Articles By David Fox

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That was ... fun.
Louisville’s 82-76 win over Michigan was simply one of the best national title games in several years. Stars Trey Burke and Peyton Siva played at a high level with Burke hitting deep three-pointers and Siva stuffing the stat sheet. Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock were unexpected heroes. A lack of offense has been an ongoing theme this season, but the title game was the highest scoring championship game since 2009. Hard to believe this was the same game Connecticut and Butler played two years ago.

MVP: Luke Hancock
Hancock matched Michigan big shot for big shot in the first half on the way to 22 points. If you’re keeping track, that’s two 20-point games for Hancock in the Final Four. Off the bench. From a George Mason transfer.

Could also be an MVP: Peyton Siva
Siva turned in a relentless all-around performance, especially in the second half. The senior point guard finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Unsung hero: Chane Behanan
Behanan wasn’t one of Louisville’s top players for most of this run, but he could have been the best player on the floor in the title game as he dominated the glass with 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Behanan added 15 points.

Turning point: The block that wasn’t a block
Michigan was still in striking distance at the 5:01 mark when the Cardinals led 67-64. Peyton Siva bolted down the court on a fast break when Trey Burke went for the block on the layup. Replays appeared to indicate Burke got only the ball, but officials called a personal foul. Siva hit both free throws, Gorgui Dieng hit a pair of shots for a 6-1 Louisville run.

Where’d that come from? Albrecht’s treys
With Trey Burke on the bench with two fouls, Michigan freshman Spike Albrecht was the best player in the first half, quite a feat considering he averaged 1.8 points per game entering Monday night. Albrecht, whose only other scholarship offer came from Appalachian State, scored 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting in the first half. It wasn’t to last, though, as his matchup with Peyton Siva in the second half did not go so well.

Where’d he go? Russ Smith
Russ Smith’s run of 20-point games in the Tournament came to an abrupt end with an awful championship game in the offensive end. After five games as Dr. Jekyll, Smith’s Mr. Hyde game showed up Monday. Smith finished 3 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 from three-point range.

What was that? Michigan late to foul
Michigan narrowed the lead from 10 points to four in the final minute but inexplicably waited eight seconds to foul into the 30 second mark. Trey Burke was playing with four fouls, but Michigan wasted valuable time to attempt a comeback down the stretch.

History: Pitino’s second title
Louisville coach Rick Pitino became the first coach to win a national title at two schools with his Louisville title joining the 1996 championship at Kentucky.

Teaser:
<p> The Cardinals defeat Wolverines in thrilling title game for first championship since '86</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 07:29
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/video-michigan-freshman-spike-albrecht-lights-louisville
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Shortly before CBS cut to Trey Burke receiving the Naismith Award as the top player in the country, the Michigan point guard wasn’t even the best point guard on his own team in first half of the title game.

With Burke on the bench with two fouls, seldom-used freshman Spike Albrecht stole the show in one of the most thrilling halves in a title game in recent years.

Albrecht, whose only other scholarship offer came from Appalachian State, scored 17 points in the first half for the Wolverines as Michigan took a 38-37 lead.

After averaging 1.8 points per game this season, Albrecht was suddenly the most dangerous player on the floor in the title game, hitting six of his seven shots from the field.

 

Teaser:
<p> Video: Michigan freshman Spike Albrecht lights up Louisville</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 22:41
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-national-championship-preview-louisville-vs-michigan
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Despite the wild ride of the Final Four, the national championship game feels like a heavyweight bout.

On Saturday, Louisville walk-on Tim Henderson and Michigan’s little-used freshman Caris LeVert combined for 14 points. In a national semifinal.

Call it a hunch, but we expect the national title to be decided by more familiar names.

The title game may have those kinds of surprises, but the championship game will be a fitting time for the best to be at their best. Louisville and Michigan bring us powerhouse programs, All-America-caliber guards, a breakout freshman and a pair of the most accomplished coaches in the game.

On one bench, Rick Pitino is looking to become the first coach to win a basketball title at two schools. On the other, John Beilein is seeking to reach the top of a mountain he’s been climbing for nearly four decades. While Pitino coached at Providence and Kentucky and then the NBA, Beilein has taken a rare path where he’s never been an assistant coach, progressing from high school to junior college to NAIA to Division II and now to the brink of a national championship.

On the court, Russ Smith and Trey Burke have been two of the most prolific guards in the country, though stealing the show has been freshman Mitch McGary, who has turned a pedestrian regular season into a postseason run that could make him an NBA lottery pick.

And yet for all the success for both programs, they’re looking to add to their basketball trophy case for the first time since the 1980s. Louisville is seeking its first title since 1986 while Michigan is seeking its first title since 1989.

Related: Amazing Stats from the semifinals

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Michigan
Time: 9:23 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz,
Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
Line: Louisville by 4

Louisville projected starters
G Peyton Siva (6-0/185, Sr.)
G Russ Smith (6-1/165, Jr.)
G/F Wayne Blackshear (6-5/230, So.)
F Chane Behanan (6-6/250, So.)
C Gorgui Dieng (6-11/245, Jr.)
Michigan projected starters
G Trey Burke (6-0/190, So.)
G Nik Stauskas (6-6/190, Fr.)
G Tim Hardaway Jr. (6-6/205, Jr.)
F Glenn Robinson III (6-6/210, Fr.)
F Mitch McGary (6-10/250, Fr.)

Related: The top 15 teams that never won the title

Louisville will win the national title if…
Someone other than Russ Smith is scoring big. Smith is averaging 25 points per game in the tournament, but how Michigan defends the Louisville guard and his supporting cast will be intriguing. The Wolverines have been able to frustrate Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, Florida’s Erik Murphy and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters. If Michigan is able to contain Smith -- something no one else in this tournament has been able to do -- the Cardinals need secondary scoring from Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock or Gorgui Dieng.

Michigan will win the national title if…
The Wolverines withstand Louisville’s big run. The Cardinals seem to do it in every game. They find a time when everything is clicking on both ends of the floor -- they’re forcing turnovers, Russ Smith is hitting shots, the rest of the team his hitting three-pointers. Louisville can go on a 10-0 run in a hurry. It’s going to happen against Michigan, the question is if a team starting three freshmen can respond.

Related: Ranking the top 15 players in the Final Four

FIVE BIG STORYLINES

Strength vs. strength
A major topic for this game is going to be the offense vs. defense showdown with Michigan leading Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive rankings and Louisville leading the adjusted defensive rankings. Let’s pause for a minute to remember Louisville can score enough to keep up with Michigan (thanks, in part, to defense creating scoring opportunities). The Cardinals are shooting 53 percent in the tournament and have averaged 79 points per game. The strength vs. strength matchup could just as well be in the offensive end of the court for both teams.

