College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, February 18, 2017
College teams in the PAC-12 and down the road in the NCAA tourney had best acquaint themselves with #5 Arizona's Freshman Finn, seven-footer Lauri Markkanen, who tallied 26 points and 13 boards in the Wildcats' 76-68 victory at Washington Saturday.
Markkanen, who hails from Jyvaskyla, Finland, is a potent scorer, who is equally deadly near the rim or from three-point range, where he splashes at a .457 clip. Though he did not connect on two attempts from beyond the arc Saturday, he was 9-for-17 overall and canned eight of nine from the charity stripe. He leads Arizona in minutes, scoring (15.7) and rebounding (7.5), and has the Wildcats a game better than second place Oregon in the conference standings, at 14-1 (25-3 overall).
Arizona won their fourth straight, following an 85-58 drubbing at Oregon two weeks ago, and they won't play the Ducks again unless they meet up in the conference tourney. The Wildcats have just three games left in the regular season, with a home game against #6 UCLA looming as the potential conference title clincher. UCLA is 11-3 in the conference, 2 1/2 games back after blasting USC on Saturday, 102-70.
Arizona, Oregon and UCLA look like locks for the NCAA tournament, with either Colorado or Cal becoming the fourth team from the PAC-12 to get invited, hinging largely on their performance in the conference tournament.
Notable: Mike Daum of South Dakota State scored a career-high 51 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Jackrabbits' 97-89 win over the Fort Wayne Mastadons (no really, that's their chosen name). Daum's point total was the highest in the NCAA this season.
Sunday Spotlight: #23 Maryland plays at #11 Wisconsin, Sunday at 1:00 pm ET in a Big Ten showdown. Both the Terps and Badgers trail Purdue by 1/2 game in the conference standings, making the game a must-see (CBS has the national broadcast) despite the NCAA tournament committee completely shunning the Big Ten in their early top 16 seedings last week.