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Top 18 moments from 2018 NCAA tournament

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Big Dance withdrawal already? Fret not, as you can relive all the madness here, with the top 18 moments of the 2018 NCAA tournament.

18. Zhaire Smith does a Zhaire Smith thing

The Texas Tech freshman very well could be the best dunker in the country. Stephen F. Austin would be available as character witnesses about his credentials. Not too many guys in the country are going to be dropping 360-degree alley oops in a tourney game.

17. McQuaid’s crazy bank

Michigan State made just 8 of 37 3-pointers against Syracuse as it saw its season end. One of those makes was really cool though. Matt McQuaid’s blocked-then-banked triple at the first-half buzzer was the rare highlight for the Spartans against the Orange.

16. Two posters for the price of one

Wright State may have only gotten a few hours in the NCAA tournament, but Tennessee gave them a pair of posters to take home with them courtesy of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield unleashing two viscous dunks in their opening-round matchup.

 

15. Rob Gray slays

The Houston star brought Houston back from the brink against San Diego State and became an insta-star of the tournament when he scored 39 points against the Aztecs. His entire performance will be etched in Cougar lore, but it’ll be his game-winner that gets remembered by the country.

14. Loyola’s run begins

It ended in the Final Four, but it began with a last-second 3-pointer to knock off sixth-seeded Miami in the first round. If not for that, Sister Jean would have never entered our lives, and we all would have been lesser for it.

13. Arizona’s bizarre season comes to a close

It was an exceedingly weird season for Arizona. Injury, allegations, PEDs, losing streaks and Deandre Ayton being awesome, plus plenty more, made for a you-can’t-turn-away year, but it also made for a lot of dysfunction. The fact that the Wildcats didn’t look too sad to see it all end as Buffalo absolutely whupped them wasn’t exactly surprising, but it was striking.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

12. Dan Mullen takes his shot at Wichita State

Sure, most of the the best shots and most explosive fireworks came on the floor during the tournament, but Illinois State coach Dan Mullen landed his own bit of pyrotechnics with a simple tweet chiding Missouri Valley Conference defectors Wichita State after the Shockers’ first-round upset loss.

11. Miles Bridges throws down

Sure, Michigan State’s tournament ended with a dud – well, actually it was just a bunch of bricks – but at least the Big Dance was treated to a Miles Bridges special when the Spartan sophomore unloaded a nasty tip dunk against Bucknell.

10. Cincy Stunner

When you’ve got a 22-point second-half lead, generally you win. When you’ve got that kind of advantage in the NCAA tournament, you hold on to it for dear life.

Unless you’re Cincinnati.

The Bearcats suffered an unconscionable combustion down the stretch against Nevada to cough up their huge lead and an amazing potential path to the Final Four when the Wolf Pack stormed back to end Cincy’s season in the tournament’s first weekend.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

9. “Overdose of swag”

Michigan found its way to the national title game, but needed Jordan Poole to bail them out of the second round with his buzzer-beater against Houston.

The shot prompted John Beilein to say Poole has an “overdose of swag,” which is honestly just about the most amazing compliment anyone has ever paid anyone ever.

8. Custer-beater

First it was Donte Ingram, then it was Clayton Custer. Loyola got a game-winner from the junior guard in the final seconds to earn its spot in the Sweet 16 and keep its magical Cinderella run alive for what would prove to be a Final Four season.

7. Leonard Hamilton is awkward

Maybe it’s just the age and culture we live in, but I feel pretty confident that the most memorable thing about Florida State’s Elite 8 tournament won’t be the fact that the Seminoles knocked off Xavier and Gonzaga to get there but rather the weird way in which Leonard Hamilton answered a pretty straight-forward and legit question about his team’s decision not to foul and extend the game in the waning seconds of its loss to Michigan.

6. Loyola’s second weekend

Clutch shots, unselfish play, Cinderella status and general likability made Loyola the darling of this year’s NCAA tournament. Whether it was a late 3 that lifted them past Nevada or the no-question-about-it handling of Kansas State to get to the Final Four, Loyola was just a ton of fun and looked the part of a national semifinalist.

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

5. Grant Hill becomes a meme

Luckily for Bill Raftery, breaking your glasses is a temporary problem. Unfortunately for Grant Hill, becoming a hilarious meme is forever.

4. Sister Jean mania

This tournament will be remembered for plenty of things. Just keep reading this list and you’ll find plenty of memorable moments. If, though, in 25 years we look back and think of a single person from this year’s tournament, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it was Sister Jean.

The 98-year-old nun and team champlain stole the show who her hoops knowledge, charm and wit.

