Men's College Basketball
NCAAB News Wire
  • UCF, Cal State Bakersfield reach NIT semis
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    During his eight seasons at Stanford, Johnny Dawkins twice directed the Cardinal to the NIT championship. Now his new school, Central Florida, is two steps away from the same accomplishment.

    • Backstopped by 7-foot-6 sophomore center Tacko Fall, who blocked three shots and influenced numerous airballs, UCF shut down Illinois' offense and earned a 68-58 victory in an NIT quarterfinal on Wednesday night at sold-out CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla.

      Fourth-seeded UCF (24-11) will face TCU (22-15), also a No. 4 seed, in semifinal action on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

      Sophomore point guard B.J. Taylor paced the Knights with 17 points. Senior guard Matt Williams and junior forward A.J. Davis added 16 points apiece, while Fall contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.

      Senior swingman Malcolm Hill scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half for second-seeded Illinois (20-15), which held its only lead at 3-2.

      The Illini never solved UCF's defense, which entered the night as the nation's stingiest in field goal defense at 36.4 percent. Illinois shot 31 percent from the floor.

      The Illini shot 27 percent in the first half to fall behind 34-19 at the break and did not convert a two-point shot or a free throw until Hill's put-back with 2:05 left in the first half. By that point, UCF owned a 32-15 lead.

      Williams, who came into the game fifth nationally with an average of 3.5 3-pointers per game, set the tone by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to give UCF an 11-3 lead just 3:49 into the game.

      Illinois pulled within 41-28 on sophomore forward Leron Black's 15-foot jumper with 15:56 left, but the Knights responded by feeding Fall for a drop into the bucket and finding Taylor for a 3-pointer that forced Illinois to call a timeout.

      This trend repeated itself the rest of the way. Illinois would string together a basket or two to suggest a rally and UCF would snuff it out.

      The Illini's last run came with four minutes to go when Hill drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 57-48. After a UCF timeout, Hill was fouled on a 3-point attempt and canned all three free throws. Illinois had another possession to get closer than six points, but senior guard Tracy Abrams and sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands rimmed 3-point tries.

      Cal State Bakersfield 80, Texas-Arlington 76

      The eighth-seeded Roadrunners completed their Cinderella run to Madison Square Garden, beating the sixth-seeded Mavericks to earn a trip to the semifinals in New York.

      Shon Briggs led Cal State Bakersfield (25-9) with 19 points, and Damiyne Durham added 18 points and eight rebounds. The Roadrunners will oppose sixth-seeded Georgia Tech (20-15) on Tuesday.

      Texas-Arlington (27-9) got 22 points from Erick Neal and 15 from Kevin Hervey.

  • Syracuse F Lydon entering NBA Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon is entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

    • Lydon spent two seasons with the Orange and averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season. He announced his decision Wednesday night on Instagram.

      "It was a privilege to wear the Orange uniform alongside my teammates," Lydon wrote. "I was honored to battle with you all every night. I am very excited about this next step in my career!"

      Coach Jim Boeheim said Monday that Lydon had a season he considered "average" and suggested the door wasn't closed for the sophomore to return. Boeheim said Lydon could be a lottery pick in the draft if he came back to Syracuse.

      However, after meeting with his family Monday and Tuesday, Lydon decided it was time to go pro.

      Replacing Lydon, a 40 percent 3-point shooter and the team's leading rebounder this season, won't be easy. The top in-house candidate for the Orange is Taurean Thompson, who is not as gifted shooting from the perimeter.

  • Duke F Tatum opting for NBA
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Jayson Tatum's stay at Duke lasted all of one season as the freshman forward declared on Wednesday that he is entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

    • The school took to social media to initially deliver the news, tweeting a picture of Tatum with a quote from coach Mike Krzyzewski.

      "I absolutely loved coaching Jayson Tatum," Krzyzewski's quote read. "His skill set and work ethic will make him a star in the NBA."

      Tatum, who could be as high as a top-five pick in the June draft, feels he's ready for the bright lights of the NBA.

      "I'm excited to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing basketball at the highest possible level," Tatum said Wednesday, according to the Charlotte Observer.

      Tatum averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals in 29 games with the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-8 St. Louis native missed the first eight contests of the campaign with a foot sprain, but rebounded to score in double figures in all but three of the remaining games.

      Tatum averaged 22 points during Duke's four-day run to the ACC tournament title. He had 18 points and 12 rebounds in the Blue Devils' NCAA Tournament-opening victory over Troy, but was limited to just 15 and three, respectively, in the ensuing loss to South Carolina.

  • Florida State G Bacon leaving early for NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon announced Wednesday he is leaving school early and entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

    • The 6-foot-7, 221-pound sophomore led the Seminoles in scoring during the 2016-2017 season with 17.2 points per game. He also led the team in scoring during his freshman season when he averaged 15.8 points.

      Bacon thanked Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton, other coaches and fans in a statement released by the school.

      "After deep prayer and consultation with my parents, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft," Bacon said. "I am and forever will be a Seminole.

      "This organization has been instrumental in my path and as I look to embark on my professional career, I will carry the many lessons learned. We are truly family here and I'd like to thank Coach Ham, Coach C.Y., Coach Jones, Coach Gates and the entire faculty and coaching staff for a great two years. I am looking forward to the future.

      "Last year I made the decision to stay and set specific goals for myself personally to help our team get to the next level. Although the outcome was not as favorable as we had hoped, I am still proud and grateful to have achieved those goals alongside my teammates. Thank you!"

      Florida State finished the season with a 26-9 record during the season and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles won their first game in the tournament against 14th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast but fell to No. 11 seed Xavier 91-66 in the second round.

      Bacon, who averaged 22.5 points over the two tournament games, has been projected to be drafted from a late first-round to middle second-round pick.

  • Next level: 10 best NBA prospects still playing
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    More often than not, the team that wins the NCAA title has at least a couple of pros-in-waiting on their roster.

    • So it goes with this year's Sweet 16, which has its share of potentially ready-made NBA players, some of whom seem assured of stardom. There are also guys left in the field who appear to have 10-year role player written all over them, and there's nothing wrong with that, either.

      Here's our list of the top 10 NBA prospects from teams still playing in the NCAA Tournament:

      1. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: Some might be weary of his father's seemingly non-stop palaver, but it's hard to get tired of watching his son's game. Ball averages 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds per contest, turning the Bruins from a losing team into a potential national champion. Ball averages more than three assists for every turnover and his effective shooting percentage on 3-pointers is better than 64 percent. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Ball has the handle of a smaller man and the vision to make anyone a scoring threat. Buy his rookie card ASAP.

      2. Josh Jackson, Kansas: The 6-8 Jackson turned in a highlight-film play for the ages Sunday against Michigan State, appearing from out of nowhere to reject a TumTum Nairn layup early in the Jayhawks' 20-point win over the Spartans. Jackson hit for 16.6 points and hauled in 7.1 rebounds, helping Kansas win its 13th straight Big 12 regular-season title. He will need to improve his foul shooting (only 56 percent) and tends to be a bit loose with the ball. There's also off-court baggage to consider, but he's a guaranteed lottery pick.

      3. De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky: A classic point guard, the 6-4 Fox is at his best in the open floor, creating for himself or others. Fox tallied 16.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds as the Wildcats notched Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles. Fox shot almost 52 percent from the field, largely because few defenders could stay in front of him. At the next level, he'll have to improve his jumper, as he has converted only 23.4 percent of 3-point attempts this year. But he appears to be a top 10 pick in the lottery.

