SNACKS: TCU upsets Kansas, Duke-UNC to meet in ACC semifinals

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THURSDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW

TCU blew a double-digit lead in the second half, but closed out the game on a 9-2 run to upset top-seeded Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. Does this loss knock the Jayhawks off the top line when the bracket is revealed on Sunday? CBT’s Scott Phillips has more from this game here.

That wasn’t the only upset in Kansas City. Kansas State played like a team that knew what was at stake, opening up a double-digit lead on No. 9 Baylor before holding on for a 70-64 win. Projected as one of the last teams in the field, the Wildcats should be dancing on Sunday.

We’ll get a Duke vs. North Carolina Part III in New York on Friday after the Blue Devils knocked off No. 4 seed Louisville in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Jayson Tatum had 25 points while Luke Kennard finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. CBT’s Rob Dauster was there was this and has more.

After a scary incident in which their plane aborted takeoff and had a minor accident on Wednesday, Michigan spent the night in a different state, drove to D.C. for the game, wore their practice jerseys against Illinois, and still came out and beat the Illini by 20 points in the Big Ten second round. Senior Derrick Walton had 19 points and five assists. This loss also gives Illinois no chance at making the NCAA tournament as head coach John Groce awaits his fate.

Huge second half from No. 6 North Carolina as they outscored Miami by 20 in the final half for a 78-53 win in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. The Tar Heels were led by Isaiah Hicks with 19 points while Justin Jackson had 12 points. Head coach Roy Williams even felt good enough to comment on President Donald Trump following the win as CBT’s Rob Dauster was there.

Leading by one with 39 seconds to go, Xavier head coach Chris Mack ignored the advice of his staff and took a gamble. It paid off and the Musketeers punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament by defeating Butler. CBT’s Rob Dauster was at MSG for the night session of the Big East Tournament.

STARRED

Monte Morris vs. Jawun Evans — The two All-American guards put on a fun show as the Cyclones outran the Cowboys in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. Morris was sensational as he just missed a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as he also added two blocks and two steals. Having to do more as a scorer, Evans finished with 29 points, four assists and four rebounds.

Angel Delgado, Seton Hall — Also just missing a triple-double by one assist was Delgado as the junior big man had 12 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists in a huge Pirates win over Marquette in the Big East Tournament. It was Delgado’s 13th consecutive double-double and 26th overall this season as his passing continues to improve as the season rolls along.

Peyton Aldridge, Davidson — Going for 33 points and 10 rebounds in a win over La Salle, the junior forward showed why the Wildcats could be a dangerous team in the Atlantic 10 Tournament this week. The 6-foot-8 Aldridge was 10-for-15 from the field and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line as he’s had a very strong season.

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier — The team’s leading scorer gave Musketeers a lead for good with a turnaround elbow jumper. He ended with 23 points, four rebounds and four assists. When he’s good, Xavier is good.

J.J. Frazier, Georgia — Making several clutch plays down the stretch, Frazier helped the Bulldogs hold off Tennessee in the SEC quarterfinals. Frazier ended with 17 points and 10 assists.

RELATED: Get caught up on all of today’s bubble action

REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Cruising to victory in the Big East Tournament was No. 2 Villanova as they rolled past St. John’s, 108-67. The Wildcats had 25 points from Donte DiVincenzo and 24 points from Kris Jenkins.
  • Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey both had good games for No. 5 Oregon as they took down Arizona State to advance in the Pac-12 Tournament. Brooks had 22 while Dorsey finished with 21 points.
  • Despite 31 points from Derrick White, No. 7 Arizona rolled past Colorado 92-78.
  • In typical fashion, No. 11 West Virginia made it difficult on the opposing offense, knocking Texas out of the Big 12 quarterfinals with a 63-53 victory. Jevon Carter led the way with 21 points, while Press Virginia forced 14 turnovers and kept the Longhorns without a field goal for the final 5:34 of regulation.
  • No. 16 Florida State took its toll on Virginia Tech, as the Seminoles advanced in the ACC Tournament with a 74-68 win. Despite not shooting well, Dwayne Bacon led all scorers with 17 points (all in the second half).
  • Bonzie Colson registered another double-double — 21 points, 10 rebounds — as No. 22 Notre Dame defeated No. 21 Virginia by double digits. The Fighting Irish’s 71 points is the second most allowed by the Cavaliers in a regulation game this season.

NOTABLE

  • Seton Hall beating Marquette shouldn’t make the Golden Eagles feel any better on Selection Sunday. Marquette should be fine to get in but this loss didn’t help. Khadeen Carrington finished with 19 points to pace the Pirates.
  • Advancing in the Big Ten Tournament was Michigan State as the Spartans scored an easy win over Penn State. The freshmen duo of Miles Bridges and Nick Ward both had 15 points each.
  • Georgia is trying to win as much as possible on the small chance they can earn an at-large bid as they beat Tennessee in the SEC Tournament second round. J.J. Frazier finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Bulldogs.
  • The No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament, Akron, took care of business by rolling past Eastern Michigan in the quarterfinals as Isaiah Johnson had 24 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Conference USA No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee won in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament as they beat UT San Antonio. The Blue Raiders had 21 points from Reggie Upshaw.
  • Top-seeded NC Central defeated Bethune-Cookman by 35 in the MEAC quarterfinals.
  • Michigan breezed past Illinois, 75-55, in the Big Ten Tournament second round. The Wolverines, a day after an aborted takeoff, landed only hours before its scheduled 12:20 p.m. tip with the Fighting Illini. Illinois, which began the day as one of the “Next Four Out” in the most recent bracketology, saw its bubble burst.
  • Indiana sunk 12-of-20 from three en route to a 95-73 win over Iowa. The Hawkeyes were projected as one of the “Last Four In.” That won’t be the case on Selection Sunday.
  • Northwestern trailed Rutgers, 9-6, early in the Big Ten second round. Then the Wildcats went on a 31-0 run over the next 11 minutes. Guess which team won the game?
  • Providence had won six in a row — 20 for the season — and finished in third place in the Big East. However, NBC Sports bracket projection had the Friars as earning one of the last four byes. Does a 70-58 loss to Creighton in the quarterfinals make them sweat it out on Selection Sunday?
  • Jaron Martin and Luke Nelson each scored 19 as No. 1 UC Irvine advanced to the Big West semifinals.
  • No. 1 Nevada opened up a 17-point lead at halftime and didn’t look back, as the Wolf Pack moves on to the Mountain West quarterfinals.
  • Corey Baldwin’s first career double-double led No. 1 North Dakota to a 95-72 win over Portland State in the Big Sky quarterfinals.
  • The American Athletic Conference began on Thursday, with East Carolina, UConn and Tulsa advancing to the quarterfinals.
  • No. 1 CSU Bakersfield has its first postseason opponent: Utah Valley, who defeated Seattle in the WAC quarterfinals.

Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.