Friday, March 17, 2017

NCAA Tournament: Dwayne Bacon Powers Florida State Past Florida Gulf Coast

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 16, 2017

There was plenty of hype to go around concerning the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles playing Florida State in the first round of the NCAA tournament's West region, but, thanks largely to the effort of Seminole sophomore Dwayne Bacon, the #3 seed Seminoles had their way.

Bacon, a 6'7" guard from Lakeland, Florida, had his way with the FGCU backcourt, making 11 of 17 shots despite missing on all three of his 3-point attempts. Adding three of four free throws, Bacon, who averages 17.1 points per game, led Florida State in scoring with 25 while pulling down nine rebounds and dishing a pair of assists.

The Seminoles nearly let a double digit lead slip away in the late stage of the game, but managed to make free throws and enough defensive plays to keep the Eagles at bay, winning, 86-80, and advancing to the second round against #11 seed Xavier on Saturday.

Florida State will have something of a home court edge against the Musketeers being that the game is being held in Orlando, Florida. Xavier defeated Maryland, the #5 seed in the West, 76-65, to advance.

ESPN Tournament Bracket Page

NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Thursday (3/16) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 3-2 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1)
Big East (7) 3-1 Villanova (1), Butler (1), Xavier (1)
Big Ten (7) 3-2 Purdue (1), Wisconsin (1), Northwestern (1),
Big 12 (6) 3-0 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (1), Iowa St. (1)
SEC (5) 1-1 Florida (1)
PAC 12 (4) 2-0 USC (1), Arizona (1),
Atlantic 10 (3) 0-1 ---
American (2) 0-0 ---
West Coast (2) 2-0 Gonzaga (1), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) (3-13) Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wesley Iwundu Leads K-State; USC Tops Providence on Benny Boatwright's 24

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Senior forward Wesley Iwundu's 24 points were instrumental in leading the Kansas State Wildcats to a 95-88 victory over Wake Forest in one of Tuesday night's "First Four" match-ups.

Iwundu, a senior, averaged just 12.4 points per game this season, but came up big in the high-scoring affair, hitting on six of nine shots from the field and making 11 of 13 free throws to go with his six rebounds and seven assists.

The Wildcats shot an incredible 66% from the field (31-for-47) and also out-rebounded the Demon Deacons, 29-21. Kansas State will play Cincinnati, the #6 seed in the South region, Friday in Sacramento.

In the early game, Mount St. Mary's squeaked by New Orleans, 67-66 and advances to play #1 tournament seed, Villanova Thursday.

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Benny Boatwright's game-high 24 points lifted the USC Trojans to a 75-71 victory over the Providence Friars in Wednesday's edition of the NCAA Tournament "First Four" play-in games.

Boatwright was 8-for-16 with three three-pointers. The 6'10" sophomore added seven boards and chipped in three assists. The Trojans - one of just four PAC-12 teams invited to the tourney - lifted the conference profile with the win and will have an opportunity to do more resume-building when they they meet East Region #6 seed SMU on Friday.

The other play-in contest on Wednesday saw the Aggies from UC Davis win their first NCAA tournament game in school history, topping North Carolina Central, 67-63.

The Aggies have a date with the #1 seed in the Midwest region, Kansas, on Friday.

Tomorrow: Thursday night results and the first appearance of the CBD Tournament Conference Scoreboard.

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 NCAA Championship Tournament Bracket Breakdown

Bracket Breakdown for Monday, March 13, 2017

Editor's Note: Unavoidably, this may be the last College Basketball Daily post until Thursday morning, at which point Fearless Rick may have managed to extricate himself from up to 18 inches of snow (therein lies the danger of opening one's camp too early). Our intrepid publisher made it through a windstorm that crippled Rochester NY, leaving more than 120,000 homes without power last week, and for surviving that in a camper on a windswept plain, he managed only to get cut off in eight seconds by AM radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry on WHAM, Monday morning. In any case, the snow storm is expected to be not quite as severe as the windstorm, but travel will likely be impossible Tuesday and Wednesday. Good luck with your brackets. We'll be listening, and tracking the four play-in games.

