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Thursday, March 23, 2017

College Basketball

8 biggest storylines entering the Sweet 16

Sean Miller

In seemingly the blink of an eye, the NCAA Tournament was cut from 64 teams to 16 last weekend. As more than three-quarters of teams earning a tournament bid were sent home, we learned quite a bit about what to expect moving forward.

First off, we learned just how good these 16 teams are and what kind of excellent games we can expect to see. With styles clashing and weaknesses capable of being exploited, these eight games appear to be a basketball junkie’s dream.

Each game of the Sweet 16 offers countless things to watch for or that could swing the outcome. Here’s a look at them.

1.) Coaches pursuing major milestones

Of the 16 remaining coaches, only five have ever advanced to the Final Four (John Calipari, Roy Williams, Bill Self, John Beilein, and Bob Huggins). In fact, of the coaches in the East and West Regions, only Huggins has made it to the third weekend of tournament play, losing in the semifinals in 1992 and 2010, but never reaching the championship game.

Whichever coach advances to the championship game from that side of the bracket is guaranteed to be coaching in his first ever title game.

On top of that anomaly, notable head coaches are looking for their first Final Four. That includes an accomplished group such as Sean Miller, Mark Few, and Steve Alford. Each has received the tag of a coach who struggles in March, but any of the three would silence the critics with two wins this weekend.

2.) Sean Miller’s past and present

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NCAA denies asking writer to delete video of Gregg Marshall’s wife

Lynn Marshall

The NCAA has denied forcing a sports writer to delete a video of Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall’s wife that went viral during Sunday’s NCAA Tournament game.

Drew Franklin, who writes for the Wildcats fan site Kentucky Sports Radio, shared a short clip on Twitter of Marshall’s wife Lynn going crazy during Kentucky’s 65-62 win over the Shockers. When Lynn realized she was becoming an internet star, she tried to get Franklin removed from the game.

According to the credentialed writer, an NCAA official approached him during the game and said he could no longer tweet about Mrs. Marshall. Franklin was also told after the game to delete the video, which he did because he didn’t want to lose his credentials for future Kentucky events. On Monday, NCAA spokesman David Worlock told Rob Tornoe of the Philadelphia Inquirer that no one from the NCAA made Franklin remove the video.

“We do have a policy that no one can shoot video from inside the bowl once we get to within 30 minutes of the first game of a session,” Worlock explained. “So yesterday in Indianapolis, that would have been a half-hour prior to the Michigan-Louisville game.”

A source told Tornoe that it’s possible employees of the Indiana Pacers — the NBA team that is hosting some tournament games — acted without instruction and told Franklin to delete the video.

The Associated Press later reported that Lynn Marshall was asked to leave the lower bowl of the arena because she was cursing loudly following the game. However, Worlock said she was simply escorted by a police officer to her husband’s press conference as part of standard procedure.

“It is standard that a coach’s spouse receive a credential and that someone escort her to those areas,” he said.

Franklin was obviously told by someone to delete the video, because he has no reason to lie about it. He later put it back on the internet and explained that the footage showed nothing compared to what Marshall was shouting during the game. Franklin claims Marshall was heckling Kentucky players and coach John Calipari with some pretty explicit language, which you can read more about here.

6 biggest takeaways from Day 4 of the NCAA Tournament

Coach K

The first weekend of NCAA Tournament play has come to a close and if you can piece together the pieces of your ripped up bracket, it’s easy to see how much mayhem we witnessed in just four days.

In four days we lost a number one seed and two number two seeds. Teams perceived as possible champions are flying home this weekend empty-handed, while others have re-affirmed themselves as contenders to cut down the nets in Phoenix. We’ll be able to catch our breath until the games resume on Thursday, but for now we can look back at the effects of a crazy Sunday will have on the tournament going forward.

Here are the six biggest takeaways from Sunday’s NCAA Tournament action.

1) One seeds survive and advance

After Villanova lost and Gonzaga was tested on Saturday, all eyes turned to Kansas and North Carolina on Sunday. Both teams won, but not without drama.

Like a skilled heavyweight boxer, Kansas avoided and countered a series of haymakers from Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans. As the game wore on, Kansas was just too much for Sparty and pulled away with a series of daggers in the closing minutes.

North Carolina, on the other hand, trailed for most of the second half against a feisty Arkansas squad. When the game slowed in the final moments, things got ugly. Carolina managed to find ways to score, but Arkansas’ offense sank like it was in quicksand. The Razorbacks had no movement, no structure, and as a result, no scoring in the biggest moments of the game. North Carolina’s defense tightened and secured a win, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

Kansas will face Purdue on Thursday, while North Carolina will take on Butler on Friday.

2.) Duke and Michigan State bit by the one-and-done bug

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South Carolina had perfect Twitter response after upset win

Frank Martin

South Carolina had the perfect Twitter response after upsetting Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Following their 88-81 win over the Blue Devils that sent them to their first Sweet 16 in school history, the school’s official Twitter account responded to a USA Today article that dismissed them.

Here’s the article that came after Villanova lost on Saturday:

And this was the school’s response:

File that under: When calling someone “ridiculously” easy as an opponent backfires.

But South Carolina wasn’t done! They also trolled Duke too:

This is your moment, South Carolina. Enjoy it.

Duke memes hit after upset loss to South Carolina

Duke memes

Sports fans all have their favorite teams and therefore do not agree on much, but one thing that is pretty universal is a shared hatred of Duke among non-Duke fans. That’s just the reality.

So when Duke loses as they did to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, you know they are going to fall victim to the memes.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Here’s a look at them, beginning with this memed photo:

And here are some of the others:

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Baylor messes up Dana Jacobson’s hair as part of tradition

Baylor Dana Jacobson hair

Baylor’s basketball team advanced to Sweet 16 with a second-round win over USC in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, and they decided to include a reporter in their celebration.

truTV’s Dana Jacobson conducted a postgame interview with Baylor’s team, and when it concluded, Baylor coach Scott Drew grabbed the mic and explained that the team was going to mess up the reporter’s hair as part of a continued tradition.

“Last time we went to the Sweet 16 we had Craig Sager, and we did a tribute for him. So we’re going to do the same thing for you,” he said.

The members of the team then reached in to mess up Jacobson’s hair.

Jacobson was holding a mic with a “Sager Strong” logo on it in honor of the late sideline reporter, so maybe that’s what gave Drew the idea.

Jacobson handled herself well for what was undoubtedly an uncomfortable and startling moment — one that some may feel crossed a line. Here’s what Jacobson later tweeted:

Report: Tom Crean contacted by LSU for head coaching position

Tom Crean

It didn’t take long for the recently fired Tom Crean to hear from another school regarding its head coaching position.

Last week, Crean was relieved of his duties by Indiana, where he had been since 2008. After going 27-8 last season, and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers were just 18-16 this season. They finished 7-11 in Big Ten Conference play.

Earlier this month, after an also disappointing season, LSU fired head coach Johnny Jones and has not yet found a replacement. As Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reports, the Tigers have reached out to Crean to gauge his interest in the vacation position.

In nine seasons at Indiana, Crean compiled a 166-135 record and led the Hoosiers to two Big Ten regular season championships. Indiana also advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times, reaching the Sweet 16 three times. LSU went 10-21 this season and managed just two wins in the SEC.

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