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Braxton Beverly, Evan Battey and Jalen Hayes are proof NCAA has no business determining academic ability

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The NCAA cannot get out of their own way.

Just seven days after N.C. State formally appealed the NCAA’s initial ruling on Braxton Beverly’s eligibility and two weeks after the association announced that they have no grounds to punish North Carolina for decades of academic fraud that helped keep national title-winning players eligible, the Wolfpack were informed that there was going to be no change in the eligibility status of their freshman point guard.

Beverly will not be playing for the Wolfpack this season.

If you haven’t been following along with this story, buckle up. You’re about to get angry.

Beverly is a three-star recruit from Kentucky that originally committed to, signed with and enrolled at Ohio State while Thad Matta was the head coach. He went as far as to take summer classes at the school, enrolling in May, a good two months after Ohio State’s athletic director had given Matta a vote of confidence.

That vote of confidence lasted three months. In early June, a couple of weeks after Beverly had enrolled in summer courses under the impression that he would be playing for Matta, the old coach was out and, by the end of that week, new head coach Chris Holtmann was hired.

But Beverly wasn’t recruited by Holtmann. He didn’t have a relationship with that staff, not the kind of relationship he had with N.C. State’s staff, so he left the school at the end of June – about two months before the start of the fall semester of his freshman year – and made his way to Raleigh.

Generally speaking, when there is a coaching change in a program, the players that had signed with the previous staff are granted a release by the new staff. It’s how things work at the college level. No matter how much the NCAA wants to bury their head in the sand and ignore the obvious, basketball players are committing to basketball coaches, not to the school. When there is that change, the right thing to do is to let those players move on. It’s what VCU did with LaVar Batts, who reconsidered his commitment after Will Wade left for LSU, getting a release and ending up at N.C. State. And it’s what N.C. State did with Thomas Allen, who reopened his recruitment when Mark Gottfried was fired and eventually signed with Nebraska.

And that’s what Ohio State did with Beverly. They gave him a release. They even supported his appeal with the NCAA. But since Matta’s firing happened in June, after Beverly had already started taking classes and working towards his degree but before he start of his freshman year, he was considered a transfer.

One year in residence.

No questions asked.

“This is a situation where adults failed a young man, and he’s the one paying the price,” head coach Kevin Keatts said.

If that one is bad, this one will infuriate you.

Evan Battey is a freshman with Colorado. When he was a 13-year old freshman in high school, the Southern California native dealt with what head coach Tad Boyle described as “personal and family issues” that sent his grades off a cliff. He failed his freshman year, repeated the grade and, in the four years since, has turned himself into a model student, quite possibly the most academically sound player on the Colorado roster.

But he will not be playing basketball as a freshman with the Buffaloes just like he was not able to play basketball as a senior in high school. You see, when Battey was failing as a freshman, his mother – who, by the way, is an aerospace engineer and probably knows a thing or two about academia – pulled him off the team, a source told NBC Sports. You don’t get five years of high school ball in California, but Battey didn’t transfer to a prep school for his final year. He finished up at Villa Park as a player/coach and earnedΒ Orange County Athletic Directors Association with its Athlete of Character Award.

That sounds like a pretty impressive young man, but since he couldn’t mentally handle being a 13-year old freshman in high school at the same time that his family was going through their own problems, the NCAA has forced him to take an academic redshirt.

“It’s a little bit ironic to me with all the things that are going on in college basketball,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said last week. “North Carolina academic scandal, they lawyer up and fight the NCAA for two years, and they win on a technicality. They get off scot-free. There’s an FBI investigation going on. There’s four assistant coaches that have been arrested by the FBI. As of today, nothing has happened to those four schools. No ramifications for those sorts of things.”

“But you have a kid who struggled a little bit when he was 13 years old in the classroom due to a lot of personal and family issues he was dealing with at the time, and he gets stuck sitting out this year.”

And what about Jalen Hayes?

A 6-foot-7 senior that averaged 15.9 points and 8.0 boards last season, Hayes will not be allowed to compete for the first semester this season. He earned a 2.5 grade in a class within his major last year, and Hayes’ major just so happens to require a 2.8 grade in order to get credit. That meant that Hayes fell under the NCAA’s minimum requirement for credit hours. He’s ineligible in the NCAA’s eyes for “failed to make satisfactory progress toward a degree” despite the fact that – get this – he’s on track to graduate a semester early with a 2.9 GPA.

I’m not allowed to curse in this space, otherwise I would be here.


This is the way that it works for the NCAA on the academic side.

They do not have the power to punish North Carolina for years and years and years of academic fraud because the school made the simple argument that the fake classes weren’t actually fake and the NCAA has ceded the ability to determine what is and isn’t academic fraud to the universities.

On the other side of things, three kids who are quiet clearly the embodiment “student-athlete” that the NCAA should be using as their posterboys – Take summer school classes! Graduate early! Failing freshman year doesn’t mean you can’t turn your life around! – and instead force them to sit out games even after appeal.

And if that is the case, it is time for the NCAA to get out of the business of determining academic ability.

Because if this is the way that it is going to go, the system is broken beyond repair.

No Haas, no problem: No. 2 Purdue sneaks past No. 10 Butler, into Sweet 16

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No Haas, no harm.

Playing without Isaac Haas, their senior 7-footer who fractured his elbow in an opening round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, the Boilermakers shot 11-for-24 from three and got a valiant effort from their other 7-footer, freshman Matt Haarms, in a 76-73 win over No. 10-seed Butler.

The second-seeded Boilermakers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season. They’ll take on No. 3-seed Texas Tech in the East Region semifinals on Friday evening in Boston.

Purdue was led by 20 points from Vincent Edwards, Purdue’s senior leader, who scored 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting as his partner in crime, sophomore Carsen Edwards, shot just 4-for-17 from the floor and finished with 13 points. The biggest shot of the night came from another senior, Dakota Mathias, who buried a three with 14 seconds left that put Purdue up five.

But the real story here was Haarms.

The freshman will be thrust into a critical role for the Boilermakers throughout the rest of this tournament, and I don’t think that it’s crazy to say that the Boilermakers will go as far as he allows them to go. Haarms is the only big man currently on the Purdue roster that played any kind of meaningful minutes this season. Purdue played roughly 100 possessions during the regular season without Haas or Haarms on the floor, and it’s probably safe to assume that the majority of those possessions were played during garbage time, when the walk-ons were on the floor.

Haarms finished with seven boards, six boards and a pair of blocks in 27 minutes, doing a good enough job in the role that he was asked to play to keep Butler from lighting up the Boilermakers in pick-and-roll actions and in protecting the rim. He is certainly a better defender than Haas, particularly in space, but he is no where near the threat that Haas is on the offensive end of the floor. It limits what Purdue can do offensively, and with a game coming up against one of college basketball’s best defensive teams, a group that prides themselves on their ability to run teams off the three point line, we could be looking at a situation where Purdue really needs that interior presence.

What Haarms can provide will be a difference-maker.

I hope he’s ready for it.

VIDEO: Jordan Poole got a hero’s welcome in Michigan’s locker room

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Jordan Poole hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three to send Michigan into the Sweet 16.

And as you might expect, when he made his way back into the Wolverine, he was greeted with a wall of water:

Let’s see that from another angle:

I can never see enough of these videos, but perhaps this is the best part: Two weeks ago, after Michigan won the Big Ten tournament, John Beilein was absolutely drenched in the locker room, having to go to his press conference sopping wet, cold and wearing a towel around his shoulders.

So on Saturday night, he did the smart thing. He wore a poncho and goggles and went on the offensive:

Sunday’s betting lines, point spreads, over-unders

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Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for final day of the first week of the NCAA tournament.

