Marcus Foster, Creighton
Robert Williams, Texas A&M (story)
DECLARING, SIGNING WITH AN AGENT
Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State (story)
Markelle Fultz, Washington (story)
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse (story)
L.J. Peak, Georgetown
Ivan Rabb, California (story)
Jayson Tatum, Duke (story)
DECLARING WITHOUT AN AGENT
Deng Adel, Louisville
Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
John Collins, Wake Forest
Marcus Keene, Central Michigan
Kyle Kuzma, Utah
Jaylen Johnson, Louisville
Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
Eric Mika, BYU
Semi Ojeleye, SMU
Cam Oliver, Nevada
Trevor Thompson, Ohio State
Thomas Wilder, Western Michigan
Omer Yurtseven, N.C. State
YET TO DECIDE
Bam Adebayo, Kentucky
Rawle Alkins, Arizona
Grayson Allen, Duke
Jarrett Allen, Texas
Ike Anigbogu, UCLA
O.G. Anunoby, Indiana
Lonzo Ball, UCLA
Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State
Tyus Battle, Syracuse
Jordan Bell, Oregon
Joel Berry II, North Carolina
Marques Bolden, Duke
Tony Bradley, North Carolina
Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Bruce Brown, Miami
Thomas Bryant, Indiana
Jeffery Carroll, Oklahoma State
Zach Collins, Gonzaga
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon
P.J. Dozier, South Carolina
Vince Edwards, Purdue
Drew Eubanks, Oregon State
Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
Tacko Fall, UCF
Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vanderbilt
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
Harry Giles III, Duke
Jessie Govan, Georgetown
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas
Isaac Haas, Purdue
Donta Hall, Alabama
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M
Jonathan Isaac, Florida State
Frank Jackson, Duke
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Justin Jackson, Maryland
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Andrew Jones, Texas
Luke Kennard, Duke
V.J. King, Louisville
Dedric Lawson, Memphis
T.J. Leaf, UCLA
Williams Lee, UAB
Anas Mahmoud, Louisville
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
De’Anthony Melton, USC
Chimezie Metu, USC
Shake Milton, SMU
Malik Monk, Kentucky
Johnathan Motley, Baylor
Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas
Justin Patton, Creighton
Theo Pinson, North Carolina
Ivan Rabb, Cal
Devin Robinson, Florida
Jerome Robinson, Boston College
Kobi Simmons, Arizona
Dennis Smith, N.C. State
Edmond Sumner, Xavier
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
Allonzo Trier, Arizona
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
D.J. Wilson, Michigan
VCU expected to hire former assistant Mike Rhoades
Mike Rhoades is expected to be named the next head coach at VCU, sources told NBC Sports.
Rhoades was the head coach at Rice the past three seasons, taking over a program that won just seven games before he arrived to a program that went 23-12 and 11-7 in Conference USA this past season. Prior to getting the head job at Rice, Rhoades was an assistant at VCU for five years under Shaka Smart. He previously spent a decade as the head coach at Randolph-Macon, a very good Division III program in southern Virginia.
Rhoades will replace Will Wade, who left VCU for LSU on Monday evening.
The news was first reported by CBS Sports.
Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans to declare for the NBA Draft
Evans averaged 19.0 points and 6.5 assists this season, leading OSU to a 20-14 season and a spot in the NCAA tournament despite an 0-6 start to league play. He’s projected as a late-first to early-second round pick.
Projected lottery pick Robert Williams to return for sophomore season
Robert Williams, a projected lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft announced on Tuesday that he will be returning to Texas A&M for his sophomore season.
“I love A&M and it was a great experience which helped me grow and get better as a player and a person,” Williams said in a statement. “Although I’ve grown, I still feel like I would benefit from another year of college. This will give me more time to mature and develop my game before moving on to the NBA.”
Williams is a 6-foot-9 forward from Louisiana. This past season he averaged 11.9 points, 8.2 boards and 2.5 blocks for the Aggies. A freak athlete with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Williams’ ability to affect the game on both ends with him mobility, length, athleticism and budding offensive repertoire piqued the interest of scouts.
His decision to return immediately makes Texas A&M a factor in the SEC. Assuming Tyler Davis and D.J. Hogg both return, the Aggies will also add talented point guard J.J. Caldwell, who was ineligible to play this season. The lack of a point guard is what cost A&M this season.