      4. Malik Monk, Kentucky: Fox's backcourt running mate is the perfect complement to him, as he's a true scorer. Monk averaged 20 points per game, displaying the ability to knock down 3-pointers at almost 40 percent while also creating highlights around the rim with his leaping ability. Foul him and you will see him convert at the line to the tune of 83 percent. Monk is billed as a combo guard at the next level, but might not be a good enough passer to act as a lead guard in the NBA. But he can sure score, and is a cinch lottery pick.

      5. Lauri Markkanen, Arizona: You noticed a trend yet? Markkanen's the fifth straight freshman on this list. Here's what makes him the outlier here: Height. At 7-0, Markkanen plays more like a stretch four because of his shooting, canning 43.3 percent of his 3-pointers while averaging 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Markkanen has put the Wildcats on his back at time this season, helping them win the Pac-12 Tournament. He might need to add weight in the NBA as he weighs only 225 pounds, but he'll likely go in the top 10.

      6. Justin Jackson, North Carolina: It seems like the Tar Heels have one guy every year that blossoms into a star. This was Jackson's year to do so, as he went from inconsistent role player into team leader, scoring 18.2 points and grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game. Jackson is an above-average shooter, canning 50 percent from the field and 38.6 percent on 3s. He's also a decent passer, registering nearly three assists per game, and is capable of playing good defense. He might not be a lottery pick, but he's a first-rounder.

      7. Johnathan Motley, Baylor: Of all the statistics one can recite about this guy, one sticks out above all the rest -- his outrageous 7-3 1/2 wingspan that allows him to play bigger than 6-9 and 230 pounds. Motley led the Bears to the Sweet 16 by averaging 17.2 points and 9.9 rebounds while sinking 54 percent from the field. Motley attacks the offensive boards as though they were a buffet line, pulling in nearly four per game. While he tends to be loose with the ball, turning it over nearly three times per game, he has a bright future in the pro game.

      8. T.J. Leaf, UCLA: While the 6-10 Leaf obviously benefits from playing with Ball, he does enough other things well on his own that he has a shot at building a good pro career. Leaf sinks 64.5 percent from the field and is also a solid rebounder, averaging 8.2 per game. He tallied 16.2 points per contest and also proved to be a willing passer, doling out 2.5 assists per game. Like Markkanen, Leaf (220 pounds) will have to add heft to his body to succeed in the NBA. But there's no reason why he can't have a good career.

      9. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: The likely Wooden Award winner isn't getting the love from the pro scouts, some of whom don't even have him as a first-rounder this summer. But Swanigan sure passes the eye test at 6-9 and 247 pounds with a 7-3 1/2 wingspan. What's more, he averages 18.5 points per game, 12.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He's expanded his shooting range to the 3-point line, but will have to cut down on turnovers. Still, anyone who saw him take over the Iowa State game Saturday night must conclude there's an NBA future for him.

      10. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: He isn't a lottery pick yet and there's a decent chance the 6-10 sophomore might stay in school, but we're telling you right now he's going to be in the league for 10 years. Happ is extremely active on both ends of the floor, combining back-to-the-basket scoring with the effort and footwork to be a Big 10 leader in steals and blocked shots. Although his overall numbers are modest, one must remember that with a quicker pace, Happ would post more impressive stats. Regardless, he will play for pay for a long time.

  • Wisconsin looks to keep run going versus Florida
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Wisconsin owns more NCAA Tournament wins than any other school over the past four years.

    • The Badgers look to add to that total Friday after delivering the tourney's biggest upset by sending defending champion Villanova home.

      The eighth-seeded Badgers (27-9) are the only team to reach the Sweet 16 in each of the past four tournaments, and they seek to reach the Elite Eight for the third time in four years when they face fourth-seeded Florida in the East Region semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden.

      The Gators (26-8) easily handled Virginia in their second game, but even that convincing 65-39 victory doesn't rate with what Wisconsin accomplished in the second round.

      Top-seeded Villanova led by seven points with just over five minutes remaining Saturday and seemed intent on finishing off the Badgers. Instead, Wisconsin closed with a decisive 15-5 burst for a 65-62 victory. Suddenly, Badgers senior guard Bronson Koenig was envisioning reaching the Final Four for the third time in his career.

      "We talked about the legacy we want to leave," Koenig said. "Getting to the Final Four is one of the goals we talked about since the end of last season."

      The Badgers didn't appear like a team capable of going on a tourney run when they lost five of six games late in the regular season. But they have turned it around by winning five of their past six games, defeating Virginia Tech in the first round before the attention-getting upset of Villanova.

      Now they are looking for their 14th NCAA win over the last four years against a gritty Florida squad that won its first two tournament games by an average of 20.5 points.

      The upset of Villanova elevated the Badgers into the trendy pick to also knock off the Gators, and Florida coach Mike White is just fine with rounding up the information to use as excess ammunition.

      "I'd rather that than the alternative, I won't lie to you," White said. "I don't know how much of a factor it plays, but I said it the other day: If you have (something) to get you angry, might as well use it.

      "I understand why a lot of people would pick Wisconsin. Totally understand that. Our guys do too. Maybe it's motivation, maybe it's not."

      Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen is Florida's leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, but averaged 5.5 points on 3-of-21 shooting in the victories over East Tennessee State and Virginia.

      Senior swingman Canyon Barry (11.8) is the team's second-leading scorer but junior forward Devin Robinson (11.4) is serving as the difference-maker.

      Robinson set the tone by averaging 19 points (on 15-of-25 shooting) and nine rebounds in the tournament.

      "I think me getting an early start, it gets everybody going, and I'm not a selfish guy," Robinson said of his strong play. "So I'm fired up, and I'm giving my teammates the ball. When we're all sharing the ball, it's going to be a positive outcome."

      The Badgers are also known for sharing the ball behind a well-balanced attack.

      Koenig averages a team-best 14.5 points and made a school-record 100 3-pointers. Koenig also holds the school mark of 267 career 3-pointers and drained 31 in NCAA tourney play.

      Sophomore forward Ethan Happ averages 13.8 points and a team-best 9.1 rebounds, and senior forward Nigel Hayes contributes 13.8 points and 6.6 boards.

      The extensive tournament experience of Koenig and Hayes gives the Badgers a comfortable feeling entering Friday's contest.

      "They understand it's one game at a time," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. "You're working for 40-minute segments. If you don't play well enough in that 40 minutes in front of you, you don't have another one.

      "We have another 40-minute opportunity on Friday night. If we're good enough, we'll have another one."

      This is the fifth meeting between Wisconsin and Florida. The Badgers won the most recent encounter 59-53 early in the 2013-14 season when Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) and Billy Donovan (Gators) were the coaches.

  • Top-seeded UNC ready for challenge from Butler
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Now that North Carolina made it through a great escape, the Tar Heels are ready to see what's ahead in the NCAA Tournament.

    • Top-seeded North Carolina meets fourth-seeded Butler in Friday night's South Region semifinal at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.

      The Tar Heels were challenged in Sunday's second round, scoring the final 12 points to pull out a 72-65 victory against Arkansas.

      "Sometimes you need games like that," North Carolina guard Joel Berry said. "We haven't had a game like that in a while Now we know we can win a game when we're down five with three minutes to go."

      The Tar Heels will try to avoid such a predicament against Butler.

      "I definitely think we feel blessed because of how hard we worked," Tar Heels senior forward Kennedy Meeks said.

      Butler's 74-65 victory against Middle Tennessee in the second round included some anxious moments, with a double-digit lead dipping to three points in the final four minutes. The Bulldogs, though, weren't in danger like the Tar Heels faced.

      "I love the fight they showed possession after possession," said Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. "And players win games."

      One of those players is fifth-year senior guard Tyler Lewis, a transfer from North Carolina State, so he has been in intense clashes with the Tar Heels in previous situations. He's Butler's assist leader with 133.

      Holtmann, who's in his third season, is the former coach at Gardner-Webb, which is located in Boiling Springs, N.C.

      Butler competes in the Big East Conference, but the Bulldogs still have to withstand suggestions that they're not viewed by some as a major-conference program.

      "A huge reason why I came here because of the Butler way and the Butler tradition of just being so good this time of year," Bulldogs senior forward Andrew Chrabascz.

      With North Carolina (29-7), the Bulldogs face the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference champion.

      An ACC team has knocked Butler out of the tournament the past two seasons (Notre Dame and Virginia) and in three of the last five years in which it has landed a spot in the tournament.

      North Carolina coach Roy Williams said there are elements from the way the game with Arkansas ended that the Tar Heels should savor for any upcoming games.

      "It gives you confidence, first," Williams said. "I think it always teaches you to play every single possession.

      Williams has coached a team to the Sweet 16 for the 18th time -- nine with Kansas and nine with North Carolina. This is the third season in a row for the Tar Heels advancing to the tournament's second week.

      Butler (25-8) is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011.

      The Bulldogs hold opponents to 68.2 points per game. North Carolina would prefer a much faster pace.

      With a few days between games, it figures that Berry's ailing ankle should be in better condition. He shot 2-for-13 from the field in the Arkansas game two days after rolling the ankle in the romp past Texas Southern.

      The Tar Heels and Bulldogs have never played in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs hold a 3-2 all-time series lead.

      The winner advances to play Sunday against either second-seeded Kentucky or third-seeded UCLA. Those teams meet in Friday's nightcap.

      North Carolina played in the 2009 regional in Memphis on the way to the national championship.

      Meeks pulled in his 1,000th career rebound in the final minute against Arkansas. He's ninth in school history in rebounding, needing six more to reach the seventh spot.

  • College basketball notebook: VCU chooses Rhoades as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Virginia Commonwealth took just one day to hire a replacement for Will Wade, announcing that Rice coach Mike Rhoades has been named the Rams' new head basketball coach.

    • Wade, who led the Rams to a 26-9 record and NCAA Tournament berth this season, was hired as the new coach at LSU on Monday.

      Like Wade, Rhoades served as an assistant coach at VCU under former Rams coach Shaka Smart for five years before becoming the head coach at Rice in 2014.

      In three seasons with the Owls, he compiled a 47-52 record. This season Rice was 23-12, including 11-7 in Conference USA.

      --Less than a week after taking Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years, Pat Kelsey was hired as the new head basketball coach at Massachusetts.

      Kelsey replaces Derek Kellogg, who was fired by UMass two weeks ago after the Minutemen finished the season 15-18, including 4-14 in the Atlantic 10.

      Kelsey spent five years as the head coach at Winthrop, and went 102-59. His team shared the Big South regular-season title each of the last two seasons.

      --Oklahoma State sophomore point guard Jawun Evans is entering the NBA Draft with the intention of staying in the draft, ESPN reported.

      Evans, 20, averaged a career-high 19.2 points, 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 32 games during the 2016-17 season. He ranks ninth in the country in assists per game.

      The Dallas native is the 59th-best rated prospect and the 14th-best point guard in the 2017 NBA Draft class according to CBS Sports.

      --Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams announced that he will return for his sophomore season after considering applying for the NBA draft.

      The 6-foot-9 Williams has been projected as a lottery pick but said he wants to further develop his game. He averaged 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman.

  • VCU chooses Rhoades as new coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Virginia Commonwealth took just one day to hire a replacement for Will Wade, announcing that Rice coach Mike Rhoades has been named the Rams' new head basketball coach.

    • VCU said in a statement that the 44-year-old Rhoades will be officially announced as the head coach on Wednesday.

      Wade, who led the Rams to a 26-9 record and NCAA Tournament berth this season, was hired as the new coach at LSU on Monday.

      Like Wade, Rhoades served as an assistant coach at VCU under former Rams coach Shaka Smart for five years before becoming the head coach at Rice in 2014.

      In three seasons with the Owls, he compiled a 47-52 record. This season Rice was 23-12, including 11-7 in Conference USA.

      Before joining Smart's staff at VCU, Rhoades spent a decade as the head coach at Randolph-Macon, a Division III program in southern Virginia.

  • UMass tabs Kelsey as new coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Less than a week after taking Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years, Pat Kelsey was hired as the new head basketball coach at Massachusetts.

    • Kelsey replaces Derek Kellogg, who was fired by UMass two weeks ago after the Minutemen finished the season 15-18, including 4-14 in the Atlantic 10.

      Kelsey spent five years as the head coach at Winthrop, and went 102-59. His team shared the Big South regular-season title each of the last two seasons. Kelsey was the associate head coach at his alma mater, Xavier University, for two seasons before his stint at Winthrop.

      "(My wife) Lisa and I are thrilled to be joining the UMass family and the Amherst community," Kelsey said in a statement released by the school. "UMass is a national college basketball brand with a proud, powerful tradition. As a player in the A-10, I saw firsthand what the potential is there. I look forward to the challenge of making UMass a major factor on the national level once again." reported that UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said earlier this month that the school's next basketball coach would make between $800,000 and $900,000 annually.

      "Coach Kelsey has a detailed plan for every phase of our program and a passionate work ethic providing fuel to reach our goals of building a championship-caliber program," Bamford said in a statement.

  • Calipari hopes Kentucky can rebound against UCLA
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    The Sweet 16 round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament resumes this week with only one battle between top 10 teams -- No.5 Kentucky vs. No. 8 UCLA on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn.

    • Kentucky (31-5) is the No. 2 seed in the South Region and UCLA (31-4) is the No. 3 seed. However, the Bruins beat the Wildcats, 97-92, on Dec. 3 in Lexington, Ky.

      "There has to be so much emotion to these next games," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "This has been an unbelievably successful season, now go finish. We're not worried about the other teams, we have to worry about one team.

      " ... It shows a five-point game (against UCLA), but we were never in it. To do what they did, they physically manhandled us. You don't see that very often, especially in this building."

      UCLA coach Steve Alford is quick to dismiss that a win in December will have any impact on an NCAA Tournament game in March.

      "It's a very, very good basketball team and I think they're better now in March than they were when we played them in December, and I think we're better than what we were in December as well," Alford said. "At least we know them pretty well, as far as prep goes and they obviously know us. But it makes for a great match-up."

      In that December game, UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf made 7 of 12 shots and finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. As became the norm for the Bruins, Leaf was one of six players scoring in double figures.

      Isaac Hamilton scored 19 points, while Thomas Welsh, Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford each had 14, and Aaron Holiday added 13.

      "What Leaf did, he basically dominated the game," Calipari said at the time. "He killed us."

      Upon further review for this week's rematch, Calipari discovered a flaw in his team.

      "I watched the tape and we didn't block out," Calipari said. "Hopefully, Derek Willis or Wenyen Gabriel are better rebounders than they were that game, because most of them were just shots they missed and we just stared at the ball.

      "The kid (Leaf) gets 10 or 11 rebounds but never really had to fight for a ball. Our kid is watching it and he just grabs it."

      Kentucky put five players in double figures that day, led by Malik Monk with 24 points. De'Aaron Fox added 20, Bam Adebayo collected 18 points and 13 rebounds, Isaiah Briscoe scored 12, and Willis had 11.

      Friday’' game also has the potential to be one of the most electrifying of the tournament.

      UCLA is the No. 1 scoring team in the nation at 90.2 points per game. Kentucky is No. 9 at 85.2. They are the two highest scoring teams left in the NCAA field.

      "I don't know of a more fun basketball team to watch when we're clicking and we've had a lot of games where we've been clicking," Alford said.

      "I think the difference is in the last seven weeks we've been better defensively. Now we can go to a different level offensively."

      Calipari knows he can't let the Bruins run free.

      "In the first game, we were really fast, but we were impatient," Calipari said. "They are a team that you've got to make play defense. You can't take quick, contested shots. They are really good. This is going to be a hard game."

      On that much, the coaches agree.

      "I think we're very well prepared for whatever is thrown at us," Alford said. "You get 31 wins at this level your guys have done a lot of good things. We'll prepare for them, do the best we can and we know we got a tall order ahead of us. We also know we're a very good basketball team."

  • Texas A&M star Williams returning for sophomore season
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams announced Tuesday that he will return for his sophomore season after considering applying for the NBA draft.

    • The 6-foot-9 Williams has been projected as a lottery pick but said he wants to further develop his game. He averaged 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman.

      "Although I've grown, I still feel like I would benefit from another year of college," Williams said in a statement. "This will give me more time to mature and develop my game before moving on to the NBA. With that being said I've decided I owe it to myself to stay another year at Texas A&M. Again, I would like to thank everyone for their support and I know next year will be even better."

      Williams certainly appears to be a finished product on the defensive end after blocking at least one shot in every game. His 77 blocked shots were the second-best single-season mark in Aggies' history.

      Williams recorded 11 double-doubles, second in the SEC behind Sebastian Saiz of Mississippi. He was a second-team All-SEC selection.

      Aggies coach Billy Kennedy was understandably thrilled with the decision.

      "I'm thankful that Robert loves Texas A&M and his teammates," Kennedy said in a statement. "I know this was a difficult decision for him and his family. He's not only a special talent but a special young man. His desire to be the best and his trust in us is humbling. I can't wait for next season!"

      Texas A&M struggled last season with a 16-15 record, including 8-10 in SEC play.

  • Oklahoma State PG Evans enters NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Oklahoma State sophomore point guard Jawun Evans is entering the NBA Draft with the intention of staying in the draft, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

    • Evans, 20, averaged a career-high 19.2 points, 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 32 games during the 2016-17 season. He ranks ninth in the country in assists per game.

      In the Cowboys' 92-91 loss to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Evans scored team-high totals of 23 points and 12 assists with seven rebounds.

      Evans averaged 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards in 22 games as a freshman. Through 54 career games, he has averages of 16.6 points, 5.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

      The Dallas native is the 59th-best rated prospect and the 14th-best point guard in the 2017 NBA Draft class according to CBS Sports.

  • LSU hires VCU's Wade as head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Will Wade, who guided Virginia Commonwealth to the NCAA Tournament in each of his two years in charge of the Rams, was hired as LSU's new head basketball coach Monday.

    • The LSU program confirmed the move with a tweet that read, "Welcome head coach Will Wade. Sweet dreams Tigers fans. It's official!"

      Multiple media outlets reported that Wade's contract is for six years. The Times-Picayune reported that the total pay for the length of the deal will be approximately $12 million.

      Wade, 34, compiled a 51-20 record at VCU. The Rams tied for the Atlantic 10 Conference title in 2015-16, his first year on the job, before beating Oregon State and then falling to second-seeded Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament.

      This season, VCU went 26-9, dropping its NCAA tourney opener to seventh-seeded Saint Mary's.

      Before taking over at VCU, Wade was the head coach of Chattanooga for two years, posting a 40-25 record.

      Wade attended Clemson, where he spent a season as a graduate assistant and then a season as director of basketball operations in 2006-07. He worked as an assistant coach at Harvard for two years and as an assistant under Shaka Smart with the Rams for four years. Wade returned to Richmond for the head job when Smart exited for the top job at Texas.

      In Baton Rouge, Wade replaced Johnny Jones, who was fired March 10 after a 10-21 season that included a 15-game losing streak. Jones went 90-72 in five years at LSU, with the Tigers' only NCAA Tournament appearance in that span being a first-round exit in 2014.

  • Gonzaga wary of West Virginia's pressing defense
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    Gonzaga is bracing itself for the challenge West Virginia's defense presents after looking at the results of the Mountaineers' 83-71 win over Notre Dame in an NCAA Tournament second-round game last week.

    • The No. 1-seeded Bulldogs (33-1) play No. 4 West Virginia (28-8) in a West Regional semifinal game Thursday at San Jose, Calif. The winner advances to the Elite Eight to play the winner of Xavier-Arizona.

      The Fighting Irish commit only 9.5 turnovers a game, which ranks second nationally. They almost turned the ball over that many times in the first half Saturday. They finished with 14 against the "Press Virginia" defense.

      The turnovers are a cause for concern for Gonzaga, the top seed in the West Region, after the Bulldogs committed 13 turnovers in their 79-73 win over Northwestern in a second-round game. The Wildcats scored 17 points off turnovers in the second half to fuel a comeback.

      "We got a little challenged at the other end and started making bonehead passes and bonehead decisions, and needed to just settle down," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We were trying to make plays in small windows. And we're not very good when we do that."

      West Virginia (28-8) leads the nation in turnovers forced with 20.1 per game. Opponents turn the ball over on 28 percent of their possession, which also tops the nation.

      "That's what we do," West Virginia coach Bub Huggins said of the havoc his defense presents. "We try to make people play kind of the way we want them to play."

      Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss will be important against the Mountaineers' press. His ability to run the fast break or play at a steady pace should give the Bulldogs confidence.

      Williams-Goss has a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with 161 assists and 72 turnovers. Josh Perkins, the other significant ball-handler, has less favorable numbers with 113 assists and 68 turnovers.

      Williams-Goss said the Bulldogs know what it takes to handle the pressure West Virginia may present because their resiliency is shown with only one loss on the season.

      "We don't think of anything as pressure," Williams-Goss said. "We had pressure all year long. We were undefeated and we didn't feel any of that. This is what we live for, what we prepare for and we enjoy doing. We all enjoy competing at the highest level."

      West Virginia was only an overtime loss at Kansas away from sweeping the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks during the regular season.

      Because the Mountaineers use the entire length of the court, Huggins employs a deep rotation with 10 players averaging at least 11 minutes played per game. Leading scorer Jevon Carter (13 points per game) is the only Mountaineer to play at least 30 minutes per game (31.7).

      The Mountaineers are a team of athletes that lacks a center who matches up in size with Gonzaga's post player Przemek Karnowski, who is 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds.

      Carter and fellow guards Daxter Miles and Tarik Phillip combined for 54 points on 17-of-29 shooting from the field with nine rebounds, eight assists and three turnovers in the win over Notre Dame. They shot 7 of 10 from 3-point range and 13 of 15 from the free-throw line.

      "All year we've been telling ourselves that we got the best group of guards in the country, and we truly believe that," Carter said. "So, when it's time for us to play, we go out there and give it our all. Sometimes it worked. But we're going to put forth 100 percent and we're going to live and die with it."

  • Arizona, Miller meet Xavier again in NCAA Tournament
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    Arizona coach Sean Miller is taking on his former employer in the Sweet 16, which might be a big storyline ... if it hadn't already happened two years ago.

    • The Wildcats, seeded second in the West, have a Thursday date against No. 11 Xavier, the only double-digit seed left in the NCAA Tournament. The game is scheduled to tip off at about 10:09 p.m. ET after the Gonzaga-West Virginia game in San Jose, Calif.

      Arizona and Xavier met in the 2015 Sweet 16, with the Wildcats winning 68-60 in a hard-fought game in Los Angeles.

      There is not much to take from that, as only two current Arizona players -- point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and center Dusan Ristic -- appeared in that game for a total of nine minutes. Musketeers star guard Trevon Bluiett, then a freshman, scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

      This time around, the Wildcats (32-4) have superior size and two big-time scorers in sophomore guard Allonzo Trier and freshman 7-foot forward Lauri Markkanen.

      Xavier (22-13) has Bluiett, who is averaging 17.7 points per game, and a resiliency that led to opening-weekend upsets of No. 6 Maryland and No. 3 Florida State.

      Many counted out the Musketeers after guard Edmond Sumner sustained a season-ending knee injury in late January. That came on the heels of guard Myles Davis leaving the team after a brief return from a 15-game, season-opening suspension.

      Sumner averaged 15.0 points this season. Davis, who appeared in three games in January, averaged 10.8 points and 4.1 assists per game last season.

      "I told them out in the real world, life is going to hand you lemons, and you can pout about it and figure out how to make lemonade," Xavier coach Chris Mack said of his message to his players.

      "Our guys, despite all the adversity they've been hit with and the social media that tells them how bad they are and how poor they are, they stayed with it, and they believed in themselves and our coaching staff. It's a credit to them, and I'm just really proud of them."

      Miller, who was the head coach at Xavier for five seasons before joining Arizona in 2009, often cites his team's own resiliency as a key to this season's success.

      The Wildcats lost redshirt freshman forward Ray Smith in the preseason to a career-ending third torn ACL, was without Trier for 19 games (suspension), missed Jackson-Cartwright for a month (ankle) and had other assorted injuries.

      The team's only senior -- guard Kadeem Allen -- has been the leader. And as Arizona's top defender, Allen likely will be tasked with stopping Bluiett.

      "He's as hard a playing guy as I've seen," Miller said. "And he won't let his team lose to some degree."

      Xavier effectively played some zone against Florida State, which has been most opponents' strategy against Arizona.

      Arizona does have answers. Trier is averaging 17.1 points, scoring 14 in the second half of a second-round win over Saint Mary's. Markkanen, averaging 15.8 points, has 36 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field in two tournament games.

      Markkanen is shooting 43.3 percent from 3-point range (68 of 157) but has taken his game more to the paint offensively and defensively late in the season.

      "I don't know if there's a freshman that's playing in the NCAA Tournament that's had a bigger impact on his team than Lauri has had on our team," Miller said. "And as good of a basketball player is, he's an even better kid."

  • Purdue faces tough road vs. top-seeded Kansas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    In a stereotypical big vs. small clash, the small is actually favored as No. 1 seed Kansas "hosts" No. 4 seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

    • It's listed as a neutral-site game, but Sprint Center is less than an hour from Allen Fieldhouse -- the home of the Jayhawks -- and the majority of the 18,972 in attendance likely will be clad in crimson and blue.

      "We get a chance to play 35 miles away from Lawrence," Kansas guard Frank Mason III said. "I think it's just great for the fans and for us to get a chance to play there in the Sweet 16. We're all so excited."

      Purdue is ready for the atmosphere.

      "We know it'll be hostile there, but we can draw energy from that," center Isaac Haas said via Twitter. "Gotta put ourselves in best position possible."

      The two teams won their regular-season outright conference titles by multiple games. Purdue (27-7) won the Big Ten by two games while No. 3 Kansas (30-4) won the Big 12 by four games.

      The Jayhawks start four guards, although two are Josh Jackson and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who both stand 6-foot-8. They get a majority of their scoring (more than 60 of their 83 points per game) from their four guards.

      Purdue, meanwhile, depends heavily on its bigs, especially national player of the year candidate Caleb Swanigan, the double-double machine. He leads the NCAA with 28 double-doubles this season.

      The Boilermakers also have 6-8 Vince Edwards (12.7 points per game) and the 7-2 Haas (12.6), creating matchup problems for Kansas. Swanigan is 6-9, 250 pounds, but he averages 18.5 points and 12.6 rebounds. He's also a deft passer, averaging 3.0 assists.

      Purdue leads the Big Ten and is 12th nationally with a scoring differential of 12.6 points per game. The Boilermakers are second in the Big Ten (13th nationally) in rebounding margin at 7.0.

      Kansas boasts its own player of the year candidate in Mason, but he does his damage outside the post. He led the Big 12 in scoring at 20.8 points per game. The Jayhawks use two point guards, as Devonte' Graham handles the ball as often as Mason.

      Mykhailiuk is mostly a long-range threat for Kansas. He takes 63 percent of his shots from beyond 3-point range, connecting on 39.5 percent of them. But he's not the only good shooter. The Jayhawks rank fifth in the country at 40.6 percent from 3-point range.

      The matchup problem on Kansas' roster is Jackson, one of the leading freshmen in the country. He's averaging 16.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. His height makes him a tough matchup for opposing guards, and his athleticism makes him tough to guard for forwards.

      Ironically, both teams reached this round by beating a team from their opponent's conference. Purdue advanced with an 80-70 victory over Vermont. In the second round, the Boilermakers gave up a 19-point second-half lead, but rebounded to defeat Iowa State 80-76.

      Kansas reached the Sweet 16 with convincing wins over UC Davis (100-62) and Michigan State (90-70).

  • UCLA's Alford not talking Indiana job
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    UCLA coach Steve Alford guided the Bruins to the Sweet 16 but before the South Region semifinal against Kentucky, media are mostly interested in talking about Indiana.

    • Alford, reportedly the prime candidate to replace Tom Crean as head coach of the Hoosiers at his alma mater, would not discuss a published report that he was offered a seven-year, $31 million contract.

      "I don't have anything else to say on that," Alford said Sunday night after the Bruins held off Cincinnati to set up a rematch with Kentucky on Friday in Memphis. "I've already addressed that matter and I'm not going to address it anymore."

      Alford did allow that speculation he could return to the Hoosiers is natural, but said "I love UCLA. I love Los Angeles" without directly denying interest or potential interest in being in Bloomington, Ind., in the near future.

      Alford played for Bobby Knight at Indiana and was on the 1987 national championship team. A homegrown talent, Alford would be a popular hire for the Hoosiers, and after the Bruins hit the Sweet 16 for the third time in four seasons under Alford, he has leverage.

      "I was part of that. I stood on stage with a great group of guys and won a national championship," Alford said last week. "It's my home state. I played there. So obviously all that comes up, but I love UCLA."

      Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said he would use a search firm to coordinate and help execute the process of hiring Crean's replacement.

      "I think this is one of the best jobs in college basketball," Glass said.

      From an ex-coach's perspective, former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said on ESPN Radio that Alford should return to Indiana as soon as the tournament ends.

      "I think he will do great, because he will be able to recruit the state of Indiana. He can really coach offense and he's the right fit," Greenberg said. "When you think of Indiana basketball, you think of Coach Knight. And you think about great defensive teams. You think of great ball movement, low turnover teams. Tom's teams were really good, but they were not great defensively, and they turned it over some. Everyone gets compared to Knight no matter what. He was the anti-Knight."

  • Sweet 16 power rankings: Kansas on top
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    The East Region is officially crazy.

    • After a largely uneventful first round of the NCAA Tournament, the East produced two huge upsets on the weekend. No. 8 Wisconsin seed toppled defending champion and top-seeded Villanova on Saturday, and No. 7 South Carolina shocked No. 2 Duke on Sunday night.

      Just like that, what appeared to be a top-heavy region is now filled with various shades of underdogs, including third-seeded Baylor, which lost four of its last seven games before the NCAA Tournament.

      The top two seeds are alive in the West and South, while the Midwest lost second-seeded Louisville.

      Here is our power ranking of the Sweet 16:

      1. Kansas (Midwest, No. 1)

      The Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 in nearby Kansas City by overpowering UC Davis 100-62 and Michigan State 90-70. All-America point guard Frank Mason leads an explosive attack and one of the nation's best backcourts. Freshman standout wing Josh Jackson is hot, scoring 40 points on 17-of-28 shooting in the NCAAs, hitting from the outside and at the rim. Landen Lucas, a 6-foot-10 senior, has posted three consecutive double-doubles. He will be critical to stopping Purdue's Caleb Swanigan in the Sweet 16.

      2. North Carolina (South, No. 1)

      The Tar Heels are in the Sweet 16 as expected, but their scare against No. 8 seed Arkansas in the second round, before winning 72-65, even had coach Roy Williams saying, "We were really lucky." Junior forward Justin Jackson, the seventh Tar Heel to score at least 600 points in a season under Williams, will look to get North Carolina rolling again. The Heels had a bad shooting game (38.1 percent) against the Razorbacks, but they rebounded themselves into more chances. They lead the nation in rebounding margin (plus-13.1).

      3. Kentucky (South, No. 2)

      John Calipari's young team is gathering steam, with a 13-game winning streak, its longest of the season. Freshman Bam Adebayo had his eighth double-double -- 13 points, 10 rebounds -- in a hard-fought, second-round win over Wichita State. Freshman guard Malik Monk passed Jamal Murray for the school's freshman scoring record; he has 721 points. How about Monk, Adebayo and freshman point guard De'Aaron Fox against UCLA freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf in the Sweet 16?

      4. Arizona (West, No. 2)

      The Wildcats are versatile, able to play fast or slow, as they had to do in wins over North Dakota and Santa Clara. Coach Sean Miller, steaming toward his first Final Four, is known for his pack-line defense, but he also has elite scorers in guard Allonzo Trier (17.1 ppg) and 7-footer Lauri Markkanen (15.8), who are hot at the right time. Next up is Miller's old employer, Xavier, but that storyline was mostly exhausted when Arizona beat the Musketeers in the 2015 Sweet 16.

      5. Gonzaga (West, No. 1)

      The Bulldogs survived Northwestern in the second round to reach the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year. Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss gives Gonzaga better-than-usual athleticism at the position, and he will be key to breaking West Virginia's press in the Sweet 16. Williams-Goss had 20 points and eight rebounds vs. Northwestern. Can the well-balanced Zags get hot from 3-point range? They were 12 of 46 in the first two tourney games.

      6. UCLA (South, No. 3)

      The Bruins are a joy to watch, the highest-scoring team in the country, led by fab freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who had 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a second-round win over Cincinnati. Now comes a blue-blood rematch in the Sweet 16 against Kentucky; UCLA won 97-92 at Rupp Arena on Dec. 3. The Bruins might not be great defensively, but they picked up their effort considerably in February, making them title-worthy.

      7. Michigan (Midwest, No. 7)

      Looking like a team of destiny, Michigan won four games at the Big Ten tournament after its plane perilously skidded off the runway, and the hot streak continued with wins over Oklahoma State and No. 2 seed Louisville. Forward Moritz Wagner became a tournament "name" with his 26 points vs. the Cardinals, adding to an attack that loves the 3-point shot, led by guard Derrick Walton Jr. The Wolverines commit the fewest turnovers in the country (9.4 per game), a skill that will come in handy against a high-energy team, Oregon, in the Sweet 16.

      8. Wisconsin (East, No. 8)

      No program has more NCAA Tournament victories (13) than Wisconsin in the past four seasons. Multi-dimensional big man Ethan Happ is a matchup nightmare, while tourney-tested seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes are heart-and-soul players who combined for 80 points in wins over Virginia Tech and No. 1 Villanova.

      9. Baylor (East, No. 3)

      After being bounced in the first round in each of the past two seasons, the Bears look angry -- and talented. This is a long, athletic team, led by double-double forward Johnathan Motley and point guard Manu Lecomte, who rescued Baylor in the second round against USC by scoring all 12 of his points in the final five minutes.

      10. Oregon (Midwest, No. 3)

      Perimeter play is huge in the NCAA Tournament, and Oregon's tandem of wing Dillon Brooks and shooting guard Tyler Dorsey is as good as it gets. Dorsey scored 27 points on 9-of-10 shooting (including 4-of-5 from 3-point range) in the second-round win over Rhode Island. Nobody plays harder than Brooks, the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Oregon's margin of error is slim without forward Chris Boucher (ACL), but there is still Final Four potential here.

      11. Purdue (Midwest, No. 4)

      The Boilermakers are in the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years, riding the strong shoulders of sophomore All-America big man Caleb Swanigan. "Biggie" had 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as Purdue held off an Iowa State rally in the second round. He is not a one-man show, though, as junior forward Vincent Edwards is only the second player in program history with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in a career.

      12. Florida (East, No. 4)

      Expectations were modest because the Gators lost big man John Egbunu to injury in mid-February, and then lost three of four games before the NCAA Tournament. Still, Florida had too much talent for East Tennessee State and too much defense for slow-it-down Virginia in a 65-39 victory. Forward Devin Robinson scored 38 in the two tournament games, and he will need to stay hot against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 as the Gators otherwise rely on their smothering defense.

      13. South Carolina (East, No. 7)

      The Gamecocks can't be called consistent (losing five of seven before the NCAAs), but the upset of Duke shows the high ceiling. Guard Sindarius Thornwell is the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, and Frank Martin's team plays some hellacious defense, which should travel well in a Sweet 16 game against athletic Baylor at Madison Square Garden.

      14. West Virginia (West, No. 4)

      "Press" Virginia's high-pressure, full-court defense is the key to any upset the rest of the way. The Mountaineers lead the country in steals (10.2 per game) and in turnovers forced (20.1). West Virginia is burly and tough and will try to sock Sweet 16 foe Gonzaga in the mouth, while All-Big-12 guard Jevon Carter -- the conference's Defensive Player of the Year -- leads a balanced offense.

      15. Butler (South, No. 4)

      Butler is going to the Sweet 16 for the first time since it played in the title game in 2011. The Bulldogs don't beat themselves, ranking 21st national in turnover margin (plus-3.2) and shooting 47.9 percent from the field, which ranks No. 31 nationally. Efficiency and controlling tempo will be key against North Carolina in the Sweet 16. Kelan Martin is a versatile forward who leads the Bulldogs with an average of 16 points a game.

      16. Xavier (West, No. 11)

      Everyone wrote off Xavier after point guard Edmond Sumner was lost to a torn ACL in late January. The Musketeers endured a six-game losing streak in February, but they are always tough-minded, always well-coached, and guard Trevon Bluiett (17.7 ppg) makes coach Chris Mack's team a threat in any game. Bluiett scored a combined 50 points, including eight 3-pointers, in upsets over Maryland and Florida State.

  • Boeheim will coach Syracuse beyond next season
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and his alma mater, Syracuse University, agreed on a new contract extension beyond the 2017-18 season.

    • The extension came about as head-coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins was hired to lead the program at Washington. Syracuse negotiated the new deal with Boeheim, who had planned to step down following the conclusion of the next season, to keep stability in the program.

      "Mike received a great opportunity and we thank him and wish him the best," Boeheim said. "I'm happy to stay on to help the program and to continue the staff's devotion to success."

      The university also announced the promotion of assistant coach Adrian Autry to associate head coach.

      "The Syracuse basketball program was built on the concept of family and that remains intact with Coach Boeheim agreeing to this contract extension," Syracuse AD John Wildhack said in a statement. "Having experienced assistant coaches like Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara on the staff helps us maintain the elite standing the program has earned."

      Boeheim just completed his 41st season as head coach at Syracuse. He ranks second among Division I coaches in victories, trailing only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. Boeheim owns the longest active streak of seasons with his current institution, ahead of Krzyzewski's 36 at Duke.

      Boeheim is a four-time Big East Coach of the Year, guiding the Orange to 32 NCAA Tournaments and seven NIT berths. He has coached Syracuse into the NCAA championship game three times and the Final Four five times. Syracuse won the national championship in 2003.

      On the flip side, in 2005, the NCAA stripped Syracuse and Boeheim of 101 wins for rules violations that occurred from 2004-05 to 2011-12.

      Autry and McNamara, both former players for Syracuse, have been assistant coaches under Boeheim since 2011-12.

      "I have no doubt this remarkable run of college basketball success at Syracuse under Coach Boeheim is positioned to continue," Wildhack said.

  • NCAA Tournament roundup: South Carolina, Michigan pull off upsets
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Sindarius Thornwell scored 24 points and seventh-seeded South Carolina used sudden hot shooting in the second half to knock second-seeded Duke out of the NCAA Tournament, winning 88-81 Sunday night in a charged-up atmosphere for the second-round game at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

    • Chris Silva and Duane Notice pumped in 17 apiece and Rakym Felder provided 15 points for the Gamecocks (24-10). P.J. Dozier scored 11 points before fouling out following a turnover with 3:25 to play.

      Grayson Allen scored 20 points, Jayson Tatum had 15, Frank Jackson added 15 and Amile Jefferson supplied 14 for the Blue Devils (28-9).

      No. 7 Michigan 73, No. 2 Louisville 69

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Moritz Wagner scored a career-high 26 points, and the seventh-seeded Wolverines rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to stun the second-seeded Cardinals in an NCAA Midwest Regional second-round game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

      D.J. Wilson, who scored 17 points, sank four consecutive free throws during the final 17.3 seconds to send the Big Ten tournament champions into a Sweet 16 date Thursday night against Oregon in Kansas City, Mo. The win was a bit of revenge for Michigan (26-11), which was beaten 82-76 by Louisville in the 2013 NCAA Tournament final.

      Michigan, which also got 11 points from Zak Irvin and 10 from Derrick Walton Jr., shot 63 percent from the field (17 of 27) in the second half.

      No. 2 Kentucky 65, No. 10 Wichita State 62

      INDIANAPOLIS -- SEC Player of the Year Malik Monk blocked Markis McDuffie's potential game-winning shot and then sank two free throws with 10.6 seconds left to send the second-seeded Wildcats past the 10th-seeded Shockers in an NCAA South Regional game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

      Kentucky (31-5) led 58-51 with 4:06 left when De'Aaron Fox made a steal near midcourt and drove for a dunk, but Wichita State (31-5) rallied, pulling within one on Landry Shamet's 3-pointer with 55.7 seconds left.

      Kentucky advances to play No. 3 UCLA in the Sweet 16 in Memphis, Tenn.

      No. 1 Kansas 90, No. 9 Michigan State 70

      TULSA, Okla. -- The top-seeded Jayhawks gained an edge late in the first half against the ninth-seeded Spartans.

      Kansas had plenty of support from its fans, and now it will move closer to home to face Purdue in a regional semifinal on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.

      Josh Jackson led the Jayhawks (30-4) with 23 points. Frank Mason III added 20 points and Devonte' Graham had 18.

      Miles Bridges led Michigan State (20-15) with 22 points, and Nick Ward had 13.

      No. 1 North Carolina 72, No, 8 Arkansas 65

      GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Tar Heels scored the final 12 points to avoid a second-round upset at the hands of the Razorbacks at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

      Isaiah Hicks scored six points in the winning spurt, sending North Carolina to the Sweet 16 for the 22nd time since 1985. North Carolina (29-7), the top seed in the South Region, will play fourth-seeded Butler on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn.

      Kennedy Meeks scored 16 points and Justin Jackson added 15 for North Carolina. Daryl Macon's 19 points led eighth-seeded Arkansas (26-10).

      No. 3 Oregon 75, No. 11 Rhode Island 72

      SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tyler Dorsey drained a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to help the third-seeded Ducks advance to the Sweet 16 with a dramatic victory over the 11th-seeded Rams in a Midwest Regional game at the Golden 1 Center.

      Dorsey scored 27 points for Oregon (31-5), which will face seventh-seeded Michigan on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. Dillon Brooks had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks.

      Stanford Robinson came off the bench to score 21 points for Rhode Island (25-10), which was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999. Jared Terrell had 15 points, and E.C. Matthews added 13.

      No. 3 Baylor 82, No. 11 USC 78

      TULSA, Okla. -- The third-seeded Bears overcame a four-point deficit late in the second half and ousted the 11th-seeded Trojans at the BOK Center.

      Manu Lecomte scored eight straight points to take Baylor from a two-point hole to a six-point lead with 3:55 left. Johnathan Motley and Terry Maston each scored 19 points to lead Baylor. Lecomte scored all 12 of his points in the last five minutes.

      The Bears (27-7) advance to the Sweet 16 to face No. 7 South Carolina in a regional semifinal on Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

      USC (26-10) got 28 points from Chimezie Metu. Bennie Boatwright added 16 and Elijah Stewart had 12.

      No. 3 UCLA 79, No. 6 Cincinnati 67

      SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Lonzo Ball posted 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to help the third-seeded Bruins advance to the Sweet 16 with a victory over the sixth-seeded Bearcats in a South Regional game at the Golden 1 Center.

      The Bruins will face second-seeded Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Memphis, Tenn. UCLA, which beat the Wildcats earlier this season at Rupp Arena, could face North Carolina in the Elite Eight and Kansas in the Final Four.

      Bryce Alford broke out of his shooting slump to score 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting with four 3-pointers for UCLA (31-4). Alford was 10 of 40 from the field in the team's last four games. TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh posted 11 points and seven rebounds apiece and Isaac Hamilton added 10 points.

  • Arkansas State hires Balado as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    Louisville assistant Mike Balado will become the next head coach at Arkansas State.

    • The school announced on its website on Sunday that Balado would be introduced as the Red Wolves' head coach on Monday at an 11 a.m. ET news conference.

      "He's more than ready (to be a head coach)," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino told the Courier Journal last week.

      Balado, who was the lead recruiter on Pitino's staff, has been an assistant at Louisville for the past four seasons. He helped lead Louisville to a 25-9 record and a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional.

      The Cardinals' season ended Sunday with a 73-69 loss to Michigan.

      Balado will replace Grant McCasland, who led Arkansas State to a 20 12 record in his only season with the Red Wolves. He left Arkansas State for the head coaching job at North Texas.

  • Washington hires Syracuse assistant Hopkins
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    The Washington Huskies hired longtime Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins as their next head coach, the school announced Sunday.

    • The 47-year-old Hopkins, who has worked under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse since 1996, will sign a six-year deal with Washington, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman.

      "I'm extremely excited to welcome Mike and his family to Seattle," Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement. "His resume and reputation within the basketball community made him stand out to us, but ultimately it was his vision for Washington, his passion for teaching and developing student-athletes and his close alignment with the core values of our institution and department that made it more than clear that he was the right fit for us."

      Hopkins was designated as Syracuse's coach-in-waiting in 2015 for when Boeheim retires.

      "The University of Washington is such a unique place, with a world-class University, an exciting basketball history and unbelievable fan support," Hopkins said in a statement released by the school. "Together, I believe we can build something very special in Seattle, and I can't wait to get started."

      Hopkins, a former Syracuse player and a Southern California native, went 4-5 as interim head coach in 2015-16 while Boeheim was suspended.

      "I can't express enough thanks to Coach Boeheim for so many years of mentorship and guidance," Hopkins said. "The timing is right for me and my family to make this move."

      Hopkins replaces Lorenzo Romar, who was fired on Wednesday after 15 seasons with the Huskies, who were 9-22 this season. Romar led Washington to six NCAA Tournament berths but none in the past six seasons.

