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College Basketball 2019-2020 Preseason Top 25

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There is so much that is going to happen between now and the time that next season starts that it almost seems foolish to publish a preseason top 25 today.

But we’re doing it anyway!

A couple of notes: Who is going to head to the NBA is very much in the air right now. There are still a number of freshmen that have yet to announce where they are playing their college ball. The transfer market has barely heated up. For decisions that are up in the air, you’ll see an asterisk next to their name. We’re making predictions on what certain players will do and ranking based off of them. 

So with all that said, here is the preseason top 25.

1. MICHIGAN STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins
  • WHO’S BACK: Cassius Winston*, Nick Ward, Xavier Tillman, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Foster Loyer, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Julius Marble
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Xavier Tillman, Nick Ward

2. MICHIGAN

  • WHO’S GONE: Charles Matthews*, Jordan Poole*
  • WHO’S BACK: Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, Ignas Brazdeikis*, Isaiah Livers, Eli Books, Brandon Johns, Colin Castleton, Austin Davis, David DeJulius
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Cole Bajema, Jalen Wilson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Zavier Simpson, Eli Brooks, Ignas Brazdeikis, Isaiah Livers, Jon Teske

3. KENTUCKY

  • WHO’S GONE: P.J. Washington*, Keldon Johnson*, Tyler Herro*, Reid Travis
  • WHO’S BACK: E.J. Montgomery*, Ashton Hagans*, Immanuel Quickly, Nick Richards*
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Nate Sestina
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks, E.J. Montgomery

4. GONZAGA

  • WHO’S GONE: Rui Hachimura*, Brandon Clarke*, Josh Perkins, Geno Crandall, Jeremy Jones
  • WHO’S BACK: Killian Tillie*, Zach Norvell Jr.*
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Drew Timme, Oumar Ballo, Brock Ravet, Anton Watson, Martynas Arlauskas, Pavel Zahkarov
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Brock Ravet, Zach Norvell Jr., Corey Kispert, Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev

5. VIRGINIA

  • WHO’S GONE: De’Andre Hunter*, Ty Jerome*, Jack Salt
  • WHO’S BACK: Kyle Guy*, Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff, Kihei Clark
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Casey Morsell, Kadin Shedrick, Justin McKoy
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kihei Clark, Kyle Guy, Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff

6. VILLANOVA

  • WHO’S GONE: Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Jahvon Quinerly
  • WHO’S BACK: Jermaine Samuels, Cole Swider, Saddiq Bey, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Rountree, Brandon Slater
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Collin Gillespie, Bryan Antoine, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

7. DUKE

  • WHO’S GONE: Zion Williamson*, R.J. Barrett*, Cam Reddish*
  • WHO’S BACK: Tre Jones*, Marques Bolden, Alex O’Connell, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, Boogie Ellis, Matthew Hurt*
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt*, Vernon Carey

8. LOUISVILLE

  • WHO’S GONE: Christen Cunningham, Khwan Fore, Akoy Agau
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Nwora*, Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, V.J. King, Steve Enoch*, Malik Williams, Darius Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Samuell Williamson, Jaelyn Withers, Josh Nickelberry, David Johnson, Aidan Igiehom, Quinn Slazinski
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Darius Perry, Samuell Williamson, Dwayne Sutton, Jordan Nwora, Malik Williams

9. MARYLAND

  • WHO’S GONE: Bruno Fernando*
  • WHO’S BACK: Anthony Cowan*, Jalen Smith, Serrel Smith Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell, Donta Scott
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Jalen Smith

10. KANSAS

  • WHO’S GONE: Lagerald Vick, Silvio De Sousa*, Dedric Lawson*, K.J. Lawson*, Charlie Moore
  • WHO’S BACK: Devon Dotson*, Quentin Grimes*, Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike*, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot, David McCormack
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaac McBride, Christian Braun
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike

11. OREGON

  • WHO’S GONE: Bol Bol, Louis King*, Paul White Ehab Amin
  • WHO’S BACK: Payton Pritchard*, Will Richardson, Kenny Wooten*, Victor Bailey, Francis Okoro, Miles Norris
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Chris Duarte, C.J. Walker, Chandler Lawson, Isaach Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Payton Pritchard, Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, C.J. Walker, Kenny Wooten

12. SETON HALL

  • WHO’S GONE: Michael Nzei
  • WHO’S BACK: Myles Powell*, Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight, Taurean Thompson, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Tyrese Samuel, Dashawn Davis
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quincy McKnight, Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu

13. NORTH CAROLINA

  • WHO’S GONE: Coby White*, Nassir Little*, Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams
  • WHO’S BACK: Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson, Seventh Woods
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Cole Anthony*, Armando Francis, Jeremiah Francis
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cole Anthony, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks

14. ARIZONA

  • WHO’S GONE: Justin Coleman, Ryan Luther
  • WHO’S BACK: Brandon Randolph*, Dylan Smith, Chase Jeter, Brandon Williams, Alex Barcello, Ira Lee, Devonaire Doutrive
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Terry Armstrong, Christian Koloko, Zeke Nnaji
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Brandon Randolph, Ira Lee, Chase Jeter

15. TEXAS TECH

  • WHO’S GONE: Jarrett Culver*, Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens, Brandone Francis, Norense Odiase
  • WHO’S BACK: Chris Beard*, Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew, Khavon Moore, Andrei Savrasov
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jahmius Ramsey, Kevin McCullar, Russel Tchewa, Terrence Shannon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jahmius Ramsey, Davide Moretti, Deshawn Corprew, Khavon Moore, Russel Tchewa

16. UTAH STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: Quinn Taylor
  • WHO’S BACK: Sam Merrill, Neemias Queta*, Diogo Brito, Brock Miller, Abel Porter
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Alphonso Anderson, Liam McChesney, Sean Bairstow
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Diogo Brito, Abel Porter, Sam Merrill, Brock Miller, Neemias Queta

17. SAINT MARY’S

  • WHO’S GONE: Jordan Hunter
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Ford*, Malik Fitts, Tommy Kuhse, Tanner Krebs, Dan Fotu, Jock Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Alex Ducas, Kyle Bowen
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jordan Ford, Tommy Kuhse, Tanner Krebs, Malik Fitts, Jock Perry

18. XAVIER

  • WHO’S GONE: Ryan Welage, Zach Hankins, Kyle Castlin
  • WHO’S BACK: Quentin Goodin, Naji Marshall, Paul Scruggs, Tyrique Jones, Elias Harden
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kyky Tandy, Dahmir Bishop, Zach Freemantle, Jason Carter, Daniel Ramsey, Dieonte Miles
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jason Carter, Tyrique Jones

19. CREIGHTON

  • WHO’S GONE: Sam Froling, Kaleb Joseph, Connor Cashaw
  • WHO’S BACK: Davion Mintz, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Martin Krampelj, Jacob Epperson, Damien Jefferson, Marcus Zegarowski
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Shereef Mitchell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Davion Mintz, Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Martin Krampelj

20. COLORADO

  • WHO’S GONE: Namon Wright
  • WHO’S BACK: McKinley Wright IV*, Tyler Bey, D’shawn Schwartz, Lucas Siewert, Evan Battey, Shane Gatling, Daylen Kountz
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Maddox Daniels
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: McKinley Wright IV, Tyler Bey, D’shawn Schwartz, Lucas Siewert, Shane Gatling

21. AUBURN

  • WHO’S GONE: Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar, Horace Spencer, Chuma Okeke*
  • WHO’S BACK: Jared Harper*, Samir Doughty, J’Von McCormick, Danjel Purifoy, Anfernee McLemore, Austin Wiley
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaac Okoro, Tyrell Jones, Jaylin Williams, Babatunde Akingbola, Allen Flanigan, Jamal Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jared Harper, J’Von McCormick, Samir Doughty, Danjel Purifoy, Anfernee McLemore

22. TENNESSEE

  • WHO’S GONE: Admiral Schofield, Kyle Alexander, Jordan Bone*, Grant Williams*
  • WHO’S BACK: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Yves Pons, Derrick Walker Jr., John Fulkerson, D.J. Burns, Jalen Johnson
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Josiah James, Drew Pember, Davonte Gaines
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Josiah James, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson

23. HOUSTON

  • WHO’S GONE: Corey Davis, Breaon Brady, Galen Robinson
  • WHO’S BACK: Dejon Jerreau, Armoni Brooks*, Cedrick Alley, Brison Gresham, Fabian White, Chris Harris, Nate Hinton
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Caleb Mills, Justin Gorham
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Dejon Jerreau, Armoni Brooks, Nate Hinton, Fabian White, Brison Gresham

24. MEMPHIS

  • WHO’S GONE: Jeremiah Martin, Kyvon Davenport, Mike Parks Jr., Raynere Thornton, Kareem Brewton, Antwann Jones Jr.
  • WHO’S BACK: Tyler Harris, Alex Lomax, Isaiah Maurice
  • WHO’S COMING IN: James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, Malcolm Dandridge, Damian Baugh, Lance Thomas, Trendon Watford*
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyler Harris, Alex Lomax, D.J. Jeffries, Isaiah Maurice, James Wiseman

25. VCU

  • WHO’S GONE: Michael Gilmore
  • WHO’S BACK: Marcus Evans, Isaac Vann, Deriante Jenkins, Marcus Santos-Silva, Sean Mobley, Vince Williams, Mike’L Simms, P.J. Byrd, Malik Crawford
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jarren McAlister
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Evans, Isaac Vann, Deriante Jenkins, Sean Mobley, Marcus Santos-Silva

Michigan trio declaring for NBA draft, but can still return

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan’s Charles Matthews, Iggy Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole are declaring for the NBA draft, although they can still come back to the Wolverines.

The school announced Tuesday that the three players intend to sign with agents, but under new NCAA rules, they are allowed to have agents during the evaluation process for the draft. They can return to school without losing their eligibility.

“The new process is a unique experience and one that my staff and I will assist in every way we can,” Michigan coach John Beilein said in a statement. “We want each of them to utilize this opportunity to get more feedback so they can make the best decision possible for themselves and their families. All three are remarkable young men with amazing futures.”

Matthews has been considered the most likely candidate to leave Michigan, having considered the draft last year as well. The 20-year-old Brazdeikis just finished a freshman season in which he led the Wolverines with 14.8 points per game.

“It was an amazing year for me in Ann Arbor,” Brazdeikis said. “There are many things I still want to accomplish, and pursuing a professional career is just one of them. My family and I want to take full advantage of the opportunities to see where I fit in the NBA draft. It’s an exciting time, and I just cannot wait to get started.”

Poole, a sophomore, was second on the team at 12.8 ppg, and Matthews, in his third season of eligibility, averaged 12.2.

“Being able to play in the NBA has always been my dream since I was young,” Poole said. “I am confident that with my faith in God and hard work that I, and my family, are prepared to look at all options and make the right decision for the next step of my playing career.”

Michigan made the Sweet 16 for the third straight season but was eliminated there by Texas Tech.

Duke Freshmen Williamson, Barrett Top AP All-America Team

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The season did not end as Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett intended. The fabulous freshmen came to Duke to win a national championship and their bid came up short with a loss to Michigan State in the Elite Eight.

Williamson and Barrett still managed to make a bit of history.

The Duke duo was named to The Associated Press All-America team on Tuesday, becoming the second freshman teammates to make the first team in the same season. They were joined by Tennessee’s Grant Williams, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Ja Morant of Murray State.

Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall were the only other freshman teammates to take first-team AP honors in 2010.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson electrified college basketball with an array of thunderous dunks and soaring blocks, occasionally having to tilt his head to avoid hitting it on the backboard. He was selected unanimously by 64 voters as a first-team All-American. He averaged 22.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 blocked shots and 1.8 steals per game while leaving everyone wondering what he would do next.

“He’s got the most incredible first step,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “That’s why he’s getting all those steals. He can take one dribble and cover more space than most human beings that I know can do. And so then he has the strength to finish at the end. So he’s not Superman, but he’s damn close.”

Barrett arrived at Duke as the higher-rated recruit and while everyone fawned over his high-flying teammate, the athletic 6-7 guard quietly had a superb season in Durham. Barrett led the Blue Devils with 22.9 points, grabbed 7.5 rebounds and dished 4.1 assists per game on a team that came a game short of the Final Four.

Williams was the SEC player of the year a season ago and may have been even better while winning the award this year.

The 6-7 junior averaged 19 points per game while shooting 57% and had 7.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and lead the Vols to the Sweet 16 for the first time in five years.

Morant was the most exciting player in college basketball not named Zion, lighting up highlight reels with emphatic dunks and no-look passes.

The 6-3 point guard may have turned himself into an NBA lottery pick his sophomore season, leading the nation with 10 assists per game and averaging 24.6 points to become Murray State’s first first-team All-American.

“He’s one of the most exceptional players that I’ve had a chance to watch play,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He’s kind of a throwback to guys who have the ability to score points. But also has the passion and the excitement about creating opportunities for his teammates.”

Winston is not the most athletic player, even on his own team. He is heady, ultra tough and a big reason the Spartans are in the Final Four.

He averaged 18.9 points, 7.6 assists and was Michigan State’s go-to guy when a big shot was needed.

___

Statistics through March 17

First Team

Zion Williamson, Duke, 6-7, 285, freshman, Spartanburg, S.C., 22.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 69.3 fg pct, 1.8 blocks, 2.2 steals (64 of 64 first-place votes, 320 points).

Grant Williams, Tennessee, 6-7, 236, junior, Charlotte, N.C., 19.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 56.5 fg pct, 82.6 ft pct, 1.4 blocks, 1.1 steals (49, 286).

RJ Barrett, Duke, 6-7, 202, freshman, Mississauga, Ontario, 22.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.1 apg (44, 275).

Ja Morant, Murray State, 6-3, 175, sophomore, Dalzell, S.C., 24.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 10.0 apg, 50.3 fg pct, 81.0 ft pct, 1.8 steals (43, 272).

Cassius Winston, Michigan State, 6-1, 185, junior, Detroit, 18.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 7.6 apg, 40.4 3-pt fg pct, 84.0 ft pct (42,268).

Second Team

Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, 6-8, 230, junior, Toyama, Japan, 20.1 rpg, 6.6 rpg, 60.9 fg pct, 1.0 steals (25, 207).

Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech, 6-6, 195, sophomore, Lubbock, Texas, 18.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.4 steals (15, 188).

Markus Howard, Marquette, 5-11, 175, junior, Chandler, Ariz., 24.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.0 apg, 40.6 3-pt fg pct, 3.5 3-pt fg/game, 88.7 ft pct, 1.1 steals (11, 186).

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, 6-10, 237, senior, Milan, Ill., 17.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4.6 apg, 53.1 fg pct, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals (6, 139).

Carsen Edwards, Purdue, 6-1, 200, junior, Atascocita, Texas, 23.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 84.3 ft pct, 3.3 3-pt fg/game, 1.4 steals (6, 133).

Third Team

De’Andre Hunter, Virginia, 6-7, 225, junior, Philadelphia, 15.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 53.0 fg pct, 45.7 3-pt fg pct (3, 125).

Dedric Lawson, Kansas, 6-9, 235, Memphis, Tenn., 19.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 82.4 ft pct, 1.1 blocks, 1.3 steals (3, 110).

Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga, 6-8, 215, junior, Phoenix, 16.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 69.3 fg pct, 3.1 blocks, 1.2 steals (4, 92).

PJ Washington, Kentucky, 6-8, 228 sophomore, Dallas, 14.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 51.5 fg pct, 41.9 3-pt fg pct, 1.2 blocks (1, 79).

Kyle Guy, Virginia, 6-2, 175, junior, Indianapolis, 15.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 46.3 3-pt fg pct, 83.6 ft pct (1, 44).

Honorable Mention (alphabetical order)

Keith Braxton, St. Francis (Pa.); Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan; Tookie Brown, Georgia Southern; Chris Clemons, Campbell; RJ Cole, Howard; Jeremy Combs, Texas Southern; Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati; Mike Daum, South Dakota State; Jordan Davis, Northern Colorado; Cameron Delaney, Sam Houston State; Lamine Diane, Cal State Northridge; Daniel Gafford, Arkansas; Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson; Rapolas Ivanauskas, Colgate; Ty Jerome, Virginia; Cameron Johnson, North Carolina; Anthony Lamb, Vermont; Fletcher Magee, Wofford; Caleb Martin, Nevada; CJ Massinburg, Buffalo; Garrison Mathews, Lipscomb; Luke Maye, North Carolina; Drew McDonald, Northern Kentucky; Sam Merrill, Utah State; Jaylen Nowell, Washington; Miye Oni, Yale; Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s; Myles Powell, Seton Hall; Admiral Schofield, Tennessee; Marial Shayok, Iowa State; B.J. Stith, Old Dominion; Matisse Thybulle, Washington; Jake Toolson, Utah Valley; Marques Townes, Loyola of Chicago; Tremont Waters, LSU; Coby White, North Carolina; Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra; Cameron Young, Quinnipiac.

Friday’s Sweet 16 Recap: UNC goes down, Tre Jones shines, Tyler Herro’s the hero

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PLAYER OF THE DAY: Tre Jones, Duke

It was just five days ago that we watched Duke nearly get beaten by UCF on a night where the Knights just did not even bother to guard Tre Jones. That was surely an embarrassing moment for the Duke freshman, and it should surprise no one that the next time out, on Friday night, Jones caught five. He made five threes in the win over Virginia Tech. He didn’t make five threes in the month of December or January.

TEAM OF THE DAY: Auburn Tigers

The Tigers reached the Elite Eight for just the second time in the history of the program on Friday night, and if they can get past Kentucky in the next round they will be heading to the Final Four. After a sluggish start to the night, the Tigers shot 12-for-18 from three in the second half, using a 14-0 run that spanned both halves to take home the win.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Tyler Herro, Kentucky

Tyler Hero, amirite?

The freshman from Wisconsin buried a three with less than 30 seconds left in the game that snapped a Houston comeback and put Kentucky ahead for good in a 62-58 win that the Wildcats landed to get back to the Elite Eight.

WTF OF THE DAY: Gabe Brown, Michigan State

Gabe Brown entered Friday night having made 12 threes in his college basketball career. He left the arena in Washington D.C. have hit four threes in an 80-63 win over LSU in the Sweet 16. Who saw that coming?

FINAL THOUGHT

I don’t want to play armchair surgeon, but I think that it is pretty obvious based on the reaction of his teammates and coaches — and, frankly, by the way the injury looked on TV — that Chuma Okeke’s knee injury is a bad one.

This is a devastating injury to Okeke. He’s a kid that had been playing his way into the NBA draft’s first round, but with this injury hanging over his head, it will be hard to find a suitor is he opts to go pro this year. It’s also going to be tough to find a suitor if he waits to declare for the draft until next year. There’s no guarantee that he would be healthy and ready to play by the start of next season.

And I bring this all up because these unpaid college athletes, who are putting their professional career on the line when they take the court in the NCAA tournament, all face this same risk. But they don’t get a cut of the profits, even when consider that they cannot drink Powerade or Gatorade on the bench during NCAA tournamant because Drink BodyArmor had an exclusive rights deal.

Thursday’s Sweet 16 Recap: Cline shines, Tech advances, Kihei Clark’s big day

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PLAYER OF THE DAY: Ryan Cline, Purdue

Cline had a career-high 27 points on Thursday. He scored 22 of those 27 points in the second half, and Purdue needed every single one of them despite the fact that they held a 17 point lead with 15 minutes left. That’s because Tennessee made a furious rally down the stretch to take a three-point lead on two different occasions — both times answered by a Cline three — and force overtime.

TEAM OF THE DAY: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech held a team coached by John Beilein to 44 points in the Sweet 16.

Let me say that again for the people in the back.

Texas Tech held a team coached by John Beilein to 44 POINTS.

What the Red Raiders did to a very good Michigan team on Thursday night was ridiculous. Michigan never got close to a rhythm against the Wolverines, and the result was a second straight trip to the Elite 8 for Chris Beard’s crew.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Kihei Clark, Virginia

Clark is a kid that I have bee pretty hard on this season. He’s a weird fit on this Virginia team, and he has moments where he looks like he shouldn’t be on the floor in an ACC game. That did not happen tonight, because he was arguably the best player on the floor for the ‘Hoos.

Clark finished with 12 points and six assists, but it was the three-pointer that he buried with 5:21 left in the second half that was the biggest shot of the day. That three ended an 18-5 run and tied the game at 45. It launched a game-ending, 11-4 surge by Virginia, who won 53-49 and advanced to the Elite 8 for the second time in Tony Bennett’s tenure.

FINAL THOUGHT

Someone is finally going to get the recognition that they deserve in the South Region.

Tony Bennett has been an utterly dominant coach during the regular season, winning four of the last six ACC regular season title, three of the last six ACC tournament titles and entering the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed four times during this stretch.

Building this Virginia program into the behemoth that it is should never be looked down on.

Matt Painter has been similarly impressive, especially in the last four years. During that stretch, he has turned Purdue into one of the most successful teams in the Big Ten. They have won two of the last three Big Ten regular season titles and, in 2018, finished one game out of first place with a 15-3 conference mark. They’ve done all of this despite graduating significant pieces each and every offseason.

These two men are two of the best currently doing in the collegiate ranks.

And on Saturday, one of them will get their first trip to the Final Four.

That is great news for whoever wins.

And whoever loses will have to wait at least one more year before the rest of the world truly understands how good they are.

Texas Tech clamps down on Michigan to reach Elite 8

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Texas Tech is in the Elite 8 for the second-consecutive season.

The third-seeded Red Raiders absolutely dominated No. 2 Michigan in a 63-44 victory in Anaheim on Thursday to once again be on the doorstep of the Final Four.

Chris Beard’s top-ranked defense looked as formidable as ever as Michigan, a top-20 offense, had no answer for the Red Raiders’ scheme. The Wolverines shot 32.7 percent from the floor for the game and were an astonishing 1 of 19 from 3-point range – and that one make came with 21.8 seconds left in the game.

“I feel like we stayed true to ourselves. We played the defense we’ve been playing all year and their shots wasn’t going in,” Jarrett Culver said after the game. “We had urgency. We knew they had great players that could shoot the ball pretty well. So urgency and staying true to our defense.”

Michigan turned it over 14 times while making just 16 shots. Iggy Brazdeikis scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds in a rare bright spot on the night.

“Watching Michigan it’s been like a coaching clinic. I have an old school spiral that I used. Im not really an iPad guy. I have a red pen, black pen, old school spirals, and on the back of the page before I write notes for us basically to steal things from other people,” Beard said. “During the off-season I will go back and add things and my whole notebook is filled with red because Michigan is so well-coached and Coach Beilein does such a great job.

“We knew they were going to exploit our pick-and-roll switch and going inside and come out and do some things different and you just try and do things to help your guys and at halftime we made a few adjustments.”

The Red Raiders had never been to an Elite 8 in the program’s history, and now Beard has gotten them there twice in three years. He’s done it with two different rosters, too, with Culver really the lone holdover – and he was clearly the third option in 2018 behind Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith. It’s been remarkable work in Lubbock by Beard, who will almost certainly be mentioned among every top job that opens in the foreseeable future. He’s having that kind of success out in west Texas.

“You’ve got to give the guys credit. A lot has been made of the culture, but it’s these guys,” Beard said. “The first thing in recruiting is making sure they can play in the Big 12, and it’s a talent business. We do really good with guys that love to play. Last night we went to a local high school and got shots up and just played shooting games and stuff and some of the younger coaches on the stuff want to keep their legs. Is this too much? No, this is us.

“We made Jarrett Culver go to bed when we got back, but everybody loves to “hoop.” We have a culture that is based on guys that love the game and love each other.”

Culver finished with 22 points on 9 of 19 shooting while Davide Moretti had 15 and Matt Mooney 10.

It’s a disappointing out for the Wolverines, who looked like a favorite to return to the Final Four for a second-consecutive year after opening the season with 17-straight wins. Instead, they missed out on a Big Ten regular-season title, a conference tournament title and saw their season halted in the Sweet 16.

Texas Tech will face top-seeded Gonzaga – the No. 1 defense vs. the No. 1 offense – on Saturday with the winner moving on to Minneapolis.

“Their passion, their togetherness, their courage, thousand aggressive they are, at this point I’m a fan (of Gonzaga),” Beard said, “and here in the next hour or so I’ve got to flip that and start to get ready to try to prepare against them. I can say this early on no one has more respect for Gonzaga than I do personally and our program.”