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NCAA Tournament Friday Recap: USC, Rhode Island score upsets in early games, chalk holds late

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament’s first round went down on Friday afternoon when No. 11 seed USC, a First Four team, knocked off No. 6 seed SMU as the Trojans only led for 50 seconds of that game. Elijah Stewart knocked in the game-winning three-pointer as the Trojans once again came back from a double-digit deficit to win.

Following in USC’s footsteps was No. 11 seed Rhode Island out of the Midwest Region as they defeated No. 6 seed Creighton. A popular first-round upset pick, the Rams proved those people right by getting five players to finish in double-figures as Jeff Dowtin led the way with 23 points.

The third trendy “upset” pick of the day was No. 10 Wichita State picking off No. 7 seed Dayton, and the Shockers made that happen. That sets up a fascinating battle between the Shockers and, as long as they don’t choke, No. 2 seed Kentucky. All the story lines.

Friday’s action got off to a positive start once again as No. 7 seed Michigan took down No. 10 seed Oklahoma State in the Midwest Region as the matchup of point guards Derrick Walton Jr. vs. Jawun Evans didn’t disappoint. Both elite floor leaders flirted with triple-doubles as Michigan and Walton continue to look like a dangerous team in this tournament. I have more on Walton’s ridiculous recent stretch here.

There is a reason that Tom Izzo is known as Mr. March. Despite trailing by as many as a dozen points in the first half, the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans knocked off No. 8 Miami by 20 points. Freshmen Nick Ward and Miles Bridges were just too much for the Hurricanes to handle.

Late turnovers and a controversial Flagrant 1 call helped lead No. 8 seed Arkansas over No. 9 seed Seton Hall in the South Region. The Razorbacks took advantage of two untimely Pirate turnovers and a Flagrant 1 call on Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez with 18 seconds left to get by with a win.

No. 2 seed Kentucky advanced despite getting an off night from Malik Monk, and No. 3 seed UCLA advanced despite playing defense like a CYO team.

FRIDAY’S BEST

Sindarious Thornwell and P.J. Dozier, South Carolina — Thornwell and Dozier combined for 50 points as the Gamecocks knocked off No. 10 seed Marquette, coming from behind to beat the Golden Eagles in Greenville, S.C. This was the first NCAA tournament win for the South Carolina basketball program since 1973. That’s 44 years ago.

Elijah Stewart, USC — The junior guard is your hero for the Trojans as he knocked down the game-winning three-pointer with 36 seconds left. After going scoreless in 31 minutes during USC’s win over Providence in the First Four, Stewart responded with a team-high 22 points as he was a huge factor going 6-for-13 from three-point range.

Derrick Walton Jr. vs. Jawun Evans — This one got the day going as Michigan and Oklahoma State had a one-point game that went into the 90s. Walton and the Wolverines won as the senior finished with 26 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. Evans did plenty of damage of his own as he ended up with 23 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds while also becoming a hero for some with his buzzer-beating three.

Troy Caupain, Cincinnati — Caupain had a disappointing senior season, but he saved his best game for the biggest moment, going for a season-high 23 points in a win over No. 11 Kansas State. With the win, the Bearcats because the only No. 6 seed to advance.

WHO GOT UPSET?

THE REST OF FRIDAY’S ACTION

  • It didn’t take long before No. 1 seed North Carolina ran away from No. 16 seed Texas Southern for a double-digit win. Justin Jackson knocked down five three-pointers to finish with 21 points.
  • No. 1 seed Kansas made light work of No. 16 seed UC Davis.
  • No. 2 seed Louisville had an off-day from Donovan Mitchell but had a balanced effort in a double-digit win over No. 15 Jacksonville State in the Midwest Region. Mangok Mathiang led the Cardinals with 18 points.
  • It took a little bit more effort than No. 2 Duke would have liked, but the Blue Devils eventually pulled away from No. 15 Troy to advance to the second round.
  • For a little while it looked like No. 3 seed Baylor might have difficulty with another double-digit seed but they pulled away from No. 14 seed New Mexico State in the East Region. Al Freeman paced the Bears with 21 points while Johnathan Motley had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Easy win for No. 3 seed Oregon in the Midwest Region as they scored 55 points in the first half to run past No. 14 seed Iona. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey had 24 points for the Ducks while Jordan Bell had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Arizona State lands four-star guard Luguentz Dort

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Arizona State landed a huge commitment on Wednesday night as four-star guard Lugentz Dort pledged to the Sun Devils.

The second commitment for Arizona State in the Class of 2018 in less than a week, the 6-foot-3 Dort is a big-time athlete on the perimeter as he selected the Sun Devils over his other finalists of Baylor and Oregon. Dort took official visits to all three schools during the process.

