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.

Gonzaga passes the title of best program without a Final Four to Xavier in win

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In 1999, Gonzaga was not yet “Gonzaga”.

A No. 10 seed in just their third NCAA tournament, the Zags won three games against high-major competition, coming within a possession of reaching the Final Four in a loss to No. 1 seed UConn.

UConn, at that point, was one of the best programs in the country under Jim Calhoun, but the knock on the Huskies at that point was that they couldn’t win the big one. They had been to three Elite 8s and three more Sweet 16s in the previous eight seasons, but it wasn’t until they knocked off that Gonzaga team that they finally were playing on college basketball’s biggest stage.

For 18 years, Gonzaga tried and failed to get to a Final Four, becoming one of the nation’s premier basketball programs without having the postseason success to legitimize themselves in the eyes of idiots around the country. That ended on Saturday night in San Jose, as No. 1 seed Gonzaga ended No. 11 Xavier’s thrilling run to the Elite 8 and passing on the torch that UConn passed to them.

Xavier can now claim the title of the best basketball program that has yet to make a Final Four, which is both a compliment and a curse.

The Musketeers have been to the NCAA tournament 25 times since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They’ve been to nine Sweet 16s and three Elite 8s. They had a winning record in NCAA tournament play until Saturday’s loss and now lay claim to the title of the team with the most NCAA tournament wins without an appearance in the Final Four.

Xavier is going to get there eventually. Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the business. Hell, if Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner both return to school, it could very well be next season that they snap that streak. It’s coming at some point.

I don’t even think it’s an insult to say this about Xavier. I don’t think it’s a shot at the program or the coaches that have come through it. Getting to the Final Four is hard. Bill Self is a lead-pipe lock to be a Hall of Famer, and he’s been to just two Final Fours in his career. He’s 2-7 in the Elite 8, and if Derrick Rose could make his free throws, the discussion of just how good of a coach Self is if he can’t win a title would be raging with the Jayhawks flaming out of the tournament on Saturday night.

But as with Gonzaga and UConn before them, Xavier is going to have that monkey on their back every time they suit up in March.

VIDEO: Tyler Dorsey hits dagger after dagger in upset of Kansas

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Tyler Dorsey is building himself quite the reputation for being a big-shot maker.

He hit the game-winner that got Oregon to the Sweet 16. He hit two threes at the end of the first half to push Oregon’s lead to 11 points over Kansas. And he hit this three, the dagger through the heart of Kansas:

Dorsey finished with 27 points. He’s scored at least 20 points in every game since the NCAA tournament began.

No. 3 Oregon heading to first Final Four in 78 years

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Oregon, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, made what looked to be a smooth path to Phoenix into a bumpy road. But after 78 years, the Ducks are going back to the Final Four, defeating No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, in Elite Eight on Friday night in Kansas City.

Everything went right for the Ducks in the first half. Josh Jackson was called for two fouls in the less than three minutes. The Jayhawks were limited in transition. Tyler Dorsey’s two 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds gave them a double-digit lead at halftime. Oregon stretched it to as many as 18 in the second. Kansas couldn’t buy a basket from three (a far cry from the 3-point barrage it put on Purdue two nights earlier). When the Jayhawks drove to the basket, it was Jordan Bell (11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks) who either blocked or altered their shots.

However, the Ducks not only left the door open for the Jayhawks, they held it open. Kansas’ comeback attempt was a mix drink that was equal parts KU putting the clamps on defensively, Oregon playing a bit of hero ball, and the Ducks playing not to lose instead of to win. Up six with less than two minutes remaining, and Dorsey (27 points) buried a dagger 3-pointer that all but sealed the win — and a spot in next week’s Final Four — for the Ducks.

Oregon will play the winner of the South region, which will either be No. 1 North Carolina or No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday.

 

VIDEO: Jordan Bell’s spectacular chase-down block

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Oregon big man Jordan Bell has been the best player on the floor for the Ducks against Kansas, totally changing the way that Kansas wants to play with his defense.

