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NBC Sports 2017 College Basketball Coach of the Year: Mark Few, Gonzaga

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The National Coach of the Year was without a doubt the most difficult award of the group to pick.

Arizona’s Sean Miller has a very strong argument to receive the award, as does Villanova’s Jay Wright, even though he may not even be the guy to get the award in the Big East, not with what Butler’s Chris Holtmann has done this season. Baylor’s Scott Drew, Kansas’ Bill Self, SMU’s Tim Jankovich, Florida’s Mike White and Northwestern’s Chris Collins deserve to have their name in the mix as well.

But we went with Mark Few.

And the reason is actually fairly simple.

Few couldn’t quite get Gonzaga to the NCAA tournament with an unblemished record, but he did get the Zags to 29-1 in the regular season in a year where his top five scorers played a total of six games last season. Nigel Williams-Goss and Johnathan Williams III both sat out last season as transfers. Jordan Mathews was a grad transfer, having played for Cal his first three years in college. Przemek Karnowski may not be fair to have on this list — he’s a fifth-year senior that was given a medical redshirt for last season — but Zach Collins not only may be better than Przemek, he’s only a freshman.

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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Few is far from the only coach that has to deal with roster turnover like that, but he is the only one doing it that plays the most important games of his season in November and December, when the team was still figuring out each other — their roles, when they get shots, how many minutes they’re going to receive, etc.

That’s the part of this equation that isn’t getting enough attention.

Gonzaga plays in the WCC, which means that they have to earn their seeding — in a different year, they have to earn their at-large bid — in the first two months of the year. They don’t have a dozen games against top 50 teams available to them in league play. Gonzaga had to. And despite playing with, essentially, an entirely new team, he still managed to beat Florida, Iowa State and Arizona before the calendar turned.

You can think whatever you want about the Zags’ chances of getting to the Final Four.

But there really is no denying the fact that Few has done a marvelous job with this group.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.