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March Calmness? NCAA Tournament’s quiet first round creates awesome weekend matchups

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The first round of the NCAA tournament was a dud.

And I say this as someone that loves college basketball more than just about anyone loves college basketball.

There wasn’t a single buzzer-beater. The closest thing we got to a game-winning shot was when USC’s Elijah Stewart his a three with 36 seconds left to beat SMU. That was also the closest thing we got to an upset during the first two days of the event, a No. 11 seed and the fourth-best team in the Pac-12 knocking off a No. 6 seed from the AAC.

Yes, Middle Tennessee State advanced to the second round of the tournament for the second straight year, but the Blue Raiders were actually favored against No. 5 seed Minnesota just like No. 11 seed Rhode Island was favored against No. 6 seed Creighton. No. 11 seed Xavier was technically a two-point dog to No. 6 seed Maryland, but any gambler worth their vig was on the Musketeers just like every one that filled out a bracket had Chris Mack’s club in the second round.

In other words, there are no Cinderellas this year that we haven’t seen before. The top four seeds went undefeated in the first round for the first time since 2007 and just the fifth time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

The issue, however, isn’t just that we lack Cinderellas, it’s that none of those potential Cinderellas even gave us a thrilling run at an upset. The two most exciting moments of the first round were the result of intentional fouls that went off the rails; Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis intentionally fouled Northwestern with his team up one and 15 seconds left because he forgot the score, and Seton Hall was whistled for a flagrant foul that iced their loss to Arkansas when an intentional foul with less than a minute left was just a little bit too intentional. The only last-second shot that mattered was when Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans hit a three at the buzzer to cover the spread.

What can you do?

You’re not always going to be getting half court buzzer-beaters and history-making collapses. We hope we do. Sometimes it just works out like this.

But what first round chalk means is a second round that is loaded with weird, tantalizing and awesome matchups. Like Kentucky-Wichita State, which will give the Shockers a shot at revenge against the team that ended their perfect season three years ago while simultaneously giving them a chance to stick it to the Selection Committee. Or the clash of styles that comes with West Virginia-Notre Dame, Purdue-Iowa State and Florida-Virginia. Or the red-hot Michigan Wolverines getting their shot at Louisville. Or plucky upstart Northwestern facing off with big, bad, overrated (?) Gonzaga.

The first two days of the tournament may have been boring.

But there are still 16 more games to be played this weekend, and if there’s anything we know about March, it’s that the Madness always shows up eventually.

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.