As of the time of this posting, he had nine points, 11 boards, seven blocks and three assists, but his impact is not solely limited to the shots he swatted — every Kansas player that gets into the lane is very aware of the fact that Bell is lurking around the rim.

The thought of him changes shots.

The best block he’s had today came midway through the second half, when he snuffed out a dunk attempt from Landen Lucas with an impressive chase-down block:

No. 1 Gonzaga reaches first Final Four with win over No. 11 Xavier

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It took 18 long years, but after Gonzaga exploded onto the national scene with a Cinderella run that came one possession short of the Final Four in 1999, after the program followed up that run with back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed, after 19 straight trips to the NCAA tournament marred by moments of unfathomable heartbreak, the nation’s preeminent mid-major success story is finally headed to the Final Four.

What will the ‘Gonzaga is overrated’ crowd say now?

Armed with a roster that included a pair of blue-chip guards in their back court, a trio of high-major transfers and a McDonald’s All-American and future first round pick coming off the bench, Mark Few knocked off No. 11 seed Xavier, 83-59, on Saturday night to win the West Region and punch his first ticket to the final weekend of the college basketball season. Nigel Williams-Goss led the way with 23 points, eight boards and four assists and Johnathan Williams III, who was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player, added 19 points and nine boards as Gonzaga buried 12 threes and jumped out to an early lead they would never relinquish in a game that never felt like it was in doubt.

And with that, the monkey on Mark Few’s back is now gone.

“It means everything that we could deliver for guys like this,” Mark Few said after the game. Few had been the winningest NCAA tournament coach without a Final Four on his résumé. “They believed in us when they came. This is what we wanted to do and set out to do, and these guys were unbelievable. I could not be happier for all these guys, all our former players and all of Zag Nation.”

Whether or not that monkey was deserved is a fair question to ask. Gonzaga has had an incredible amount of success in the NCAA tournament. They’ve won at least one game in 16 of the 19 NCAA tournaments, including this year, that they’ve been a part of, including five of the six years in which they were a double-digit seed. In 13 of the previous 18 NCAA tournaments they played in, they advanced as far or further than their seed suggested they should have. Only five times did they lose to a team that was seeded lower than them. They’ve won 17 WCC regular season titles and 15 WCC tournament titles during that span.

What they’ve done, the consistency of the success that they’ve had, is not something done easily.

And it’s not something that should be overlooked when you consider where this program was in the early 90s. When Few was hired as an assistant coach in 1990, Gonzaga was thought of as the worst job in the WCC. The program, located in Spokane, Washington, which isn’t exactly a hotbed for recruiting, had never been to an NCAA tournament. The school didn’t even have a weight room for the team.

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“Players would sign out sweats and jerseys at the beginning of every school year and turn them back in nine months later,” wrote Yahoo’s Jeff Eisenberg earlier this week. “Sneakers were the only gear players received new, but obtaining a fresh pair typically required proving the old ones had a hole in the bottom.”

Within five years, Gonzaga was in the NCAA tournament. Within nine years, they had won the league and reached the Elite 8. Within 15 years, the school opened up a sparkling, $25-million, 6,000-seat arena, chartering flights for road games and recruiting trips.

Today, Gonzaga is arguably a top ten program in the sport

It is, quite literally, college basketball’s best rags-to-riches story.

They shouldn’t need this to justify their standing in the sport. Few shouldn’t need this to legitimize himself as something more than a coach feasting on a conference that can’t compete.

“My legacy is I guess built on a lot of other things,” Few said on Friday. “It’s built on the respect my players have for me and how they feel about they were treated and coached and developed and all that.”

“I’m schlepping along right now like vastly far behind my father who is 54 years a Presbyterian minister, man. He’s saved thousands of souls. He’s helped hundreds and thousands of people through all their tough times, you know. And that’s kind of the legacy that I’m looking at.”

But that’s not how our sport works.

March means everything.

If you can’t win on the biggest stage, if you don’t have that level of success when all eyes turn to college basketball, then everything you did during the previous four months is written off.

It’s not fair.

But that’s just how it is.

And now, nearly two decades removed from their introduction into the national consciousness, Gonzaga’s detractors no longer have that leg to stand on.