was headed to Washington, D.C., for the Big Ten Tournament. They flew the next day and won the tournament and are now in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Butler, Purdue use true grit to get programs into Sweet 16

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Coach Matt Painter kept believing in his team even as he watched Purdue fritter away a 19-point lead.

He did, after all, recruit these players to excel in tough times. And he did spend two years using the lessons from consecutive overtime losses in the NCAA Tournament to show his team what it took to survive in March.

So when the Boilermakers steadied themselves, retook the lead and reached their first Sweet 16 in seven years, Painter wasn’t surprised. He simply knew the Boilermakers, finally, were tough enough.

“No question, having that grit back after not having it for a couple of years helps,” Painter said. “We put a lot of skill on the court, but we also have guys who are competitive.”

Painter, after all, grew up a fan of former Hoosiers coach Bob Knight, went on to play for Gene Keady and then served on Keady’s staff briefly before succeeding his former coach.

Experience has taught Painter just how delicate it can be to find the proper balance.

After finishing last in the Big Ten in 2013-14 with guys who were content to rely more on their athleticism than mental toughness, Painter changed course.

He brought in gritty overachievers who embraced old-school principles built on effort and led Purdue to its first outright conference title since 1996. Nothing reinforced those beliefs more than last weekend’s comeback against Iowa State.

“Leads are blown throughout March Madness, which is all about close games. I always tell the guys, `If it’s not a blowout, then it is a close game,”‘ junior forward Vince Edwards said Monday. “We have learned to be able to take a run – like Iowa State’s – and be able to withstand it.”

The best teams always do, which is why fourth-seeded Purdue will now face top-seeded Kansas (30-4) in one of Thursday night’s Midwest Regional semifinal games .

Finding players who are the right fit is a challenge for every coach and program.

At Butler, it’s a tradition that has been passed down through nearly a half-dozen coaches over a span of two decades. Former coach and current athletic director Barry Collier started the process by turning the Bulldogs from perennial also-ran into a regular conference contender and NCAA Tourney hopeful.

Thad Matta and Todd Lickliter kept the momentum going before taking other jobs, and Brad Stevens perfected the script as the Bulldogs posted consecutive national runner-up finishes.

Things didn’t always go smoothly. Fans still remember watching the Bulldogs blow an upset against Florida in the 2000 tourney and the inexplicable 2002 tourney snub.

Eventually, though, those painful moments gave way to a litany of program-defining memories.

Against Louisville in the 2003 tourney, a teammate handed his dry shoes to the late Joel Cornette so Cornette could help close out an upset against Louisville in 2003. In the 2010 title game, junior center Matt Howard had the foresight to set a pick and give Gordon Hayward a clean look on his half-court heave that just missed.

The next year, Howard managed to draw a foul in the waning seconds against Pittsburgh to keep Butler’s postseason run alive.

“The stories are unbelievable,” point guard Tyler Lewis said. “That was a special group because they really made the community believe Butler was not just some small school. Butler was a school you didn’t mess around with.”

Stevens and his predecessors moved the school up the pecking order by recruiting late-bloomers or players who were often overlooked by bigger schools. They asked them to play selflessly, a style that defines The Butler Way.

While that philosophy worked well in the Horizon League and the Atlantic 10, Chris Holtmann needed to make some adjustments to thrive in the stronger Big East. Holtmann has recruited better athletes and is looking for more physical players, but the same basic philosophy hasn’t changed.

“I think it (toughness) has been valued here at a really high level, from those who came before me,” Holtmann said. “I just hope I’m doing my job to carry it on.”

The good news is he hasn’t had do too much.

Here, players like leading scorer Kelan Martin don’t complain about coming off the bench if asked. Grad transfers like Avery Woodson and Kethan Savage are both happy to help any way they can in their first and only NCAA appearance.

And it will be that way again when fourth-seeded Butler (25-8) tries to upset top-seeded North Carolina (29-7) in the South Region on Friday night.

“What makes us so tough is that we believe in each other,” said Lewis, who started his career at North Carolina State. “It’s an honor putting on this Butler uniform because it reminds us of what the guys did that came before us.”

Sweet 16 Preview: Thursday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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The Sweet 16 kicks off on Thursday night, and the games are going to be terrific.

Oregon-Michigan should be thrilling, Gonzaga-West Virginia is a fascinating contrast of styles and Kansas-Purdue features arguably the two best players in college basketball.

Oh, and then there’s Arizona-Xavier, with Sean Miller and Chris Mack doing battle.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (-1.5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS): So this run that Michigan on, is it a fluke?

Frankly, I don’t think that it is. Derrick Walton has been awesome for the better part of two months while Michigan’s perimeter shooters have always been shooters and the duo of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner are legit. I honestly do not believe that the Wolverines are a team of destiny after the plane crash. They are just really good and a perfect roster for John Beilein to tinker with.

That’s why they’re favored on Thursday night. But here’s the thing … Oregon is pretty good themselves. Dillon Brooks is going to be guarded by a big man, which should be a matchup that Brooks can take advantage of, and Tyler Dorsey has been playing terrific basketball since the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

If you like small-ball, spread-the-court basketball, you’ll love this game.

PREDICTION: Michigan (-1.5)

No. 1 Gonzaga (-3) vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m. (TBS): On paper, I think Gonzaga should win this game. They have a good back court in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins, a pair of talented point guards that have won a lot of games in their career. Gonzaga is also the best defensive team in the country. So if they don’t turn the ball over against West Virginia’s press and they make it difficult for West Virginia to score in the half court and get into their press, they should be able to win this thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

My concern with Gonzaga is game-pressure. They didn’t handle it well down the stretch against BYU in their one loss of the season, and I’m not convinced that they win that second round game against Northwestern if the officials don’t blow the goaltending call. How are they going to handle an endless wave of Mountaineers in their face?

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-3)

No. 1 Kansas (-5) vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): More than any other game this weekend, I’m fascinated to see how these two teams decide to try and play each other. Kansas has, essentially, one big man that Bill Self can trust, and he’s going up against a Player of the Year candidate in Caleb Swanigan and one of the best big men in the country at drawing fouls in Isaac Haas. Will Self double-team Swanigan knowing that Purdue may be more effective offensively when Swanigan can find shooters out of the double-team, or will he risk Lucas getting in foul trouble by trying to guard Swanigan one-on-one?

Then, at the other end of the floor, how will Purdue deal with the Kansas back court? Frank Mason III, the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, and Devonte’ Graham are a nightmare for anyone to deal with, let alone a team that struggles against penetrating guards and that lacks rim protection. It should be a fascinating coaching battle.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-5)

No. 2 Arizona (-7.5) vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m. (TBS): On paper, Arizona should be able to handle a Xavier team that doesn’t have Edmond Sumner or Myles Davis. That said, as we all know, Chris Mack and Sean Miller are very close and used to work together. Mack knows everything that Miller is going to do and vice versa. I think this game will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair that comes down to the final minutes.

PREDICTION: Xavier (+7.5)

Shayok and Reuter transferring from Virginia

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Virginia announced the departure of two players Wednesday.

Marial Shayok and Jarred Reuter will both transfer out of the program, the school said.

“Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future.”

Shayok, a a 6-foot-5 junior, played 20.9 minutes per game last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. The Ottawa native started 23 games in three seasons with Virginia.

Reuter played a minimal role for the Cavaliers, averaging just 10.8 minutes and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org