There’s only one way the NCAA gets UNC investigation wrong: a 2016 postseason ban

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The saga of North Carolina’s academic scandal finally took a step towards completion on Friday, as the school announced that it had finally received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA.

It’s been nearly a year since the association announced last June that they would be reopening the investigation into UNC’s so-called ‘paper classes’, and based on the recent evidence that has been unearthed — from Rashad McCants’ claims that he and his 2005 national title-winning teammates were steered towards the sham classes to the number of people willing to speak now that the Wainstein Report has been made public — the Tar Heels could be looking at a myriad of potential sanctions.

Scholarships may be pulled. Recruiting sanctions could be implemented. Wins might be vacated. Hell, even that 2005 national title banner could be in jeopardy. No one will know until the school decides to make the Notice of Allegations public, and that has not happened yet.

But the 2005 title isn’t the one that has Tar Heel fans concerned. Taking down a banner from a title UNC won when they were eight years old isn’t what scared Class of 2015 talents like Brandon Ingram — a North Carolina native, a one-time Tar Heel lean and a soon-to-be Duke Blue Devil — away from Chapel Hill.

It’s the threat of the unknown, the fear of what could be coming when the NCAA finally does punish the program.

And if the NCAA is to get this punishment right, than under no circumstances should the Tar Heels be given a 2016 postseason ban.


Because the people that would be bearing the brunt of that bludgeoning would be the athletes themselves. Not the ones that used those paper classes to stay eligible, win a national title and launch their NBA careers — like McCants, Ray Felton, Marvin Williams and Sean May did — but the ones that returned to school this spring, that decided to forgo the chance to turn pro and instead have the Tar Heels sitting at No. 1 in preseason top 25.

It would be guys like Marcus Paige, a rising senior — and a double-major in journalism and history that will probably be taking my job in a decade and certainly doesn’t need to lean on fake classes to thrive in school — that was a ten-year old in Iowa when McCants was (allegedly) cheating his way to a ring.

It would be guys like Brice Johnson — who went from being too skinny to be effective to having arguably the best turnaround jumper in college basketball — and Kennedy Meeks — who has last 70 pounds of fat since he arrived on campus — that would miss out on trying to win that ring. Isaiah Hicks went from being too shy and nervous to live up to the hype of being a top 20 recruit to being North Carolina’s best big man in practice more often than not. Nate Britt literally changed shooting hands between his freshman and sophomore seasons to try to get better.

What did they do to deserve having a postseason taken away from them?

Roy Williams’ legacy has already been tarnished with this scandal. Fair or not, regardless of what the NCAA is able to make stick, he’s always going to be known as the coach that made a mockery of the ‘Carolina Way’. Having to take a national title banner down is embarrassing, but losing two Final Fours hasn’t slowed John Calipari down yet.

But that’s all in the past.

Justin Jackson, Joel Berry, Joel James, Theo Pinson.

Those are the people that would be punished if the NCAA were to ban North Carolina from the 2016 postseason. Those are the people that would be hurt the most if the university, like Syracuse back in February, opted midseason to self-impose a postseason ban.

Now, to be fair, the situation with Syracuse was different.

The Orange weren’t going to be competing for a national title like North Carolina will be next season.  They likely would not have even made the NCAA tournament, and implementing a postseason ban last season meant giving up the NIT and being eligible for the NCAA tournament in 2015-16. It accelerated the process without any tangible punishment; one could argue that, for a program like Syracuse, no postseason is less embarrassing than an NIT.

I get it.

But that doesn’t make their decision to take away the opportunity to try and play themselves into the NCAA tournament — particularly from a senior like Rakeem Christmas — any less despicable.

And that’s not to say that North Carolina shouldn’t ever be banned from the postseason.

If the NCAA wants to take away the 2017 ACC and NCAA tournaments from the Tar Heels, have at it. It gives the players currently on the team fair warning. They’d be able to transfer, or turn pro, or even remain a Tar Heel knowing full-well what the future held for them.

That’s not the case for next March. Here’s the current timeline for the NCAA’s investigation: the due date for UNC’s response to the Notice of Allegations, barring an extension, is August 22nd, 90 days after it was received. The NCAA would then have 60 days — until October 22nd, assuming there were no extensions granted — to reply. From there, UNC will need to get placed on the docket for the Committee on Infractions.

This is where it gets complicated. Following the COI hearing, the NCAA will usually takes two-to-three months to hand down a ruling. Selection Sunday next season is March 13th. The NCAA is required to five advanced notice for any COI hearing, and with the holidays in November and December, it’s unclear when UNC would actually get their date in the NCAA’s Kangaroo Court.

But regardless of when that times comes, the Tar Heels will already be in the throes of their season.

