Championship Week recap: Day 12’s best game, top player


Over the next 13 days, the brackets will start to take shape. Teams with no at-large aspirations will make one final push at the post-season. Teams on the bubble will look to assert themselves as worthy members of “The Big Dance”, and contenders will start priming their engines for a national Championship run. While “March Madness” officially begins following Selection Sunday, the real madness starts now.

Until Sunday, March 11,  this will be your home for Championship Week recaps and previews. The players and teams are starting to prepare for March Madness, so you should too.

Game of the Night: New Mexico 72, UNLV 69
We projected this game to be the game of the night, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Drew Gordon led the way for the Lobos with 19 points and 13 rebounds. New Mexico trailed for much of the game, but shut the Runnin’ Rebels down for a key potion of the second half, in with the Lobos erased a seven point lead in a matter of minutes. New Mexico took the lead with 1:53 and never looked back.

Player of the Night: Rob Wilson
The senior forward entered the game averaging just 3.1ppg in 10mpg. But against Indiana in the Big-Ten quarterfinals he scored a career-high 30 points and hit a career-high seven 3-pointers to lead the Badgers to a 79-71 win. Wilson scored just 15 3-pointers all season, but compiled nearly half of his season total in just one game. Before last night, Wilson’s season high was 11 points. The post-season is when superstars are supposed to shine, but with Jordan Taylor having an off night, a senior role player stepped up big time.

Team of the Night: Marshall Thundering Herd
The Thundering Herd has now won four games in a row, two against Southern Mississippi and three in the conference tournament, including their triple-overtime duel with Tulsa. Marshall was one of the preseason favorites to win the league, and have a chance to do so against Memphis on Saturday.

Friday Results

Atlantic Coast Conference Quarterfinals
#5 North Carolina State 67 #4 Virginia 64
#3 Florida State 82, #6 Miami 71
#2 Duke 60, #10 Virginia Tech 56
#1 North Carolina 85, #8 Maryland 69

Atlantic-10 Conference Quarterfinals
#8 Massachusetts 77 #1 Temple 71
#4 St. Bonaventure’s 71, 5 St. Joseph’s 68
#3 Xavier 70, #6 Dayton 69
#2 Saint Louis 78, #7 LaSalle 71

Big East Conference Semifinals
#7 Louisville 64, #3 Notre Dame 50
#4 Cincinnati 71, #1 Syracuse 68

Big-Ten Conference Quarterfinals
#4 Wisconsin 79, #5 Indiana 71
#3 Ohio State 88, #6 Purdue 71
#2 Michigan 73, #10 Minnesota 69 OT
#1 Michigan State 92, #8 Iowa 75

Big-XII Conference Semifinals
#4 Baylor 81, #1 Kansas 72
#2 Missouri 81, #6 Texas 67

Big West Conference Semifinals
#3 UC-Santa Barbara 64, #4 Cal Poly 52
#1 Long Beach State 68, #7 UC-Irvine 57

Conference-USA Semifinals
#5 Marshall 73, #2 Southern Miss 62
#1 Memphis 83, #4 Central Florida 52

Mid-American Conference Semifinals
#3 Ohio 77 #2 Buffalo 74
#1 Akron, #4 Kent State 74

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Semifinals
#4 Bethune-Cookman 81, #8 Hampton 72
#2 Norfolk State 58, #11 Florida A&M 46

Mountain West Conference Semifinals
#2 New Mexico 72, #3 UNLV 67
#1 San Diego State 79, #4 Colorado State 69

Pac-12 Conference Tournament Semifinals
#6 Colorado 70, #2 California 59
#4 Arizona 72, #9 Oregon State 61

Southeastern Conference Quarterfinals
#7 Ole Miss 77, #2 Tennessee 72
#4 Florida 66, #5 Alabama 63
#3 Vanderbilt 63, #11 Georgia 41
#1 Kentucky 60, #8 Louisiana State 51

Southwestern Athletic Conference Semifinals
#2 Texas Southern 60, #6 Alcorn State 55
#1 Mississippi Valley State 71, #5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 64

Western Athletic Conference Semifinals
#5 Louisiana Tech 78, #1 Nevada 73
#2 New Mexico State 92, #6 Hawaii 81

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.