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Tuesday’s Three Things to Know: Gonzaga rolls, Notre Dame survives and four other tickets punched

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1. Gonzaga rolls BYU to win WCC tournament crown

With BYU knocking off Saint Mary’s in Monday’s WCC semifinals, there was a real chance that the conference could earn itself an unexpected NCAA tournament bid. Sixth-ranked Gonzaga did bubble teams across the country a favor Tuesday night in Las Vegas, exploding during the second half and winning the WCC tournament by a 74-54 final score. Killian Tillie was outstanding for the Bulldogs, leading four double-digit scorers with 22 points, and Gonzaga would lead by as much as 32 in the second half.

Mark Few’s team, which has now on six straight WCC tournament titles, made ten three-pointers and also limited BYU to just 35 percent shooting from the field. Gonzaga has the look of a team that can play deep into March, especially if point guard Josh Perkins (11 points, eight assists, no turnovers) continues to play at a high level.


2. Notre Dame avoids disaster against Pittsburgh

Beating Pittsburgh, which went 0-18 in ACC play during the regular season, wasn’t going to boost Notre Dame’s profile as the Fighting Irish look to solidify their place in the NCAA tournament. A loss to the Panthers would have been a tough hit to absorb, especially with star forward Bonzie Colson back in the fold. Mike Brey’s team struggled in the second half Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn, but more importantly Notre Dame managed to survive and advance.

With the 67-64 victory Notre Dame gets a shot at Virginia Tech Wednesday night. Back on January 27 the Hokies beat Notre Dame 80-75 in South Bend, but it’s important to note that both Colson and Matt Farrell missed that game due to injury. Those two combined to score 37 points against Pitt. Also taking care of business in Brooklyn was Syracuse, which beat Wake Forest 73-64. Next up for the Orange is North Carolina, giving Jim Boeheim’s team a shot at a win that would do wonders for their NCAA tournament hopes.

3. Four other teams earn NCAA tournament berths

Gonzaga wasn’t the only team to officially earn an NCAA tournament berth Tuesday, with the automatic bid recipients being determined in the Colonial, Horizon, Northeast and Summit leagues as well.

A Joe Chealey layup late in regulation forced overtime, and the College of Charleston would go on to beat Northeastern 83-76 in overtime to win the CAA title. Representing the Horizon League will be Wright State, which as the two-seed avoided the chaos in Detroit and beat Cleveland State 74-57.

In the NEC, LIU Brooklyn handed Wagner its first home loss of the season and is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013. Last but not least, South Dakota State is headed back to the NCAA tournament for a third consecutive season as it beat rival South Dakota 97-87 in the Summit League final. Junior forward Mike Daum (25 points, 11 rebounds) should be a household name by this point, but he’s got plenty of help as well. David Jenkins went off for 29 points and Reed Tellinghuisen added 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.