They will have already started conference play. They will have already been placed in every Bracketology that gets published. They will have already gotten themselves into a position to earn a No. 1 seed.

Marcus Paige — a senior, a preseason all-american and a potential National Player of the Year — will be weeks away from his best, and final, shot at taking home a national championship.

To take that away from him is considerably more evil than a basketball program enabling bad students that didn’t give a damn about their education in the first place.

Gardner, Beekman lift No. 8 Virginia past No. 22 N.C. State

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia coach Tony Bennett had a simple message for his team after a poor defensive performance in a loss at Virginia Tech.

“Talk is cheap. Do it. Show us, to our players, to us as a staff, show up, work in practice, step to between the lines and don’t lose yourself in anything but what your job is,” Bennett said he told his players and assistants in the two days of practice since the 74-68 loss.

The team clearly got the message.

Jayden Gardner scored 18 points, Reece Beekman added 15 and No. 8 Virginia cooled off red-hot No. 22 North Carolina State 63-50 on Tuesday night.

“We had a great two days before State, you know, preparation and just diving in,” Gardner said. “It’s just this is the time of the season we need to lock in and you know, we’re playing for something. … We’re trying to win a championship.”

The Cavaliers (18-4, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) handed the Wolfpack (19-6, 9-5) their second loss in 10 games and moved into a share of first place in the conference with Clemson and Pittsburgh.

The Wolfpack arrived leading the ACC with an average of 79.6 points and were 19-2 when scoring at least 70, but became the 38th consecutive league opponent held below 70 points at John Paul Jones Arena.

“Obviously, as I watched the Virginia Tech game and knew that those guys dropped the game and, you know, any time you’re going to play a very good defensive team on their home floor, you know you’re going to get that energy,” North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts said.

Terquavion Smith led N.C. State with 19 points and Casey Morsell, who spent his first two seasons at Virginia and was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball in his first game back, had 18 points before fouling out in the final minute.

Jarkel Joiner, the Wolfpack’s No. 2 scorer at 16.2 points per game, missed 12 of his 14 shots and scored five points. D.J. Burns Jr. (eight points) was the only other Wolfpack player to score.

Reserve forward Kadin Shedrick, who did not play in Virginia’s loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday, had 10 points and six rebounds for the Cavaliers.

Virginia scored the first six points of the second half to open its largest lead at 40-20, but the Wolfpack began whittling away, fueled by a 12-6 burst in which Smith and Morsell each hit a pair of 3-pointers.

“In the past, we’ve been able to control the tempo and to get those guys to play a little bit faster and even turn them over,” said Keatts, whose team had won three of the last four meetings. “But we couldn’t.”

N.C. State twice closed within nine points but got no closer. Morsell’s 3 made it 55-46 with 3:46 to play, but Beekman made a free throw and then took a no-look pass from Kihei Clark for an easy backdoor layup.

Virginia closed the first half on an 8-2 run to lead 34-20 at the break. The Wolfpack missed 10 straight shots before Burns scored just before the half.


N.C. State: The Wolfpack got scoring from just three players – Smith with nine points, Morsell with seven and Burns with four – in the opening half. They shot 25.8% with Smith going 4 for 13 and Joiner 0 for 6. … Burns picked up his third personal foul less than a minute into the second half after getting the ball stolen by Beekman. He stayed in the game and drew his fourth foul on a drive by Clark with 16:03 left.

Virginia: Beekman started the game ranking first in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (3.0) and third in assists (5.1). He had four assists and one turnover. Clark started first in assists (6.0) and second in assist/turnover ratio (2.8). He had six assists and three turnovers.


N.C. State: At Boston College on Saturday.

Virginia: Hosts Duke on Saturday.

Michigan St. rallies to win after giving up lead to Maryland

Maryland v Michigan State
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Joey Hauser scored 20 points and Tyson Walker had 17 and Michigan State rallied after scoring the game’s first 15 points to beat Maryland 63-58 on Tuesday.

A.J. Hoggard had 10 rebounds and eight assists for Michigan State.

Jahmir Young scored 17 points for Maryland, Hakim Hart 12, Julian Reese 11 and Donta Scott 10 for the Terrapins.

The Spartans (15-9, 7-6 Big Ten) used an 8-0 run in which Walker made a layup and 3-pointer wrapped around a 3 from Jaden Akins for a 52-48 lead with 7:44 remaining and Michigan State led for the remainder.

The Terrapins erupted for a 12-0 run in less than three minutes in the second half turning a 38-26 deficit into a 38-all tie. Young and Hart posted back-to-back three-point plays, and Hart’s 3-pointer with 13:01 knotted it at 38. Prior to that 3, Hart was 3-for-last-27 shooting from beyond the arc. Maryland finished shooting 3 of 22 from distance.

Michigan State started the game with a 15-0 run and led 31-22 at halftime. Coming off an 81-46 win over Maryland (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) on Saturday, the Terrapins have yet to win back-to-back contests in almost three years.

The Terrapins host Penn State on Saturday. Michigan State travels to play Ohio State on Sunday.

Arkansas pulls away from Kentucky in 2nd half, wins 88-73

Arkansas v Kentucky
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ricky Council IV scored 20 points, Anthony Black had 19 and Arkansas used a blazing second half to pull away and beat Kentucky 88-73 on Tuesday night, giving coach Eric Musselman his 200th collegiate victory.

Black added five assists and five steals. Makhel Mitchell and Davonte Davis scored 15 points each and Jordan Walsh 13 for the Razorbacks (17-7, 6-5 SEC) who have won five straight conference games, including three in a row. It was Arkansas’ third straight win over the Wildcats (16-8, 7-4). The teams meet again in Fayetteville in a regular-season finale on March 4.

Cason Wallace scored 24 points to lead Kentucky, which had won six straight conference games. Chris Livingston added 13 points and Jacob Toppin and Antonio Reeves 11 each.

After a first half with 11 lead changes, there were none in the second when Arkansas shot 72% and Council and Black combined for 25 points.

Three steals, including two by Black who turned them into consecutive dunks, fueled an 11-3 run to begin the second half for a 52-43 lead. A basket by Black made it a double-digit lead with eight minutes left as the Razorbacks sank 7 of 9 over that span to finish the game. They made 8 of 10 free throws over the final two minutes.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was given a technical foul with 33 seconds left in the first half. Black sank the resulting free throws for a three-point lead before Daimion Collins’ midrange jumper made it 41-40 at halftime.

Both teams shot over 50% in the first half with Wallace leading all scorers with 11 points. Kentucky dipped under 50% for the game while Arkansas finished at 63% and outscored the Wildcats 46-28 in the paint.

Arkansas is home against Mississippi State and Kentucky is at Georgia, both games on Saturday.

Tulane secures 101-94 OT win over Cincinnati

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW ORLEANS – Kevin Cross and Jalen Cook scored 27 points each as Tulane took down Cincinnati 101-94 in overtime on Tuesday night.

Cross added 15 rebounds and six assists for the Green Wave (16-7, 9-3 American Athletic Conference). Cook added 14 assists. Jaylen Forbes scored 24 points and shot 6 for 15 (3 for 6 from 3-point range) and 9 of 9 from the free throw line.

Landers Nolley II finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Bearcats (16-9, 7-5). Ody Oguama added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Cincinnati. In addition, David Dejulius finished with 12 points, eight assists and three steals.

Tulane entered halftime down 37-28. Cross paced the team in scoring in the first half with 10 points. Forbes scored 18 second-half points and hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Tulane scored seven unanswered points to break a tie and lead with 42 seconds left in overtime.

No. 16 Oklahoma women take 1st lead in OT, rally past Baylor

Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman

WACO, Texas – Ana Llanusa and Skylar Vann each scored 20 points and No. 16 Oklahoma took its first lead of the game in overtime before rallying past Baylor 98-92 on Tuesday night.

The Sooners trailed for 39 minutes in regulation and were down 75-63 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Baylor turned it over twice on inbounds plays in the closing seconds of regulation and Taylor Robertson tied at 83-all on a wide-open 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.

Llanusa started overtime with a 3-pointer, and she finished with eight points during the extra session. Baylor never led in overtime, shooting 2 of 6.

Robertson, who tied Danielle Robinson’s program record of 140 starts, finished with 14 points and three 3s for Oklahoma (19-4, 9-3 Big 12), which trails Texas (18-6, 9-2) in the hunt for its first conference title since 2009. Nevaeh Tot added 13 points, Liz Scott added 11 points and eight rebounds and Madi Williams had nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

The Sooners, the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense at 86.5 points per game, have scored at least 88 points 14 times this season, seven in conference.

Caitlin Bickle scored a career-high 30 points with four 3s and Sarah Andrews added 20 points for Baylor (16-7, 7-4). Freshman Darianna Littlepage-Buggs had 14 points and 17 rebounds and Ja’Mee Asberry scored 11. Jaden Owens had 14 of Baylor’s 25 assists on 32 field goals.

Bickle was 8 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 from distance, and Littlepage-Buggs recorded her sixth double-double in the last seven games.

It was the first time in 20 years the Sooners were ranked in game against an unranked Bears squad. Oklahoma continues its road trip at Kansas State on Sunday. Baylor plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday.