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Introducing Cinderella: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks are headed to the NCAA tournament

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Conference: Ohio Valley

Coach: Ray Harper

Record: 20-14, 9-7 (t-4th)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 168
RPI: 169
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: A lot of this will depend on just how many upsets there are in the conference tournaments this week, but I can’t see Jacksonville State climbing higher than a No. 15 seed. That said, they do have wins over Belmont and Tulsa, so that matters.

Names you need to know: The strength of this team is in the back court, where Malcolm Drumwright and Greg Tucker carry the load. Those two combined for 39 points in the upset win over No. 1 seed Belmont in the semifinals of the OVC tournament, and combined, they averaged 23.7 points and 6.4 assists.

Stats you need to know: Four. That’s how many national titles that Ray Harper has won in his career, two at the Division II level with Kentucky Wesleyan and two at the NAIA level with Oklahoma City. All told, during his time at those two jobs, he made it to a national title game nine times in 11 seasons. He also has now made the NCAA tournament three times in six seasons as a Division I head coach, all three of which came as an upset-winner of a league tournament. Long story short: the man knows how to win in tournament play.

Big wins, bad losses: Jacksonville State’s best win of the season came against Belmont, who won the OVC regular season title by five games, in impressive fashion. They also own a win at Tulsa, who finished .500 in the AAC this year.

How’d they get here?: After getting picked last in their division in the OVC, the Gamecocks finished 9-7 in the league and were the No. 4 seed in the tournament, but they upset Belmont and then smacked around UT Martin in the league title game.

Outlook: There are two things to like about this team: Ray Harper is coaching them and they have talented guards that have proven they can make plays in big games. But they’re very likely going to end up playing a top 10 team in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I can’t see them pulling off the upset.

How do I know you?: You probably don’t. The school has sent a few football players to the NFL, but this is the first time, since their move to the Division I level, that the Gamecocks have been relevant.

So congrats for that.

March Madness 2017: SEC Tournament bracket set, Kentucky-Florida likely

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The SEC tournament got some luck with Florida and Kentucky ending up on the opposite sides of the bracket, meaning that the two best teams in the league likely won’t meet until the final. What will be interesting, however, are the SEC’s bubble teams. Vanderbilt and Georgia actually got pretty favorable brackets if they’re going to put together a run that would garner them enough wins to get an at-large bid.

VIDEO: Jackson Donahue’s game-winner means Penn will play Ivy League tourney at home

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Jackson Donahue hit the biggest shot of his life on Saturday night.

With less than 10 seconds left, Donahue buried a three that would give Penn a 75-72 win over Harvard, meaning that the Quakers clinched the No. 4 seed in the inaugural Ivy League tournament next weekend:

Penn is 6-8 on the season and will play 14-0 Princeton in the opener.

Why is this so relevant?

Because the Ivy tournament is being played in the Palestra, which also just so happens to be where Penn plays their home games.

Have fun with that, Tiger fans.

VIDEO: Grayson Allen gets technical foul for high elbow

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Controversy finds Grayson Allen like moths find streetlights on summer nights.

That was no different on Saturday night, in what may be Allen’s final game against North Carolina.

It started with a trip. UNC’s Justin Jackson accidentally tripped Allen after he was beaten by a pump-fake. Two possessions later, Allen was fouled by UNC’s Brandon Robinson, but as he tried to dribble by the defender, his left elbow got a little too high and hit Robinson in the cheek:

Allen was assessed with a deadball, contact technical foul, which is functionally the same thing as a flagrant 1, but since the play had been blown dead on the foul by Robinson, the rulebook necessitates it be called something else.

 

March Madness 2017: Big 12 Tournament Bracket, Iowa State-Kansas in the semis?

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The Big 12 tournament should be an awful lot of fun this week, as it is one of the deepest and most balanced conferences in the country, not to mention the best, according to KenPom.

VIDEO: No. 9 seed Youngstown State upsets No. 1 seed Oakland at buzzer in Horizon quarters

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Youngstown State snuck past the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League quarterfinals when they knocked off Oakland at the buzzer, 81-80, on this play:

Cameron Morse, who had 34 points, seven boards and four assists before this play, found Jon Kauffman, who finished with 22 points and 10 boards on the night, for a WIDE OPEN layup at the buzzer.

Which begs the question … what in the world is Oakland doing?

I want to credit the Penguins for a great playcall but that’s really hard to do with the way Oakland defended here. There are 3.3 seconds left. Why are four guys running at the ball-handler?

We do need to give credit to Morse, however. That’s a heads-up play knowing how much time he had left and getting the pass there for the win.