Let's break down some brackets, shall we?

Link to ESPN's 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket (opens new window)

East: #1 seed, Villanova Wildcats. The reigning champs are in good company in their home region, their first game a meeting with the winner of the Mount St. Mary's-New Orleans play-in game. Villanova will be making it's initial tournament appearance of the season on Thursday night in Buffalo, which, as noted above, might include a bit of a travel issue. Note to Wildcats and their fans: leave Philly NOW! It's about six hours to Buffalo and you won't make the drive on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Other notables in Villanova's portion of the East bracket are Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin, though none of these teams have been playing particularly well. Look out for #13 seed East Tennessee State. The 27-7 Buccaneers won the Southerrn conference tournament and are upset-minded.

Villanova should cruise through their bracket into the Sweet Sixteen, and play for the regional title that weekend, potentially against Duke, the #2 seed. The Blue Devils won the ACC tournament, and, as usual, are ready to rock. They face Troy in their opener, and will likely have to deal with South Carolina, then Baylor or SMU. The 30-4 Mustangs have won 16 straight and knocked off Cincinnati to capture the American Athletic conference tourney title. They get the winner of the Providence-USC play-in game to start and could be a real tournament sleeper. Overall, the #6 line - SMU, Creighton, Cincinnati, Maryland - looks pretty formidable, but this is set up for a Villanova-Duke meeting in the Big Apple, with the winner advancing to the Final Four. There's a real chance that it could happen, but #1 meeting #2 in a region is not all that probable. Odds are that the Blue Devils get knocked off somewhere before meeting the Wildcats.

Midwest: #1 seed: Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas skipped the Big 12 tournament by losing in their opener, 85-82, to TCU. It should be readily apparent that despite getting six teams from the Big 12 into the tournament, the Horned Frogs and their 6-12 conference record are not among them. Is this a black eye for the Jayhawks? Probably, but it won't be noticeable until the regional semi-final, when they'll likely meet either Iowa State or Purdue. In the unlikely event that they get past one of those, Michigan, Louisville (#2 seed), Oregon or #6 seed Creighton await in the regional final. The Jayhawks are a liability to the tournament and will get an early boot. Reaching the Final Four is like their Big 12 counterpart in football, Oklahoma, playing for the national championship. It's just ont going to happen. Iowa State already beat them, 92-89, in Kansas and the Cyclones are probably drooling for another shot at their conference nemesis. Also, this just in: KU head coach Bill Self is a jerk. Enough. The Midwest is loaded and Kansas won't survive. Iowa State may be the team to beat here.

South: #1 seed: North Carolina Tar Heels. There's something about North Carolina and this tournament that brings back fond memories. Ah, yes, Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan. That has to be it, or, maybe, Dean Smith smoking outside the locker room at halftime. In any case, the Tar Heels are a #1 seed, despite losing to Duke in the ACC final, 93-83. But, that's all right, because Carolina beat Duke, 90-83, a week prior, wrapping up the ACC regular season title, which is probably a more deserving honor. Besides, the only way the Heels would play the Devils again would be in the NCAA final, and that would make any bracketologist blush at the mere notion of picking ACC chalk all the way through.

After dispatching with Texas Southern in their opener Friday afternoon (Greenville, SC), the Heels will kick it against either #8 Arkansas or #9 Seton Hall. Both are good teams, but unlikely to spring an upset. Take the Pirates in their opener, because, well, everybody likes Pirates, right?

The one hiccup in the South may come from little Middle Tennessee State, a 30-4 squad that stormed through Conference USA with a 17-1 mark, won the conference tourney without breaking a sweat (83-72 over Marshall in the final) and can play with any team in the country. If proof is needed, try their 77-62 win over Ole Miss or, better yet, the 71-48 beat down they put on Vanderbilt. Both of those games were way back in late November, early December, so, the Blue Raiders may be even better now. They're the #12 seed and face #5 Minnesota Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee. Nothing like your home boys getting crushed by some unknowns from the South.

On the other side of the South bracket are two powerhouse programs, UCLA and Kentucky, making this region possibly the toughest in the tourney, with the Midwest next. The #2 Wildcats and #3 Bruins should both reach the regional semi-final, the winner (hint: UCLA) taking on the Tar Heels. (Hint: UCLA). The Pac-12 sent just four teams to the tournament. Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and USC. Since the Ducks have come up lame and USC isn't very good, that leaves the doors wide open for AZ and UCLA. See below for Arizona's road to the Final Four.

West #1 seed: Gonzaga Bulldogs At 31-1, the Zags have the best record in the nation, but they hail from a notoriously-weak West Coast Conference. Only they and St. Mary's made the tournament, which is about all one needs to know about Gonzaga other than their head coach, Mark Few, is one of the best in the nation. He's repeatedly taken this team deep into the tournament and this may be one of the best Gonzaga teams ever.

Despite the high praise for the coach and the program, Gonzaga faces a myriad of obstacles. In their side of the bracket are #8 Northwestern, #5 Notre Dame (vs. #12 Princeton), and #4 West Virginia. Any one of those four teams could upend the Zags. If Gonzaga makes it through to the regional final, their likely opponent is Arizona, who has no competition to speak of in their side of the bracket. #6 Marquette, #11 Xavier, #3 Florida State, and #10 VCU aren't nearly the caliber of the Wildcats, who quietly went 30-4, won the PAC-12 tournament by defeating both UCLA in the semis and Oregon in the final. If there is a rock-solid pick to reach any regional final and probably the Final Four, it's Arizona.

In case anybody wants to go out on a limb and predict the Final Four and the ultimate champion, College Basketball Daily will do so. After all, what other publication has a guy who goes by the name Fearless Rick as editor and publisher? Um, none.

So, it's Villanova from the East, Iowa State from the Midwest, UCLA from the South, and Arizona from the West.

East plays West and Midwest plays South. Let's take Arizona over Villanova and Iowa State over UCLA, with Arizona beating the Cyclones, 87-78, in the championship.

Easy, right?

Good luck and enjoy.

As usual, College Basketball Daily will provide somewhat untimely and incomplete coverage of almost the entire tournament, including our non-exclusive conference scoreboard. For those interested, here are the number of teams from each conference (showing only those with two or more teams invited):
Big East 7
Big Ten 7
Big 12 6
Pac-12 4
Atlantic 10 3
American Athletic 2
West Coast 2

Derrick Walton Jr. Leads Michigan to Big Ten Tourney Title

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 12, 2017

On the day the Michigan Wolverines captured the Big Ten championship, Derrick Walton Jr. may not have been the most accurate shooter for the Michigan Wolverines, but he did everything else well enough to lead the Wolverines to a 71-56 victory over #24 Wisconsin in the Big Ten tourney final.

Walton, a 6'1" senior, made just six of 15 shots from the field, but four of those were three-pointers (he was 4-for-9 from beyond the arc) and he was a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line for a game-high 22 points, adding six rebounds, dishing seven assists and making a pair of steals in the big win that ended up with Michigan getting the automatic NCAA invitation and a #7 seeding in the Midwest region.

At the conclusion of the title game, Walton was named tournament Most Outstanding Player. In Michigan's four wins, Walton scored 82 points, distributed 25 assists and was a remarkable 22-for-23 from the charity stripe (perfect 21-for-21 in the final three games).

The Michigan story kicked into high gear over the weekend, with the Wolverines winning four straight after escaping a charter airplane crash on Wednesday night (3/8) to win the tournament as a #8 seed, defeating Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Wisconsin to stamp their impression on the month of March.

Set to face Oklahoma State, the #10 seed in the region, on

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gary Clark Leads Cincinnati to American Athletic Final With 25 Point Effort

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 11, 2017

Junior forward Gary Clark scored 25 points to lead the Cincinnati Bearcats to an 81-71 victory over Connecticut in Saturday's American Athletic tournament semi-finals.

Clark did the bulk of his scoring from the foul line where he canned 15 of 16 free throws. He was 5-for-9 from the field, adding nine rebounds.

With the victory, the Bearcats advance to the tournament final on Sunday against #12 SMU, 70-59 victors over UCF.

Cincinnati is ranked #15 in the AP poll. During the regular season, the Bearcats defeated the Mustangs, 66-64, at home, and lost, 60-51, at SMU.

Semi Ojeleye Leads SMU to AA Semi-Finals With 36 Points, 12 Boards

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 10, 2017

Advancing through the quarterfinals of the American Athletic conference with an 81-77 win over East Carolina, the SMU Mustangs got their 14th straight win thanks largely to a career-high 36 points from junior forward, Semi Ojeleye.

Ojeleye, a transfer from Duke who sat out last season in order to play for the Mustangs, has been a solid boost to the program, averaging 19.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. In Friday's victory, Ojeleye was 12-for-19 from the field, adding another 11 points on 13 free throw attempts. With 12 rebounds, the 6'7" forward recorded his fifth double-double of the season.

The 12th-ranked Mustangs are 28-4 and will meet Central Florida in the conference tournament semi-final on Saturday. SMU already holds a 65-60 win at UCF from the regular season.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Villanova Advances In Big East; Donte DiVincenzo Scores 25

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 9, 2017

Within the slew of conference tournament games this week, it's easy to overlook otherwise fantastic performances by players not quite on the national radar.

Such would be the case of freshman Donte DiVincenzo, who came off the bench to score a game-high and career-high 25 points as the Wildcats slaughtered St. John's, 108-67.

In 31 minutes, DiVincenzo was 7-for-8 from the field, going 5-for-6 from three-[point range and 6-for-8 from the foul line. The 6'5" guard also collected five boards and dished four assists.

The #2-ranked Wilcats are on cruise control in the Big East tourney and are widely expected to win the conference title handily and receive a #1 seeding in the NCAA tournament.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Zach DeLay Scores 31, Adds 15 Boards As Hokies Advance In ACC Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Senior Zach LeDay dominated the interior, leading Virginia Tech to a 99-90 victory over Wake Forest in the second round of the ACC tournament.

LeDay came off the Hokie bench to go 8-for-15 from the field, also grabbing 15 boards, seven of them off the offensive glass. The 6'7" forward from Dallas, Texas, was deadly from the charity stripe, making 14 of 18 free throws. The win sends the Demon Deacons home and possibly out of the NCAA, while the Hokies continue against Florida State on Thursday night (7:00 pm ET) in the quarterfinal round of the tourney.

One bid was taken on Wednesday, as the Bucknell Bison Thundered past Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament Final, The game was tight in the first half, with Bucknell taking a one-point lead into the break, 35-34, but the Bison rampaged in the second half, outscoring Lehigh, 46-31, for the easy win.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Mike Daum Scores 37 As South Dakota State Captures Summit Title; Three Others Advance To NCAA Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Four more teams punched their tickets to March Madness on Tuesday:

Gonzaga defeated St. Mary's for the third time this season, 74-56, this time winning the finals of the West Coast conference tournament.

Mount St. Mary's defeated St. Francis for the Northeast Conference (NEC) title, 71-61; Northern Kentucky defeated Milwaukee, 59-53, earning the NCAA bid from the Horizon League.

The nation's second-leading scorer, Mike Daum, led South Dakota State to the Summit League championship with a game-high 37 points, defeating Omaha, 79-77. The victory earned the Jackrabbits their fourth NCAA bid.

Daum, the Summit League Player of the Year, made 14 of 24 shots from the field and was 5-for-9 from three-point land. He cashed all four of his free throws and added 12 rebounds, five of them on the offensive end. The Jackrabbits were just 8-8 in the conference and 18-16 overall, but a player like Daum, who average 25.4 points per game, make them a threat under any condition.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

C.J. Bryce Leads UNC-Wilmington To CAA Title; Iona, E. Tennessee St. Also Receive Bids

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, March 6, 2017

C.J. Bryce scored 24 points, leading UNC Wilmington to its second straight NCAA tournament berth, winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship with a 78-69 victory over College of Charleston Monday night.

Bryce, a 6'5" sophomore from Charlotte, NC, was 9-for-15 from the field, hitting three of four from three-point land. He also had five rebounds and five assists in the championship effort.

The Seahawks went 15-3 in conference play and are an impressive 29-5 overall. Including their three tournament wins, UNCW has won seven straight and head to the first round of the NCAA tourney, the location of their game to be determined on Sunday, when the selection committee seeds all 68 teams.

Also earning automatic bids were Iona, capturing the MAAC championship with an 87-86 victory over Sienna in the tourney final.

Finally, East Tennessee State rallied past UNC Greensboro, 79-74, to win the Southern conference tournament and the automatic NCAA invitation. The Buccaneers trailed the Spartans 38-31, at the half, but shot the lights out in the second half, scoring 49 points for the win.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Caleb Swanigan's 25th Double-Double Leads Purdue Past Northwestern

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Purdue Boilermakers cemented their claim on the Big Ten regular season title, winning at Northwestern, 69-65. Finishing the regular season with a 14-4 record, the Boilermakers wrapped up two games ahead of Maryland and Wisconsin, at 12-6.

Fueling the Boilermakers was their candidate for national player of the year, Caleb Swanigan, who notched his 25th double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

The 6'9" sophomore from Fort Wayne, Indiana, was 8-for-15 from the field and hauled down 14 rebounds. Swingian's effort was aided by Vince Edwards' 25 points.

Swanigan and Edwards lead #16 Purdue into the upcoming Big Ten tournament, the winner of which will grab an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, though Purdue is assured to get at least an at-large bid should they not win the conference tourney.

Swanigan averages 18.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, making him one of the more versatile inside players in the collegiate ranks.

A week out from Selection Sunday and there are already a host of teams that have played their way into the Big Dance.

On Saturday, Jacksonville State took down the Ohio Valley conference championship with a 66-55 win over UT-Martin. It's the first OVC title for the Gamecocks and their first NCAA invite since jumping to Division 1 and joining the conference in 2003.

Sunday began with Winthrop ending the dreams of Campbell, taking the Big South conference title with a no-doubter, 76-59 win over the upstart Fighting Camels. Winthrop had gone to the conference championship game in each of the past four seasons, but this is their first win during that span.

Florida Gulf Coast captured the Atlantic Sun conference championship, defeating North Florida, 77-61. The automatic bid is the third for the Eagles in the last six seasons.

The Missouri Valley conference championship went to Wichita State, as the Shockers pounded Illinois State, 71-51. Both teams were 17-1 in conference play, but 21st-ranked Wichita State was clearly the better of the two, racking up a 30-4 record overall.

Princeton, champions of the Ivy League, wrapped up an undefeated, 14-0, conference schedule with a 85-48 win over Dartmouth on Saturday. The perfect confernce mark was the sixth in Princeton's rich basketball history, but the kicker is that the Tigers, despite winning the conference title by four games, will have to play on in the first ever Ivy League Tournament. The league has implemented a four-team playoff, with the top seed playing #4 and #2 playing #3. All games will be played at the Palestra in Philadelphia, home to Princeton's first opponent, the Penn Quakers.

Semi-final games are on Saturday, March 11, with the finals on Sunday, March 12.

Syracuse Improves Post-Season Chances Behind 40 Points By Andrew White III

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 4, 2012

Likely in need of a win for consideration by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the Syracuse Orange torched the visiting Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before a sellout crowd at the Carrier Dome Saturday, using a stifling defense and 40 points from Andrew White III for a 90-61 victory.

White, in his final home game as an Orange, set a career mark with 40 points. Deadly accurate from anywhere on the floor, White was 12-for-16 from the field, including a Syracuse season-high eight threes on nine attempts. The fifth-year senior also went 8-for-9 from the foul line, adding three rebounds, two assists and a pair of thefts.

A transfer from Nebraska, and previously having spent two seasons at Kansas, White tied the Syracuse record for most points scored in the Carrier Dome, matching the effort by Gene Waldron in 1983 against Iona.

The Orange avenged a 71-65 two weeks ago at Georgia Tech and bolstered their chances of making the NCAA tourney, improving to 18-13 overall and 10-8 in the ACC.

Syracuse's 2-3 zone, brainchild of mastermind coach Jim Boeheim, limited the Yellow Jackets to 44% shooting, and was even more effective at limiting three-pointers. Georgia Tech shot just 25% (5-for-20) from beyond the arc. In contrast, the Orange were blistering, hitting at 54% overall and 62.5% (15-for-24) from three-point range.

Elsewhere in the ACC, #5 North Carolina captured the regular season title with a 90-83 win over #17 Duke and #8 Louisville outlasted #19 Notre Dame, 71-64.

The Tar Heels finished conference play with a 14-4 mark, two games better than Florida State, Louisville, and Notre Dame, each of which finished at 12-6.

The conference tournament, the winner of which will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney, runs Wednesday, March 8 through Saturday, March 11 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Chris Clemons Leads Campbell To Big South Championship With 33 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 3, 2017

The 5'9" whirling dervish was at it again, as Chris Clemons scored 33 points to lead the Campbell Fighting Camels to a semifinal win over the Radford Highlanders.

Campbell scored exactly half of his team's points in the 66-50 romp, sending Campbell to the finals on Sunday against top-seeded Winthrop.

Clemons was solid, playing all but two minutes in the win, going 11-for-20 from the field, with a 4-for-9 mark from three-point range. The sophomore guard made seven of nine free throws, but, perhaps most impressive was his work on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds. His unselfish play led to Campbell out-rebounding Radford, 42 to 34. He also dished four assists.

The opportunity for Campbell University against Winthrop is not without obstacles. In their two meetings this season, the Eagles won both games, winning 72-63 at Campbell and 76-62 at home. Clemons had just 16 points in the meeting at Winthrop and 24 against the Eagles on his home court.

Game time for the Big South championship game is Sunday at 1:00 pm ET, at Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Campbell's Chris Clemons Ties NCAA Season High With 51 In Win Over UNC-Asheville

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 2, 2017

One of the most exciting players in Division 1 was at his best Thursday night, as Campbell's Chris Clemons racked up 51 points in the Fighting Camels 81-79 victory over UNC-Asheville in the Big South tournament quarterfinals.

The effort tied Mike Daum of South Dakota State (51 points on February 18 at Fort Wayne) for the most points scored by a player in a single game this season. It was also Clemons highest point total in his two years at Campbell University and set a new school and conference scoring mark.

At 5'9", the sophomore from Raleigh, NC, may be small in stature, but he is certainly not short on scoring. Thursday's result moved him into third place nationally at 24.1 points per game. Clemons hit on 18 of 32 shots from the field, including an impressive 8-for-14 tally from three-point land and 7-for-8 from the foul line.

Campbell's win over Asheville came in the quarterfinals of the Big South tournament, dropping the Bulldogs - who finished the regular season tied for first place with Winthrop - out of the running for the automatic NCAA bid. Both Winthrop and Asheville finished at 15-3 in the conference. Campbell, whose only chance of making the NCAA tournament lies with winning the ongoing Big South tourney, ended at 7-11 in conference play.

The win was a huge boost for the small private school, based in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

Campbell (16-16) faces sixth-seeded Radford on Friday in the semifinals, upset winners over 3rd-seeded Liberty.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

#3 UCLA Wins 8th Straight Behind Bryce Alford's 29 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 1, 2017

If you're looking for a team that has the right elements to capture the NCAA tournament championship, look no further than the UCLA Bruins.

A strong starting five, experienced head coach, deep bench, an extending winning streak, and senior leadership make the Bruins a team to watch as the tourney unfolds.

On Wednesday, the Bruins took down Washington, 98-66, for their eighth straight win behind senior guard (and son of coach Steve Alford) Bryce Alford, who canned 10 of 18 from the field, including an 8-for-14 effort from three-point range.

Lonzo Ball chipped in with 19 and the Bruins got 15 from Isaac Hamilton. UCLA's bench accounted for 27 points.

Alford has been remarkably consistent in his three years as a starter for the Bruins, averaging 15.4 points per game as a sophomore, 16.1 as a junior, and 16.6 this season. His 29 points was the most he's scored since putting up 30 as the Bruins pounded Pacific in their season opener.

While the Bruins may be a serious threat in the NCAA tournament, they're still unlikely to win their own conference. They trail both Oregon and Arizona by one game, with one game remaining. However, they've beaten both the Ducks and Wildcats during their current winning streak and will certainly be a factor in the PAC-12 tourney which begins next Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Malik Monk Guides Kentucky To 25-5 Mark, 15-2 Leading SEC

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, February 28, 2017

With only Texas A&M remaining on the regular season schedule, the Kentucky Wildcats are on the verge of winning their 3rd straight SEC title, after downing Vanderbilt Tuesday, 73-67.

Fueled by super sub, Malik Monk, the Wildcats overcame a six-point halftime deficit, scoring 49 in the second 20 minutes to win going away.

Monk went 8-for-21 from the field, but made up for his dull shooting at the free throw line, where he canned nine of ten attempts.

A 6'3" freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, Monk scored 33 on Saturday to lead the Wildcats over their closest conference rival, Florida, 76-66. Kentucky has a 1 1/2 game lead in the standings with just one game left. The Wildcats pounded Texas A&M earlier in the season, 100-58. While that game was at Rupp Arena and Saturday's final is a road game, there's little doubt as to the final result.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Freshman Kyle Guy's 17 Points Rallies #23 Virginia Over #5 North Carolina

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, February 27, 2017

After four straight losses - to Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, and Miami - Virginia's season was on the ropes, the Cavaliers having dropped from #12 in the rankings to #23 in the most recent poll (2/26) at 18-9.

Then, along came freshman Kyle Guy, who came in off the bench to light up the NC State Wolfpack with 19 points in Saturday's 70-55 victory. So solid was the effort that head coach Tony Bennett named Guy a starter for the home game against North Carolina Monday night.

Guy's response was a huge boost for the Cavaliers, whose style is predicated on hard-nosed defense and opportunistic offense. Leading all scorers, Guy dropped in 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including going 5-for-7 from three-point range. He added four assists and six rebounds, helping the Cavaliers to a 53-43 win over the #5 Tar Heels.

Virginia's defense was exceptionally good in the victory, allowing North Carolina just 35% shooting while forcing 14 turnovers from the Tar Heels. It's the kind of gritty defense for which the Cavaliers have become renowned over the past seven years of Tony Bennett's coaching tenure.

A 6'3" guard from Indianapolis, Indiana, Guy has played sparingly throughout the season, but respectively logged 35 and 32 minutes in the wins over NC State and North Carolina and will likely be a fixture in Virginia's starting rotation through the ACC tournament and into the NCAA tourney later in March.

The win put the Cavaliers at 10 up and seven down in conference play, tied with Miami and Virginia Tech, but just three games behind ACC leader North Carolina in the nation's most-contested conference. A win over 4-11 Pitt on Saturday (3/4) and a win or two in the conference tournament would have Virginia at 11-7 and a near lock for an NCAA invite.

Monday, February 27, 2017

With 25 Points, Donovan Mitchell Leads Louisville Rout Of Syracuse

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, February 26, 2017

After defeating #10 Duke on Wednesday, 78-75, the Syracuse Orange had reason to be excited over their prospects of receiving an invitation to the NCAA championship tournament.

That thrill faded quickly, however, as the unranked Orange were devastated at Louisville by the #7 Cardinals, 86-66.