Who blinks in the turnover battle?
The Michigan offense vs. Louisville defense storyline really comes down to the turnover margin. The Wolverines turn the ball over on 14.2 percent of their possessions, the best rate in the country this season. The Cardinals force turnovers on 26.7 percent of possessions, the second-best rate in the country. And who is first in that category? VCU, a team Michigan defeated 78-53 in the round of 32. It’s worth noting that Louisville has forced fewer turnovers in each round of the tournament from North Carolina A&T (27), Colorado State (20), Oregon and Duke (12 each) and Wichita State (11).

Mitch McGary’s emergence
If Michigan wins the championship, McGary would be the leading candidate to be the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Who wins the tourney’s MVP award? Guys like Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor and Carmelo Anthony in the last 10 years. Seriously, look at the list, and keep in mind McGary wasn’t even on the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team.

The Louisville bench
With 34 combined points, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell and Tim Henderson surged in the second half to help the Cardinals pull away from Wichita State on Saturday. Do they have another game like that in them? Recent games say yes. The Louisville bench has contributed at least 20 point sin six consecutive games going back to 41 points from reserves against Syracuse in the Big East final.

Will Trey Burke bounce back?
Trey Burke scored 23 points in the second half and overtime against Kansas in the Sweet 16, but he’s scored only 46 points in the other four and a half tournament games. His four assists against Syracuse was his fewest since March 14. Michigan has proven to be more than its National Player of the Year candidate, but it’s tough to see the Wolverines winning a title without Burke playing a bigger role.

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF ROUNDTABLE

Who is the key player for the game?

David Fox: Gorgui Dieng
Michigan is vulnerable in the paint, though less so with the breakout play of Mitch McGary. In any event, Louisville needs more out of its center than what it got Saturday against Wichita State. Dieng attempted one shot from the floor and had one rebound against the Shockers. Granted, Wichita State had a physical front line, and Rick Pitino said Dieng was tentative in blocking shots due to the shortened bench. Dieng should have a more beneficial matchup against Michigan.
Prediction: Louisville 74-71

Braden Gall: Gorgui Dieng
The best defensive team in the nation faces the best offensive team in the nation and the most important player might be the best post defender in the game. Gorgui Dieng was limited by foul issues against Wichita State and Wolverines freshman post man Mitch McGary continues to be downright obnoxious for opposing defenses. McGary has been unreal in all phases of the game this tournament and will be a tough match-up for Dieng in terms of foot speed and quickness. If Dieng can play under control, stay out of foul trouble and neutralize the paint, the veteran Cardinals team and coaching staff will win the day.
Prediction: Louisville 78-72

Mitch Light: Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Wolverines will obviously need to shoot the ball well to beat Louisville. After hitting a combined 8 of 12 from three-point range in Michigan’s first two NCAA games, Hardaway is only 5 of 18 from the arc in the last three. He will have to be more productive on Monday night. And he will need to help Trey Burke and the rest of the guards handle Louisville’s pressure. He won’t be a primary ball-handler, but he must contribute.
Prediction: Michigan 77-73

Mark Ross: Luke Hancock
A co-captain alongside senior guard Peyton Siva, Hancock has been one of the leaders of this Louisville team all season. And while Siva and junior Russ Smith get the majority of the minutes and attention out of the Cardinals' backcourt, don't overlook or downplay Hancock's presence and contributions. The junior swingman was instrumental in Saturday's win over Wichita State, scoring 20 points off of the benc. He hit three of his five attempts from beyond the arc and, more importantly, was five of seven from the free-throw line. Hancock also chipped in 10 points against Duke in the Midwest Regional final and his scoring off of the bench could be a huge factor on Monday night against Michigan. Also, at 6-6, Hancock has enough size to be able to help out on the perimeter against the likes of Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Nik Stauskas or on the wing if he gets matched up against Glenn Robinson III.
Prediction: Louisville 77-66

Teaser:
<p> Both the Cardinals and Wolverines are seeking their first national titles since the 1980s</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 08:30
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-stats-final-four
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For two athletic programs that are among the most successful in the country, the 2013 national title game will end droughts for both.

Louisville is playing in the national championship game for the first time since winning the title in 1986, a span that has included three Final Four appearances that came up empty. Meanwhile, Michigan is playing in its first title game since the end of the Fab Five era in 1993.

The Cardinals and Wolverines were among the top teams in the country for most of the regular season, but the route to Monday night has been full of surprises. Take a look at all-conference teams. Sure, Russ Smith and Trey Burke are there, but Mitch McGary? Luke Hancock? Tim Henderson?

The regionals were uneventful last week, but the national semifinal games delivered in drama thanks to the names listed above.

Here’s a look at the key numbers from the Final Four going into Monday’s championship game.

13.5. Points per game for Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell and Tim Henderson as of Friday
Though he was named a team captain before the season began, Hancock started the season in a shooting funk, making 4 of 29 three-pointers in the first four games and 9 of 41 in the first eight. Before a 20-point breakout against Syracuse in the Big East final, Harrell was an afterthought. The walk-on Henderson had made four three-pointers in 63 minutes all season. And then this happened...

34. Bench points for Louisville against Wichita State
Led by Hancock, the Cardinals’ bench may never pay for a meal in Louisville again. Louisville’s starting five went 10 of 33, and minus Russ Smith, the other four went 4 of 16. Enter the Louisville bench. Hancock’s 20 points and 3-of-5 performance from three-point range made him the hero of Louisville’s 72-68 win over Wichita State. And keep in mind, this isn’t the first time or first program where Hancock has been the tournament star. For George Mason in 2011, Hancock scored 18 points and a game-winning three with 21 seconds left to defeat ninth-seeded Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that year. Beyond Hancock on Saturday, the walk-on Henderson hit back-to-back threes in the second half, and Harrell went 4-for-4 from the field for eight points. And this doesn’t count Stephan Van Treese, who played key minutes and set screens when Gorgui Dieng sat with foul trouble. Not a bad performance for a bench that was down a man due to the Kevin Ware injury.

2. Double-doubles for Mitch McGary during the regular season
How much of a breakout has Mitch McGary been in the NCAA Tournament? Consider that he had two double-doubles during the regular season against Eastern Michigan and Penn State. He wasn’t even on the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team. And now...

3. Double-doubles for McGary during the NCAA Tournament
McGary has a legitimate chance to be the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. His performance against Syracuse may have been his best of the tournament. He scored 10 points and added 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.

10 of 21. Field goals McGary was responsible for against Syracuse
Perhaps belaboring the point in McGary, the most impressive aspect of his game was his passing out of the high post. McGary finished with six assists -- after having 18 all season before Saturday. Between four baskets and six assists, McGary contributed to 10 of Michigan’s 21 field goals. In comparison, point guard Trey Burke contributed to five.

