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Monday, March 19, 2018

College Basketball

Leonard Hamilton believes tournament chaos is sign of ‘revolution’

Leonard Hamilton PJ Savoy

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton thinks the round of NCAA Tournament upsets is simply a sign of things to come — and evidence that college basketball has changed.

Hamilton said after his ninth-seeded Seminoles upset top-seeded Xavier that recruiting rankings and seeds matter less and less as talent spreads out across the country.

“I think what you see happening in college basketball, it’s almost like a revolution,” Hamilton said, via Alex Scarborough of ESPN. “What happens is, you start categorizing people by the reputation that their players get going into college. But in reality, kids are playing basketball all over the country and teams are getting better. Just because maybe they might not be in one particular conference or maybe they’re not considered to be one of the more traditional rich schools, people are playing basketball.

“See, sometimes the team that’s the most talented might not necessarily win the game. It’s the team that’s playing well at that particular time.”

Even if that’s true, few could have seen how crazy this year’s tournament would get. That said, there’s more parity now, so he may have a point.

Report: Penny Hardaway agrees to coach Memphis

Penny Hardaway

Penny Hardaway will be the next coach of the Memphis Tigers, according to a report.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Monday that Hardaway has agreed to a deal to coach the Tigers, replacing Tubby Smith, fired after two seasons at the school.

The 46-year-old Hardaway does have coaching experience, having coached AAU while also embarking on a successful high school coaching career at Memphis East High, where he has won three consecutive state titles.

Though this has been a somewhat messy transition, Memphis will hope hiring an alum such as Hardaway can breathe some life into a program that simply hasn’t been the same since John Calipari left for Kentucky. They haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2014, and that will have to change.

UMBC preparing offer to try to keep coach Ryan Odom

Ryan Odom

The UMBC Retrievers are facing a problem that many other successful NCAA Tournament mid-majors have faced — a highly thought-of coach who will be the target of bigger schools.

The Retrievers are, however, preparing an offer in an effort to keep coach Ryan Odom in the fold.

“We need to do within our realm what we can,” UMBC athletic director Tim Hall said Sunday, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN. “We obviously can’t do what the Power 5 schools can do, or anything near that. I think at some point Ryan wants to do it on a bigger stage. I’m just hoping it’s down the road instead of now.

“We’re going to put something on the table that will be really good for where we’re at. We’re going to do everything in our power to incentivize him to stay here.”

A return to Virginia isn’t going to be on the cards, but Odom will draw wide amounts of interest. It remains to be seen whether UMBC can compete financially with some of the other schools that will want him.

9 biggest takeaways from Sunday’s NCAA Tournament action

Xavier loss

As a college basketball diehard, I’m inclined to call this past weekend the best of any four-day stretch in all of sports. Scripting even half of what happened in the 40 games we’ve just send would prove impossible. We saw history made (in more ways than one), buzzer-beaters, and absolutely unforgettable games.

We now sit with one-quarter of the teams that were alive Thursday morning. The mayhem has claimed many victims, which makes for an intriguing next few rounds. Michigan, Gonzaga, and Kentucky never would have dreamed they’d be the three highest seeds left on the entire left side of the bracket, yet they are at this moment. Kansas joins an impromptu ACC Tournament in Omaha, with Clemson, Duke, and Syracuse all looking to knock off the Jayhawks. Loyola Chicago and Nevada will square off, guaranteeing a mid-major in the Elite Eight.

And even though UMBC’s run came to an end, there were plenty of upsets. Let’s take a look at the nine biggest takeaways from Sunday.

1. Nevada pulls off improbable comeback

Cincinnati held a 22-point lead with 11:17 left to play on Sunday. According to some win probability metrics, like that of ESPN.com, the Bearcats had a 99.9 percent chance to win the game at that point.

Without warning, Nevada came roaring back. The Wolf Pack went on a 16-0 run to cut the lead to only 6 points. Cincinnati’s offense plummeted into chaos, unable to find a basket in any way, shape, or form. Meanwhile, the Martin twins led the Wolf Pack on the charge back into the game. The North Carolina State transfers combined for 35 points.

Nevada forward Josh Hall completed the comeback with a rebound and mid-range floater that would prove to be the game-winner. Winning in overtime in the first round and in a wild comeback in the second round, the Wolf Pack have been the most exciting team in the Big Dance.


Michigan hero Jordan Poole has mythology paper due

Jordan Poole winner

Michigan’s Jordan Poole had reality set in not long after his heroics against Houston.

Poole became famous after making a buzzer-beating three-pointer to land the Wolverines in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season. Though he was all about celebrating after the win, the freshman did have to turn his attention to school.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Poole has a paper on Greek mythology due on Monday.

Hitting buzzer-beaters is nothing new for Poole. He made a similar one while in high school. Poole even had a celebrity clarifying on Twitter that he is not the guy who hit the game-winning shot. Despite his newly acquired fame, Poole is still a student and that means handing in papers when they are due rather than just soaking in the glory.

Mick Cronin has head-scratching quote after Cincinnati loss

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin had a head-scratching quote following his team’s loss to Nevada on Sunday.

The No. 7 seeded Wolf Pack advanced to the Sweet 16 thanks to a 75-73 victory over the No. 2 seeded Bearcats. Following Cincinnati’s loss, Cronin said he “doesn’t care” about the Sweet 16. For him, it’s all about the national championship.

Not surprisingly, it was correctly pointed out by a few Twitter users that in order to win the title you have to make it to the Sweet 16 first.

Cincinnati has made the NCAA Tournament each year since 2011. The last time they advanced to the Sweet 16 was in 2012. Cronin’s quote will not sit well with many Bearcats fans, considering just how embarrassing of a choke job that was.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton grabs one of his players during timeout

Leonard Hamilton PJ Savoy

Leonard Hamilton’s Florida State Seminoles are on to the Sweet 16 after a comeback win over No. 1 seed Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Florida State came back from down by as many as 12 points with under 10 minutes to go. While they were trailing by double-digits, there were some tense moments on the sidelines. At one point Hamilton even grabbed one of his players by the jersey and moved him.

With cameras everywhere for March Madness, that was captured and shown on TV. Hamilton seemed to be trying to get PJ Savoy in line in that instance. Savoy scored 11 points in 18 minutes.

Whatever the issue in that case, FSU regained composure and put it all together to prevail over Xavier with a 75-70 win.

H/T The Spun

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