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Friday NCAA Tournament Recap: So UMBC happened …

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PLAYERS OF THE DAY

You guys might have missed it — it’s only the single-biggest story in all of sports right now — but No. 16 seed UMBC pulled off the impossible and knocked off No. 1 seed Virginia in the first round on Friday night.

And the star was Jairus Lyles, who was playing through cramps to finish with 23 of his 28 points in the second half. He shot 9-for-11 from the floor. His parents are both UVA grads. It was one of the most unlikely and unbelievable performances that I have ever seen and that I likely ever will see, and I don’t think any of us will ever forget where we were and how we witnessed this go down.

My attention now turns to UVA. Where does a program known for choking in March go from here?

Worth noting here: The Marcus Foster revenge game did not happen, as No. 9 seed Kansas State knocked off No. 8 Creighton. The Wildcats will face UMBC on Sunday.

Before all that happened, America fell in love with Marshall junior guard Jon Elmore on Friday afternoon. After putting up gaudy numbers during the regular season in Dan D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense, Elmore put his offensive skills on full display in a Thundering Herd upset win over No. 4 seed Wichita State in the East Region.

Marshall’s second-round game against in-state rival West Virginia is going to be a ton of fun.

GAME OF THE DAY

The game between No. 7 seed Nevada and No. 10 seed Texas in the South Region was a March instant classic. It had a 14-point comeback, overtime, teams trading huge buckets, lead changes, missed key free throws and a potential buzzer-beater that rimmed out. In the end, the Wolfpack earned the tight win over the Longhorns to advance to the second round. This is the first NCAA tournament win for Nevada in 11 years. Nevada moves on to play No. 2 seed Cincinnati after the Bearcats ran by after  No. 15 seed Georgia State.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Texas A&M punctuated its win over No. 10 seed Providence in the West Region as sophomore forward Robert Williams had a monster windmill near the end of the game where he nearly hit his head on the rim. Williams was one of two Aggie big men with a double-double as he finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Texas A&M will face No. 2 seed North Carolina in the next round.

WTF??? OF THE DAY

Indeed:

(Joe Sherburne plays for UMBC.)

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Miles Bridges went into takeover mode as No. 3 Michigan State … well, they beat No. 14 Bucknell by four points, but this was an 18 point game with four minutes left. Bridges had 29 points, nine boards and four assists. Michigan State will get No. 11 seed Syracuse in the next round.

The Michael Porter Jr. era at Missouri is over. He looked out of shape and out of sync again, as No. 8 seed Missouri got worked over by No. 9 Florida State, who advance to play No. 1 Xavier.

Defending champion and No. 2 seed North Carolina cruised to an easy win over No. 15 seed Lipscomb as five Tar Heels finished in double-figures. Kenny Williams led North Carolina with 18 points while senior Theo Pinson contributed a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Tar Heels advance to the Round of 32 to face No. 7 seed Texas A&M after the Aggies beat No. 10 seed Providence.

Pulling away late in the first half, No. 2 Purdue cruised to victory over No. 15 Cal State Fullerton in the East Region. Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards both tallied 15 points each to lead the Boilermakers as Purdue had 10 different players score in the win. But the big news from this one might be the loss of Purdue senior center Isaac Haas for the rest of the season. Haas left the win on Friday after falling to the ground and fracturing his elbow.

No. 10 seed Butler will get a chance at revenge against Purdue in the second round after the Bulldogs raced out to a big, early lead and held off No. 7 seed Arkansas. Senior forward Kelan Martin poured in 27 points and sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin had 24 points to pace the Butler offense. Purdue knocked off Butler during a regular-season game in Indianapolis back in December. The loss of Haas on the interior makes the rematch that much more interesting.

No. 2 seed Cincinnati eventually pulled away from No. 15 seed Georgia State in the South Region. Sophomore Jarron Cumberland had a big afternoon with 27 points and 11 rebounds. In the second round in the South Region, the Bearcats will face No. 7 seed Nevada after the Wolfpack rallied from 14 points down to top Texas in overtime.

Meanwhile, Marshall will face an in-state rival in the second round in the East Region after No. 5 seed West Virginia knocked out No. 12 seed Murray State. The Mountaineers had a great game from All-American senior guard Jevon Carter. Carter put up 21 points, eight assists, six steals and five rebounds while also holding Racers senior guard Jonathan Stark to a 1-for-12 shooting day.

No. 5 Clemson cruised against No. 12 New Mexico State, and they will advance to take on No. 4 Auburn, who looked terrible in a win over No. 13 Charleston.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?

North Carolina’s Luke Maye declaring for NBA draft without hiring agent

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina junior Luke Maye has declared for the NBA draft but isn’t hiring an agent.

The 6-foot-8 forward was a third-team Associated Press All-American after averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most improved player after increasing his scoring average by 11.4 points from his sophomore to junior seasons.

Coach Roy Williams says in a statement that it’s ”a great opportunity” for Maye to work out for NBA teams and get feedback on what to improve in his game.

The deadline for college players to declare early for the draft was Sunday night. Players who don’t hire an agent can maintain their college eligibility as long as they withdraw by May 30, which is 10 days after the NBA draft combine.

Gonzaga star undergoes surgery on his shoulder

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The most important players for Gonzaga heading into the 2018-19 season will have an offseason dedicated to rehabilitation.

Josh Perkins, Gonzaga’s starting point guard, underwent surgery on Friday to repair a shoulder that he injured back in December. According to the Spokesman-Review, Perkins expects to be healthy and ready to play by the start of next season.

Perkins averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 assists during the 2017-18 season despite playing through those shoulder issues. After December’s win over Washington, a game in which Perkins left wincing in pain and clutching his shoulders, Perkins said “Just popped out a little bit. It’s not very strong right now, but everything is good.”

For my money, Perkins is the player that is going to be the x-factor for the Zags next season. They have a terrific front court with Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie returning, and with the likes of Zach Norvell and Corey Kispert back, there is plenty of talent on the wings. Perkins, the senior point guard, is the blue that is going to be needed to hold it all together.

Gonzaga is a top five team heading into next year. They have national title aspirations. Perkins might end up being the guy that determines whether they live up to those goals or get knocked out of the field in the Sweet 16.