Monday, March 31, 2014

Shabazz Napier Leads Huskies to Final Four; Kentucky Also Advances

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 30, 2014

As he's been doing for the better part of the season, Shabazz Napier put the UConn Huskies on his back and mushed his team to another important victory, this one over the Michigan State Spartans for a trip to the Final Four in Dallas with a 60-54 victory.

With a game-high 25 points, Napier scored the key buckets and made big plays in the final minutes to lead his squad to their biggest win of the year and a rematch with the Florida Gators in a national semi-final on Saturday.

Napier was just 6-for-14 from the field, but that included a 4-for-9 mark from three point range and perfection at the foul line where he made all nine of his free throws. The senior point guard also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.

Up 51-49 with under two minutes to play, Napier put the Huskies - the 11 seed in the East region - up by four with a short jumper and, after Michigan State's Adreian Payne scored a pair of free throws, Napier was fouled attempting a three-pointer with 30 seconds to go and calmly stepped to the line and sank all three foul shots for a five point UConn lead.

Michigan State missed a three-point attempt and Napier fed Phillip Nolan for a dunk with 15 seconds left which sealed the victory.

The Huskies will face Florida on Saturday, meeting the Gators for the first time since December 2 when they beat the Gators, 65-64. Since then, Florida has run off 30 straight wins and enter the Final Four as the #1 seed from the South region.

The last spot in the Final Four was completed in rousing fashion late Saturday afternoon as Kentucky upset Michigan in the Midwest region final, 75-72. Kentucky, the #8 seed in the region got a clutch performance from Aaron Harrison, who hit four three-pointers in the final eight minutes, the last one coming with just three seconds in the game, breaking a 72-all tie and sending the Wildcats to a Final Four meeting with Wisconsin.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Frank Kaminsky Powers Wisconsin Past Arizona into Final Four; Florida Forward over Dayton

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 29, 2014

In the end, basketball is a team sport, but it really helps your chances of winning when you have a seven-footer who can score nearly half of your team's points in big games.

That's the nature of Wisconsin and its star center, Frank Kaminsky, who scored 28 points for the Badgers in their 64-63 OT win over Arizona in the West regional final.

The junior from Lisle, Illinois with the smooth touch outside and deft moves inside, hit 11 of 20 shots from the field, including three of five from three-point range and three of four from the foul line, leading the Badgers into the Final Four. In 37 minutes of playing time, Kaminsky also collected 11 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive boards, key to keeping the ball alive for the Wisconsin offense and getting more than their fair share of second chance points.

Due to the ruggedly defensive nature of the game, Wisconsin shot just 39.3%; Arizona was only marginally better, at 39.8%.

The Badgers head to Dallas to meet up with the winner of Sunday's Kentucky-Michigan Midwest final in one of the two semi-final games.

The Florida Gators, #1 overall seed in the tournament, ground out a 62-52 victory over the Dayton Flyers, the #11 seed out of the South region. They reach the Final Four and look forward to playing the winner of Sunday's East region final between Michigan State and Connecticut.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

DeAndre Daniels' 27 Points Leads Connecticut past Iowa State, 81-76; Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State Advance

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 28, 2014

Coming into the tournament, everyone knew that the Connecticut Huskies were a talented group, but they we're very deep, and few thought they'd advance far, but, with an 81-76 victory over Iowa State in the East region semi-final, they're one step away from the Final Four.

The Huskies, having won any number of games and Big East championships at Madison Square Garden, might have felt right at home in the Big Apple, but junior DeAndre Daniels, who hails from Los Angeles and led all scorers with 27 points, it was a special night.

Daniels blew away the Cyclones by hitting 10 of 15 shots from the field, including a pair of three pointers and snatched 10 rebounds to lead the Huskies into the next round.

The Huskies (29-8), the seven seed in the region, meet up with Michigan State (29-8) in the East regional final on Sunday, after the Spartans took out Virginia, 61-59.

Over in the Midwest region, 8th-seeded Kentucky took out defending national champion Louisville, 74-69, the #4 seed, and #2 Michigan scraped by #11 Tennessee, 73-71.

