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NCAA Tournament: Previewing the First Four in Dayton

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The NCAA tournament kicks off tonight, as we get a pair of interesting First Four matchups. 

Here is a look at the games to be played in Dayton.

TUESDAY

No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. No. 16 New Orleans, 6:40 p.m. (truTV): New Orleans is one of the best stories heading into the NCAA tournament. The program was more or less left for dead after Hurricane Katrina, and now the Privateers have a very realistic shot at getting a win in the NCAA tournament. They are led by big man Erik Thomas, who averaged 19.0 points and 7.8 boards per game.

But they are going to get a game from The Mount, who have a pretty cool story of their own. Head coach Jamion Christian took the job at 29 years old, and is one of five current Division I head coaches — two of whom are in the NCAA tournament — to get their start at Emory & Henry. The Mount is led by a pair of talented guards, one of whom, Junior Robinson, is a 5-foot-5 dynamo that averaged 20 points in the NEC tournament.

No. 11 Wake Forest vs. No. 11 Kansas State, 9:10 p.m. (truTV): Bruce Weber may have saved his job by getting to the NCAA tournament, but that doesn’t mean that he’s going to be able to get to the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats square off with John Collins and Wake Forest, and it should be a terrific matchups and an opportunity for the world to get a glimpse at a potential first round pick.

Collins has been one of the most productive big men in the country this season. He’s averaging 19 points and 10 boards on the season, and had one stretch during the year where he scored at least 20 points in 12 straight games. He’s awesome, and I’m not sure that Kansas State will have an answer for him. The problem with Wake is that they hate playing defense. They rank 160th nationally is defensive efficiency, and Kansas State should be able to find a way to exploit that. The Wildcats have really good guard play and some size of their own up front.

WEDNESDAY

No. 16 NC-Central vs. No. 16 UC Davis, 6:40 p.m. (truTV): LeVelle Moton is headed back to the NCAA tournament. The NC Central head coach has spent the last half-decade lording over the MEAC, and it’s about time that he had a chance to win a game in the dance. UC Davis is the Big West’s tournament representative, and it marks the glorious return of Jim Les to the NCAA tournament. The Aggies want to grind it out defensively, meaning it will be an interesting contrast of styles Wednesday night.

No. 11 Providence vs. No. 11 USC, 9:10 p.m. (truTV): The last First Four game is a rematch of a game that was played in the ffirst round of the 2016 NCAA tournament. That game ended with Providence knocking off the Trojans on a buzzer-beater, and you better believe that Andy Enfield is looking for some revenge.

These are not the same Friars as last season. They lost Kris Dunn an Ben Bentil to the NBA, but there will be some familiar faces on USC. Jordan McLaughlin is back, as is Elijah Stewart and Chimezie Metu. USC hasn’t landed many quality wins this season, but they have some real talent on that roster. It should be a fun one in Dayton.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.