3. Grayson Allen’s game-winner spins out

Grayson Allen nearly had his Laettner moment. The Duke senior’s shot that would have secured the Blue Devils’ spot in the Final Four with an iconic moment in a classic game simply just didn’t drop.

It was an amazingly apt end to a career that was incredible for plenty of reasons.

2. UMBC realizes the impossible

Everyone knew it had never been done. After 135 tries, the question became could it be done?

UMBC said yes.

The Retrievers became the first-ever 16 seed to upend a No. 1, with their shellacking of overall top seed Virginia in the first round. They won fans over with their play and fun Twitter account. What they really did, though, was make history.

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

1. Nova cuts down the net

Donte DiVincenzo was unstoppable offensively and a stopper defensively while Villanova won its second title in three years. It was a dominant run through the tournament for the Wildcats, who established themselves as an elite squad when the narrative for much of this season was that no such thing existed.

When the curtain came down on 2017-18, Villanova was the star of ‘One Shining Moment.’

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Sunday’s betting lines, point spreads, over-unders

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Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for final day of the first week of the NCAA tournament.

Detroit: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce

  • 12:10 p.m.: No. 2 Purdue (-3.5) vs. No. 10 Butler, CBS (143.5)
  • 2:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan State (-9) vs. No. 11 Syracuse, CBS (129.5)

Charlotte: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

  • 5:15 p.m.: No. 2 North Carolina (-6.5) vs. No. 7 Texas A&M, CBS (151.5)
  • 7:45 p.m.: No. 9 Kansas State -10) vs. No. 16 UMBC, CBS (135.5)

Nashville: Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl

  • 6:10 p.m.: No. 2 Cincinnati (-8) vs. No. 7 Nevada, TNT (136.5)
  • 8:40: No. 1 Xavier (-5.5) vs. No. 9 Florida State, TNT (159)

San Diego: Carter Blackburn, Debbie Antonelli, John Schriffen

  • 7:10 p.m.: No. 4 Auburn (-1.5) vs. No. 5 Clemson, TBS (146.5)
  • 9:40 p.m.: No. 5 West Virginia (-12.5) vs. No. 13 Marshall, TBS (159.5)

 

UConn beats Cincinnati in four overtimes in critical bubble battle

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The stakes in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal between No. 4 seed Cincinnati and No. 5 seed Connecticut were high to say the least. How close (or far) the two teams were to an NCAA tournament bid depends upon who was providing the opinion, but regardless of the conversation the best thing a team can do is live to fight another day.

The Bearcats and Huskies fought for a total of 60 minutes before determining a winner, with UConn winning by the final score of 104-97. And the win came five game minutes after one of the wildest sequences you’ll see in basketball, with Cincinnati’s Kevin Johnson hitting a three with eight tenths of a second remaining, only to have UConn’s Jalen Adams hit a 70-footer (a shot that some, most notably Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, did not think should have counted) as time expired to force a fourth overtime.

Whether the shot was luck or skill, all that matters is the fact that it went in. And UConn took advantage of that extra life, with Adams and Daniel Hamilton leading the team to a much-needed win and a date with top seed Temple in Saturday’s semifinals.

Hamilton finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, and Adams scored 20 of his 22 points after halftime. And for the Bearcats guard Troy Caupain was sensational, as he countered with an AAC tournament record 37 points while also grabbing ten rebounds and dishing out five assists. Each team had five players in double figures, but in the end UConn was able to use the momentum gained from Adams’ miraculous shot in the fourth overtime.

UConn had just three RPI Top 50 wins entering the game, so this was a critical win in that regard. The RPI isn’t the only metric the selection committee uses, but it certainly is a factor in the process. Just as importantly, with the win UConn gets to continue to make their case for inclusion into the field and can still eliminate all doubt by winning the conference’s automatic bid.

Will fatigue be an issue? That’s certainly possible, and Kevin Ollie’s team will need to make the most of their recovery time before Saturday’s semifinal matchup with Temple. Just as big of a concern for UConn is figuring out how to get over the hump against a team that beat them twice during the regular season. That’s the same situation the Huskies were confronted with going into their matchup with Cincinnati, and thanks to the heroics of Adams and Hamilton they found a way to win.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 9 Iowa, No. 23 Kentucky pick up road wins

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Hofstra 96, Northeastern 92 (3OT)

The Pride and Huskies needed 15 extra minutes to determine a winner, with Hofstra coming out on top in the end. Juan’ya Green accounted for 23 points and 14 assists in the win, with Rokas Gustys scoring 23 and grabbing 20 rebounds. Quincy Ford and Zach Stahl scored 19 apiece for the Huskies, with Stahl also grabbing 11 boards. With the win Hofstra moves into a four-way tie for first in the CAA with William & Mary, James Madison and UNCW.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Saint Mary’s 70, Gonzaga 67: The Gaels took over sole possession of first place in the WCC, as they came back from a 15-point second half deficit to end Gonzaga’s 13-game road win streak. Evan Fitzner scored 20 points and Joe Rahon added 13 and three assists for Saint Mary’s, which shot 63 percent from the field in the second half. Eric McClellan scored 23 points for Gonzaga, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 in the game’s final seconds after being fouled by Rahon.

