Introducing Cinderella: Troy Trojans continue postseason run

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Conference: Sun Belt Conference

Coach: Phil Cunningham

Record: 22-14 (10-8 Sun Belt)

Ratings and Rankings:

– Kenpom: 131
– RPI: 162
– AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: Despite being a No. 6 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the Trojans could jump to the first round and skip out on Dayton. Troy has 22 wins and a higher RPI than any other the teams currently projected by NBC Sports bracketology to be in the First Four. Troy should expect to be a No. 16 seed.

Names you need to know: Jordon Varnado has come up big late in the year for the Trojans. The sophomore forward ended the year averaging a team-best 16.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Wesley Person, a junior marksmen who was named MVP of the conference tournament, averages 14.8 points a night while shooting 40 percent from three

Stats you need to know: The Trojans averaged 79.0 points per game, ranking them in the top-50 nationally in that category. However, they rank sub-200 in defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.

Big wins, bad losses: The Trojans were up at halftime against Southern Cal, but USC rallied for a five-point win back in December. Instead, Troy’s best win is a 22-point win over UT Arlington at home in January. It’s worst lost, based on RPI is to South Florida, falling to the Bulls 80-74 in early December.

How’d they get here?: Troy had to win four games in five days to clinch the automatic berth into the 2017 NCAA Tournament. It started with back-to-back 20-point wins over Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. After Texas State took down top-seeded UT Arlington in the semifinals, Troy followed by coming from nine down to upset No. 2 seed Georgia State, outscoring the Panthers by 20 in the second half. In the finals, the Trojans led for the final 30 minutes of regulation, opening up a lead as large as 10 in the closing minutes of the first half. The Bobcats would rally, cutting the deficit to a one-possession game, but Jordon Varando and Wesley Person closed out the game from the free throw line.

Outlook: Troy overcame six straight losing seasons and has had a 13-win turnaround from 2015-16. However, as a projected No. 16 seed, the odds tell us this incredible ride will end next week.

How do I know you?: If the last names of Troy’s two stars sound familiar, it’s because Jordon is the younger brother of former Mississippi State star Jarvis Vanardo. Wesley Person is the son of NBA veteran, Wesley Sr.. His uncle, Chuck, was also an NBA veteran

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.