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Tuesday’s Three Things to Know: Xavier wins a classic, Tennessee and Michigan State win on the road

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1. NO. 5 XAVIER BEAT BUTLER IN ONE OF THE BEST GAMES OF THE SEASON

Despite the fact that the two programs shared a season in the Atlantic 10, with the move to the Big East the series between Xavier and Butler has really taken off. Tuesday night the two teams combined to produce on of the best games of the season to date, with the Musketeers winning 98-93 in overtime. Trevon Bluiett, who hit some huge shots in the second half and overtime, led the Musketeers with 26 points and Kerem Kanter added 22 for the Musketeers.

Xavier, which at one point in the first half led 29-11, survived despite Butler receiving a big second-half performance from Kelan Martin. Martin scored 25 of his 34 points in the second half and overtime, and the Bulldogs were able to force overtime thanks to huge three-pointers hit by Sean McDermott and Kamar Baldwin. But LaVall Jordan’s team missed out on what would have been a big win for their NCAA tournament profile, as Bluiett and the Musketeers regained their poise in overtime and closed out the game.

2. TENNESSEE COMPLETES FIRST SWEEP OF KENTUCKY SINCE 1999

Picked to finish 13th in the SEC’s preseason poll, No. 15 Tennessee has exceeded those expectations in a big way. Tuesday night Rick Barnes’ team made big plays on both ends of the court late as they knocked off No. 24 Kentucky 61-59 in Lexington. Lamonte Turner, who hit a big three with 26 seconds remaining that gave the Vols a one-point lead, led four double-digit scorers with 16 points.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green scored 15 apiece to lead Kentucky, with the former also responsible for six of the team’s seven assists. Ball and player movement remains an issue for John Calipari’s young Wildcats, and those issues combined with Tennessee’s late-game execution proved to be too much to overcome. As a result of Tennessee’s win, the SEC’s two best teams are squads people did not expect much from back in October.

3. NO. 4 MICHIGAN STATE SURVIVES IN IOWA CITY

For 38-plus minutes Iowa looked nothing like the group that was just 3-9 in Big Ten play, going blow for blow with a Michigan State team that rates among the nation’s best. Tom Izzo’s team looked lost defensively for significant stretches, but in “winning time” the differences between the teams was quite clear. Michigan State was able to string together a few stops late while continuing to execute offensively, going on to win 96-93 as Jordan Bohannon’s heave as time expired bounced off the rim.

The Spartans putting up 96 points, with Miles Bridges and Nick Ward leading the way with 25 and 17 respectively, and shooting 56.1 percent from the field comes as no surprise. But the defensive breakdowns, for which Iowa certainly deserves some credit for, were startling for a team that’s one of the best when it comes to defensive efficiency. And with No. 2 Purdue next on the schedule, Michigan State will need to tighten things up in the coming days.

Bubble Banter: It is a massive night for teams on the bubble

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

SYRACUSE
VIRGINIA TECH
PENN STATE
SETON HALL
PROVIDENCE
ST. BONAVENTURE
TCU
MARQUETTE
LOUISVILLE
FLORIDA
TEXAS
KANSAS STATE
USC

Wichita State’s Landry Shamet out sick against Tulane

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Wichita State guard Landry Shamet will miss the Shockers’ game against Tulane on Wednesday night as he sits out due to illness.

Dressed in street clothes for the AAC conference clash, Shamet has put up All-American-caliber numbers for Wichita State this season as he’s putting up 14.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Without Shamet in the lineup, it gives Samajae Haynes-Jones a potential shot at minutes as he’s fallen out of the rotation over the last several weeks. Wichita State is still heavily favored against Tulane at home on Wednesday but they have an important three-game stretch to close out the conference season. The Shockers have to go on the road to play SMU and UCF before closing out the conference slate with an important home game against Cincinnati.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III out for the fourth straight game with knee injury

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Duke star freshman big man Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night as he continues to battle a knee injury.

The 6-foot-11 freshman suffered a mild knee sprain in his right knee in Duke’s game against North Carolina on Feb. 8 as he’s missed the Blue Devils’ last three games — all wins. Bagley will miss Duke’s contest against Louisville on Wednesday as he’s also missed games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Clemson.

Duke still has three regular-season games after Wednesday before the ACC tournament starts as Bagley still has plenty of time to heal and recover before the postseason begins.

Bagley is putting up 21.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for Duke this season as he’s a consensus top-five pick in most 2018 NBA mock drafts. Without Bagley in the lineup, Duke has continued to play well and win games as they’ve still had big man Wendell Carter to handle things on the interior.

 

Rick Pitino: ‘I had no knowledge’ of the violations that led to banner coming down

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Disgraced ex-Louisville head coach Rick Pitino spoke at a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon and denied any knowledge of the violations that were committed by Andre McGee, any potential NCAA violations involving the recruitment of Brian Bowen and pushed for Louisville to file an injunction against the NCAA’s decision to remove the 2013 national title banner.

“I take full responsibility for everyone I hire,” Pitino said. “To say I’m disappointed with the NCAA ruling is a gross understatement.”

“I have apologized many times. I feel awful for what happened. I’ve run a clean program all my life. [Sitting where you are], I would agree with you. It looks bad. I’ve coached for 41 years. For 35, as a head coach, nothing has come up.”

Pitino went on to say that he “hired the wrong person” when he made the decision to bring McGee onto his staff. McGee is the one that was responsible for hosting the parties and bringing the strippers and sex workers to them.

“I had no knowledge of the reprehensible things that went on in that dormitory,” Pitino said. “Did a few of [my players] partake in parties they didn’t organize? Yes, they did. That had nothing to do with an extra benefit,” going on to add that attending these parties were not the reason that Louisville won the 2013 national title.

Pitino also denied any involvement in the recruit of Bowen, a five-star prospect that committed to Louisville in a deal that was supposed to get his family paid $100,000 from Adidas.

“In 40 years of coaching, I have never been involved, directly or indirectly, in any effort to pay any money or extend any improper benefit to any recruit or recruit’s family members or representatives,” he said.

Pitino said that he has not had any discussions about coaching again or looking for a job this spring, but he did say that he does “miss it.” He also urged the new University of Louisville administration to fight this decision in court, to file an injunction and do what they can to keep Louisville from having to sacrifice a national title banner.

No other Division I basketball program has ever had a national title vacated.

“The NCAA,” Pitino said, “cannot rewrite history by taking a banner down.

John Wall is heading back to school to get a business degree

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John Wall, the former Kentucky star that helped launch Coach Cal’s one-and-done movement in Lexington, is planning on using a piece of that $207 million contract extension that he signed last July for summer school.

“I’m going back to school this summer to get my business degree,” Wall told the Washington Post this week. “That’s what I’m focusing on. I promised my dad that.”

Wall’s dad died when he was eight years old, and anyone that knows his story knows that it hasn’t been the easiest path for Wall to get from that moment to this moment.

So good for John.

Seriously.

I do believe that it is important to educate yourself, even if that education is something as simple as learning how to run a business on your own.

But I also think that, in the larger context of basketball and, specifically, the one-and-done rule, this is important to note. Wall left school as a 19-year old, made a whole bunch of guaranteed money on his rookie deal, got more guaranteed money on his first contract extension and now is working under a contract that will pay him nine figures with a crooked number in front. Throw in endorsement deals, and by the time Wall hangs up his sneakers, he could end up banking close to half a billion dollars.

That’s more than enough money to be able to pay for three years worth of classes at Kentucky to finish his undergrad degree, get a master’s and become a PhD. For Wall, that financial hit would be like the financial hit you or I take for adding chips and guac at Chipotle. (But not queso. We pretend their queso doesn’t exist.)

My point is this: The time a person has to educate themselves never ends. The time that Wall, or any professional athlete, has to profit off of their ability does, and much sooner than most think.

So the next time you decide to criticize a player for leaving school early to chase their professional dreams or because they’re just looking to get paid or because they don’t care about education, just think about this.