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College Basketball’s 2019 Coaching Carousel

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College basketball’s coaching carousel has started for the 2019 offseason as we’ll see numerous changes in the coaching ranks over the next several months.

To help keep track of all of the movement, CBT has created this page to monitor all of the movement.

As the offseason continues, and new hires are made, we’ll update this list every time a coaching change is made.

Be sure to follow our Twitter account @CBTonNBC for the latest college basketball news and notes.

HIGH MAJOR OPENINGS

TEMPLE

OUT: Fran Dunphy, a stalwart in Philadelphia hoops, is in the final stages of his coaching career, as he will step down at Temple after the season.

IN: This was decided before the season started, but he will be replaced by Aaron McKie, a Philly native and Temple alum that has spent five years as a member of Temple’s staff.

TEXAS A&M

OUT: The Aggies are reportedly moving on from head coach Billy Kennedy following the conclusion of the SEC tournament. CBT has a breakdown on Kennedy’s departure here — including two intriguing potential candidates sources have told to NBCSports.com.

UCLA

OUT: The first coaching carousel move of this offseason happened way back in December when Steve Alford was fired. Interim coach Murry Bartow hasn’t guided UCLA back on track as the Bruins have struggled to stay above .500 during a disastrous season in the Pac-12. Although UCLA isn’t the job it used to be, it remains one of the best and most storied programs in the country. It also might be the most fascinating coaching search in the nation since the Bruins have a two-month head start on the rest of the country.

UNLV

OUT: Marvin Menzies three-year tenure as the head coach at UNLV is over, and it will be fascinating to see who that administration tabs to be the guy to try and take that program back to the heights of the 1990s. There have been some fascinating names that have popped up, from Thad Matta and Rick Pitino to Tyronn Lue and Jason Kidd.

VANDERBILT

OUT: The Commodores and new athletic director Malcolm Turner opted to move on from head coach Bryce Drew after only three seasons. Drew led Vanderbilt to an NCAA tournament appearance while also recruiting two McDonald’s All-Americans to the school last season. But the program struggled to a 9-23 season and 0-18 mark in the SEC.

WASHINGTON STATE

OUT: One day after its season ended with a loss to Oregon in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, Washington State has parted ways with head coach Ernie Kent. Kent spent five seasons in Pullman, posting an overall record of 58 wins and 98 losses. Against Pac-12 competition the Cougars were just 22-68 during Kent’s tenure, with the program’s best conference mark being a 7-11 record during the 2014-15 season (Kent’s first at the school). Washington State is considered by many on the west coast to be one of, if not the worst job in the high-major ranks.

THE REST

APPALACHIAN STATE

OUT: Jim Fox’s tenure at Appalachian State came to an end this year. He was never able to get things going in the right direction, finishing below .500 every season and mustering just one finish in the top five of the Sun Belt. That came in 2017-18, when the Mountaineers finished 9-9 and tied for 5th in the league.

CAL POLY

OUT: After 10 years at the helm, Cal Poly is moving on from head coach Joe Callero, according to a report by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. Peaking in years three-through-five with two 18-win seasons and an appearance in the 2014 NCAA tournament, Callero never got the program back on track during his final five seasons. Finishing with a 6-21 record and 2-12 mark in the Big West this season, the Mustangs will be looking for only their fourth different head coach since the program transitioned into Division I in 1994. While Cal Poly hasn’t been particularly successful, they have allowed coaches plenty of time to build things their own way.

ELON

OUT: Matt Matheny was at Elon for 10 years, seeing them make the move from the SoCon to the CAA, but he was never able to get it going at the school. The Phoenix had just one second above .500 since the move in 2014 and in 10 years, he made it to just one postseason — a 2013 trip to the CIT.

FAIRFIELD

OUT: Moving on from head coach Sydney Johnson after eight seasons, Fairfield will try to make a move up the MAAC with its new hire. Finishing 116-147 during his tenure at Fairfield, Johnson led the Stags to three CIT appearances — most recently in 2016-17. Johnson had some early momentum with a 22-win season and third-place finish in the MAAC in year one, but Fairfield never achieved those heights again. The Stags finished 9-22 and 6-12 in conference play in 2018-19.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

OUT: After three seasons as the head coach of the Colonials, the school announced on Friday that Maurice Joseph will not be returning to the program next season. MoJo was put in a difficult spot, taking over the program on an interim basis in September of 2016 after head coach Mike Lonergan was fired. He earned a contract with the success they had that season, but he was unable to build on it. This will be a sought-after opening, with names like former Georgetown coach John Thompson III, Miami assistant Chris Caputo, Siena’s Jamion Christian and Yale’s James Jones being mentioned.

KENNESAW STATE

OUT: Veteran head coach Al Skinner announced his decision to step down after the 2018-19 season on Feb. 21 in an official announcement from the school. Skinner spent four seasons with the Owls, never finishing above fourth place in the Atlantic Sun. Kennesaw State bottomed out with a 6-26 mark this season as Skinner was 41-84 in four seasons at the school. Formerly head coach at Boston College and Rhode Island, Skinner once made seven NCAA tournament appearances in nine years with the Eagles, but he hasn’t coached a tournament team since 2009.

MERCER

OUT: Bob Hoffman is out as Mercer’s head coach after 11 years at the helm, according to a release from the school. Most famous for guiding the Bears to the Round of 32, and upset win over Duke, in 2013-14, Hoffman never figured things out once Mercer transitioned from the Atlantic Sun into the SoCon the following season. Mercer is taking a risk with this decision as Hoffman led the program to six postseason appearances in seven seasons before a bad 2018-19 campaign ended in an 11-19 record. Hoffman achieved a 209-164 overall record during his tenure with the program.

MONTANA STATE

OUT: Brian Fish was at Montana State for five years but never finished better than sixth in the Big Sky despite the fact that he has had Tyler Hall on the roster for the last three years. That’s not good. The timing for this was awful, however — Fish lost his daughter last month.

MORGAN STATE

OUT: Todd Bozeman is out at Morgan State after the program opted not to renew his contract. In 13 years with the Bears, Bozeman led the program to an NIT appearance and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. But Morgan State hasn’t achieved a winning season since 2012-13 as the program has fallen on tough times. Bozeman was 195-218 during his stint as he’s the winningest coach in program history.

NIAGARA

OUT: The Purple Eagles announced their decision to move on from head coach Chris Casey in an official release. In six seasons at Niagara, Casey was only above .500 one time, finishing with a solid 19-14 record and CIT appearance in 2017-18. But the Purple Eagles reverted back to a 13-19 record this season as Casey finishes his tenure with a 64-129 record.

OHIO

OUT: Saul Phillips is out at Ohio after five seasons in the MAC. Coming to the Bobcats after taking North Dakota State into the Round of 32, Phillips never found similar success with Ohio. The Bobcats had back-to-back 20-win seasons in Phillips’ second and third season, reaching the CBI in 2016, but Ohio has improved in years after back-to-back 14-17 seasons. With Ohio sending recent head coaches onto the high-major ranks in John Groce (Illinois) and Jim Christian (Boston College), Phillips turned out to be a disappointing hire. Phillips finishes 81-77 at Ohio with an underwhelming 40-50 mark in MAC play.

IN: The Bobcats officially announced on Selection Sunday that they have hired Jeff Boals away from Stony Brook. Boals is a former team caption for Ohio, leading them to the 1994 NCAA tournament. He spent years as an assistant in the area, including an eight-year stretch at Ohio State, before taking over Stony Brook. This past season he led the Sea Wolves to a 24-8 record.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

OUT: Following a quarterfinal exit from the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, head coach Barry Hinson announced in his postgame press conference that he was leaving his post at Southern Illinois. It hasn’t been made clear if Hinson is resigning, or being fired, as he said, “It is time for me to step away,” during an emotional press conference. In seven seasons at Southern Illinois, Hinson went 116-111 — twice winning 20 or more games in a season. But the Salukis never made the postseason as the once-proud Valley program has struggled to find its footing since six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances earlier this century. Hinson has also spent time at Oral Roberts and Missouri State as he’s fifth all-time in Missouri Valley Conference wins.

IN: Southern Illinois officially announced the hiring of Loyola associate head coach Bryan Mullins. A member of the SIU Hall of Fame as a four-year player from 2006-09, Mullins helped the Salukis to two NCAA tournament appearances — including the Sweet 16 in 2007 as the team’s point guard. The 32-year-old Mullins is an exciting hire for the Salukis as he’s received a lot of praise for his rise at Loyola. Mullins is also the program’s all-time leader in assists and steals as he’ll have local recruiting credibility that the program lacked a bit under Barry Hinson.

SIU-EDWARDSVILLE

OUT: The Cougars decided not to renew the contract of previous head coach Jon Harris, as they’ve officially named assistant coach Brian Barone as interim head coach. Harris was an underwhelming 31-88 in his four seasons at the helm. Barone has been an assistant with the program for two seasons as his interim tag is based on pending approval from the school’s Board of Trustees. Since transitioning into Division I in 2008-09, SIU-Edwardsville has never won more than 12 games in a season.

IN: Brian Barone, who has spent the last two years as an assistant with SIUE, was named the interim coach last week after Harris was fired.

STETSON

OUT: The Hatters opted to move on from head coach Corey Williams, as first reported by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. Spending six years at Stetson, Williams never found his footing with the Atlantic Sun program, as the Hatters never finished above seventh in the league. Williams, a former standout at Oklahoma State, was previously an assistant at Florida State under head coach Leonard Hamilton as he finished with a 58-133 mark during his Stetson tenure.

STONY BROOK

OUT: Jeff Boals has left Stony Brook to take over Ohio, where he is an alum and a former team captain. The Sea Wolves are coming off of a 24-8 season, after Steve Pikiell helped build that program into one of the better programs in the America East. The name that will be linked to this opening is Jay Young, a longtime Stony Brook assistant, but a source told NBC Sports that the decision will not be as easy as some have made it out to be.

TENNESSEE TECH

OUT: After 17 years with the program, head coach Steve Payne is stepping down. Spending eight years as the head coach, Payne guided the Golden Eagles to two postseason appearances (CIT and Vegas 16) during his tenure while achieving four winning seasons. Consistency eluded Payne, however, as Tennessee Tech never had back-to-back winning campaigns. Finishing 8-23 overall and 12th place in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, Payne leaves with a 118-134 career mark. Before becoming head coach, Payne also spent nine seasons with Tennessee Tech as an assistant coach.

TROY

OUT: After six seasons, Troy has decided in a change-of-direction by letting go Phil Cunningham. The Trojans made one NCAA tournament appearance with Cunningham in charge during the 2016-17 season as they had a 22-win season and a surprising run in the Sun Belt conference tournament. But Cunningham never made a postseason appearance outside of that as he was 80-111 during his time in charge.

TULANE

OUT: The Mike Dunleavy experiment died on Saturday afternoon, as the former NBA head coach saw his tenure in New Orleans come to an end after a 4-27 season. The Green Wave did lose three starters to injury and saw two players leave the program last season and wind up in the NBA, but 4-27 is 4-27. This will be an interesting spot, as a couple of notable names — Andy Kennedy, for one — have been linked to the opening, but it’s not a great job in a league where it will be hard for them to get into the top half of the conference.

UMKC

OUT: Kareem Richardson’s tenure with te Kangaroos has come to a close. He spent six seasons at the school, but after an 11-21 season came to an end in the WAC quarterfinals, the program opted to make a change. He is the only coach that has taken UMKC to the postseason.

WILLIAM & MARY

OUT: The Tribe announced a move to replace 16-year head coach Tony Shaver. Compiling a 226-268 record during his tenure, Shaver made two trips to the NIT with William & Mary while also advancing to the CAA Tournament finals four times. Finishing 14-17 this past season, William & Mary made that last NIT appearance in 2015.

No. 13-seed UC Irvine pulls off upset of No. 4-seed Kansas State

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And the Anteaters go marching on.

Max Hazzard hit five threes, including a critical three with less than two minutes left on the clock to give UC Irvine a five-point lead, and scored 19 points to lead the No. 13-seed to the first real upset of the NCAA tournament.

Evan Leonard added 19 points, six boards, four assists and four steals, making four free throws to ice the game in the final 20 seconds, as No. 4-seed Kansas State went down, 70-64.

Kansas State entered this game as the co-Big 12 champion, but they were playing without their star, Dean Wade, who is dealing with foot issues that cost him the Big 12 tournament as well. His absence hurt. He is the best shooter, the best passer and the best player for the Wildcats, and his absence contributed to Kansas State’s 38.6 percent shooting now and an 8-for-27 performance from three.

But that should not take any of the credit away from Irvine. Remember, Kansas State reached the Elite 8 last season with Wade playing.

The credit belongs to Russell Turner, his game plan and the way his team executed it. Turner is a former Standford assistant that had a shot at getting the Cal job when the Bears hired Wyking Jones. He’s won four of the last six Big West regular season titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament twice in his five year tenure. This is the kind of performance that will make him an in-demand coach during the carousel this season, and he should have been all along.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The truth is that this Irvine team is really, really good. They take away the paint, they are as good defensively as any high-major that you’ll find and they have the size to match up with anyone. They are going to be a tough out for whoever wins tonight’s Wisconsin-Oregon first round battle.

Jarrett Culver’s big game leads No. 3 Texas Tech past No. 14 Northern Kentucky

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All-American Jarrett Culver had a monster outing as No. 3 seed Texas Tech cruised to a 72-57 win over No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky during a Friday afternoon NCAA tournament first-round game in the West Region.

Finishing with 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Culver was efficient and dominant for the Red Raiders as they opened up the game in the second half. Only a 30-26 lead for Texas Tech at the break, the Red Raiders clamped down and used the offense of Culver and it’s No. 1 overall defense to break the game open.

The Big 12 Player of the Year had one of the best individual games of any player in the first round as he was 10-for-17 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three-point range. Big man Tariq Owens also finished in double-figures for Texas Tech with 12 points while Davide Moretti added 10 points.

Northern Kentucky (26-9) stayed in the game for a half thanks to the hot shooting of junior guard Tyler Sharpe as he finished with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting. The Norse couldn’t generate much consistent offense outside of Sharpe, however, as Northern Kentucky shot 5-for-21 from the three-point line. Horizon League Player of the Year Drew McDonald was held to only five points on 2-for-12 shooting as he struggled to get going. Dantez Wilson (11 points) was the only other double-figure scorer for the Norse.

The Red Raiders advance to face either No. 6 seed Buffalo or No. 11 seed Arizona State in Tulsa on Sunday.

Oklahoma advances past Ole Miss in rout

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Rashard Odomes and Christian James both popped off for 20 points and Kristian Doolittle added 19 points, 14 boards and five assists as No. 9-seed Oklahoma blew out No. 8-seed Ole Miss, 95-72, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Sooners, with the win, will advance to face No. 1-seed Virginia as long as Virginia can get past Gardner-Webb in the first round.

This was something of a cathartic win for an Oklahoma team that was among the handful of at-large invites that had thoroughly mediocre performances in league play. The Sooners opened the Big 12 season with eight losses in their first 11 games and finished with a 7-11 record in the conference.

One game samples really should not determine whether or not a body of work merited inclusion in an event like that, but it’s hard to see the performance that this team — and the Big 12 as a whole — put together thus far in the event and think the committee was wrong to add a sub-.500 team from the Big 12 to the field.

It’s also a sign for what this Oklahoma program is and can be under Lon Kruger.

It’s difficult to compare things like this year over year, but it is certainly interesting to note than not only did Oklahoma get a better seed this year than they did last year, with Trae Young on the roster, but they advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, which is something they did not do with Trae.

That’s not to say that the team is better without him — frankly, I think that’s a silly argument to make. Guys are a year older and a year better, which matters, and I think that the 7-11 mark in Big 12 play says more than the result of a one-game knockout tournament.

It is, however, important to note that Kruger has this thing to the point that they can lose a guy that is now averaging 18.5 points and 7.8 assists in the NBA and still be good enough to get a bid and win a game.

No. 10 Iowa rallies past No. 7 Cincinnati

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Iowa rallied from a slow start to get past No. 7 seed Cincinnati with a 79-72 win on Friday in a South Region NCAA tournament game in Columbus.

Cincinnati generated an early 18-5 lead in the first half as they fed off of the Bearcat-friendly Columbus crowd only to see the No. 10-seed Hawkeyes get hot in the second half.

Things turned in Iowa’s favor about midway through the first half when the Hawkeyes started working the ball more inside. Behind sophomore big man Luka Garza (20 points, 8-for-11 shooting), the Hawkeyes were able to establish an inside presence while opening up the team’s perimeter-shooting options.

In the second half, freshman Joe Wieskamp (19 points) and the Hawkeyes started to make an abundance of threes as they finished 11-for-22 (50 percent) from the perimeter — including a blistering 7-for-10 mark in the second half. Junior guard Jordan Bohannon also tallied 13 points while Nicholas Baer added 10 points as Iowa outscored Cincinnati 48-36 in the second half.

Using the hot shooting of senior point guard Justin Jenifer (19 points), Cincinnati appeared to be completely in the driver’s seat in the first half. But once Iowa started responding with a flurry of second-half threes, the Bearcats struggled to play from behind in the final minutes. Jarron Cumberland (18 points) didn’t get rolling as a scorer until the second half while big man Nysier Brooks (11 points) fouled out with a few minutes left. Tre Scott also finished with 10 points on the afternoon for the Bearcats. Cincinnati struggled to match Iowa’s hot perimeter shooting as they were 6-for-27 from three-point range (24 percent) on the day.

This is a great comeback win for Iowa, as they overcame the bad start by working to take better shots. Forcing a lot of early looks, once the Hawkeyes started getting Garza comfortable on the block, it opened up looks for their shooters. It’s also notable that junior forward Tyler Cook, one of Iowa’s best players, was limited to only five points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Iowa was playing sluggish basketball the final three weeks of the regular season. Friday’s second half was a reminder of how dangerous the Hawkeyes can be if they are hitting shots. And for Iowa to rally when Cook was playing this poorly is yet another positive sign that the Hawkeyes are not to be taken lightly going forward.

With Iowa’s win, the Big Ten now moves to 6-0 in the 2019 NCAA tournament after a 5-0 start on Thursday. Iowa advances to face the winner of No. 2 seed Tennessee and No. 15 seed Colgate on Sunday in Columbus.

Best Bets: The Bettor’s Guide to Saturday’s NCAA tournament games

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12:10 p.m.: No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Maryland, CBS

  • LINE: LSU (-2)
  • TOTAL: 147
  • IMPLIED SCORE: LSU 74.5, Maryland 72.5
  • KENPOM: LSU 74, Maryland 73

If you love watching soon-to-be NBA big men do battle in the paint, this is the matchup for you. Naz Reid, Kavell Bigby-Williams and Emmitt Williams facing off with Bruno Fernando, Jalen Smith and Ricky Lindo. Buckle up!

I think I lean towards the Maryland side here. The Terps have the size and athleticism on the wings to be able to handle Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart, their big men should be able to keep LSU’s frontcourt in check and Tremont Waters is a pest, I do think Anthony Cowan will be able to avoid the live-ball turnovers that are killers.

PICK: This is a toss-up and a fascinating matchup between two teams with very similar roster constructions. That said, my money here will be on Mark Turgeon, who isn’t exactly the best coach in the world but who should be able to find a way to get it done against Tony Benford, LSU’s interim head coach. This is where it’s worth nothing that LSU blew a big lead in the second half against Florida in the SEC tournament quarterfinals before nearly blowing a bigger lead to Yale in the first round. Thats the difference-maker for me.

2:40 p.m.: No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Wofford, CBS

  • LINE: Kentucky (-5.5)
  • TOTAL: 138.5
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Kentucky 72, Wofford 66.5
  • KENPOM: Kentucky 72, Wofford 68

P.J. Washington will not be playing in this one, which is a problem for the Wildcats if this is a longterm injury but not necessarily one that I think will cost them against Wofford. The key here is going to be Kentucky’s ability to chase Wofford’s shooters around screens and how well they deal with Cameron Jackson in the paint. I think that Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson will be able to keep Fletcher Magee, Storm Murphy and Nathan Hoover from going absolutely bonkers. Jackson is not all that dissimilar from Grant Williams in terms of the way he does his job, and Travis did a good job keeping Williams in check when they played.

PICK: I do like the Kentucky side here, although I don’t feel great about it. We’ll see if that line continues to climb, and maybe that would change things.

5:15 p.m.: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 10 Florida, CBS

  • LINE: Michigan (-7)
  • TOTAL: 120
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Michigan 63.5, Florida 56.5
  • KENPOM: Michigan 63, Florida 56

I fully expect this to end up being one of the ugliest games of the tournament. Both teams have top 15 defenses, and Florida has guys that can guard the likes of Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis. I think this game plays out as a possession-by-possession battle played in the 50s that ends up being a one or two possession game in the final minute.

PICK: I don’t know if Florida will win this game, but seven points is a lot of points in a game that should be as slow and low-scoring as this game will be.

6:10 p.m.: No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 12 Murray State, TNT

  • LINE: Florida State (-5)
  • TOTAL: 143
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Florida State 74, Murray State 69
  • KENPOM: Florida State 74, Murray State 69

This is so tough. On the one hand, Florida State should have the bodies to be able to keep Ja Morant in check. They have a roster full of length and athleticism on the perimeter and they are a top 15 defense nationally. They are going to do a lot of switching, but that shouldn’t matter as Leonard Hamilton has built a team that is designed to defend like that. The matchup, to me, screams Florida State, especially at just (-5).

But my heart?

My heart says that Ja Morant is about to go on a Stephen Curry-esque run. He’s going to be an NBA superstar, and while we saw what he can do as a creator on Thursday, we have not yet seen just how dangerous he can be as a scorer. I want the Ja Morant ride to last.

PICK: My head says Florida State (-5). My heart says go along for the Racer ride. So I’ll probably just take the over.

7:10 p.m.: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Baylor, TBS

  • LINE: Gonzaga (-12.5)
  • TOTAL: 148
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Gonzaga 80.25, Baylor 67.75
  • KENPOM: Gonzaga 81, Baylor 69

I think Killian Tillie is the important piece in this matchup. He’s such a good shooter, an underrated passer and the piece that should allow Gonzaga’s offense to get unclogged against this Baylor zone. In three games back since returning from his second foot injury of the season, he’s averaging 10.3 points in just 15 minutes per game, shooting 6-for-7 from three and 80 percent from the floor.

PICK: The Bears getting 12.5 points is a lot of points for a team that is going to be able to get only the offensive glass. The biggest issue for Baylor this year is that they turn the ball over like crazy, and Gonzaga has not been all that good at forcing turnovers this season. I think I lean Gonzaga, but I won’t bet it myself unless the line moves towards the Zags.

7:45 p.m.: No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Minnesota, CBS

  • LINE: Michigan State (-10)
  • TOTAL: 141.5
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Michigan State 75.75, Minnesota 65.75
  • KENPOM: Michigan State 77, Minnesota 67

Minnesota was not great this season. They are playing a wing at the point guard spot because Isaiah Washington has been a mess. They only go five deep at this point, and they were able to run over Louisville because the one guy that can make threes on their roster made a bunch of threes.

Michigan State beat Minnesota by 24 points the one time that they played this season, but they are a team that relies almost entirely on Cassius Winston running ball-screens, and Minnesota has been pretty good defending ball-screens this season.

PICK: With the spread at (-10), I think I would lean towards taking Minnesota. That’s a lot of points. But I think my favorite bet in this game is actually the under. Michigan State looked gassed in the first round after playing three games in three days during their run to the Big Ten tournament title. Minnesota is basically running out a five-man rotation these days. Legs will catch up with them eventually.

8:40 p.m.: No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 6 Villanova, TNT

  • LINE: Purdue (-3.5)
  • TOTAL: 137
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Purdue 70.25, Villanova 66.75
  • KENPOM: Purdue 72, Villanova 67

This is my favorite bet of the Saturday slate. The defense that Villanova runs is pretty simple: They switch everything, 1-through-5, because it forces you out of the offense that you want to run. They dare teams to beat them 1-on-1, betting that their players are good enough to defend a cross-match regardless of opponent.

The problem for Purdue here is that, like Saint Mary’s, so much of what they get offensively comes out of the sets and actions they run. Put another way, Matt Painter doesn’t have all that many guys on his roster that can efficiently create for themselves in isolation. That includes Carsen Edwards, who is a tough-shot taker but, in the last month, has not exactly been a tough-shot maker.

The other part of this that makes me lean towards Villanova is that Villanova shoots more than 53 percent of their field goal attempts from three, and Purdue has not made running teams off the three-point line a priority this year.

PICK: If you are going to give me the defending national champs plus the points, I’ll take it. Villanova, if you’re tracking at home, has won 24 straight neutral court games. They win in knockout settings.

9:40 p.m.: No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 5 Auburn, TBS

  • LINE: PK
  • TOTAL: 147.5
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Kansas 73.75, Auburn 73.75
  • KENPOM: Auburn 75, Kansas 74

This is tough because Auburn is just so up-and-down while Kansas has looked downright bad for the last month until they faced Northeastern and suddenly turned into Kansas again.

What Auburn wants to do is to is to turn defense into offense. They are going to gamble — for steals, for blocks, for leak-outs — and look to get quick threes in transition once they get possession. For 33 minutes, it worked against New Mexico State. Twice in the last two weeks it worked for 40 minutes against Tennessee. Kansas has been turnover prone this season, particularly their ball-handlers, but they have cleaned that up in recent weeks. Devon Dotson, for example, had a turnover rate higher than 20 percent entering the Big 12 tournament and has committed just three turnovers in the last four games.

PICK: The matchup is going to get won based on how well Kansas protects the ball and how well they defend in transition — they finished the year in the 51st percentile nationally. It’s worth nothing that the Jayhawks struggled with West Virginia once this season but handled them easily on two different occasions in the last three weeks.

I think I will probably stay away, personally, but when it comes down to it, I think Auburn is the better team with the better players.