LSU has agreed to a deal to hire VCU head coach Will Wade, sources told to NBC Sports.
Wade had spent the last two years as the head coach of the Rams, winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title in his first year and finishing second in the league this past season. He went 51-20 in his two seasons in Richmond.
Wade, who is 34 years old, replaced Shaka Smart when he left to take over at Texas. Previously, Wade had spent two seasons as the head coach at Chattanooga, where he went 45-25.
According to ESPN, Wade’s deal will be for six years.
He replaces Johnny Jones, who spent five seasons as the head coach of the Tigers. He went 10-21 last season.
1. The South Region is where you want to be this weekend: Because it doesn’t get much better than this. Three of the teams in the regional — North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA — are among the favorites left in the field to win the national title. The No. 3 seed, UCLA, has already beaten the No. 2 seed, Kentucky, who currently owns a win over the No. 1 seed, North Carolina, all while the No. 4 seed, Butler, owns two wins over Villanova and three wins over teams left in the Sweet 16.
That’s before you consider that FedExForum is going to be absolutely brimming in blue — Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA. The only people happier than writers heading to Memphis this weekend are the bar owners on Beale Street. Stock up on Miller Lites.
2. North Carolina, by the way, is the only rep left from the ACC: The ACC was supposed to be one of the best conferences in the history of college basketball this season and, well, that didn’t really go the way we all through it would. The league went 7-8 in the first weekend of the tournament, and those eight losses came by an average of 13.9 points. Three of the four top four seeds that lost in first weekend were ACC members. Of the 10 games that were decided by 20 or more points, three involved ACC teams losing. Four involved No. 16 seeds losing. Even UNC needed a late run to survive Arkansas.
3. Kentucky-UCLA is as good of a Sweet 16 matchup as we’re ever going to see: How often do we get two legitimate national title contenders squaring off in the Sweet 16? (Answer: Not often.) But this matchup has so much more to it than just a pair of college basketball’s biggest brands squaring off. We get Lonzo Ball vs. De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. We get a rematch of one of the best games of college basketball’s regular season. We get a thrilling battle between a pair of high-octane offenses that want to get out in transition. And we get what could potentially be Steve Alford’s last game as the head coach at UCLA.
4. Butler is back to being Cinderella, it seems: The Bulldogs are now members of the Big East and without question one of the better basketball programs in the sport, but when you’re the fourth wheel in a region where three blue-bloods are headed, it’s hard not to be thought of as the plucky upstart. And to be frank, I don’t think Butler minds all that much. Hell, I think they enjoy being the team no one is worried about. I’m sure Chris Holtmann wouldn’t mind if North Carolina overlooked them and focused on the winner of Kentucky-UCLA.
5. Oh, and should I mention that John Calipari is heading back to Memphis?: Coach Cal was once the head coach at Memphis, and when he left for Kentucky back in the spring of 2009, it didn’t end all that well between him and the Tigers. The people in that city are still bitter. The good news? The average Memphis fan will probably be more than happy to sell their tickets for five times face value to a Kentucky or UNC fan thirsty to get into the building.
6. The four best teams are on the right side of the bracket: For my money, three of the four best teams left in the NCAA tournament are in the South Region. The fourth on that list? Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest. In other words, if seeds hold, the winner of UCLA-Kentucky is going to have to beat the best three teams in the event just to get to the national title game.
7. Frank Mason III vs. Caleb Swanigan for all the Player of the Year votes: I think Kansas gets out of the Midwest Region, but their toughest test is coming in the Sweet 16. Purdue has a massive front line, one that is led by Caleb Swanigan, who is putting up numbers that would make you believe that Tim Duncan has been reincarnated. They won’t go head-to-head in this game, but it is worth noting that Mason and Swanigan are the two favorites to win National Player of the Year. Most seem to favor Mason, although if Swanigan continues to do what he did against Iowa State in a pair of wins this weekend, that sentiment may change.
8. You really should spend some time watching this Michigan team play: The Wolverines are really, really good. And they’re fun to watch. They have a star point guard in Derrick Walton Jr. They surround him with guards that can really shoot it, and they put him on the floor with a pair of mobile big men that can step out and knock down a three. This team is John Beilein at his finest.
9. The Big Ten, overall, availed themselves well: While the ACC was considered the best conference in the country this season, the Big Ten was lampooned for much of the year for their overall mediocrity. But here we are in the Sweet 16 and no conference in the country has more teams left in the field than the Big Ten’s three. Two of those three, Wisconsin (Villanova) and Michigan (Louisville), sent top four seeded teams home.
10. So did the Pac-12: We all knew there was a top three in that conference, and each of those three teams won two games and reached the Sweet 16. The fourth team in the tournament from the Pac-12 was USC, who lost a thriller to Baylor on Sunday but who managed to win a pair of games last week, including a comeback from 17 points down in the second half of the play-in game. Overall, the Pac-12 is 8-1 in the tournament.
11. Sean Miller will be squaring off with his former assistant Chris Mack for the second time in three years: In 2009, Miller left Xavier to become the head coach at Arizona, a no-brainer move for a coach taking over a program with pedigree that can win a national title every single season. Mack, then an assistant for Miller, took over for him and has led the Musketeers to new heights, thriving as a contender in the Big East conference.
12. The winner will play for their first-ever trip to the Final Four, possibly against Mark Few: It’s never easy to play against a former colleague, not when those former colleagues are as close as Miller and Mack are. Added into that conversation is the fact that neither coach has ever reached the Final Four. Miller is widely thought of arguably the best coach in the country that has never made a Final Four, and when he finally does, Mack will move his way closer to the top of that list.
Also on that list? Gonzaga’s Mark Few. The Zags are in the West Region along with Xavier and Arizona, and it would be fascinating to see them square off for the right to get to the final weekend of the season.
13. One of those four head coaches will be making their first Final Four: That’s not the only region where a battle for a first trip to the Final Four will be brewing. In the East, Wisconsin’s Greg Gard, Florida’s Mike White, Baylor’s Scott Drew and South Carolina’s Frank Martin are all looking to make their first trip to the Final Four as well.
14. Good luck trying to re-sell those East Region tickets: Look at the teams in that East Region. Now remember that they are going to be playing in Madison Square Garden this weekend. Now think about the people that sell tickets on the secondary markets — scalpers, stubhub, seatgeek — that thought they were buying tickets for Duke-Villanova in the Garden. They are not going to be making nearly as much money as they thought they would be.
15. No one had a more unlikely or improbable run than South Carolina: I need more space to explain all of the reasons why, but I really do think that Frank Martin leading South Carolina to back-to-back NCAA tournament wins for the first time in program history is one of the most incredible things we’ve seen in the tournament in a long time.
16. No one has had more postseason success than Wisconsin’s seniors: Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes have never been ousted in the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. They made a Final Four as freshmen. They played in the national title game as sophomores. They made the Sweet 16 last year. They’re in the Sweet 16 this year. The next time they take the court will be their 17th career NCAA Tournament game, the most in the country.
The ACC’s poor March performance is proof the conference was overrated
There is no real way around it: The first weekend of the NCAA tournament was a total and complete disaster for the ACC.
Of the nine ACC teams that qualified for the Big Dance, only one of them remains: No. 1 seed North Carolina, who needed a late 12-0 run that was aided by a questionable no-call on a late collision involving Joel Berry II just to get past No. 8 seed Arkansas.
The ACC is the only power conference that has just a single team left in the tournament; the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC all have three teams remaining while the the Big East has two.
But that doesn’t really get to the core of just how bad it was for the ACC this weekend:
The ACC went 7-8 in the first weekend, with those eight losses coming by an average of 13.9 points. For comparison’s sake, the four No. 13 seeds lost by an average of 10.b points and the four No. 14 seeds lost by an average of 14.3 points.
There were 10 games decided by 20 or more points during the first weekend. Four of them involved No. 16 seeds getting beatdown. Three of them — No. 5 Virginia losing to No. 4 Florida, No. 3 Florida State losing to No. 11 Xavier and No. 8 Miami losing to No. 9 Michigan State — involved ACC teams losing.
There were only four top four seeds that lost this weekend, and three of them — No. 2 Duke, No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Florida State — were from the ACC.
The ACC went 2-13 against the spread.
All this is coming from a conference that was, throughout the season, mentioned as not only the best in college basketball, but one of the best, top to bottom, of all-time.
And, it should go without saying, that was not the case.
Generally speaking, it’s not really fair to judge a team based off of what happens in a knockout tournament like this, let alone judge an entire conference. Villanova’s run this season wasn’t any less impressive because they ran into an under-seeded Wisconsin team that matched up with them about as well as humanly possible. Those things happen in March, and it’s silly to make massive generalizations of an entire season based off of 40 minutes of basketball.
But this wasn’t just 40 minutes of basketball.
This was nine members of one conference all doing the same thing: playing below the level they should have played.
The question is ‘Why?’
Well, part of it is that the conference won a bunch of games in November and December, which meant that teams like Wake Forest, Miami and Virginia Tech were propped up by the strength of the league. When Georgia Tech and Clemson aren’t bad losses on paper, the leagues computer numbers are going to be inflated.
That, in turn, made Notre Dame, Florida State and Virginia look better than they were. Don’t get me wrong, those three teams had incredible seasons. Notre Dame’s best big man stands 6-foot-5. Virginia had very limited perimeter weapons and lost the only front court piece that they had that could score in the post. Florida State was talented, but they were about as trustworthy as a used car salesman.
To be frank, it’s not all that shocking that those three teams failed to make it out of the first weekend.
The surprises came with Duke and Louisville.
The issue with Duke is that, at the end of the day, they were just a flawed basketball team. They didn’t have a point guard and they didn’t guard, and South Carolina had the pieces to be able to expose that. It wasn’t due to a lack of chemistry or internal strife or a power struggle for “control of the team.” Getting nothing out of Chase Jeter and Marques Bolden, and having Harry Giles III spend the year as a shell of his former self hurt, but I’m not sure what any of those three guys would have been able to do to help Duke run offense on Sunday night in a de-facto road game.
We probably should have seen that one coming.
If anyone from the league was on the wrong end of some poor madness luck, it was probably Louisville. The Cardinals ran into a Michigan team that hasn’t lost since their plane skidded off the runway en route to the Big Ten tournament in Washington D.C. The Cardinals dominated the glass, held Michigan to six threes and kept Derrick Walton Jr. from going off and still managed to lose despite holding a lead for much of the second half.
It happens, especially when you’re a team whose point guard play is subpar.
That was supposed to be a top three team in the ACC.
If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the league, than I don’t know if anything will.
And now we head to the Sweet 16 with just one ACC member left to carry the torch for the conference.
Report: Syracuse big man Tyler Lydon declaring for the NBA Draft
Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon is expected to declare for the NBA Draft and sign with an agent.
Lydon is a 6-foot-9 power forward with three-point range and the wingspan that allows him to protect the rim, but he’s a slender big man that struggled on the glass at the ACC level. As a sophomore this season, he averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 boards while shooting 39.2 percent from three.
Lydon is currently projected as a late-first round pick by Draft Express.
There are now just 16 teams left that can win a national title, and we are here to take you through which of those 16 teams are the most likely to win the national title.
Not who are the best, mind you.
Who we think are the best bets to win.
Here they are:
1. Kansas Jayhawks (No. 1 seed Midwest): The Jayhawks were the most impressive team coming out of the first weekend of the tournament, and it wasn’t really all that close. They overwhelmed the No. 16 seed in the first round like they are supposed and then followed that up with a 20-point win over Michigan State in the second round. With Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson on the floor together, Kansas is going to have the two best players in most matchups. The big concern is going to be Landen Lucas and whether or not he can stay out of foul trouble, but he’s been able to manage that pretty well down the stretch of the season.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 1 seed West): The left side of the bracket opened up for Gonzaga this weekend, as both Duke and Villanova, potential foes on the Final Four, lost in the second round of the tournament. They still have some work to do before they have to worry about a Final Four foe, but on paper, I think the Zags have a good shot of getting that done. I think West Virginia, Arizona and Xavier is the easiest path remaining for any of the three No. 1 seeds, as they won’t have to face off with one of the top four teams left in the field until the title game.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (No. 1 seed South): I still think North Carolina is one of the best teams in this tournament, and while they absolutely shut down Arkansas in the final four minutes on Sunday night, it wasn’t exactly the most inspiring sign that they needed to shut down Arkansas in the final four minutes to come back from a five-point deficit. If they can get past Butler, it’s going to be fascinating to see what the Tar Heels can do against the winner of Kentucky and UCLA.
4. Arizona Wildcats (No. 2 seed West): Arizona is here because of their draw as much as anything. They’ll have to get past the point guard-less No. 11 Xavier to get to the Elite 8, and once there, they will square off with either Gonzaga or West Virginia. It is somewhat concerning that they’ll be playing with Rawle Alkins’ fractured finger, but with Allonzo Trier back, that’s less of a concern.
5. Wisconsin Badgers (No. 8 seed East): So Wisconsin sure made the Selection Committee look silly for seeding them as a No. 8 seed. The Badgers knocked off Villanova, and then caught a break with No. 2 seed Duke losing in the same region. Wisconsin gets another favorable matchup in the Sweet 16, as they’ll face off with a Florida team who lost starting center John Egbunu to a torn ACL. Combine that with the fact that the Badgers love to pound the ball inside and will have the best top three of anyone they play in the East, I like their chances to get to a Final Four. And, like Gonzaga and Arizona, I don’t think they’ll have to play one of the top four teams left in the event until the title game.
t6. Kentucky Wildcats (No. 2 seed South) and UCLA Bruins (No. 3 seed South): These two teams are the hardest two teams in this field to rank. On the one hand, I think just about everyone would agree that both Kentucky and UCLA beat anyone left in the field, and I’m not sure they aren’t actually two of the top three teams left in the tournament. On the other hand, only one of them will get to the Elite 8 and, if they do find a way to get there, they’ll have to beat North Carolina just to get to a Final Four. Then, if seeds hold, they’ll have to get past Kansas to get to the national title game.
Put another way, the way that I see it, the four best teams left in the tournament are all on the same side of the bracket, and if this thing goes the way I think it will go, one of these two teams will have to beat each of the other three if they are going to win the title.
8. Michigan Wolverines (No. 7 seed Midwest): I’m enamored with this Michigan team. I think Derrick Walton Jr. is playing as well as any point guard in the country, I love the combination of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner in the front court and with Duncan Robinson and Zak Irvin spacing the floor, Michigan is really hard to guard. I think they matchup well with all three of the teams left in the their region.
9. Oregon Ducks (No. 3 seed Midwest): I’m still on Oregon as a team that can get to the title, but I think this matchup with Michigan is going to be a difficult one for them. If Chris Boucher was still healthy, it would be something of a different story, but without him, I envision Dillon Brooks have to deal with D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner quite a bit. Will he have enough size to get that done?
10. Florida Gators (No. 4 seed East): I’m torn on where to place Florida here. On the one hand, they punished Virginia in the second round, and that was impressive. On the other hand, Virginia didn’t have anywhere near the back court talent to be able to handle the pressure that the Gators bring. I think Wisconsin will, but more to the point, I think any of the five best teams left in this event will as well.
11. Purdue Boilermakers (No. 4 seed Midwest): I actually like Purdue’s draw better than some of the teams ranked above them. I think they matchup really well with Kansas, and I think their size can take advantages of weaknesses in the front lines of both Michigan and Oregon. Crazier things have happened than a player like Caleb Swanigan putting a team on his back and carrying it to a national title, but I do think this is the fourth-best team in the region.
12. West Virginia Mountaineers (No. 4 seed West): That West Virginia press is a nightmare for anyone to deal with, and I’m not sure that Gonzaga’s back court is going to be able to handle it. The problem? Gonzaga is, as of today, the best defensive team in the country, according to KenPom. Just how often will the Mountaineers be able to get into that press.
13. Baylor Bears (No. 3 seed East): I have some real concerns about Baylor in this Sweet 16 game. They way that South Carolina defends is a nightmare for teams that don’t have great point guard play and Baylor doesn’t have great point guard play.
14. Xavier Musketeers (No. 11 seed West): If there is one outcome from the first weekend of the tournament that I just do not understand, it’s Xavier’s 25-point win over Florida State. I did not see that kind of domination coming, and I’m not sure that it last.
15. South Carolina Gamecocks (No. 7 seed East): South Carolina put together the most incredible and unlikely run to the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA tournament. A team that spent the entire season struggling to find a way to score averages more than 90 points in their first two games? Scores 65 points in one half against Duke? I can’t see this team repeating that for two more weekends.
16. Butler Bulldogs (No. 4 seed South): So you’re telling me that Butler is going to have to beat North Carolina and either UCLA or Kentucky just to get to the Final Four where they may have to beat Kansas just to get to the national title game? Chris Holtmann has done an unbelievable job with this team. Chris Holtmann may get hired to replace Brad Stevens in Boston if he takes this team to a national title.
CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament
In this week’s episode of the we get into everything that happened in the first weekend of the tournament, from Villanova and Duke losing and Michigan’s “miracle” run to Gonzaga’s chances of winning the title and Gregg Marshall’s wife’s sidelines antics.