One of the better shooting guards in the 2018 class, Dort is a physically-imposing guard who should be ready to immediately contribute in the Pac-12.

Dort joins Finnish shooting guard Elias Valtonen in the Arizona State Class of 2018 recruiting haul.

Oregon sued by former recruit who tore ACL during official visit

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The University of Oregon and members of the men’s basketball staff, including head coach Dana Altman, are being sued by a former recruit who tore his ACL during an official visit to campus.

Crisshawn Clark, a junior guard at Portland, suffered his injury during an official visit to the Ducks which began on Oct. 16, 2015. At the time, Clark was a junior college recruit at Canada College and he suffered the injury as Oregon assistant coach Mike Mennenga ran him through a basketball workout during the visit. Clark was treated by an Oregon trainer, and after the injury was believed to be serious, an MRI confirmed a torn ACL.

Clark eventually committed to Pitt and sat out last season rehabbing his knee before ending up at Portland.

Even though Clark had a bad knee injury that required surgery, he is not seeking money for medical expenses. Clark’s lawsuit said that his medical expenses were paid for by Oregon. But Clark is suing for compensation for pain and suffering along with damages for the loss of future income. Clark estimates it will be over $100,000. And he might have a case.

That’s because the lawsuit alleges that Oregon violated an NCAA rule that prohibits on-campus evaluations of prospective student-athletes who are playing at a junior college. Oregon self-reported this violation in Oct. 2015, according to a report from Jack Pitcher of the Daily Emerald, citing athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton. The NCAA classified this as a level 3 violation.

If Clark was put through an illegal workout by Oregon — who admitted to violating a rule by self-reporting — then he might have a case. Along with Altman and Mennenga, Oregon assistant coaches Kevin Mckenna and Tony Stubblefield are also named in the lawsuit along with Oregon director of basketball operations Josh Jamieson.

Clark is sitting out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules as he is hoping for two years of eligibility after. Due to his torn ACL, Clark and Portland can apply for an extra year of eligibility for the 2019-20 season.

(H/t: Jack Pitcher, Daily Emerald)

Rick Pitino received subpoena in FBI’s college basketball probe

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Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has received a subpoena in the FBI’s college basketball bribery scandal, his lawyer told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Wednesday.

Pitino’s lawyer, Steve Pence, confirmed the subpoena as Pitino joins Miami head coach Jim Larranaga as coaches to receive a subpoena this week in the FBI’s probe. Those two head coaches join Auburn, Arizona, Oklahoma State and USC as the six known subpoenas, so far, in the case.

“We’ve already acknowledged that the coach has a subpoena and he’s gathering documents for the … U.S. attorney,” Pence said of Pitino to the Courier-Journal.

While it was known that Pitino had voluntarily spoken with the FBI thanks to an affidavit submitted to the University of Louisville Athletic Association in a packet from Pitino’s lawyers earlier this week, the subpoena was not mentioned, according to the Courier-Journal. The packet also included results of a lie detector test and copies of text messages.

The subpoena for Pitino doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but coupled with the report of Larranaga’s subpoena, it sounds like the FBI is taking the next steps in its case.

Report: Miami coach Jim Larranaga receives grand jury subpoena for FBI’s college basketball investigation

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Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has received a grand jury subpoena as the FBI continues its investigation into corruption in college basketball. According to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, Larranaga received a subpoena for texts, emails and other items.

Larranaga’s attorneys told Fenno that the veteran head coach has done nothing wrong. “There’s nothing there,” Larranaga’s attorney said to Fenno. “We’re trying to get them to admit they made a mistake and move on.”

While Larranaga and Miami have previously cooperated with the FBI in turning over phone records and documents in a report from Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel on Oct. 3, the news of a subpoena makes things far more serious.

FBI documents about the scandal don’t specifically mention Larranaga or Miami by name but the school was identified as one of the universities referenced with Adidas allegedly paying players. Miami confirmed the FBI investigation on Sept. 27, stating, “We have confirmed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that, at this time, it is investigating a potential tie to one member of our coaching staff and a student recruit.”

One wiretapped conversation, according to the FBI’s investigation, included a discussion into how much money it would take for a top recruit — believed to be North Carolina 2018 commit Nassir Little — to play at Miami as part of a bidding war.

Patriot League Preview: Can anyone challenge Bucknell?

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Patriot League.

The 2016-17 season in the Patriot League was one dominated by the Bucknell Bison, with Nathan Davis’ team winning the regular season title for the sixth time in the last seven years. Led by Patriot League Player and Defensive Player of the Year Nana Foulland, the Bison were the best team in the league with regards to both offensive and defensive efficiency and won the regular season title by three games. After winning 26 games and reaching the NCAA tournament as a 13-seed, the question for Bucknell entering the 2017-18 season is what can this group do for an encore.