Detroit: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce

  • 12:10 p.m.: No. 2 Purdue (-3.5) vs. No. 10 Butler, CBS (143.5)
  • 2:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan State (-9) vs. No. 11 Syracuse, CBS (129.5)

Charlotte: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

  • 5:15 p.m.: No. 2 North Carolina (-6.5) vs. No. 7 Texas A&M, CBS (151.5)
  • 7:45 p.m.: No. 9 Kansas State -10) vs. No. 16 UMBC, CBS (135.5)

Nashville: Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl

  • 6:10 p.m.: No. 2 Cincinnati (-8) vs. No. 7 Nevada, TNT (136.5)
  • 8:40: No. 1 Xavier (-5.5) vs. No. 9 Florida State, TNT (159)

San Diego: Carter Blackburn, Debbie Antonelli, John Schriffen

  • 7:10 p.m.: No. 4 Auburn (-1.5) vs. No. 5 Clemson, TBS (146.5)
  • 9:40 p.m.: No. 5 West Virginia (-12.5) vs. No. 13 Marshall, TBS (159.5)


Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Recap: An evening full of buzzer-beaters and monster performances

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No. 5-seed Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16 with a win over No. 13-seed Buffalo, and the star of the show was the guy that’s been Kentucky’s best player for three months: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He finished with 27 points, six boards, six assists and a pair of steals on 10-for-12 shooting while making both of his threes and 5-of-7 free throws.

That’s a ridiculous line, one that makes me wonder whether or not we were premature in saying that this Kentucky team does not have a superstar that can take a game over.


  • ZACH NORVELL, Gonzaga: Two days after hitting a game-winning shot against No. 13-seed UNC Greensboro, Norvell went for 28 points, 12 boards, four assists and two steals — sidenote: !!!!! — as the Zags beat No. 5-seed Ohio State.
  • ANGEL DELGADO, Seton Hall: 24 points, 23 boards, five assists, career over. Salute, sir. It’s been a pleasure.
  • KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech: Evans finished with 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting to lead the Red Raiders to the Sweet 16 with a win over Florida.


You make the call here.

Was it Jordan Poole’s buzzer-beating three for No. 3-seed Michigan:

Or Clayton Custer hitting Loyola-Chicago’s second game-winner in the span of three days?:


The buzzer-beater that didn’t matter … did.

Myles Powell, with Seton Hall down 83-76, hit this running three at the buzzer. It meant that the final score was 83-79, meaning that Seton Hall covered the 4.5 points that Kansas was favored by. It also meant that the Pirates covered the second half line (Kansas -1.5) and Seton Hall’s wild last minute rally meant that this game also hit the over:

Bad beats everywhere.


No. 1-seed Kansas was +21 in the 22 minutes that Udoka Azubuike played on Saturday. They were -17 in the 18 minutes he didn’t play.

No. 1-seed Villanova shot 17-for-41 from three in an 81-58 win over Alabama to get to the Sweet 16.

Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter overwhelmed No. 7-seed Rhode Island as No. 2-seed Duke is now a Sweet 16 team.

VIDEO: Jordan Poole’s last-second three sends No. 3-seed Michigan into the Sweet 16

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For the first time in this NCAA tournament, we have a buzzer-beater.

After Devin Davis missed a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds left, No. 3-seed Michigan went the length of the court and Jordan Poole, a freshman who was scoreless on the night, buried a three as time expired to send the Wolverines into the Sweet 16 with a 64-63 win:

When asked after the game how a freshman was able to make that shot, Michigan head coach John Beilein said he has “an overdose of swag.”

Poole’s three bailed out Michigan in what was an otherwise ugly performance.

John Beilein’s club shot 35.6 percent from the floor, 8-for-30 from three and looked stagnant and bogged down offensively for 39 minutes and 56.4 seconds before Poole saved their season.

No. 6-seed Houston got 23 points from Rob Gray, who was again sensational and certainly deserved a chance to extend his career for another game. He had 39 points in a win over No. 11 San Diego State in the opener and was the best player in the West Region for the first weekend of the tournament.