The culprit was defense, or, in the Syracuse case, the lack thereof, that led to the lopsided loss. The Cardinals shot a healthy 57% from the field, including a solid 45% (9-for-20) from three-point range, as Syracuse defenders were often out of position in their trademark 2-3 zone. Another fallback of the zone was in rebounding, where Louisville held a 39-28 advantage.

Topping the scoring barrage was Louisville's sophomore guard, Donovan Mitchell, who was 9-for-16, including six threes, amassing 25 points over 35 minutes of court time.

The 6'3" native of Greenwich, Connecticut added four assists, five rebounds, and a pair of steals to his outstanding performance.

Louisville penetrated and found the open man repeatedly throughout the onslaught, with a team total of 18 assists on 33 buckets. Tied with Notre Dame and Florida State at 11-5 in the ACC, the Cardinals are two games back of conference leader, North Carolina. An overall record of 23-6 has the Cardinals as high as a #3 seed heading into March Madness.

With only one game left in the regular season, Syracuse likely needs a win over visiting Georgia Tech, this Saturday, March 4, and a win in the opening round of the conference tournament to make a case for inclusion into the NCAA field. With the Louisville defeat their fourth in five games, the Orange are on the bubble, or, the ropes for tourney inclusion. The Yellow Jackets topped the Orange, 71-65, on February 19.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

BYU Stuns #1 Gonzaga, 79-71, Behind Eric Mika's 29 Points, 11 Boards

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, February 25, 2017

BYU ended the nation's longest winning streak at 29, defeating top-ranked and previously-undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs, with a 79-71 win at Spokane, Washington.

Sophomore forward Eric Mika led the assault, racking up 29 points and 11 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season.

Working primarily against the Gonzaga interior, 6'10" Mika was 10-for-14 from the field, adding nine of 13 from the line. Aiding the effort were Gonzaga's long-range shooters, who were a combined 3-for-16 (19%) from three-point range.

The loss was the first of the season for the top-ranked Bulldogs, ending their regular season with a BYU blemish at 29-1 and a 17-1 mark in the West Coast conference. The Cougars finished up 21-10 overall, and 12-6 in the conference, good for third place and, with an important road victory now on their resume, a likely at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament.

In other key match-ups from Saturday, Miami dumped #10 Duke, 55-50, handing the Blue Devils their second straight loss, after they were upset at Syracuse earlier in the week. #5 UCLA prevailed over #4 Arizona, 77-72, putting five players in double figures.

In Lexington, Malik Monk score 30 of his game-high 33 points to lead #11 Kentucky over #13 Florida, 76-66, giving the Wildcats a one-game lead in the SEC standings.

On tap for Sunday, Syracuse seeks to add to their register of top 10 victims when the take on the #7 Louisville Cardinals at 2:00 pm ET. The game will be broadcast live on CBS, followed by Big Ten action as #16 Wisconsin travels to Michigan State. Later (6:30 pm ET), #21 Notre Dame hosts Georgia Tech on ESPNU.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Princeton Closer To Ivy League Title With Win Over Columbia; Devin Cannady Tallies 18

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, February 24, 2017

Princeton won its 14th straight, improving to 11-0 in the Ivy League, defeating Columbia, 64-45, closing in on another conference title.

Devin Cannady scored a game-high 18 points all on three-pointers, going 6-for-14 from the field, but 6-for-11 from beyond the arc.

A 6'1" sophomore guard from Mishawaka, Indiana, Cannady didn;t go to the foul line at all as the Tigers breezed to the win with a sharp second half.

Princeton has just three games left in the regular season, and needs just one win, over either Cornell, Harvard or Dartmouth to clinch at least a tie. Considering that the Tigers have beaten all three of their upcoming opponents earlier in the season, their chances for getting the automatic NCAA tournament invite are very good.

The Tigers travel to Cornell on Saturday, and play Harvard and Dartmouth next Friday and Saturday, respectively, at home next weekend.