Rob Dauster

The Butler mascot "Butler Blue III" sits outside the PNC Arena during a fan pregame tailgate event ahead of a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament between Butler and Texas Tech, Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. NCAA rules prohibit live animals into a venue until the Final Four. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Butler mascot Butler Blue III barred from NCAA tournament

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Butler’s mascot, the lovable Bulldog named Butler Blue III, was not allowed into PNC Arena for his team’s win over Texas Tech on Thursday:

Fans of basketball and cute pups alike were outraged.

Blue III made the best of it, however:

No. 4 Iowa State beats No. 13 Iona behind 28 points from Georges Niang

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, back, passes the ball by Iona forward Jordan Washington in the second half of a first-round men's college basketball game Thursday, March 17, 2016, in the NCAA Tournament in Denver. Iowa State won 94-81. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Georges Niang led five players in double-figures with 28 points as No. 4 Iowa State avoided No. 13 Iona’s upset bid with a 94-81 win.

The Cyclones jumped out to a double-digit lead just five minutes into the game and the Gaels never seriously threatened from there on out.

Iowa State will advance to take on the winner of No. 5 Purdue and No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock.

There wasn’t all that much to take out of this game for the Cyclones, but looking forward, there are two things that are positives moving forward:

  1. Monte’ Morris looks like he’s healthy. After laboring through parts of the Big 12 tournament, Morris looked like his old self on Thursday, finishing with 20 points and eight assists while controlling the game on the offensive end of the floor. When he’s at his best, he’s a difference maker for ISU.
  2. The Cyclones were able to throw it in cruise control for a good chunk of the second half. Remember, this is a team that plays, essentially, six dudes, which is a problem that gets magnified when playing at altitude in Denver. And when you play at altitude, it’s the second game that gets you more than the first game. So yes, being able to save their legs as much as possible matters for this team.

 

No. 1 Virginia cruises past Hampton, Tony Bennett returns after collapsing on sideline

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 4.14.17 PM
Screen grab via truTV broadcast
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Anthony Gill led the way with 19 points and seven boards as No. 1 Virginia cruised past No. 19 Hampton, 81-45.

The Cavaliers will advance to face No. 9 seed Butler in the second round.

There was a scary moment near the end of the first half, as UVA head coach Tony Bennett collapsed on the sidelines:

Bennett spent a couple of minutes sitting on the bench with the game stopped before heading back into the locker room. He returned for the second half.

“I jsut was crouched down and was a little dehydrated, got up and blacked out a little bit. But I’m OK,” Bennett told truTV after the break. “I just think I was crouched down in that spot, got up quick and got a head rush.”

And in case you were worried, the other Tony Bennett is OK, too:

No. 9 Butler dispatches No. 8 Texas Tech thanks to Kelan Martin

Butler's Kelan Martin celebrates after hitting a 3-point shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Indianapolis. Butler won 94-86. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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Kelan Martin, No. 9 Butler’s second-leading scorer, didn’t score for the first 30 minutes of the game, but he scored eight-straight points in less than a minute that sparked a game-changing, 14-7 spurt that put away No. 8 Texas Tech.

The Bulldogs will advance to the second round of the tournament to face, in all likelihood, No. 1 Virginia.

Martin was responsible for all 14 of the points in that run. After hitting threes on back-to-back possessions, Martin jumped a passing lane and went coast-to-coast for a layup to put Butler up by eight. Two possessions later, he forced another turnover and found Kellen Dunham for a three in transition, and after Tech cut the lead back to 59-55, Martin scored a tough and-one and the Bulldogs would not be threatened the rest of the game.

Dunham finished with 23 points to lead Butler.

The matchup that Butler will likely draw against Virginia — barring No. 16 Hampton making history at the first team to beat a No. 1 seed in the first round — is actually pretty good on paper. The defense that Virginia runs is called the Pack-Line, and it’s designed around keeping the ball from getting into the paint through post-doubles and lots of help-side defense. The Pack-Line instead dares offenses to shoot threes over the top of the defense, and not only does Butler have shooters, but they like to get out in transition, which means they should be able to best Virginia’s defense down the floor.

[  NBCSports.com’s 2016 NCAA Tournament coverage  ]

I also think that Butler will be able to hold their own against Virginia’s perennially underrated offensive attack. Butler’s weakness defensively is their ability to defend guards off the dribble, and UVA doesn’t really have a guard that fits that mold. I’m not sure that they’ll have anyone that can chase Malcolm Brogdon around screens — Will Roosevelt Jones be up to that challenge? — but there aren’t many people that are truly capable of slowing down Brogdon when he gets it going.

Virginia should be able to take care of business, but Butler will make them work for it.

2 South Carolina players arrested over BB gun shooting

South Carolina’s Eric Cobb, right, fouls St. John’s Kassoum Yakwe, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina freshman basketball player Eric Cobb was charged with assault for shooting a BB pellet gun at an occupied car.

He and teammate Jamall Gregory also were arrested Thursday for property damage in connection with the shootings. Police said no one was injured. All the charges are misdemeanors.

The two were taken into custody by the Columbia Police Department and booked into a Richland County jail Thursday. They were released on bond.

Cobb and Gregory were among five players indefinitely suspended Tuesday, less than two hours before the Gamecocks’ 88-66 win over High Point in the NIT. The others suspended were guards Marcus Stroman and TeMarcus Blanton, and forward Chris Silva.

South Carolina will host Georgia Tech on Monday.

South Carolina coach Frank did not detail the reason for the suspensions, calling it a “conduct issue” in a statement. When asked about the suspension following the High Point win, Martin would not discuss the matter. When asked if the suspended players would be able to return to the team, he answered “I have no idea.”

Cobb, 19, s a 6-foot-9 first-year player. He was charged with one count of malicious injury to private property along with third-degree assault and battery. Police said that on March 7 he shot the BB pellet gun at a car, causing damage to the right rear passenger door.

Gregory, 21, is a 6-2 guard. He is charged with three counts of malicious injury to person property and one of count of malicious injury to real property. He is alleged to have used a BB gun to damage three cars March 9. Police say two of the cars sustained damage to windows while a third had damage to its door. Gregory also used the gun to damage the side of a building a few days earlier, police said.

Rob Jeter out as Milwaukee coach after 11 seasons

Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter reacts to a call during first half of a second-round game against Villanova in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick LoVerde)
AP Photo/Nick LoVerde
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MILWAUKEE (AP) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is parting ways with men’s basketball coach Rob Jeter.

Athletic director Amanda Braun made the announcement Thursday, saying a change in leadership was needed to consistently be a top program in the Horizon League.

Jeter has been the Panthers coach for 11 seasons, compiling a 185-170 overall record. He has one year left on his contract.

Braun says the search process will begin for a new head coach who has “a proven record of continued success.”

Green Bay knocked Milwaukee out of the Horizon League tournament in the second round last week. The Panthers ended the season 20-13.