  • NCAA Tournament roundup: Wisconsin stuns defending champ Villanova
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 18, 2017

    BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nigel Hayes scored 19 points and made the winning layup with 11.4 seconds remaining as No. 8 seed Wisconsin upset top-seeded Villanova 65-62 on Saturday in an NCAA Tournament second-round game at KeyBank Center.

    • Bronson Koenig added 17 points, including two late 3-pointers, for the Badgers (27-9), who are returning to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. Ethan Happ added 12 points and eight rebounds and Vitto Brown scored 10.

      Josh Hart had 19 points for defending national champion Villanova, which finished the season at 32-4. Donte DiVincenzo added 15 points and Jalen Brunson had 11.

      Hayes drove the baseline and scored on a reverse layup to put Wisconsin ahead 64-62 with 11.4 seconds left. After Hart lost the ball on the ensuing possession, Brown was fouled and missed the second of two free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining. DiVincenzo grabbed the rebound but Villanova was unable to get off a shot.

      No. 4 West Virginia 83, No. 5 Notre Dame 71

      BUFFALO, N.Y. -- No. 4 West Virginia dictated tempo with its full-court pressure defense and was efficient at the offensive end in defeating fifth-seeded Notre Dame in a second-round game at KeyBank Center.

      West Virginia (28-8) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in 11 years and will face No. 1 seed Gonzaga at the West regional in San Jose, Calif.

      Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers with 24 points, matching a season high. Daxter Miles Jr. (18 points), Tarik Phillips (12 points off the bench) and Carter combined for 54 of West Virginia's 83 points on 17-of-29 shooting.

      Notre Dame, the only team to reach the Elite Eight round of the last two NCAA tournaments, finished the season at 26-10. Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 27 points and eight rebounds, including a career-high four 3-pointers.

      No. 1 Gonzaga 79, No. 8 Northwestern 73

      SALT LAKE CITY -- Nigel Williams-Goss scored 20 points while Jordan Mathews and Zach Collins added 14 apiece to help No. 1 seed Gonzaga survive a late rally and beat Northwestern in the second round of the West Region.

      The Bulldogs (34-1) prevailed despite scoring just four baskets over the final 13 minutes of the second half. Gonzaga advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.

      Bryant McIntosh scored 20 points and Vic Law added 18 and eight rebounds to lead the eighth-seeded Wildcats. Northwestern (24-12) rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half but ultimately couldn't overcome a sluggish start on offense.

      No. 11 Xavier 93, No. 3 Florida State 66

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Xavier used a harassing zone defense to stifle Florida State on one end of the floor and rode a balanced scoring attack to put the Seminoles away on the other end.

      Once a bubble team that was the last to hear its name called on Selection Sunday, No. 11 seed Xavier is headed back to the Sweet 16 after a convincing victory over third-seeded Florida State at Amway Center.

      Trevon Bluiett had a game-high 29 points for the Musketeers (23-13), who will play Arizona next week at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. It will be their sixth appearance in the Sweet 16 over the past decade.

      Kaiser Gates had 14 points, including a pair of critical 3-pointers, to help Xavier pull away in the second half. Dwayne Bacon led the Seminoles (26-9) with 20 points but missed all five of his 3-pointers.

      No. 4 Butler 74, No. 12 Middle Tennessee 65

      MILWAUKEE -- Kelan Martin scored 19 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 15 as Butler won a second-round game at Bradley Center and advanced to the Sweet 16.

      After shooting 49 percent in their opening game against Winthrop on Thursday, the Bulldogs stayed hot against the Blue Raiders. Butler connected on 51.1 percent, including 8 of 15 from beyond the arc.

      Butler (25-8) will face either top seed North Carolina or No. 8 Arkansas in the South Regional semifinal Friday in Memphis.

      Jacorey Williams led the Blue Raiders (31-5) with 20 points and Antwain Johnson added 19. Giddy Potts, the Blue Raiders' second-leading scorer this season at 15.8 points per game was held scoreless on 0-of-8 shooting.

      No. 2 Arizona 69, No. 7 Saint Mary's 60

      SALT LAKE CITY -- Freshman center Lauri Markkanen scored 16 points and collected 10 rebounds to help Arizona rally after halftime.

      Allonzo Trier added 14 points -- all in the second half -- for the Wildcats (32-4), who will play No. 11 seed Xavier in the Sweet 16. Arizona coach Sean Miller coached the Musketeers from 2004 to 2009 before taking over in Tucson.

      Jock Landale finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Calvin Hermanson added 14 points for the Gaels (29-5), who have advanced to the Sweet 16 just one time during coach Randy Bennett's tenure.

      No. 4 Florida 65, No. 5 Virginia 39

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Playing maybe its most complete game of the season, Florida dismantled Virginia at Amway Center.

      The Gators (26-8) advanced to the Sweet 16 to face No. 8 Wisconsin next Friday at Madison Square Garden.

      Devin Robinson (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Justin Leon (14 points and 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles against a Virginia defense that came in allowing just 56.1 points per game.

      The Gators held the Cavaliers (23-11) to a season-low 17 points in the first half.

      No. 4 Purdue 80, No. 5 Iowa State 76

      MILWAUKEE -- The Cyclones rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit but couldn't find a way to stop Caleb Swanigan, who scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out seven assists as Purdue advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010.

      Purdue moves on to Kansas City, where it will face either top-seeded Kansas or No. 9 Michigan State in a Midwest Regional semifinal.

      Vincent Edwards led No. 4 Purdue (27-7) with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, while Isaac Haas added 14 points in 15 minutes.

      Deonte Burton scored 17 of his team-high 25 points in the second half for Iowa State (24-11).

  • Illinois hires Oklahoma State's Underwood as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 18, 2017

    A day after Oklahoma State's season ended with a one-point loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, head coach Brad Underwood took the vacant position at Illinois on Saturday.

    • Underwood's hiring occurs exactly one year after he coached 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin to a double-digit win over West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. Underwood's tenure with Stephen F. Austin ended with a loss at the buzzer to Notre Dame and he took the Oklahoma State job shortly thereafter.

      Underwood led the Cowboys to their sixth NCAA Tournament in the last eight years. In his lone season at Oklahoma State, Underwood was 20-13 and his team earned a bid by winning 10 of 11 games from Jan. 21-Feb. 25.

      "In searching for a new coach, we were looking for a proven winner who would build upon our proud tradition while developing an unmistakable identity for Illinois Basketball. Brad's teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness," Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a statement. They have a tremendous energy that I believe will ignite the Orange Krush and our fans to once again make State Farm Center one of the most intimidating venues in all of college basketball."

      At Oklahoma State, Underwood led the eighth-most prolific scoring team (85.7) and eighth-best 3-point shooting percentage (40.2 percent).

      Underwood, 53, is 109-27 as a head coach with tournament wins over VCU and Notre Dame when he was at Stephen F. Austin. Before becoming a head coach, he served as an assistant with Western Illinois, Kansas State and South Carolina.

      "Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-lifetime opportunity," Underwood said in a statement. "The players, fans and administration at Oklahoma State have been absolutely incredible, and I want to thank them for the support they've given me and my family over the last year. However, during my time at Western Illinois, I always saw the Illinois coaching job as one of the truly best in the nation. I want to thank Josh Whitman for the opportunity to join the Fighting Illini family and look forward to working with him to build a championship program."

      Underwood takes over for John Groce, who was let go last Saturday after an opening-round loss to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament. Groce was 96-75 in five seasons but the Fighting Illini have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

      Groce was replaced by assistant Jamall Walker on an interim basis. Walker coached an 82-57 win over Valparaiso in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday.