Rob Dauster

Miami guard Angel Rodriguez (13) drives to the basket against Buffalo guard Rodell Wigginton (20) during the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA college men's basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

That’s So Angel: Miami’s Rodriguez lead the Canes to the Sweet 16

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We got the full Angel Rodriguez Experience on Saturday afternoon, as the Miami point guard went for 28 points, five assists and four steals — to go along with seven turnovers — in a 63-57 win for the No. 3 Hurricanes over No. 11 Wichita State.

Miami will advance to the Sweet 16 to take on the winner between No. 2 Villanova and No. 7 Iowa.

Rodriguez scored 16 of Miami’s first 23 points, hitting his first seven shots from the floor as he led the way to an early, 27-6 Miami lead. Then, in a four-minute stretch midway through the first half, Rodriguez committed five of his seven turnovers, which led to the Shockers finally gaining a bit of confidence and finding a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

Wichita State would cut the led to 32-19 at the half and, after Miami pushed the lead to 17 points, go on a 22-4 surge that would give the Shockers their first lead of the game at 43-42. And that’s when Rodriguez, after disappearing for 15 minutes of game-time, made the play that changed the game, a “no-no-no-YES” half-court alley-oop to Shelden McClellan to give the Hurricanes the lead — and the momentum — back.

That is a not exactly a smart pass to throw, not when your team just fully blew a 21-point lead. It’s not an easy pass to throw, either. Markus McDuffie is about half-an-inch from turning that into Rodriguez’s eighth turnover of the game.

Instead, we get one of the best highlights of the first weekend of the tournament.

That’s so Angel.

That dunk would spark a 10-2 run that opened up a 52-45 lead for the Canes. Wichita State’s ball-pressure did not let up, as the Shockers would continue scrapping their way back into the game, but it again was Rodriguez that made the game-changing plays.

He found Davon Reed on the wing for a three that pushed Miami’s lead back to seven points after Reed blocked a layup attempt that, ironically enough, was him cleaning up the mess from a Rodriguez turnover. With just over two minutes left in the game, after a Ron Baker layup cut the Miami lead to 55-53, Rodriguez banked in a runner to push the lead back to four. On the ensuing Miami possession, he drilled the dagger, a three that put Miami back up by seven.

His five free throws down the stretch iced the game.

“It’s about this little guy right here,” Miami head coach Jim Larrańaga said after the game on the CBS Broadcast. “You’ve gotta rename the Dunkin’ Donuts Center [in Providence, where the game was played] Angel Rodriguez Park. He took over the game and carried us for a while. He made huge shots, free throws, threes, played great defense on VanVleet.”

“He’s got this huge thing right here and it keeps pounding out of his chest.”

And that’s what makes Rodriguez so unique. At times, his decision-making borders on the schizophrenic, to the point that he’s a detriment to his team. We saw that on Saturday. That stretch where he committed five turnovers in four minutes not only breathed some life into the corpse that was Wichita State in the first 10 minutes, but it kept Miami from putting the nail into the Shocker coffin. Score on three of those five possessions, and suddenly Miami is up nearly 30 points.

Wichita State was always going to make a run, but it was those turnovers that ensured that the Shockers would remain within striking distance.

But when Rodriguez is playing well? When his confidence is flowing and his shots are going down? He’s as capable of taking over a game as any point guard in college basketball not named Tyler Ulis, Kris Dunn or Yogi Ferrell. And if there is one thing we can always count on with Rodriguez, it’s that he is going to want the ball in his hands in the biggest moments.

“He always has tremendous trust in me,” Rodriguez said of his coach, “even when I struggle.”

On Saturday, that trust was rewarded. Whether or not it will be come next weekend is kind of a moot point right now.

Because what matters is that Rodriguez will have the chance to play in that game.

And if he hadn’t shown up on Saturday, that would not be the case.

“It’s survive and advance, baby,” Larrañaga said.

“And we survived.”

Stephen F. Austin invited Stone Cold to their second round game

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR 2K - WWE Hall of Famer and WWE 2K16 cover, Superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin arrives on the red carpet at the WWE 2K SummerSlam Kickoff in New York, N.Y., on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. (Photo by Stuart Ramson/Invision for 2K/AP Images)
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Stephen F. Austin shocked the world with a stone cold stunning upset of No. 3 West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night.

The other Steve Austin — as is Stone Cold, the wrester — spent Friday night retweeting everything that he saw about the school that’s named in his honor.

(Note: SFA is not actually named after Stone Cold.)

So the Lumberjacks official twitter account did the only thing they could do: They invited him to their second round game in Brooklyn on Sunday:

Do the right thing, Steve, and make the trip to NYC.

Rutgers hires Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell

Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell  congratulates guard Roland Nyama (24) after a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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Rutgers has hired Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell.

Pikiell, a former guard for Jim Calhoun at UConn, has spent his 11 seasons as a head coach at Stony Brook. He took over a team that won four games in his first season and built it into an America East powerhouse. They’ve won at least 20 games in six of the last seven seasons, including the last five in a row.

The news was first reported by NJ.com.

Pikiell has won four America East regular season titles in that stretch, but Pikiell didn’t make the NCAA tournament until this season, losing in the America East title game four times in a five year stretch. Rutgers is not a great job, but with Pikiell losing two of the program’s three all-time leading scorers this season — including three-time America East Player of the Year Jameel Warney — it was now or never for Pikiell if he wanted to get his shot at the high major level.

He’ll replace Eddie Jordan at Rutgers, who was never able to get that program up and running in the Big Ten. He went 3-33 in the Big Ten the last two seasons.

 

2016 NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s Tip Times, Announcer Pairings

North Carolina players react to play against Virginia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Washington. North Carolina won 61-57. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Second Round Games
Saturday

12:10 p.m., CBS, Providence
No. 3 Miami vs. No. 11 Wichita State (Ian Eagle, Chris Webber, Len Elmore, Evan Washburn)

2:40 p.m., CBS, Providence
No. 4 Duke vs. No. 12 Yale (Ian Eagle, Chris Webber, Len Elmore, Evan Washburn)

5:15 p.m., CBS, Des Moines
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Indiana (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

6:10 p.m., TNT, Denver
No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock (Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl)

7:10 p.m., TBS, Raleigh
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 9 Butler (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Lewis Johnson)

7:45 p.m., CBS, Des Moines
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Connecticut (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

8:40 p.m., TNT, Denver
No. 3 Utah vs. No. 6 Seton Hall/No. 11 Gonzaga (Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl)

9:40 p.m., TBS, Raleigh
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Providence (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Lewis Johnson)

VIDEO: Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli asks reporter about weed?

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No. 8 Saint Joseph’s just won a thrilling game over No. 9 Cincinnati, and afterwards head coach Phil Martelli was happy.

Happy enough to ask about buying legal weed in Washington? Yes. That happy.

Tournament Snacks: Recapping all of Friday’s buzzer beaters and upsets

Northern Iowa guard Paul Jesperson gestures to fans after hitting the game-winning shot against Texas in a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in Oklahoma City. Texas guard Isaiah Taylor is at right. Northern Iowa won 75-72.(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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The first round of the NCAA Tournament has come to a close, and it was a wild one. A record 10 double-digit seeds won their first round game, including a No. 15 seed, a No. 14 seed, a No. 13 seed, two No. 12 seeds, three No. 11 seeds and two No. 10 seeds. 

We’ve also have five buzzer-beaters, a pair of overtime games, the national title favorite lose in their opener and the wildest three-minute stretch in the history of the event. Let’s recap it shall we?

(You can get caught up on Day 1 here.)

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 15 Middle Tennessee State 90, No. 2 Michigan State 81

The Blue Raiders landed what may be the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon, as they put a thorough whooping on the Spartans, who just couldn’t seem to get a big stop and a big bucket on back-to-back possessions. So Denzel Valentine’s career comes to an end.

As far as the biggest upset talk is concerned, I explain here how this was the first time that one of the National Title favorites lost in the first round.

BUZZER-BEATER OF THE DAY: Paul Jesperson, Northern Iowa

So I’m not quite sure that this is the best buzzer-beater in the history of the NCAA tournament — as far as I’m concerned, nothing will ever top Christian Laettner’s shot to beat Kentucky — but can you ever think of a kid hitting a shot from beyond half-court to win or force overtime in a game in the Big Dance? Because that’s precisely what Jesperson did here.

THIS ONE WAS GOOD, TOO: Cincinnati almost beats the buzzer

The dust hadn’t even settled after UNI’s win when these shenanigans went down. Within three minutes of real time after Jesperson hit that half-court game-winner, Isaiah Miles had hit a three with 10 seconds left to give No. 8 Saint Joseph’s a 78-76 lead on No. 9 Cincinnati, the Bearcats had gone the length of the court for a dunk that tied the game and the officials waived the dunk off because it came a split-second after the final horn.

It was WILD.

UPDATED 2016 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET

2016 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Bracket - 3.18.16

BUT WAS THIS ONE A FOUL?: Adam Woodbury got away with one

Iowa very nearly Iowa’d all over themselves in the Barclays Center, fouling a three-point shooter with 2.1 seconds left while up by three points. But they made it to overtime, where Woodbury may or may not have committed a foul while battling for position for an offensive rebound. You make the call.

THEY WERE UPSET

BUT SOME FAVORITES WON, TOO

STARRED

STRUGGLED