The Wildcats and Wolverines will go at it Sunday, the winner advancing to the Final Four.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Michael Frazier II Leads Florida to 29th Straight Victory, Elite Eight; Dayton, Arizona, Wisconsin Advance

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 27, 2014

Awarded the top seeding in the tournament, the Florda Gators proved their value, disassembling UCLA, 79-68, to advance to the South regional final where they will face the upstart, 11th-seeded Dayton Flyers on Saturday.

Florida established an early lead against the Bruins, led 36-30 at the half and were never headed, cruising to their 29th straight victory, the longest winning streak in the country.

Down 11-8 just six minutes into the game, Florida hit four straight three-pointers - three of them by Michael Frazier II - led 20-16 just 2 1/2 minutes later and held that lead for the remainder of the contest.

Florida's lead would eventually swell to as many as 11 on a few occasions and the Bruins cut it to one point midway through the second half, but the Gators pulled away once again. UCLA could only draw within seven points in the final six minutes as Florida players executed their offense and made free throws down the stretch.

Frazier finished the scoring on a breakaway dunk and was 5-for-8 from beyond the arc, finishing with a game-high 19 points, along with six rebounds and three assists.

On the opposite side of the South bracket, Dayton continued its successful run through the post-season with an 82-72 win over Stanford, the #10 seed in the region.

The West regional final was set for Saturday as #2 Wisconsin hammered Baylor, 69-52, and top seed Arizona handled San Diego State, 70-64.

Friday night's match-ups include Iowa State vs. Connecticut and Virginia vs. Michigan State in the East. The Midwest games are Tennessee vs. Michigan, followed by the blockbuster Louisville vs. Kentucky meeting.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Iowa State Outlasts North Carolina, 85-83, Advances to Sweet 16

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 23, 2014

Even with the loss of a key player - Georges Niang - DeAndre Kane wasn't going to let his teammates and Iowa State fans down.

Kane drove to the bucket and powered in the last two of his game-high 24 points with 1.6 seconds left to play, giving Iowa State an 85-83 victory over North Carolina and a trip to the Sweet 16, where they will meet Connecticut in an East regional semi-final on Friday, March 28.

The Cyclones lost Niang for the remainder of the season in their 93-75 win over NC Central as he suffered a fractured foot, but got big efforts from Naz Long, Monte Morris and Dustin Hogue against the Tar Heels.

Kane's 24 points came off 9-for-18 shooting and a 5-for-7 effort from the foul line. He also had 10 rebounds and seven assists, though his bucket near the end of the game was all that really mattered as the Cyclones overcame an eight-point deficit and outscored the Tar Heels 17-7 down the stretch.

Most of Sunday's slate of eight games went according to plan, with lower-numbered seeds knocking off the higher ones, except in the South region, where #10 Stanford knocked off #2 Kansas, 60-57, and in the Midwest, where #8 Kentucky upset #1 seed and previously unbeaten Wichita State, 78-76.

Tennessee's 83-63 win over Mercer made it a trio for the SEC in the Sweet 16, joining Kentucky and Florida, matching the number in the round by the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin) and the PAC-12, which has advanced Stanford, UCLA and Arizona.

Baylor and Iowa State are the remaining teams from the Big 12 to advance, and two come out of the American Athletic - Louisville and UConn. Virginia is the only remaining ACC team left in the tournament. The Cavaliers smashed Memphis, 78-60, to advance.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Xavier Thames Nets 30 for San Diego State: Syracuse Out; Wisconsin, Michigan, Michagan St. Lead Big Ten to Sweet 16

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Aztecs of San Diego State advanced to the Sweet 16 with a thundering victory over North Dakota State, 63-44.

Xavier Thames led the scoring parade with 30 points on 9-for-19 shooting with four threes.

The Aztecs, #4 seed in the West region will match up with the winner of the Sunday's Gonzaga-Arizona meeting.

Elsewhere, Syracuse, the #3 seed in the South, was upended by #11 Dayton, 55-53; in the Midwest region, #2 Michigan downed #7 Texas, 79-65, making them the third Big Ten team in the Sweet 16, joining Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee Make Quick Work of Minutemen, 86-67; Duke, VCU Ousted

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 21, 2014

The Massachusetts Minutemen will have plenty of time to think about their brief trip to the NCAA tournament, after Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes and the Tennessee Volunteers routed them, 86-67, in their opening game at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.