71.7. Collective winning percentage of coaches John Beilein faced on the way to the title game
Beilein hasn’t taken the easiest path to his first Final Four and now his first title game, especially in terms of the coaches he’s faced to get to Monday night. The coaches he’s faced to get here have won a combined 71.7 percent of the games in their career. This includes: South Dakota State’s Scott Nagy (121-131), VCU’s Shaka Smart (111-37), Kansas’ Bill Self (507-164), Florida’s Billy Donovan (450-186) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (920-314). Altogether, that’s 10 Final Fours and four national championships. And now Beilein will face Rick Pitino (661-235, 73.8 career win percentage), who is about to be selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame. By comparison, Pitino’s coaching opponents on the way to the title game have won a combined 66 percent of their games.

26:21. Time without a turnover for Wichita State against Louisville
Louisville’s opponents had 47 turnovers in the first weekend of the tournament, then 24 in the second weekend. Wichita State, though, had the most sure-handed offense against Louisville in the tournament -- at least for a stretch. The Shockers went 26 minutes and 21 seconds of game time without a turnover against Louisville, during which Wichita State built a 12-point lead. That lead eroded to a two-point deficit by the 6:43 mark when the turnover-free streak ended, but things got worse...

7. Turnovers in the following 6:43 for Wichita State
Wichita State made up for lost time in the turnover department in the final seven minutes. After not committing a turnover for more than 26 minutes, the Shockers coughed up the ball three times in a minute and seven in the final six minutes and 43 seconds. Louisville ended up with a 17-10 edge in points off turnovers.

1.13. Michigan’s points per possession
The numbers are deflated a bit in the NCAA Tournament, but Michigan remains one of the most efficient teams in the offensive end. The Wolverines average 1.13 points per possession, good for No. 3 in the country after Gonzaga and Indiana.

0.847. Louisville’s points allowed per possession
Louisville will match Michigan’s offensive prowess with one of the best defensive teams this season. The Cardinals allow 0.847 points per possession, ranking third in the country after Stephen F. Austin and Florida.

33.6. Combined shooting percentage for Trey Burke and Peyton Siva in the NCAA Tournament
Outside of his second-half explosion and game-tying three-pointer against Kansas, Michigan point guard Trey Burke has been quiet in the Tournament, at least in terms of efficiency. He bottomed out with one field goal on nine attempts against Syracuse. He’s shooting 32.4 percent from the field in the Tournament so far (23 of 71). And Burke isn't alone. Though Russ Smith is Louisville’s best offensive threat, Cardinals point guard Peyton Siva hasn’t had the smoothest ride in the tourney. He shot 1 of 9 against Wichita State. He’s shooting 35.6 percent from the field in the tournament (16 of 45). These are two point guards who shot better than 40 percent from the field for the season, making just better than a third of their shots (33.6) in the NCAA Tournament.

Teaser:
<p> Breakout performances from Mitch McGary and Luke Hancock carry Michigan and Louisville to title game</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-basketball/final-four-preview-michigan-vs-syracuse
Body:

Michigan and Syracuse arrive at the Final Four both as No. 4 seeds, both as teams that rebounded from late-season struggles.

The path has been similar since about February, but not necessarily in the long term. Despite no Final Fours since the 2003 national title, Syracuse is the well-established basketball program here. The Orange lost four of the top six scorers from last year’s team and still had players like Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and James Southerland ready to take their place. Michigan has had its share of players take key roles, but they’re fresh faces -- Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Where Syracuse has three McDonald’s All-Americans, Michigan’s best player -- and perhaps the best player in the country -- was a three-star recruit in Trey Burke. And where Syracuse is a player on the national stage each season, Michigan has needed decades to overcome NCAA sanctions from the Fab Five era. Syracuse has waited a decade to be back at the Final Four, but Michigan has waited twice as long.

On Saturday, they’ll fight for the same prize to reach the national title game.

Final Four Preview: Louisville vs. Wichita State

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Time: 8:49 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz,
Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
Line: Michigan by 2
Michigan projected starters
G Trey Burke (6-0/190, So.)
G Nik Stauskas (6-6/190, Fr.)
G Tim Hardaway Jr. (6-6/205, Jr.)
F Glenn Robinson III (6-6/210, Fr.)
F Mitch McGary (6-10/250, Fr.)
Syracuse projected starters
G Michael Carter-Williams (6-6/185, So.)
G Brandon Triche (6-4/210, Sr.)
F C.J. Fair (6-8/215, Jr.)
F James Southerland (6-8/215, Sr.)
F Rakeem Christmas (6-9/242, So.)

Michigan will win the national title if…
The Wolverines shoot the ball well from the perimeter. This Michigan team doesn’t rely on the 3-point shot as much as previous John Beilein-coached teams — only 29.8 percent of its points come from beyond the arc — but Michigan’s guards will need to hit open shots against Syracuse’s zone defense on Saturday and against Louisville (assuming the Cards beat Wichita State) on Monday.

Michigan will lose to Syracuse on Saturday if…
Trey Burke gets off to another slow start and Mitch McGary doesn’t play well. The Wolverines have survived some subpar performances from Burke, but they will need him to be strong throughout against surging Syracuse. McGary, the freshman big man, could be a key part of the offense as it looks for gaps in the Orange zone.

Related: Ranking the top 15 players in the Final Four

Syracuse will win the national title if…
Its zone defense continues to baffle. Through four NCAA Tournament games, Syracuse’s four opponents have combined to shoot 29 percent from the field and 15 percent from 3-point range. The Orange are also averaging 6.3 blocks and 11 steals per game. This team can get away with playing just average on offense if it continues to defend the way it has the past two weekends.

Syracuse will lose to Michigan on Saturday if…
They allow the Wolverines’ shooters to get comfortable. Michigan, unlike many teams Syracuse has faced recently, has decent size on the perimeter. Trey Burke is only 6-foot, but Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nick Stauskas are both 6-6 — and that should help them get quality shots against the length of the Syracuse defenders.

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF ROUNDTABLE

Who is the key player for the game?

