Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Saturday College Hoops Recap: Trae Young is a cheat code, Butler beats No. 1 Villanova

Leave a comment

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Trae Young is a cheat code.

Seriously.

He finished with 39 points and 14 assists on Saturday. Playing his first Big 12 game. On the road. Against an undefeated top ten team.

And he didn’t even play his best.

All of that is true!

Young had 17 points and four assists in the final ten minutes to help the Sooners overcome a double-digit second half deficit, but he also shot just 9-for-23 from the floor and had seven turnovers, a number that would be higher if you included some of the bad* shots that the took.

But that doesn’t matter anymore.

Because Trae Young is a cheat code.

*Editor’s note: There are not ACTUAL bad shots for Trae Young. Every one of them is a good shot.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Bagley played his best game as a collegian on Saturday, and that’s saying something considering the way that he has played this season. He went for 32 points and 21 boards, 11 of which came on the offensive end of the floor, as the Blue Devils won a thriller against No. 24 Florida State, 100-93.
  • DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: In his Pac-12 opener against a top three team that just so happened to be his school’s in-state rival, No. 3 Arizona State, Ayton went for 23 points, 19 boards, three blocks and three assists to lead the Wildcats to a statement win that they are probably going to need if they want to win the league.
  • TY JEROME, Virginia: Boston College went into Charlottesville and gave No. 9 Virginia a fight. If it wasn’t for a turnover on the final possession of the game the Eagles might have won. Ty Jerome led the way with 31 points for UVA in a 59-58 win.
  • JAYLEN BARFORD and DARRYL MACON, Arkansas: Barford went for 33 points and Macon had 28 as the Razorbacks landed a come-from-behind, overtime win over No. 19 Tennessee. It is not easy to go into Fayetteville and leave with a victory.
  • BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame: The Irish shook off a slow start to land a win in their ACC opener against Georgia Tech. Colson finished with 22 points, 17 boards, three blocks and a pair of steals.
  • JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: It took overtime for Saint Mary’s to get out of Provo with a win, but the Gaels managed to do just that, knocking off BYU 74-64. Landale was the best player on the floor in the game, finishing with 31 points and 13 boards in the win.
  • ANDREW ROWSEY, Marquette: Marquette won their first game of the Big East season over Georgetown on the back of a 35-point outburst from their diminutive point guard.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Butler landed their biggest win of the season on Saturday, as they broke the century mark against No. 1 Villanova, winning 101-93. The Bulldogs have now beaten Villanova all three times that they have played in the 2017 calendar year. Kelan Martin led the way with 24 points for Butler, who shot 60 percent from the floor and 15-for-22 from beyond the arc. As a team, Butler posted 1.40 points-per-possession against a team that entered the day as a top ten team according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

I’m not sure how else I can explain this. It was a ridiculous performance from a Butler team, the first marquee win for them this season and the first statement win for LaVall Jordan as the head coach of the Bulldogs. When it comes down to it, this could end up being the difference between a bid to the NCAA tournament and a trip to the NIT

What does it mean for Villanova? Well, we dove into that here.

GAME OF THE DAY

A thriller in Fayetteville. After trailing for the entire game, Arkansas staged a rally in the final five minutes, eventually forcing overtime against No. 19 Tennessee. The Razorbacks would eventually build an 11-point lead in the extra frame, but Tennessee came storming right back. They cut the lead to two points before a pair of Darryl Macon free throws sealed the win.

Arkansas got a combined 61 points from Macon and Jaylen Barfield as they added another impressive win to their résumé. The Hogs are quietly having an impressive season, one that should get them ranked in the top 25 come Monday and maybe as high as a top four seed come Selection Sunday. We shall see how it all plays out.

For the Vols, this is going to be another tough loss to swallow. They led by nine points with 3:53 left in the game. They also led late against No. 13 North Carolina when they played the Tar Heels in Knoxville early this year. Hell, held a big lead on No. 1 Villanova in the first half back in November. Those are their three losses. Tennessee is having a really good year. They’re that close to having a great year.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

No. 6 Xavier trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half against DePaul at the Cintas Center on Saturday, but they turned things around, winning 77-72 in a performance that wasn’t exactly inspiring but that got the job done.

The highlight of the game came midway through the comeback. The referees missed a blatant inbound violation – DePaul’s Eli Cain clearly never established inbounds while receiving an inbounds pass – and Mack ran 15 feet on the court during play to argue the call. He was, clearly, T’d up, and in the process of trying to argue his point, Mack pulled out a whiteboard and tried to diagram what happened for the referee:

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Joel Berry saved the day for No. 13 North Carolina, hitting this floater to give the Tar Heels a late lead as they held off Wake Forest, 73-69:

It came against a shorthanded No. 5 Texas A&M, but Alabama landed themselves a marquee win, blowing out the Aggies, 79-57. That win is going to look great on their résumé come Selection Sunday. It shouldn’t hurt Texas A&M all that much, however. The Aggies were without leading scorer D.J. Hogg and off-guard Admon Gilder, two of their three leading scorers and their two best three-point shooters.

In their first game as a member of the American, No. 8 Wichita State picked up a road win against UConn, 72-62. That sounds more impressive than it actually is. UConn is not all that good at basketball these days, and the Huskies took the lead late in the second half before the Shockers pulled away for good.

ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”

College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season

Getty Images
1 Comment

The NBA bubble has held. So has the NHL’s double bubble. The WNBA and MLS, no leaks.

In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: bubbles work.

Thousands of tests, minimal to no positive COVID-19 test results.

So as the NCAA gets set announce its plans for the 2020-21 college basketball season, there are clear precedents and blueprints in place should it decide to go the bubble route.

“It’s certainly viable,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency, “From a basketball standpoint, I think we can follow those models.”

The college football restart has been scattershot. The season has already started, yet 53 FBS schools have the pads and helmets hanging on hooks while waiting for better pandemic news.

A much more unified plan is in place for the college basketball season.

The NCAA is hoping to start the season in late November/early December, with a vote by the Division I council expected Sept. 16.

A partnership between the Pac-12 and Quidel Corp. to potentially do daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes should help smooth a return to the court.

The question then becomes: What’s the best way to safely play basketball again?

Bubbles may be the answer.

While bubble football would be next to impossible logistically, basketball could fit nicely.

The travel parties are much smaller and college basketball already has plenty of multiple-team events, from holiday and conference tournaments to the NCAA Tournament. Add the effective safety measures of the pro leagues, find suitable sites and bubble basketball could work.

The NCAA is already looking at it, reportedly filing a trademark for the phrase “Battle in the Bubble.” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also said there have been preliminary talks for bubble basketball at the Mohegan Sun resort.

“The idea of a bubble would be a really good idea, just to isolate all the teams who want to play against each other in that bubble and keep things safe, keep away from the public and keep us in our own area where we’re able to play the game the right way and safely,” Duke sophomore forward Wendell Moore, Jr. said.

A big key will be finding the right places to bubble.

The NBA has the ideal setup at Disney World, but college basketball might be better suited to follow the NHL’s lead.

Hockey’s two bubbles – Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta – cordoned off areas enclosing the arena and several nearby hotels. All personnel entering are tested and strict protocols are in place for vendors delivering food and packages into the bubbles.

Similar bubbles for college basketball could be set up at smaller resorts, cities with arenas and hotels nearby, or Division II or III schools with arenas not being used during the pandemic.

The NCAA could set up pods of multiple nonconference teams, conference tournaments could be held in similar fashion and so could the NCAA Tournament.

In other words, basketball bubbles could pop up all over the country.

“Maybe do it for maybe a week or two at a time, playing a certain amount of games and getting retested after you come back or something like that,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “It’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Pulling off a college basketball bubble, however, comes with a caveat.

NCAA players are considered students, so academics would have to be part of the equation.

Division I players are already accustomed to doing school work on the road and the majority take primarily online classes. To make the bubbles work, socially distant space would have to be carved out for the players to take their classes and study.

The programs may also have to rethink the size of their traveling parties.

“Discussions about the right amount of tutors or academic staff would need to take place,” said Starsiak, who has operated high-level sports and entertainment events for 15 years. ”

You have to look at, do we need three managers this time around? No, probably not. Do you take two and have a tutor or an academic come with us? Yeah, I think you could. I think there’s a way to kind of combine both things to have some live, in-person resources.”

The NCAA is going to do everything possible to have a basketball season.

The pandemic wiped out the NCAA Tournament last spring and the NCAA collected $270 million in cancellation insurance instead of the $1 billion TV payout it normally gets. A second straight year without March Madness could be devastating.

Bubbles may be the way to go.

‘Father of the Final Four’ Tom Jernestedt dies at 75

Getty Images
5 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Jernstedt, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame for his contributions to college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, has died. He was 75.

The NCAA said Sunday Jernstedt died this weekend.

Nicknamed “Father of the Final Four,” Jernstedt has widely been credited with transforming the NCAA Tournament into the billion-dollar March Madness it has become today.

“A decade after his departure from the NCAA, Tom Jernstedt’s fingertips remain visible during March Madness and the Final Four,” NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “His innovation and superb ability to develop relationships turned a basketball tournament into a three-week phenomenon that became a global event.”

A former back-up quarterback, Jernstedt worked his first Final Four in 1973 and helped push the growth of the NCAA Tournament from 25 teams to the 68, anything-can-happen bonanza held every spring.

Jernstedt helped the NCAA increase its television contract from just over $1 million to more than $10 billion when he left in 2011. He served as president of USA Basketball, was a member of the College Football Selection committee and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2017.

“Tom Jernstedt was a humble and unsung steward of the game,” John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Under his direction, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament grew into a phenomenon that brings college basketball fans together on a global scale. He will forever be remembered as the Father of the Final Four and one of the most respected leaders in basketball.”

Jernstedt established himself as a team leader despite being a backup quarterback at Oregon from 1964-66 and went on to serve as the Ducks’ events manager. He joined the NCAA in 1972 and spent 38 years with the organization.

“Tom served as a friend and mentor to countless people in and around collegiate athletics, and I’m proud to be among that vast group of people,” Gavitt said. “His legacy within the NCAA and its membership, and his impact on the sport of college basketball, is eternal. We extend our deepest condolences to Tom’s family.”

Aztecs extend Brian Dutcher’s contract 3 years through 2026

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

SAN DIEGO — San Diego State basketball coach Brian Dutcher has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Dutcher signed the deal following one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Aztecs went 30-2, won the Mountain West regular-season title and were expected to be a No. 1 or 2 seed before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They opened the season 26-0 and were the nation’s last undefeated team.

“Having spent more than 20 years at San Diego State University I understand what a special place this is,” Dutcher said in a statement Friday. “I am humbled and honored to continue to represent SDSU and Aztec Basketball as its head coach.”

Dutcher is 73-26 in three seasons, the most victories by an Aztecs coach in his first three seasons. He spent 18 seasons as Steve Fisher’s top assistant, including six as associate head coach/head coach in waiting. He took over as head coach after Fisher retired following the 2016-17 season. The Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with Fisher at Michigan. In Dutcher’s first season with the Wolverines, Fisher was promoted to interim head coach on the eve of the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship.

Indiana halts all voluntary workouts

Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar
4 Comments

Indiana has halted all voluntary workouts indefinitely for its men’s basketball, field hockey, men’s soccer and wrestling teams after 14 participants tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

The Hoosiers did not identify which teams recorded the positive tests. The football team, like other Big Ten programs, is not playing this fall. Indiana said 63 positives have been reported from more than 1,400 tests of athletes, coaches and staff since June 8.

“Our athletic program is following strict protocols during these unprecedented times and we strongly support our medical staff as we try and mitigate this issue,” men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said.