The Vols took a 3-2 lead on McRae's three-pointer 1:23 into the contest and never trailed or were tied again, forging a 19-point lead by the break, 41-22, and maintaining their edge throughout the second half.

McRae scored 21 points for the Vols, who won their second straight game in the tourney after knocking off Iowa, 78-65, in the First Four play-in round.

Stokes was impressive, leading all scorers with 26 points and topping the rebounding charts with a game-high 14, four of them off the offensive glass. Tennessee's inside force was 7-for-11 from the field and 12-for-13 at the foul line, the Minutemen finding no answer to his might but to foul him.

The Vols are the #11 seed in the Midwest region and will face Mercer on Sunday.

One of the other big stories of the day came before Tennessee's win, when Mercer, the #14 seed in the Midwest, upset the #3 seed Duke, 78-71, making the Blue Devils the most recent one-and-done tournament victim.

In the South region, the Mountaineers of Stephen F. Austin - the #12 seed - took down #5 seed, VCU, 77-75 in overtime, when senior leader, Desmond Haymond sent the game into overtime, knocking down a three-point shot with three seconds remaining and getting fouled in the act. Haymond hit the free throw to tie the game and contributed another trey in the overtime.

#1 seeds Arizona, Wichita State and Virginia all advanced, joining the overall #1 seed, Florida.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Adreian Payne's Career-High 41 Points Hoists Spartans over Delaware

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 20, 2014

A spate of upsets marked the traditional opening day of the tournament, but one team which held its ground was Michigan State, likely because the Delaware Blue Hens had no solutions for senior forward Adreian Payne, who scored a career-high 41 points in the Spartans' 93-78 triumph.

The 6'10" swingman was incredibly efficient in tear up the opponent, hitting 10 of 15 from the field, including four of five from three-point range and an impressive 17-for-17 mark at the foul line. Payne added eight boards and only turned the ball over twice, all in just 24 minutes of court time.

Coach Tom Izzo has his team as well-prepared for the tournament as usual, coming off the championship in the Big Ten tournament last week.

Michigan State, the #4 seed in the East region,will face upset winner Harvard in the next round, on Saturday. The 12th-seeded Crimson disposed of #5 seed Cincinnati, 61-57, essentially blowing up millions of brackets in the process.

Among the other upsets encountered on Thursday were Dayton's 60-59 win over Ohio State in the South region, an 11 over a six, and, West region #12 seed North Dakota State outing #5 Oklahoma, 80-75, in overtime.

Basically, three regions were blown up on Thursday, leaving only the Midwest unscathed, though #5 St. Louis had to come from 16 back in the second half to hold off #12 NC State in overtime, 83-80.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jarnell Stokes Powers Tennessee in Field of 64 With OT Win over Iowa

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tennessee outscored Iowa 14-1 in overtime, earning them a trip to the next round in the NCAA tournament.

Jarnell Stokes, who powered the Volunteers with 18 points and 13 rebounds, made a three-point play with a layup and made free throw 31 seconds into the extra period that turned out to be more than the Vols needed.

Following a bucket by Jordan McRae, he and Anotnio Barton knocked dow nine of ten free throws to complete the scoring for the 78-65 win. McRae led all scorers with 20 points.

The 11th-seeded Vols advance to play #6 Massachusetts in the Midwest region on Friday.

In the other First Four game Wednesday, Cal Poly defeated Texas Southern, 81-69, and will play #1 seed in the Midwest, Wichita State, Friday night.

16 games are on the slate both Thursday and Friday, the action beginning at 12:15 Thursday when South region #6 Ohio State meets #11 Dayton.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

NC State Advances on T.J. Warren's 25 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day one of the NCAA tournament and already the cream is rising to the top.

T.J. Warren, who led the ACC in scoring this season, popped for 25 points and was nearly unstoppable during the second half, leading North Carolina State to a 74-59 victory over Xavier.

Warren was 10-for-18 from the field and added five rebounds, two assists and three steals as the Wolfpack led nearly all the way and pulled away late. NC State will play the #5 seed from the Midwest region, St. Louis, in the second round on Friday.

In the earlier game at Dayton, Albany topped Mount St. Mary's, 71-64, in a battle of 16 seeds. The Great Danes move on to play #1 Florida in a second round game in the South region, Saturday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bracket Basics, Weak, Strong Regions, Play-in Games for the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

On Tuesday, 68 teams (yes, what used to be known as "play-in" games are now round 1) will begin the ultimate quest to be named the bast collage hoops team in the land while millions of fans will be checking off winners and losers in the annual bracket madness that is March in America.

The opening game of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tips off at Tuesday at 6:40 pm, when a pair of #16 seeds, Albany and Mount St. Mary's, meet for the right to be slaughtered in the South bracket by #1 Florida in the second round.

This game is about as consequential - unless you really believe you're going to take a billion bucks off of Warren Buffett - as a tail feather in a chicken coop. Never has a #1 seed fallen to a 16-seed. If you must make a choice between the 16-16 Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (winners of the Northeastern Conference tournament) and the 18-14 Albany Great Danes - winners of the America East tournament with a Scooby-Do look-alike as their mascot - flip a coin and cross the winner off in the next round.

Both Albany and Mt. St. Mary's finished fourth in their respective conferences.

The second Tuesday night game has a little more intrigue to it, as the teams are set down as 12-seeds, the winner moving on to face St. Louis in the Midwest region. North Carolina State meets up with Xavier at roughly 9:10 pm.

One could confidently give the Wolfpack the edge over the Musketeers in this meeting, but, as any veteran of bracket busting understands, almost nothing is certain come March. NC State was 21-13 with a 9-9 mark in the ACC, and they knocked off Syracuse in the second round of the conference tourney. They also feature ACC player of the year, T.J. Warren, who is a match-up nightmare.

The 21-12 Musketeers ended up tied for third in the watered-down Big East, not exactly a vote of confidence. NC State is a 2 1/2-point favorite.

On Wednesday, another pair of first round games feature Cal Poly vs. Texas Southern in a meeting of 16-seeds, and Tennessee vs. Iowa in the late game.

The winner of the first game goes on to face #1 seed in the Midwest, Wichita State, the only team in the tournament with an undefeated record, at 34-0. The Shockers were the only team to make the grade out of the Missouri Valley conference, but still look like a #1 that will not lose to a #16. Rinse and repeat the structure from Tuesday night and cross out the team on the line below Wichita State.

The Volunteers played well enough in the SEC tournament to make Florida a little nervous, though eventually falling in the semi-final. Iowa was eliminated early in the Big Ten tourney, but somehow gets into the mix because they're from a power conference. Despite a 9-9 mark against Big Ten teams, the Hawkeyes passed the eye test of the tournament selection committee. Either that, or the school needed the extra dough. Tennessee is a 1 1/2=-point favorite. The winner heads on to meet UMass in Raleigh on Sunday.

With three "play-in" teams all advancing into the Midwest conference, the obvious question is whether that makes that bracket stronger or weaker. Since two of the teams will be 11-and-12 seeds, it would suggest that the bracket is stronger, though many will claim that Wichita State is the weakest #1 in some time. The bracket also includes #2 Duke, #3 Michigan and #4 Louisville, only one of which captured their conference championship - Louisville. If there's anything glaring and obviously wrong in this year's brackets, it is Louisville on the four-line. They won the American Athletic conference tournament with ease and, if successful in their first two games, will have Wichita State in a regional semi-final, unless #8 Kentucky or #9 Kansas State rises up and smites the Shockers first.

Toughest among the regions is probably the East, where the 1-6 seeds are Virginia, Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, Cincinnati and North Carolina, and it doesn't get much easier after that, with teams like St. Joe's, Harvard and Providence in the mix.

If you're looking for a natural Final Four, try this on for size: Midwest - Louisville, West - Wisconsin, East - Iowa State, South - Florida. Other than Wisconsin, each of those teams won their conference tournament, though in the case of the West region (another in the running for weakest region), the only reliable conference champion was Gonzaga, winners of the WCC, seeded at #8. The Zags may get #1 seed Arizona in their second game, and recall that the Wildcats were knocked off by UCLA in the PAC-12 title game.

In the Final Four, this scenario has Louisville beating Wisconsin and Florida whipping Iowa State, though either of those games could easily go the other way. Picking an ultimate winner between those four teams is a tough task, though most would side with Florida. However, the SEC was not very deep, Louisville comes out of another weak conference, the American Athletic, making the case for the Cyclones or Badgers, each from power conferences.

For the record, CBD will take Iowa State to win it all.

ESPN offers a nice bracket look, adorned by Hooter's Girls, here, plus a link to their tournament challenge, one of the more popular online bracket contests.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ryan Harrow's 37 Not enough for Georgia State; Ragin' Cajuns, Florida, Virginia, St. Joe's, Michigan State Punch In

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 16, 2014

Maybe it's fitting or just a reminder that effort isn't everything this time of year, as Ryan Harrow's 37-point effort was not quite enough in Georgia State's, 82-81, overtime loss to the Ragin Cajun's of Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt championship game.

In a "win-and-you're-in, doubt-and-you're-out" situation, Harrow went 13-for-22 from the field, missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and was 11-for-12 at the foul line.

Despite his star performance, Harrow's misses in clutch time were decisive, as he missed a jumper with 15 seconds left in regulation that allowed the Cajuns to tie the game, and again misfired with five seconds left in OT for the win. It just wasn't in the Cards as Louisiana-Lafayette advanced to the NCAA tournament.

In the ACC, Virginia dusted Duke, 72-63. St. Joe's topped VCU to capture the Atlantic-10 title, 65-61.

Florida outlasted Kentucky, 61-60, to capture the SEC crown, and, Michigan State thumped Michigan, 69-55, in the Big Ten.

Let the madness begin...

Kyle Anderson Leads Bruins to PAC-10 Title over Arizona; Five More Championships Up on Sunday

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 15, 2014

Kyle Anderson, UCLA's sensational sophomore, has been putting up big numbers and double-doubles all season, but may have saved his best game for the PAC-12 championship, captured by the Bruins with a 75-71 victory over Arizona.

Anderson dropped in 21 points and swiped 15 rebounds to lead the Bruins, dishing five assists while committing just one turnover. It was his 14th double-double of the season and his first in the conference tournament. The Bruins knocked off Oregon and Stanford before gutting out the win over the #4 Wildcats.

While UCLA receives the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Arizona will also be going, as they have a 30-4 mark on the season.

Other big-name teams punched their ticket to the big dance on Saturday. Iowa State won the Big 12 championship, coming from behind to defeat Baylor, 74-65; Louisville took the American Athletic title with a 71-61 win over Connecticut.

Providence upset #14 Creighton, 65-58, to capture the Big East championship, and New Mexico knocked off San Diego State, 64-58, in the West Coast conference final, their third consecutive conference championship.

Just five more automatic bids need to be awarded on Sunday before the selection committee finalizes the seedings for the NCAA tournament brackets.

At 1:00 pm EDT, #7 Duke meets #6 Virginia to decide the ACC title, Saint Joseph's plays #23 Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic-10, and Louisiana-Lafayette faces Georgia State for the Sun Belt championship.

At 3:00 pm, Kentucky and #1 Florida meet to decide the SEC crown, and, at 3:30 pm, #8 Michigan and #22 Michigan State battle for Big Ten bragging rights.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Russ Smith Drops In 42 for Louisville; Big 12, PAC-12, American and Big East Championships on Tap for Saturday

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 14, 2014

Russ Smith isn't the shy or reticent type.

On Friday night, in Louisville's 94-65 victory over Houston in an American conference semi-final, he was completely unreserved, pouring in a career-high 42 points for the fifth-ranked Cardinals.

As often as Smith's exploits have defied description, this single-game extravaganza surely belonged in the range somewhere between Russ-diculous or Russ-tastic, terms reserved only for the Louisville guard.

Hitting 14-for-22 from the field with five of seven falling from beyond the arc, Smith augmented his extraordinary exploit with a 9-for-10 tally from the foul line, adding three assists and a trio of rebounds.

The win sent Louisville to the American tournament final on Saturday to face the Connecticut Huskies, 58-56 winners over Cincinnati in the other semi-final contest.

Gearing up for a full weekend of championship hoops, Saturday offers some of the best match-ups of the season, with a number of the major conferences - and a slew of minor ones - deciding championships. By Sunday afternoon, all 32 automatic bids will have been spoken for, allowing the NCAA tournament committee to release the seedings precisely at 6:00 pm EDT.

The American, Big 12, PAC-12 and Big East will crown champions on Saturday. The action begins at 1:00 (all times EDT) when top-ranked Florida meets Tennessee in an SEC semi-final and Pitt faces Virginia in an ACC semi. Ohio State meets Michigan in a Big Ten semi-final, and, at 3:00, Duke faces NC State in an ACC semi-final.

After (22) Michigan State squares off against (12) Wisconsin in another Big Ten semi, the first championship games of the day begin at 6:00 pm when #20 New Mexico meets #8 San Diego State for the West Coast conference title, UCLA faces #4 Arizona for the PAC-12 crown, and Connecticut and Louisville begin their quest for the American championship.

At 8:30, Providence meets #14 Creighton to decide the Big East, and at 9:00 pm, Baylor meets up with Iowa State to determine the champion of the Big 12.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Creighton Advances in Big East Tourney with 35 From Doug McDermott

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 13, 2014

Doug McDermott was at it again Thursday night, dropping in 35 points to lead the Creighton Bluejays to an 84-62 win over DePaul in the Big East tournament.

McDermott was 14-for-22 with seven three-pointers, five rebounds and three assists. The Bluejays established a sizable lead early in the first half and never looked back in their Big East opener at Madison Square Garden.

Other key games included another contest at MSG, where Seton Hall clung to post-season hope with a 64-63 victory over #3 Villanova, the top seed in the Big East tournament.

Other tournament results:
Big 12: Iowa State 91 Kansas State 85; Kansas 77 Oklahoma St. 70
American: Louisville 92 Rutgers 31; Cincinnati 61 UCF 58

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jeremy Ingram Powers NC Central in MEAC Tourney; 13 of 32 NCAA Auto Bids Awarded

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Conference tournaments are in full swing across the country, but only one squad secured a berth on Wednesday, that honor belonging to American University, taking the Patriot League championship with a 55-36 victory over Boston U.

American's entry to the big dance brings to 13 the number of teams with automatic bids, of the 32 that will eventually be awarded.

Of the 32 games played on Wednesday, only a handful featured teams with hopes of reaching the NCAA promised land. One of those was North Carolina Central, which cruised through their MEAC schedule with a 15-1 mark and slammed Howard, 92-46, in the quarterfinal of the conference tourney.

The Eagles emptied their bench in the blowout, with 11 different players scoring, all led by senior Jeremy Ingram, who poured in 30 points on 9-for-12 shooting, making five of six three pointers and hitting seven of nine from the charity stripe.

The 46-point win was the largest in MEAC tournament history, and sends the Eagles to a semi-final match-up against the winner of Friday's meeting between Norfolk State and Savannah State.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sam Dower Leads Gonzaga to 13th WCC Title; 12 Teams In Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sam Dower scored 20 points, going 10-for-16, and snagged 13 rebounds to lead Gonzaga to the West Coast Conference tourney championship with a 75-64 win over BYU.

The Bulldogs (28-6, 15-3 WCC) won their 13th WCC title since joining the conference in 1979. They will be in the NCAA tournament field for 16th straight season.

Including the Bulldogs, four more teams punched their tickets to the big dance. A total of twelve teams have now received automatic invitations.

North Dakota State upended IPFW, 60-57, capturing the Summit League; Milwaukee took down Wright State, 69-63, to wrap up the Horizon League championship; and, Mount St. Mary's took down Robert Morris, 88-71, in the Northeast Conference title game.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Taylor Braun Leads North Dakota State in Summit Semi; 8 Teams Capture Bids for NCAA Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, March 10, 2014

The Bison of North Dakota State advanced to the Summit League final with an 83-48 trouncing of the Denver Pioneers Monday night in Sioux Falls.

The Bison led all the way, held Denver to 15 first half points and took a 27-point advantage into the break, powered by Taylor Braun who scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the first 20 minutes.

Braun was 7-for-9 from the field, four of five on threes and 10-for-12 from the foul line, adding five rebounds and three assists in his 32 minutes of floor time.

The Bison advance to play IPFW - a 64-60 winner over South Dakota State - in the final.

Two more teams punched their tickets to the NCAA tourney on Monday. Manhattan outlasted Iona, 71-68, for the MAAC title; Delaware slipped by William and Mary, 75-74, in the Colonial tourney final; and, Wofford captured the bid from the Southern Conference with a 56-53 victory over West Carolina in the tourney final.

That brings the total of teams qualifying for the NCAA tournament to eight. Harvard, Wichita State, Mercer, Eastern Kentucky and Coastal Carolina had already nabbed bids by Sunday.

Monday, March 10, 2014

NC State Finishes at 9-9 in ACC after T.J. Warren Explodes for 42 Points vs. BC

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 9, 2014

North Carolina State will rest its case before the NCAA tournament committee with a 9-9 mark in the ACC after T.J. Warren scored 42 points to lead the Wolfpack to a 78-68 victory over the Boston College Eagles.

While TVs across America would surely be enhanced having the Wolfpack and Warren flashing in the tourney, it may be a stretch to get them there as they finish the regular season tied with Maryland and Florida State, meaning that nine teams would have to go from the ACC if all teams with at least a .500 record are included. A couple of wins in this week's ACC tourney might do the trick to separate out the deserving from the simply pretending.

Warren, a superb athlete who may be deserving of ACC player of the year honors, was 14-for-23 from the floor and 14-for-17 from the stripe to go with 13 boards, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot.

NC State finished with a 19-12 record overall, which shows better than Maryland's 17-14 or Florida State's 18-12 marks, both of which lost to the Wolfpack earlier in the season.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Doug McDermott's Career-High 45 Lifts Creighton over Providence

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 8, 2014

Just when it appears that Doug McDermott can do no more to secure college basketball's player of the year honors, he goes beyond the pale with an over-the-top performance such as his 45 points in Saturday's 88-73 victory over Providence.

McDermott hit 17 of 25 shots against the Friars, scoring more than half of his team's points, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and six of nine from the foul line. The senior forward continues to lead the nation in scoring, upping his average to 26.5 points per game.

Saturday's tour de force featured seven boards and a pair of assists, and was a season-and-career-high for McDermott, eclipsing the 39 he had against Villanova on February 16 and the 44 he put up against Bradley in the 2011-12 season. His output helped the Bluejays snap a two-game losing streak and solidified a second-place finish in the Big East for Creighton at 14-4. Interestingly, 16-2 Villanova's only conference losses were to Creighton. Both will have first round byes in the upcoming Big East tournament.

McDermott also became just the eighth player in Division I history to reach 3000 points in his career, making his final appearance at the CenturyLink Center an historic one, passing Oscar Robertson and Hersey Hawkins into seventh place on the all-time scoring list.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Sean Kilpatrick, Titus Rubles Propel Cincinnati Past Memphis, 97-84

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursday was senior night in Cincinnati, and Sean Kilpatrick made the most of it, pouring in a season-high 34 points to help the Bearcats overpower Memphis, 97-84.

Fellow senior, Titus Rubles, chipped in a career-high 24 points, the two upperclassmen combining for more than half of Cincinnati's points.

Kilpatrick was 11-for-18 from the field and 10-for-11 from the foul line; Rubles went 9-for-13 and converted six of six at the stripe.

The win put the Bearcats in a tie with Louisville atop the American conference with one game remaining.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Russ Smith Leads Louisville over SMU, 84-71, with 26 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#11 Louisville took another step towards at least a share of the American conference title, knocking off #18 SMU, 84-71.

The Cardinals are 14-3 in conference play, with one game left - Saturday, March 8, against Connecticut. Only Cincinnati, at 13-3, with two games remaining - March 6, Memphis; March 8, at Rutgers - has a chance to tie or beat out the Cardinals for the regular season championship.

If anything, Louisville is underrated, even at #11 in the AP Poll, and their deserving superstar, Russ Smith, gets less attention than other big-name players in the college basketball universe.

Smith had another of his routinely awesome outings on Wednesday against the Mustangs, leading all scorers with 26 points while nabbing six rebounds, handing out five assists and making two steals. Going 9-for-15 from the field, Smith was a perfect 6-for-6 from outside the three-point arc, as Louisville knocked down 13 treys.

Smith scored 22 of his points in the second half, at one point making three straight threes in a span of just a minute-and-a-half early in the second half. Despite his hot shooting, the Mustangs managed to stay close, but a later outburst from Smith of seven points in just over a minute increased the Cardinals' lead from seven to 12, and essentially put the game away.

Elsewhere, #3 Arizona managed a 73-69 win at Oregon State, #4 Duke scored just six points in the final five minutes, losing, 82-72, on the road at Wake Forest. #8 Kansas powered past Texas Tech, 82-57; #9 Wisconsin topped Purdue, 76-70; #10 San Diego State rallied past UNLV, 73-64; and #17 St. Louis was beaten by Dayton, 72-67.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

#1 Florida Trounces Gamecocks Behind 37 from Michael Frazier

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Having already clinched the SEC regular season title, #1 Florida demolished South Carolina Wednesday night, 72-46, as sophomore Michael Frazier scored more than half the points for the Gators en route to a career-high 37.

Frazier made 11 of 18 three-point attempts and was 12-for-21 overall, adding three rebounds, an assist and four steals. The Gators improved to 17-0 in the SEC and 28-2 overall.

Elsewhere in the Top 25, #7 Syracuse was beaten again, their third loss in their last four, 67-62, by Georgia Tech; #13 Creighton fell, 75-63, at Georgetown; Baylor dropped #16 Iowa State, 74-61.

#25 Kentucky ended a two-game skid with a 55-48 win over Alabama, and #12 Michigan routed Illinois, 84-53, clinching the Big Ten regular season title.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

T.J. Warren Pours in 41 as Wolfpack Devours Panthers, 74-67

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, March 2, 2014

The middle of the ACC is still wide open, with as many as four teams vying down the stretch for wins, seeking to qualify for the NCAA tourney.

One such team is NC State, which needed a win over a quality team to make a statement, and the message was delivered as T.J. Warren scored a career-high 41 points to lead his Wolfpack to a 74-67 triumph at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh, a very tough place to win.

Warren was sensational, knocking down 16 of 22 shots from the floor, three of five from three-point range and six of seven at the foul line. The 6'8" sophomore, fourth-leading scorer in the nation, added five rebounds, four steals, three assists and a blocked shot to his game resume.

The Wolfpack (18-12, 8-9) closes out the regular season at home, against Boston College.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Bubblicious Clemson Downs Maryland in OT on Double-Double by K.J. McDaniels

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 1, 2014

In a game that should go a long way in determining which ACC teams make it to the NCAA tournament, Clemson took down Maryland, 77-73, in overtime, improving its record to 9-7 in the conference while dropping the Terps to 7-9 and 15-14 overall.

At 18-10, including back-to-back wins over NC State and Georgia Tech in late February, gives the Tigers the upper hand in the race to the post-season.

Leading the way for Clemson was forward K.J. McDaniels, a junior from Birmingham, Alabama, who tallied 26 points and 14 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season.

If Clemson can win one or both of their final two home games - both at home, against Miami and Pitt - and steal a win or two in the ACC tourney, they may be up for bigger things as March progresses.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Cleanthony Early Leads Wichita State to Perfect Regular Season

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seldom achieved, perfection in any endeavor is always admirable, and that's what Wichita State completed Saturday with a 68-45 victory over Missouri State, closing out their regular season at 31-0, 18-0 in the Missouri Valley conference.

The unbeaten season was the first since St. Joseph's entered the post-season without a loss in 2004. That season, Xavier stopped St. Joseph's in the opening round of the Atlantic-10 tournament.

The Shockers are looking for much more, first hoping to capture the MVC title with a conference tournament win next week, then on to the NCAA's, where they reached the Final Four a season ago.

Should the Shockers make it all the way to winning the national championship - a tall order - it would be the first time a team went all the way unbeaten since Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers did it in 1976.

In their win over the Bears, Wichita State relied on their heady defense and the usual exploits of senior forward, Cleanthony Early, who was the game's high-scorer with 19 points, going 5-for-7 from the field with two three-pointers and 7-for-9 from the foul line. Early snatched six rebounds and dished out two assists.

The team's leading scorer and rebounder, Early averaged 15.8 points and 5.9 rebounds.