No. 23 Kentucky 80, Arkansas 66: Tyler Ulis scored 24 points and Jamal Murray added 19 for the Wildcats, who got back on the right track with a win in Fayetteville. But the biggest takeaways are the play of Derek Willis and Skal Labissiere, with the former scoring 12 points for the second straight game and Labissiere scoring 11 points. If Kentucky can get some consistency in the front court, the equation changes for John Calipari’s team. But it’s better to be cautious with this group moving forward.

Cincinnati 76, Memphis 72: In a matchup of two teams looking to strengthen their respective résumés, the Bearcats held serve at home. Troy Caupain scored 25 points and Shaq Thomas added 18 for Cincinnati, which shot 50 percent from the field and converted 15 Memphis turnovers into 16 points. Trahson Burrell and Avery Woodson combined to score 42 points off the bench for the Tigers, who made just two of their last ten shots from the field.

Oregon 89, No. 21 USC 81: USC played its first game as a ranked team since the 2008-09 season, and they didn’t get the ending they wanted in Eugene. Elgin Cook led four Oregon players in double figures with 26 points, with Bennie Boatwright pacing USC with 23. If anything, the game served as a reminder that Oregon’s figured out its rotation and is a conference title contender themselves.

STARRED

Iowa’s Peter Jok: Hovering just under 40 percent from the field for most of the season, Jok’s shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of the last three games. Thursday, he scored 29 points on 10-for-19 shooting in a win at Rutgers.

Hofstra’s Rokas Gustys: Scored 23 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in Hofstra’s triple-overtime win at Northeastern.

BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth: The senior guard tallied the tenth triple-double of his BYU career, racking up ten points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists and five steals in the Cougars’ 91-80 comeback win at Loyola Marymount.

STRUGGLED

Towson: Just two Tigers managed to make multiple field goals in their 40-37 loss to the College of Charleston. As a team the Tigers shot 23.9 percent from the field.

Stanford’s Rosco Allen: Allen scored four points on 1-for-12 shooting in a loss to No. 12 Arizona.

San Diego’s Duda Sanadze: Shot 1-for-13 from the field, scoring two points in the Toreros’ 76-58 loss at Pepperdine.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 9 Iowa moved to 6-0 in the Big Ten with a 90-76 win at Rutgers. Peter Jok scored 29 points, and Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons added 20 apiece for the Hawkeyes.
  • No. 12 Arizona pulled away down the stretch as they won 71-57 at Stanford. Gabe York scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson 18 for Sean Miller’s Wildcats.

OTHER NOTABLE OUTCOMES

  • T.J. Cromer scored 20 points on the night, leading East Tennessee State to a 65-63 overtime win over Mercer.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson scored 62 second half points as they came back to beat LIU Brooklyn 101-95. Darian Anderson led five Knights in double figures with 32 points.
  • Charlotte handed Marshall its first loss on Conference USA play, beating the Thundering Herd 103-95. Mark Price’s 49ers were led offensively by Andrien White, who scored 30 points on the night.
  • Both James Madison and William & Mary picked up wins to remain part of a four-way tie for first in the CAA, with the Dukes blowing out Drexel 68-45 and the Tribe doing the same to Elon (89-67). The two teams meet for the first time this season January 31.
  • North Florida moved to 5-0 in the Atlantic Sun with a 78-62 win at USC Upstate. Nick Malonga and Dallas Moore led six Ospreys in double figures with 16 points apiece.
  • Chattanooga moved to 6-1 in the SoCon with a 73-60 win over UNC Greensboro. Eric Robertson scored 22 points and Justin Tuoyo added 18 for the 17-3 Mocs.
  • Manhattan handed Monmouth its second conference loss, beating the Hawks 78-71 in Riverdale. Next up for the two-time defending MAAC tournament champion Jaspers are Saint Peter’s (6-1 MAAC) and Iona (6-2).
  • Ethan Happ scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Wisconsin won 66-60 at Penn State.
  • UT-Arlington moved to 5-1 in the Sun Belt with a 91-64 win over Arkansas State. Kennedy Eubanks scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win.
  • Playing their first game without injured guard Tyrone Wallace, California held off Arizona State 75-70. Ivan Rabb scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists for the Golden Bears.
  • Idaho knocked off Montana 63-58 in Missoula, handing the Grizzlies their first loss in Big Sky play. Victor Sanders scored a game-high 27 for the winners.
  • Belmont moved to 6-0 in the OVC with an 82-72 win at UT-Martin. Amanze Egekeze scored 20 points, Craig Bradshaw 19 and Evan Bradds 18 for the Bruins, who shot 14-for-45 from three on the night.
  • UAB moved to 6-0 in Conference USA with an 82-70 win over Rice. Robert Brown scored 19 points and Nick Norton 18 to lead the way for the Blazers.
  • New Mexico State remained a game behind Grand Canyon and CSU Bakersfield in the loss column in the WAC with a 68-60 win at Seattle. Pascal Siakam posted another double-double, finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Nick Emery scored 24 points and Chase Fischer 20 in BYU’s 91-80 win at Loyola Marymount. Despite winning the Cougars had no answer for Adom Jacko, who went for 26 points and 12 boards.
  • Jordan Loveridge scored 22 points and Brandon Taylor 21 as Utah beat Washington State 92-71 in Pullman.