“I’m thankful that Robert loves Texas A&M and his teammates,” head coach Billy Kennedy said. “I know this was a difficult decision for him and his family. He’s not only a special talent but a special young man. His desire to be the best and his trust in us is humbling. I can’t wait for next season.”
The Midwest arguably has the most coaching prowess left in the tournament.
Bill Self is a lock to be a Hall of Famer eventually. John Beilein may one day join him there. Dana Altman is widely regarded as one of the best offensive coaches in the sport, and Matt Painter is pretty good for the fourth-best coach left in the Sweet 16.
How will those four men guide their teams through the second weekend of the tournament?
No. 1 KANSAS
How they can get to the Final Four: The biggest thing for the Jayhawks is going to be staying out of foul trouble, particularly in their Sweet 16 matchup with Purdue. The Boilermakers have the biggest, most physical front line in college basketball with Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas, and when you throw in Vincent Edwards, who has been playing the four for the Boilermakers when they go to a smaller lineup, the three front court pieces for Purdue draw a combined 17.8 fouls per 40 minutes. If they advance, it won’t be any easier to deal with a potential matchup with Michigan, whose bigs are just as dangerous.
Kansas? They have one big man that has consistently proven to be able to handle the paint against quality competition, and that is Landen Lucas. Carlton Bragg, Dwight Coleby, Mitch Lightfoot: those guys have been good for fouls and sparing Lucas a few minutes here and there, but Bill Self doesn’t want to be in a position where he has to rely on those guys for major minutes.
Beyond that, the key for Kansas is going to be taking advantage of Josh Jackson’s ability to play the four in college. As good as Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham are in the back court, Jackson is probably the most indispensable piece on the roster. He’s a potential No. 1 overall pick as a two-guard, but he averages 7.2 boards, he can block shots and he’s tough enough that he isn’t going to get bullied by college fours. He’s the perfect small-ball piece, and he’s what makes the Jayhawks hard to guard while remaining respectable on the defensive end of the floor.
Why they won’t get to the Final Four: This is not your typical Kansas team on the defensive end of the floor. Part of that is they essentially play four guards, which hurts them on the defensive glass and limits them in the post. Part of it is because Lucas has to be diplomatic when it comes to what shots he decides he’s going to try and block at the rim. Part of it is because Mason and Graham, who are both terrific defenders in a vacuum, have to pace themselves when they are playing close to 40 minutes a night.
The Jayhawks have made a habit of taking total control of a game in the final eight minutes, and a big reason for that is because they don’t kick things into high-gear until the stretch run. That’s why you see them involved in so many close games. But when they lose, that comes back to bite them. Indiana scored 103 points and hit 15 threes when they beat Kansas. Iowa State had 85 points and 18 threes in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. West Virginia and TCU, neither of whom are known as offensive juggernauts, both put up 85 points as well.
The Jayhawks margin of error isn’t as big as it is for other teams, and if they get caught on a night where, say, Purdue’s guards are hitting threes or Tyler Dorsey or Derrick Walton are going crazy from deep, they could be in trouble.
No. 3 OREGON
How they can get to the Final Four: Oregon is such a difficult team to guard when they have Dillon Brooks at the four, and that is how they have to play now that Chris Boucher is done for the year with a torn ACL. Brooks is big enough and strong enough that he can hold his own on the defensive end of the floor against most fours, and he’s such a talented scorer on the perimeter that the mismatches are typically a net positive for the Ducks.
The other reason Oregon can get to a Final Four?
Tyler Dorsey is playing out of his mind.
Oregon has played five postseason games, and he’s scored at least 21 points in all five of them, averaging 23.6 points while shooting 64.6 percent from the floor and 53.6 percent from three. He had 27 points on 9-for-10 shooting in the second round win over Rhode Island, and that included a game-winning 23-footer with 36 seconds left in the game. When Dorsey is playing like that, the Ducks more or less have two guys on their roster than can get a bucket any time they want. Throw in a coach as talented as Dana Altman is, and that is a dangerous combination.
Why they won’t get to the Final Four: Losing Boucher took away some of Oregon’s defensive ability. What made him so effective was that he let Oregon play big defensively and add rim protection without losing any of their floor-spacing thanks to his ability to shoot threes.
This becomes a real concern against a Michigan team that has two 6-foot-10 forwards with three-point range and the ability to score in the post, particularly when D.J. Wilson just may be athletic enough to stick with Brooks on the perimeter. The Ducks could use Bigby-Williams in that situation, but again, that takes away so much of what they want to do on the offensive end of the floor.
Once Oregon gets past Michigan, things won’t get any easier for them. They’ll either have to deal with that massive Purdue front line or they’ll have Josh Jackson, one of the best perimeter defenders in college basketball, chasing around Brooks.
Frankly, I think Oregon has the toughest matchups of any team left in the Midwest Region.
It’s a good thing Brooks, Dorsey and Altman don’t need good matchups to get wins.
No. 4 PURDUE
How they can get to the Final Four: His name is Caleb Swanigan.
It really is that simple.
Swanigan is the most dominant force in college basketball this season. He simply overpowers defenders, in the post, and when you send help, he’s able to pass out of it to one of Purdue’s multitude of shooters. The Boilermakers are sixth nationally in three-point percentage.
And here’s the best part about that: Everyone in the Midwest Region has issues with their front court. Kansas has basically one big man that can be trusted to guard Swanigan in Landen Lucas. Oregon has two, and as good as Jordan Bell is, this is where losing Chris Boucher and his ability to block shots and hit threes is going to hurt. Kavell Bigby-Williams is good, but he’s can’t do the same things as Boucher. Michigan’s bigs are not as physical as Swanigan, although the Wolverines have won both of the matchups between those two teams this season.
Swanigan’s presence opens things up for everyone else on Purdue’s roster.
Why they won’t get to the Final Four: There are three things that the Boilermakers struggle with on the defensive end of the floor. One of them is a quick and athletic back court that can put pressure on them with penetration, and that’s precisely what Kansas has at their disposal. To that same end, Purdue also has issues with ball-screening actions, as Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas are not exactly know for their defensive prowess. Along those same lines, the Boilermakers can struggle when they play against teams with mobile big men. In each those two games, one of D.J. Wilson or Mo Wagner went for at least 24 points.
All three of the teams left in the Midwest do some variety of the things that Purdue struggles against.
No. 7 MICHIGAN
How they can get to the Final Four: The Wolverines have become such a lethal offensive attack that when they are playing their best, they can beat anyone. Think about how hard this lineup is to guard:
Derrick Walton Jr. has been playing like one of the best point guards in college basketball over the course of the last six weeks. He’s reached Trey Burke circa 2013 territory.
Duncan Robinson (42.5 percent), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (39.3 percent) and Zak Irvin (34.1 percent) are all lethal shooters from the perimeter, dangerous enough that you cannot comfortable help off of them.
D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner play the majority of the minutes together in the Michigan front court. Both are mobile and 6-foot-10, both can score in the post and both are very good three-point shooters, making a combined 82 threes on the season at a 38.7 percent clip.
The Wolverines spread the floor as well as anyone, and they do it with a dominant point guard and a pair of bigs that can overpower smaller defenders in the post and take bigger defenders to the perimeter. Both Oregon, their Sweet 16 opponent, and Kansas like to play with a small-ball four, and Dillon Brooks and Josh Jackson, respectively, are going to have a tough time dealing with those big men.
In other words, Michigan makes you play big even though you know you can’t guard them when you play big. Vintage John Beilein.
Why they won’t get to the Final Four: The Wolverines are the worst defensive team left in the tournament this side of UCLA. They currently rank 73rd in KenPom in defensive efficiency, and in the KenPom era — which dates back to 2002 — there have only been three teams to rank outside the top 70 in defensive efficiency while making a Final Four. Butler and VCU were both outside the top 70 in 2011 in that Final Four where there wasn’t a top two seed. Dwyane Wade’s Marquette team in 2003 was the third.
That’s a bad sign.
A good sign?
In 2013, the last time Michigan and John Beilein got to a Final Four, the Wolverines were 66th in defensive efficiency.
A quiet first round of the NCAA tournament gave way to a second round that got just a little too out of control.
Particularly in the East Region.
It’s a bit of a snoozer in Madison Square Garden this weekend. But everywhere else, things are going to get a little crazy for the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8:
8. No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 7 South Carolina (East): With all due respect to South Carolina and Baylor, this game just doesn’t do it for me. The Bears play a grind-it-out style offensively, hammering the ball into Johnathan Motley in the post, that is effective but isn’t exactly the most aesthetically pleasing way to play. And South Carolina? They were a train wreck on the offensive end of the floor for the final month of the regular season before somehow averaging 90.5 points through two games during the first weekend. I’d expect the Gamecocks to come back to earth on that end, but that won’t make them any easier to score against. My advice: bet the under.
7. No. 4 Florida vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (East): The intrigue here is the clash of styles. The Badgers want to slow the pace down, pound the ball into Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ and crash the offensive glass. Florida wants to speed the game up, force some turnovers and get their talented perimeter players into beneficial matchups. Here’s the thing that should worry you as an impartial observer: Florida is the third-best defensive in the country, according to KenPom. Wisconsin is the seventh. Neither of them are in the top 25 in offensive efficiency. This probably won’t be all that pretty.
6. No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 11 Xavier (West): The story line is more enticing than the game itself. Sean Miller used to be the head coach at Xavier. His assistant was Chris Mack, who is now the head coach at Xavier. They’re still close, neither has been to a Final Four and it’s very possible that whoever wins this game will break that streak. That’s heavy. The game itself, however, is weird. Xavier looked like they were done late in the season, then somehow managed to put together one of the fiercest tail-whippings that we’ve seen in this year’s tournament, a 25-point beatdown of Florida State. The Musketeers are without Myles Davis and Edmond Sumner, who were two of their three most important players entering the season. Can the streak continue?
5. No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Butler (South): Butler has turned into something of a Cinderella in their region. That’s what happens when you’re the Big East team trying to escape the South, which also includes three of the biggest brands in college athletics. The Bulldogs are no pushover, however, as they swept Villanova and own wins over two Sweet 16 teams — Arizona and Xavier twice. UNC, for my money, is arguably the best team left in the field. They have the horses inside, they are the nation’s best offensive rebounding team and they can rely on Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson to carry them on the perimeter. With Theo Pinson healthy, they also happen to have one of the nation’s best shutdown defenders, who will likely give Kelan Martin fits. This should be a fun one.
4. No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (Midwest): What I love about this matchup is the way both teams play. Oregon is small-ball through and through with Chris Boucher out of the lineup, running Dillon Brooks out there at the four and spreading the floor as much as they possibly can. Michigan spreads things out as well, but they also happen to have to 6-foot-10 front court players in D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner who can play out on the perimeter. This is a quintessential John Beilein roster, and ever since the middle of the season, Derrick Walton Jr. hs been as good as any point guard in the country. I think this game comes down to the battle at the four-spot. Does Brooks for Michigan to go small, or can Wilson handle chasing him around?
3. No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Purdue (Midwest): Let’s start with the obvious here: This is a battle between the two front runners for National Player of the Year. You have everyone’s pick in Frank Mason III, who has been sensational all season long and seems to be the favorite to win the award, and you have Caleb Swanigan, who is putting up Tim Duncan-esque numbers for the Boilermakers. Obviously, those two aren’t going to be guarding each other, and that’s where this game gets even more intriguing. Kansas has one big man on their roster worth his 6-foot-11 frame and that’s Landen Lucas. They play Josh Jackson, who will likely be a two-guard in the NBA, at the four. Purdue has the biggest, most physical front line in the country, and between Swanigan and Isaac Haas, they draw 14.3 fouls per 40 minutes combined. Will Lucas be able to stay on the floor? Will Jackson? This is a more dangerous matchup for Kansas than I think people realize.
2. No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 West Virginia (West): Oh, this is going to be so good. Let’s talk about Press Virginia first. They come at you in waves. They play as hard as anyone, they trap, they foul and they make life difficult for whoever is trying to get the ball over half court. Gonzaga, on the other hand, does not have the most athletic back court. Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins have both had really good years, but both of them tend to struggle against quicker, stronger and more physical players. That’s what West Virginia has in boat loads. That said, the way for West Virginia to get into their press is to score, and, believe it or not, Gonzaga currently has the No. 1 defense in the country, according to KenPom. If they keep the Mountaineers from putting the ball in the basket, they keep them from being able to get that pressure rolling. Gonzaga also has a distinct size advantage inside. Let’s see if that pays off, and let’s see if Mark Few will have a chance to play for his first career Final Four.
1. No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 UCLA (South): Where do I even start? De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball? Malik Monk vs. whoever tries to slow him down? A rematch from December’s thriller in Lexington? The Steve Alford-to-Indiana rumors? John Calipari’s return to Memphis? The bottom-line is this: these are two of the four best teams left in the field, both of whom can win a National Title. This is a Final Four-caliber matchup in the Sweet 16. This is the kind of game that you do not want to miss. I’m not sure how else I can put it.