The good news for Bucknell is that all four double-digit scorers from last season, led by Foulland and forward Zach Thomas, are back on campus. Foulland averaged 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season, with the versatile Thomas leading the Bison in scoring with an average of 15.9 points per contest. Add in guards Stephen Brown and Kimbal Mackenzie, and Bucknell has a rotation that won’t lack for talent or experience.

Given Bucknell’s recent track record and their returning contributors, there’s a simple question for the rest of the Patriot League: which team is best equipped to make a run at the Bison? One could argue that up to four teams are in the conversation, with there not being much to separate them on paper.

Despite losing an outstanding front court presence in Tim Kempton and another productive senior on guard Austin Price, Lehigh is one of those teams. Head coach Dr. Brett Reed will call upon an experienced backcourt to lead the way, with junior Kyle Leufroy averaging nearly 12 points per game last season and senior Kahron Ross leading the league in assists last season. The Mountain Hawks also add one of the Patriot League’s top newcomers in guard Lance Tejada, who sat out last season as a transfer after playing the first two seasons of his college career at East Carolina. With regard to the front court, the progression of sophomore forward Pat Andree will be key if Lehigh is to threaten Bucknell.

Also in the mix is Colgate, with head coach Matt Langel welcoming back six players who made at least 14 starts a season ago. At the top of that list are sophomore forward Will Rayman and senior guard Sean O’Brien, with Rayman being the Patriot League’s top freshman last season. In Rayman, O’Brien and Jordan Swopshire the Raiders return three double-digit scorers, and if Colgate can become a more efficient team on both ends of the floor look out.

MOREThe Enigma of Miles Bridges | NBC Sports Preseason All-American Team

Navy and Boston University should also be heard from in the Patriot League conversation, with the Midshipmen being led by senior guard Shawn Anderson. Ed DeChellis’ team won’t lack for depth, with the team’s top five scorers from a season ago back in Annapolis. As for the Terriers, Boston University has to account for the loss of two of the Patriot League’s best players in Eric Fanning and Justin Alston but the cupboard isn’t bare. Guards Cedric Hankerson and Cheddi Mosely return, as does all-rookie team forward Tyler Scanlon, which should make for a good foundation on which to build a possible contender.

Loyola (MD), Lafayette and Army West Point will look to fight their way into the upper half of the Patriot League standings, with the Greyhounds returning one of the Patriot League’s best guards in senior Andre Walker. Lafayette returns three of its top four scorers, led by the Patriot League’s top returning scorer in senior forward Matt Klinewski. And in his second season as the head coach at Army West Point, Jimmy Allen will look to make strides with a team that won 13 games in 2016-17. Guard Jordan Fox is back for his junior season, and in total five of Army’s top six scorers are back.

American, which won just eight games last season, returns its top two scorers in sophomores Sa’eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini. However, the Eagles do have to account for the loss of one of the top defenders in the Patriot League in wing Charlie Jones. Holy Cross, which won 15 games last season, will have to account for the loss of its top two scorers in Robert Champion and Malachi Alexander. Head coach Bill Carmody will look to juniors Karl Charles and Pat Benzan to step forward, but with no seniors on this season’s roster it will take the Crusaders some time to develop into a Patriot League contender.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON PATRIOT LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Nana Foulland, Bucknell

Not only was Foulland the Patriot League’s best player in 2016-17, but he was also its best defender. Foulland averaged 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game as a junior, shooting 63.0 percent from the field.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM

  • Kahron Ross, Lehigh: Ross led the Patriot League in assists (5.3 apg) last season while also scoring nearly ten points per game. With Tim Kempton gone, Ross will have more opportunities to score within the Lehigh offense.
  • Andre Walker, Loyola (MD): Walker averaged 14.6 points, 3.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per night for the Greyhounds last season, and he also shot 38.0 percent from three.
  • Shawn Anderson, Navy: The 6-foot-4 senior guard saw his field goal percentage dip as a junior (41.8 percent after shooting nearly 50 percent as a sophomore), but he still averaged 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per night.
  • Zach Thomas, Bucknell: Thomas led the Bison in scoring (15.9 ppg) last season, while also averaging 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per night. His ability to score both inside and out will be key for Bucknell.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @PL_MBB

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Bucknell
2. Lehigh
3. Colgate
4. Navy
5. Boston University
6. Loyola (MD)
7. Lafayette
8. Army West Point
9. American
10. Holy Cross