Big plays from Nic Moore, Jordan Tolbert keep No. 15 SMU undefeated

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After playing three seasons at Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert made the decision to transfer to SMU, sitting out last season with the hope that his final year of eligibility would end in the NCAA tournament. Of course that won’t be the case for Tolbert or his fellow seniors, as NCAA sanctions handed down to the SMU program include a ban from postseason play.

But the Mustangs have continued to compete, and two big plays by Tolbert on both ends of the floor helped the nation’s 15th-ranked team remain undefeated with a 59-57 win over Cincinnati.

Tolbert’s tip-in of a Nic Moore missed jumper with 28 seconds remaining gave SMU a one-point lead, and his weak side block of a Troy Caupain layup attempt preserved that advantage. SMU managed to win despite losing Sterling Brown in the first half as he was ejected for leaving the bench, with his dismissal cutting the number of available scholarship players down to six.

But even with the lack of depth and an uncharacteristically high turnover count (17), the Mustangs found a way to remain close and then overtake the Bearcats.

SMU is one of the nation’s top teams in both field goal percentage and assists, and against Cincinnati they shot 51 percent from the field and assisted on 68.2 percent of their made field goals. Moore sets the tone at the point, with his ability to get the ball to the right player in the right spot matching his ability to knock down big shots. SMU outscored Cincinnati 11-2 over the final 3:09, with Moore’s two three-pointers on consecutive possessions being especially pivotal.

Moore’s the man who will have the ball in his hands in key spots, and with teammates willing to do their part to find the “right shot” SMU is a difficult matchup for opposing defenses at any point in the game.

SMU clearly wasn’t at their best, and Brown’s ejection serves as a reminder that this group doesn’t have a large margin to work with when it comes to either foul trouble or injuries. But even with the lack of depth and the high turnover count, Larry Brown’s team found a way to win.

Cincinnati cruises to a 30-point win in the Bahamas (VIDEO)

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Cincinnati is playing an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, which will be the team’s final game in its six-day stay in the Bahamas. On Friday, the Bearcats played their only game against an opponent outside the program, picking up a 94-64 win over the PJ Stingers at the Sir Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium in Nassau. 

Underclassmen Kevin Johnson and Gary Clark led the Bearcats with 17 points apiece. Clark, a top 100 recruit, was part of a new-look front court, along with with junior college transfer Octavius Ellis and three-star recruit Quadri Moore. The trio helped Cincinnati outrebound the Stingers 53-29.

Cincinnati assisted on 24 of its 39 field goals. Although, the team did commit 15 turnovers. Ball movement is something Cronin is stressing this offseason. Last season, the Bearcats had an assist rate that ranked them 145th in the country, according to kenpom. While its defense led Cincinnati to a second-place finish in the American, its offense caused an early exit from the NCAA tournament, as No. 12 Harvard upset the No. 5 seed in the Round of 64.

The offense will need to account for the loss of its top three scorers, including All American Sean Kilpatrick, who averaged 20.7 points per game.

Cincinnati will have seven additions to this year’s team — five newcomers and two redshirt freshmen — to go along with returning starters Shaquille Thomas and Ge’Lawn Guyn. This week’s trip to the Bahamas was an important one for Cronin to mold a team looking to contend with conference favorite SMU and reigning national champion UConn.

“We’ve had a great trip,” Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said after Friday’s game. “Attitude of the team has been great. We’ve got a lot out of this, not just basketball, but just team bonding. When you have a new team like this, with so many new players, you have to become a team before you can worry about X’s and O’s. We’ve really tried to focus on that in the last few weeks.”