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No. 13 Buffalo embarrasses No. 4 Arizona


Arizona’s star-crossed season just got trampled by a Buffalo.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats were absolutely manhandled by the No. 13 Bulls, 89-68, in what amounted to a dominating performance for Buffalo and an embarrassment for Arizona.

Buffalo, not the team with the presumptive No. 1 NBA draft pick or the preseason No. 2 ranking, was clearly and completely the better squad from start to finish.

It was a fitting end for the Wildcats, whose season has been defined by its absurdity and failures. The year began with the arrest of an assistant coach as part of a federal investigation and then endured Rawle Alkins’ broken foot, another failed drug test and reinstatement from Allonzo Trier and the allegation that Sean Miller was on a federal wiretap discussing funnelling money to star Deandre Ayton before coming to an end in Idaho with a shellacking courtesy of the MAC champion.

At long last, this season out of its misery.

The Wildcats looked either uninterested or unable to hang with the motivated and focused Bulls, who have been in the NCAA tournament in three of the last four years. Buffalo head coach Nate Oats said he believed his team was the better one on the floor Thursday. Nothing that happened there disproved that theory.

Buffalo was blistering offensively, shooting 54.8 percent from the floor and 50 percent on 30 shots from 3-point range. Wes Clark scored 25 and Jeremy Harris had 23. CJ Massinburg hit five threes and scored 19 points to help the Bulls to the first NCAA tournament win in program history.

Buffalo’s story is a great one. The team on the other side of the scoreboard can’t say the same.

As brutal as Arizona’s performance was Thursday and as disjointed as their entire season has been, the Wildcats’ future looks bleak.

Things could get a whole lot worse really quickly.

At the most basic level, the roster turnover will be massive. Ayton, Alkins and Trier are going pro while Dusan Ristic and Parker Jackson-Cartwright are out of eligibility. For those keeping score at home, that’s the entire starting five.

There are no reinforcements coming, either. The stench of the federal investigation has made their recruiting toxic, and there are no commits for 2018. Arizona has been the premier recruiting on the west coast in recent years, and now they literally have no one in their recruiting class in the middle of March.

Of course, those are short-term concerns. The bigger issue is how bad are the long-term implications of their current situation?

Miller may have coached his last game in Tucson. The federal government might have more to say about the program. Then the NCAA will undoubtedly have questions.

Arizona can’t even really just wait out the allegations. The unknown here is actually probably worse than just getting to whatever the fallout will eventually be. At least then the Wildcats will know what they’re facing and how to deal with it. Right now, it’s a shrug and a hope the program isn’t decimated. Not exactly a winning message on the recruiting trail.

It’s going to get dark in the desert.

The question becomes how long does night last?

The worst part?

The NCAA won’t be able to vacate that loss.

Marquette lands Fordham grad transfer Joseph Chartouny

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Marquette pulled in a quality graduate transfer commitment on Friday as Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny pledged to the Golden Eagles.

The 6-foot-3 Chartouny was a three-year starter for the Rams as he should help offset the loss of guard Andrew Rowsey to graduation. While Chartouny isn’t nearly the perimeter threat that Rowsey was, he should be able to help significantly on the defensive end for Marquette. Chartouny put up 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season as he was one of the more productive all-around players in the Atlantic 10.

One of the nation’s leaders in steals the past three seasons, Chartouny has much better size to play alongside Markus Howard in the Marquette backcourt than Rowsey (5-foot-11) had. Since Howard is also 5-foot-11, Chartouny can now guard the bigger and more athletic perimeter matchup as Marquette tries to improve its porous defense from last season.

Marquette still has an open scholarship for next season as they’ve been investigating other transfer options to bolster the roster. Returning most of last season’s roster, the expectation will be for the Golden Eagles to make it back to the NCAA tournament next season.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.