David Fox: Nik Stauskas
Zone teams are susceptible to the 3-point shot, but Syracuse is allowing opponents to convert only 28.2 percent of their shots from long range. That hasn’t stopped teams from trying as Syracuse allows 21.6 treys per game. Stauskas can get hot from 3-point range, as he did with a 6-for-6 performance against Florida. If shots open up for him on the big stage, will the freshman be ready?
Prediction: Michigan 66-62

Braden Gall: Michael Carter-Williams
The breakdown of this game is fairly simple. If the Wolverines hit outside shots against the Cuse zone, Michigan will win. If not, the Orange will set-up a fourth meeting with the Redbirds on Monday night. Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke lead what is the nation's top offensive team but the Orange's zone defense is polished, long and impossible to penetrate. Look for the developing superstar point guard Michael Carter-Williams to be the difference maker by continuing his efficient play. Jim Boeheim's career record against John Beilein will move to 10-0 in Atlanta.
Prediction: Syracuse 65-60

Mitch Light: Mitch McGary
McGary has been one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament. If he continues to play well, Michigan has a legitimate chance to win it all. He will be especially key against Syracuse because he gives Michigan a big and active body around the basket. McGary has averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in four NCAA Tournament games. The Wolverines will need to shoot well to beat Syracuse, but they will also have to get some production in the pain. McGary can give them that production.
Prediction: Michigan 73-67

Mark Ross: Mitch McGary
The freshman has saved his best basketball for the end, as he's come just two rebounds shy of posting four straight double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament. His best two games of the season came against VCU (21 pts, 14 rbs) and Kansas (25,14) and he's shooting better than 73 percent from the field in the Tournament. At 6-10, he's taller than anyone on Syracuse's roster other than Baye Keita, who is a reserve and plays limited minutes. As good as Syracuse has been defensively, the Orange have been out-rebounded over their last three games. If McGary can continue his stellar play, his size and ability to score inside could help guards Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas find more open spots in Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone.
Prediction: Michigan 68-63

Nathan Rush: Glenn Robinson III
Big Dog's boy, Glenn Robinson III, will have to bring his A-game (or, better yet, his NBA-game) in order for Michigan to outlast Syracuse's suffocating 2-3 zone. GR3's point production has gone down in each round of the Tourney, from 21 to 14 to 13 to 6. That trend has to reverse in order for the Maize-and-Blue to advance to the final Monday of March Madness (er, April Madness).
Prediction: Michigan 75-73
 

Teaser:
<p> How each team can win and key players for the Wolverines and Orange</p>
Post date: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/final-four-preview-louisville-vs-wichita-state
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Louisville and Wichita State endured gut-checks in the form of three-game losing streaks earlier this season. Until the Final Four, that’s one of the few things the Cardinals and Shockers have had in common.

Louisville lost to Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown from Jan. 19-26, putting the Cardinals’ national championship bona fides in doubt. Wichita State lost to Indiana State, Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois from jan. 29-Feb. 5, putting the Shockers’ tournament hopes in question at the time.

To give his team a boost, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall name-dropped to Louisville for inspiration.

“When we didn't win 'em, it's interesting now that we're facing Louisville, because I pointed to Louisville,” Marshall said. “I pointed to Kansas. Great teams with great coaches that also suffered that type of blip, if you will, in their run to a marvelous season.”

Louisville lost only once since then -- to Notre Dame on the road in five overtimes -- and appears to be the national championship favorite. Wichita State recovered, too, but really hit its stride when it defeated Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State to reach the Final Four.

So here’s Marshall at his first Final Four after being a head coach continuously since 1998. He has the lowest-seeded team standing. His roster is littered with transfers, mutli-year projects and unearthed recruits. He faces Louisville, which is led by a national championship coach who is making his seventh Final Four appearance with his third school.

“There's a lot of great coaches out there a lot better than me who have never been there,” Pitino said. “It's very difficult to get to a Final Four because along the way, you may need a little luck, along the way you may need a shot at the buzzer or a free throw.”

Final Four Preview: Michigan vs. Syracuse

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 9 Wichita State
Time: 6:09 p.m. Eastern
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz,
Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
Line: Louisville by 10 1/2

Louisville projected starters
G Peyton Siva (6-0/185, Sr.)
G Russ Smith (6-1/165, Jr.)
G/F Wayne Blackshear (6-5/230, So.)
F Chane Behanan (6-6/250, So.)
C Gorgui Dieng (6-11/245, Jr.)
Wichita State projected starters
G Malcolm Armstead (6-0/205, Sr.)
G Ron Baker (6-3/218, RFr.)
G Tekele Cotton (6-2/202, So.)
F Cleanthony Early (6-8/215, Jr.)
F Carl Hall (6-8/238, Sr.)

Louisville will win the national title if…
The Cardinals can maintain their current level of play. Louisville entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and has looked the part so far. The Cards were dominant in all four wins, controlling the game with their pressure defense and speed in transition. Rick Pitino’s club enters the Final Four as the overwhelming favorite to win it all.

Louisville will lose to Wichita State on Saturday if…
The Cardinals have trouble shooting the ball from the perimeter and their big men are hit with foul trouble. About the only thing Louisville does not do well is shoot the ball with consistency from the 3-point line. The nightmare scenario for the Cards is a 1-for-14 performance from the arc combined with two early fouls on Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan.

Related: Ranking the top 15 players in the Final Four

Wichita State will win the national title if…
They can continue to play outstanding defense while also staying hot from the 3-point line. In their four NCAA Tournament wins, the Shockers are holding their opponents to a combined 34.3 percent shooting. And since making only 2-of-20 from 3-point range in a Round of 64 win over Pittsburgh, Wichita State is connecting on 45 percent from three.

Wichita State will lose to Louisville on Saturday if…
They don’t play their finest game of the season. Wichita State has been terrific in the NCAA Tournament — knocking off a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed — but Louisville will be the best team the Shockers will play all season. They must protect the ball, something they didn’t do very well during the regular season (144th nationally in turnover percentage).

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF ROUNDTABLE

Who is the key player for the game?

David Fox: Malcolm Armstead
Wichita State is going to need just about everyone to play out of their minds to beat Louisville. Even if I take it as a given that Carl Hall is going to win his matchup on the boards, and Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early are going to hit outside shots, the Shockers still need a standout game from lefty point guard Malcolm Armstead against the Cardinals’ backcourt. He’ll need to be sure-handed against a team that was second nationally in steals per possession. There’s evidence he can rise to the occasion -- Armstead scored 14 points (albeit on 21 shots) with three steals and three assists against Aaron Craft in the Elite Eight. He’ll need to top that if Wichita State is going to beat Louisville
Prediction: Louisville 77-66

Braden Gall: Gorgui Dieng
Rick Pitino's Cardinals are on the warpath right now and the Shockers won't be able to keep Louisville from the championship game. The Cards play the best team defense in the nation and the roster is loaded with star players who were in this exact situation a year ago in New Orleans. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva have the experience and talent to score at will and the backcourt duo won't be denied this time around. That said, Gorgui Dieng is the most important player on the court as he completely controls the paint and demoralizes opposing scorers. Look for the Cards defense to suffocate the Shockers out of the Final Four on Saturday night.
Prediction: Louisville 78-65

Mitch Light: Malcolm Armstead
In order to have a chance to beat Louisville, you have to keep your turnovers to a minimum. There will be pressure on Armstead to take care of the ball, something he has done well so far in the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers don’t need Armstead to score — they just need him to run the team and do his best to prevent Louisville from scoring easy baskets in transition.
Prediction: Louisville 89-73

Mark Ross: Gorgui Dieng
At 6-11, Dieng will have the height advantage inside against Wichita State. The Shockers' two leading rebounders, Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early, each stand just 6-8. Ehimen Orukpe is a seven-footer, but he is averaging around 15 minutes per game. Dieng has been a force inside for Louisville all season, averaging 9.5 rebounds per game along with 10.2 points and 2.5 blocks. In the Cardinals' march to the Final Four Dieng has been even more effective, totaling 44 points, 30 rebounds, 10 blocks and seven steals in four Tournament games while shooting 83.3 percent (20-of-24) from the floor. Outside of its Sweet 16 win over LaSalle (plus-21 rebound margin), Wichita State has been out-rebounded (minus-seven margin) in its victories over Pitt, Gonzaga and Ohio State. As long as Dieng can stay out of foul trouble (he fouled out against Duke in the Regional Final win), he should be able to have an impact on both ends of the floor Saturday night.
Prediction: Louisville 76-66

Nathan Rush: Carl Hall
Wichita State big man Carl Hall will have to defend the paint like he did against Ohio State — when he swatted six shots in a 70–66 upset win — if the Shockers hope to continue their Cinderella run against Louisville. The Cardinals, led by Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, were given too many uncontested layups against Duke. Hall must make Smith and Siva think twice about challenging the Shockers inside.
Prediction: Louisville 80-64
 

Teaser:
<p> How each team can win and key players for the Cardinals and Shockers</p>
Post date: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/mike-rice-fired-rutgers-who-are-candidates-replace-him-coach
Body:

A day after a video compilation of player mistreatment aired on ESPN, Rutgers fired coach Mike Rice on March 3.

After the program recovers from a public relations nightmare which cost the job of the basketball coach, the work will begin to hire a replacement for a struggling program in transition.

Rutgers will be an intriguing job to fill. The Scarlet Knights are lacking in tradition an recent success. The Scarlet Knights have not had a winning season since 2006, have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1991 as an Atlantic 10 team and have not won a tournament game since 1983. Yet Rutgers will move into the Big Ten in 2014, leaving a more logical fit geographically for what will be one of the top basketball conferences.

POTENTIAL CANDIDATES TO REPLACE MIKE RICE AT RUTGERS

Bill Carmody, former Northwestern coach
Carmody brought Northwestern to the brink of its first NCAA Tournament on several occasions but failed to get over the hump (injuries to key players at times didn’t help). To put that in perspective, Northwestern’s four consecutive NIT appearances were a big deal given the Wildcats’ history. Before Northwestern, Carmody went 28-0 in the Ivy League in his first two seasons at Princeton.

Tim Cluess, Iona
A New York native, Cluess has risen through the coaching ranks from high school to community college to Division II to Iona, where the Gaels have reached the NCAA Tournament the last two years. A former player at St. John’s, Cluess has never had a losing season as a college coach.

Fran Fraschilla, former New Mexico coach
His name has popped up for open jobs before, but he’s 11 seasons removed from his last coaching gig at New Mexico. Prior to that, the ESPN analyst reached the NCAA Tournament at Manhattan and St. John’s.

John Giannini, La Salle
La Salle was one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament this season, but took advantage by going from the First Four to the Sweet 16. This season was the culmination of a long rebuild at La Salle. Giannini, who took over in 2004, led La Salle to its first back-to-back 20-win season since the Lionel Simmons era in the late 80s. Giannini previously won a Division III national title at Rowan in Glassboro, N.J.

Ben Howland, former UCLA coach
Rutgers would have a rare chance to hire a three-time Final Four coach, but then again, it’s also rare that a three-time Final Four coach gets fired. He’s spent most of his coaching career out West, but don’t forget that he become a national name by reviving Pittsburgh’s program a decade ago.

Danny Hurley, Rhode Island
Athlon ranked Hurley’s hire at Rhode Island the best coaching move in 2012-13. He’d be an even better fit at Rutgers. The ties to New Jersey run deep. His father, Bob Hurley, is the legendary coach at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. Danny himself coached at St. Benedict’s in Jersey City before going to Wagner of the Northeast Conference. A former Rutgers assistant, Danny Hurley led Wagner to a school-record 25 wins after the program won only five games the year before he arrived.

Eddie Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers assistant
A Rutgers alum, Jordan would bring clout to a program lacking any. Jordan has had three stints as a head coach in the NBA, including four playoff appearances with the Washington Wizards.

Steve Masiello, Manhattan
A former assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino, Masiello is 35-31 at Manhattan and 21-15 in the MAAC. Masiello is a former walk-on at Kentucky under Pitino and Tubby Smith.

Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook
Stony Brook has not had a postseason breakthrough under Pikiell, but the Seawolves have been one of the most consistent programs in the America East over the last four seasons. Stony Brook has won three of the last four regular season titles before losing in the conference tournament.

Al Skinner, former Boston College coach
Skinner hasn’t been a head coach since 2010, but he had more than two decades of experience at Rhode Island and Boston College. He rebuilt a struggling program at Rhode Island and thrived in the Big East at BC before the program tailed off after a handful assistants left and the Eagles moved to the ACC.

Teaser:
<p> Rice was fired amid a player mistreatment scandal. Plenty of good candidates could be available for the Scarlet Knights.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 15:16
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-top-15-players-final-four
Body:

The cast of characters in this year’s Final Four covers a wide range of careers and personalities, and pretty much all are at the top of their games.

Michigan’s Trey Burke is the only Associated Press All-American still left competing for a title, but there are plenty of standout players in the mix. Peyton Siva and Michael Carter-Williams were All-America caliber players at midseason, and Russ Smith was a potential national player of the year contender. All have returned to that form in the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, players like Michigan’s Mitch McGary and Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng have hit their stride in the postseason. And the well-traveled veterans at Wichita State now stand alongside McDonald’s All-Americans.

Ranking the top players remaining in the NCAA Tournament is no easy task. We ranked our top 15 players in the Final Four based on talent, value to his team and overall production, weighted to the last few weeks.

Related: How the Final Four teams were built

TOP 15 PLAYERS IN THE 2013 FINAL FOUR

1. Trey Burke, Michigan
Particulars: 6-0/190, So.
Last school: Columbus (Ohio) Northland
Burke never led Michigan in scoring in any of the Wolverines’ four tournament wins, but he’s never been more valuable. And it’s not just his deep three-pointer to tie Kansas at the end of regulation in the Sweet 16. He’s had at least seven assists in each tournament game, including 10 against Kansas.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-6/185, So.
Last school: Barrington (R.I.) St. Andrew’s School
The point guard had a slump earlier this season, but he’s back to form in the tournament. Stop him from scoring and he’ll pick you apart with his passing. Shut down his passing lanes, and he can drop 20 as he did against Indiana.

3. Russ Smith, Louisville
Particulars: 6-0/165, Jr.
Last school: South Kent (Conn.)
Smith had his scoring woes at midseason, but he’s been even better than his early-season form. The enigmatic shooting guard is averaging 26 points per game in the tournament on an average of 15.3 shots from the field per game.

4. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Particulars: 6-11/245, Jr.
Last school: Huntington (W. Va.) Prep
The top big man in the Final Four, Dieng has needed three years to develop his all-around game, and it’s been worth the wait. In the regional against Duke and Oregon, Dieng averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. As recently as the Big East championship, he had eight assists out of the post.

5. James Southerland, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-8/215, Sr.
Last school: Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep
Southerland hasn’t had the breakout in the NCAA Tournament he’s capable of producing, at least from the offensive end. The senior was one of Syracuse’s most productive players on a per-minute basis with 18.3 points per 40 minutes

6. Peyton Siva, Louisville
Particulars: 6-0/184, Sr.
Last school: Seattle (Wash.) Franklin
One of Rick Pitino’s all-time favorite players may lead the Cardinals to a national championship. The point guard leads the Cardinals at both ends of the floor as Louisville is playing as well as it has all season on both offense and defense.

7. C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-8/215, Jr.
Last school: Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy
With his length and ability to create his own shot, Fair is tough to guard. Fair and Georgetown’s Otto Porter were the only two players in the Big East to rank in the top 10 in the league in scoring and rebounding.

8. Mitch McGary, Michigan
Particulars: 6-10/250, Fr.
Last school: Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy
The Wolverines’ freshman big man has been one of the true breakout players in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He started only six games this season, but he’s averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the tourney. McGary has given Michigan a sorely needed inside presence, and he’s been tabbed as a possible first-round draft pick if he leaves school early.

9. Carl Hall, Wichita State
Particulars: 6-8/238, Sr.
Last school: Northwest Florida State
Wichita State used its edge in rebounding to carry it to the Final Four, and one of its best on the glass is Hall. The junior college transfer who needed to treat a heart condition before playing college basketball also has 12 blocks in his last three games.

10. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Particulars: 6-6/205, Jr.
Last school: Miami Palmetto Senior
Hardaway has done in the tournament what he did all season, giving Michigan a secondary scorer and a veteran presence. The junior is averaging 13.5 points per game in the tournament on 41.7 percent shooting.

11. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Particulars: 6-8/215, Jr.
Last school: Sullivan Junior College
Sometimes Early needs to jarred into maintaining his focus, but that’s been the case in the tournament so far. When Early finds his scoring touch, watch out. He also had seven rebounds in every game so far and launched four three-pointers against Gonzaga.

12. Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Particulars: 6-6/190, Fr.
Last school: Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark’s School
Another one of Michigan’s freshmen who took advantage of all the focus going to Burke, Stauskas proved what can happen when he gets hot from three-point range. Stauskas broke out for 22 points with a 6-for-6 mark from beyond the arc against Florida.

13. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Particulars: 6-6/210, Fr.
Last school: St. John (Ind.) Lake Central
Robinson didn’t match the 21 points he had against South Dakota State in the round of 64, but he grabbed a combined 17 rebounds and blocked give shots against VCU and Kansas. With Burke’s playmaking ability, McGary’s play inside, Stauskas’ play from the perimeter, Robinson adds a dimension to the offense by slashing to the basket and running the floor.

14. Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State
Particulars: 6-0/205, Sr.
Last school: Oregon
The well-traveled point guard started at Chipola Junior College in Florida, transferred to Oregon and then paid his own way to Wichita State. The lefty is unflappable, averaging 15.5 points per game in the tournament.

15. Brandon Triche, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-4/210, Sr.
Last school: Jamesville (N.Y.) Jamesville-DeWitt
Syracuse needs Triche to make shots to be at its best in the Final Four. That was clear during Syracuse’s struggles in early March. The senior bounced back late in the year and hit 6 of 12 shots for 14 points against Indiana in the Sweet 16.

Teaser:
<p> Louisville has the top team, but Michigan's Trey Burke takes the top spot</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/how-final-four-teams-were-built
Body:

Being a Missouri Valley team and a No. 9 seed isn't the only way Wichita State is an outlier in the Final Four. Gregg Marshall’s roster is an anomaly in this year's national semifinals.

Unlike the the other three Final Four teams, Wichita State leaned on transfers -- from junior college and Division I -- and grizzled veterans to reach the final weekend of the basketball season.

The volume of Division I transfers in recent years has been an issue around college basketball, but it won’t be at the Final Four. The majority of key players at Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse signed with their schools out of high school and stayed.

That’s one of a handful of interesting nuggets we found when we looked at the composition of the Final Four rosters. For the purposes of the piece, we counted only players who played at least two games and 15 total minutes in the first two weeks of the tourney.

Here’s how the Final Four teams were built:

Homegrown talent

• Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse built their teams from high school talent. Of those three teams, the Cardinals’ Luke Hancock, who transferred from George Mason, is the only Division I or junior college transfer.

• Wichita State has four transfers earning regular minutes, including starters Cleanthony Early, Carl Hall, Malcolm Armstead and Ehimen Orukpe. All came directly from junior college except for Armstead, who transferred from Oregon after transferring from junior college.

That’s not to say the other schools didn’t benefit from roster turnover at other programs. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell decommitted from Virginia Tech, and Kevin Ware decommmitted from UCF and at one point signed with Tennessee.

• Although Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse didn’t add transfers, they contributed to the pool of players in the transfer market. Evan Smotrycz (Maryland), Dayeesha Hollins (Cincinnati) and Carlton Brundidge (Detroit) transferred from Michigan. Rakeem Buckles (FIU), Angel Nunez (Gonzaga) and Elisha Justice (NAIA) transferred from Louisville. Terry Rozier went to Hargrave Military Academy and Justin Coleman did not qualify academically rather than enrolling at Louisville. Da’Shonte Riley signed with Syracuse but transferred to Eastern Michigan.

A recruiting mixed bag

• Three of the four teams had at least one top-20 signing class since 2010, according to Rivals.com. The exception, not surprisingly, is Wichita State. The Shockers did not appear in Rivals’ class rankings since 2009.

• Michigan’s 2012 class of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Spike Albrecht and Nik Stauskas was ranked seventh.

• Louisville’s 2011 class of Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Zach Price, Kevin Ware and Angel Nunez was ranked ninth.

• Syracuse’s 2012 class of Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, Baye Keita and C.J. Fair was ranked seventh, though Melo and Waiters declared early for the NBA draft. Syracuse’s 2011 class of Rakeem Christmas, Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney was ranked 16h.

• The Final Four will feature six McDonald’s All-Americans, though they’re on only two teams -- Carter-Williams, Christmas and DaJuan Coleman for Syracuse and Behanan, Blackshear and Peyton Siva for Louisville.

• No individual state dominated the Final Four rosters, though four players finished their high school careers in New York (Syracuse’s Brandon Triche  and DaJuan Coleman, Louisville’s Russ Smith and Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early).

• Only two finished their high school careers in the Mountain or Pacific time zones -- Louisville’s Siva (Washington) and Wichita State’s Demetric Williams (Nevada).

• Two players in the Final Four were born in Africa -- Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng from Senegal and Wichita State’s Ehimen Orukpe from Nigeria.

Young vs. old

• Michigan is the youngest team in the Final Four whereas Wichita State is the oldest. The Wolverines have five regulars who graduated high school in the class of 2012. That’s two more than the other three teams combined -- Syracuse has two, Louisville has one, Wichita State has none.

• The Shockers, however, have four players who graduated in the class of 2011. At the same time, they have some of more seasoned players in the Final Four. Carl Hall is one of two players here to graduate high school in the class of 2007. He enrolled at Middle Georgia College in 2007-08 before a heart condition forced him to temporarily give up basketball until he returned to the game at Northwest Florida State in 2010-11. He transferred to Wichita State the following year. Shockers guard Malcolm Armstead started his college career at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College in 2007, transferred to Oregon in 2009, and transferred to Wichita State in 2011.

Where they’re going

• Seven players in the Final Four were ranked among DraftExpress’ top 100 prospects for the 2013 draft, led by four from Michigan. Wichita State continued to be an outlier here with none on that list. Those players were:

10. Trey Burke, Michigan
15. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
20. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
24. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
46. Mitch McGary, Michigan
51. Russ Smith, Louisville
83. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan

Teaser:
<p> Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State took different paths to building winners</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 09:46
Path: /college-basketball/kevin-wares-leg-injury-becomes-sundays-top-story-reaction-around-country
Body:

Louisville romped in the second half against Duke to defeat the Blue Devils 85-63 for a trip to its second Final Four, but the news of the day was the devastating injury to Cardinals guard Kevin Ware.

Attempting to defend a three-point shot, the sophomore guard landed awkwardly on his right leg, causing it to break in two places and the bone to protrude the skin. The injury occurred in front of the Cardinals’ bench, causing teammates in to recoil in horror. On the floor, Chane Behanan collapsed to the ground. Russ Smith sobbed. Rick Pitino wiped a tear form his eye.

“It was really hard for me to pull myself together because I didn't ever think in a million years I would see something like that,” Smith told reporters after the game. “And that happened, especially, to a guy like Kevin Ware, I was completely devastated.”

On the court, Louisville must replace Ware’s production. He has become increasingly more valuable off the bench for the Cardinals in recent weeks, but Louisville is one of the deepest teams in the Final Four. Guard Tim Henderson played seven minutes against Duke, as many as he played in the rout over round of 64 opponent North Carolina A&T.

Here’s a roundup of the reaction to Ware’s injury:

► Peyton Siva posted to Instagram a photo of Ware, fresh out of surgery, with the Midwest region trophy.

► The Louisville Courier-Journal’s C.L. Brown explains how the Cardinals found the motivation to win after Ware’s injury.

► Eric Crawford of Louisville’s WDRB takes us moment by moment from the injury to the postgame comments.

► Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn spoke to Ware’s mother, Lisa Junior, who watched the game from home in Conyers, Ga. “You still cannot comprehend the horror of a mother watching it on TV, when CBS opted to show the play again. 'When I saw the replay,' Lisa said, 'I lost it.'"

► Sports on Earth’s Will Leitch delves into the decision to show the injury, to post a GIF of the injury or not (The Big Lead, Buzzfeed, Deadspin and Yahoo posted GIFs; ESPN, SB Nation, SI and USA Today did not, Leitch notes).

“We can moralize all we want and tell ourselves we're taking the high road,” Leitch wrote. “But we are human beings. If someone turns on the stove and tells us it's hot, we can't blame them when we go ahead and put our hand on it. We can only blame ourselves.”

► Through the evening Sunday and into Monday morning, media organizations debated whether or not to air replays of Ware’s injury. The video can be found easily on YouTube. WARNING: The video of Ware’s injury is extremely graphic. Do not click on the video if you do not want to see a graphic leg injury.

► Clay Travis noted the morality play brought about on Twitter for those who opted to post video of the injury, noting that Oscar-nominated film The Blind Side opens with a scene of a horrific sports injury.

► Forbes contributor Dan Diamond looked into the morality of college athletics and where does Ware go from here from an NCAA and institution perspective.

► Many reacted on Twitter, but the most resonant comments came from athletes who sustained similar injuries, including former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann and former Louisville running back Michael Bush.

 

 

Teaser:
<p> From Louisville's emotional comeback to debates on showing the injury, Ware's broken leg became the focus</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 11:40
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-stats-leading-final-four
Body:

The field is set for the 2013 Final Four, and three quarters of it managed to surprise us.

Michigan and Syracuse struggled near the end of the regular season, but the Wolverines’ freshmen and the Orange’s defense carried the way to the national semifinals. And Wichita State couldn’t overtake Missouri Valley champion Creighton during the regular season, but took over its region.

And then there’s Louisville. In a year that seemed to lack a frontrunner for most of the season, the Cardinals captured that role. Louisville won 17 of its last 18 games, culminating Sunday with an 85-63 win over No. 2 seed Duke.

From prohibitive title favorite in Louisville to one of the true surprises in Wichita State, here are the key numbers from the weekend and the four teams left standing in the NCAA Tournament:

18. Combined seed ranking for the Final Four
With No. 1 Louisville, No. 4 Michigan, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 9 Wichita State reaching the Final Four, the combined seeding of 18 is the fifth-highest since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979. The Final Fours with higher combined seed rankings:
1980 (21): No. 2 Louisville*, No. 5 Iowa, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 UCLA
2000 (20): No. 1 Michigan State*, No. 5 Florida, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 8 Wisconsin
2006 (20): No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Florida*, No. 4 LSU, No. 11 George Mason
2011 (26): No. 3 Connecticut*, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 8 Butler, No. 11 VCU
*Won national title

21-18. Record in February and March for Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State
How important is it to be the hot hand before the NCAA Tournament? Not very, at least in 2013. Michigan (6-6), Syracuse (8-7) and Wichita State (7-5) went a combined 21-18 in February and March heading into the NCAA Tournament. And what’s more, Michigan and Wichita State both lost to the last-place teams in their respective conferences during that span. In addition, Wichita State and Syracuse lost their final games in January. The outlier here is Louisville, which went 12-1 in February and March, its only loss in five overtimes to Notre Dame. The Cardinals are also the only Final Four team that won either its regular season conference title or conference tournament. The Cardinals shared the Big East regular season title and won the conference tournament as a No. 2 seed.

64-43. Amount Louisville outscored Duke after the Kevin Ware injury
Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury -- which caused the Louisville guard’s bone to pop out of the skin of his right leg -- prompted an emotional reaction from the Cardinals. Guard Russ Smith sobbed, and coach Rick Pitino wiped a tear from his eye. Several players for both teams fell to their knees. Louisville, though, regrouped by outscoring Duke 64-43 after the injury. The Cardinals led 21-20 at the 6:33 mark when the injury occurred.

4. Coaches to lead a team to the Final Four in four different decades
An eventful season for Jim Boeheim included his 900th win and now a Final Four, making him one of four coaches to lead a team to the national semifinals in four decades. He joins Dean Smith of North Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Rick Pitino of Providence, Kentucky and Louisville in that rare company. Boeheim previously led Syracuse to the Final Four in 1987, 1996 and 2003.

43.3. Points per game by Michigan’s top three freshmen in the tournament
Hard to believe as it is, Michigan advanced to the Final Four without Trey Burke leading the team in scoring in any game in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, Burke’s heroics and his game-tying three pointer against Kansas moved Michigan into the Elite Eight, but the Wolverines wouldn’t have come this far without contributions from their top three freshmen. Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III averaged a combined 43.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament after combining to average 26 points per game during the regular season. McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds against VCU and then 25 points and 14 rebounds against Kansas. In the Elite Eight against Florida, Nik Stauskas was the beneficiary of the Gators’ attention on Burke. The guard hit all six of his shots from three-point range on the way to 22 points.

Plus-10. Wichita State’s edge in offensive rebounds in the second weekend
Wichita State entered the tournament as one of the best rebounding teams in the country. The Shockers ranked seventh nationally in rebound rate, grabbing 55.6 percent of possible rebounds. The Shockers dominated the glass in wins over La Salle and Ohio State, grabbing 30 offensive rebounds compared to 20 for their opponents.

1. Missouri Valley team to reach the Final Four since 1979
Wichita State not only became the fourth team seeded ninth or lower to reach the Final Four in the 64-team era, the Shockers also ended a long drought of Missouri Valley teams in the Final Four. The Shockers are the first MVC team to reach the Final Four since Larry Bird led Indiana State to the national title game in 1979. The Missouri Valley produced national champions in Cincinnati (1961 and 1962) and Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State (1945 and 1946).

61-to-67. Field goal-to-turnover ratio for Syracuse’s tournament opponents
How tough has it been to score on Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament? Put it this way: Teams were more likely to cough up the ball than score a basket against the Orange during their run to the Final Four. Syracuse’s opponents had 61 field goals and 67 turnovers. Round of 32 foe Cal was the only team to have more field goals (22) than turnovers (17).

40. Years since a final 16 team failed to score 40 points
Marquette’s 39 points against Syracuse in the Elite Eight were the fewest for a team in the regional semifinals or later in 40 years. UCLA defeated San Francisco 54-39 in the regional final in 1973.

3. Consecutive Elite Eight losses for Florida
Florida is the first team to lose in the Elite Eight in three consecutive tournaments, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Before losing to Michigan, the Gators lost to Louisville in 2012 and Butler in 2011. Before 2011, Florida won its first four trips in the regional final in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2007.

Teaser:
<p> Key numbers for Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse and Wichita State as they head to the Final Four</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-basketball/elite-eight-sunday-schedule-times-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

The second day of the Elite Eight may feel more like a Final Four or national championship weekend.

The South and Midwest regional finals feature four teams that were ranked No. 1 for stretches this season (Louisville, Duke and Michigan) plus a team that spent time ranked No. 2 (Florida).

Duke, Michigan and Louisville were ranked Nos. 1-3 in that order as recently as Jan. 7. Florida, Michigan and Duke were ranked Nos. 2-4 on Feb. 4.

The star power will be in full force, particularly on the bench where Michigan’s John Beilein is the only coach without a national championship.

But only two will stand at the end of the day when two teams will join Syracuse and Ohio State in the Final Four.

Here’s a quick look at Sunday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

SUNDAY ELITE EIGHT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 3 Florida
Time and TV: 2:20, CBS
Region: South, Arlington, Texas
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
Last Final Four appearances: Michigan (1993), Florida (2007)
From the Sweet 16: Trey Burke scored 23 of Michigan’s 53 points in the second half and overtime against Kansas, but Mitch McGary (19.7 points, 12.3 rebounds in the tourney) continued to be the breakout star of the Wolverines’ tournament run. After a shaky start, Florida ended Florida Gulf Coast’s miracle run through the tournament with a defensive pressure that had 11 steals and contributed to 20 FGCU turnovers.
What to watch: The Gators defeated a No. 14 (Northwestern State), a No. 11 (Minnesota) and a No. 15 (Florida Gulf Coast) on the way to the Elite Eight. The Wolverines defeated a No. 13 (South Dakota State), a No. 5 (VCU) and a No. 1 (Kansas). The Gators’ defense eventually shut down Florida Gulf Coast, but they did so with a lineup favoring Casey Prather and Will Yeguete over leading scorer Erik Murphy. Expect the Gators’ Scottie Wilbekin to draw Burke, but Murphy or Patric Young will be on the spot against McGary and an interior defense that struggled to stop Kansas’ forwards.
Game in a Tweet: On Friday, Trey Burke joined Billy Donovan as one of five players with 20 points and 10 assists in a Sweet 16 game.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 5:05, CBS
Region: Midwest, Indianapolis
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
Last Final Four appearances: Duke (2010), Louisville (2012)
From the Sweet 16: Louisville overcame Oregon’s tenacity and a case of the sniffles running through the Cards' roster to defeat the Ducks. The Cardinals’ defensive pressure and Russ Smith continued to work at a high level. Michigan State kept it close with Duke, but Seth Curry was virtually unstoppable from the perimeter. He went 6 of 9 from three-point range while his teammates were 1 of 9.
What to watch: Curry and Smith are on fire in this tournament. The Duke guard is averaging 24 points and 50 percent shooting in the tournament while his counterpart at Louisville has been even better at 27 points per game and 53.3 percent from the field. They’ll be watched, but one of the most important matchups could be down low between Mason Plumlee and Gorgui Dieng, who has been undervalued as an all-around player.
Game in a Tweet: Pitino and Krzyzewski have coached a combined 2,147 games. Their only meeting was the Laettner shot.

Teaser:
<p> Elite Eight Sunday Schedule: Times, TV, announcers and more</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/wichita-state-beats-ohio-state-unlikely-run-final-four
Body:

Wichita State will be the party crasher.

The Shockers defeated Ohio State 70-66 to advance to the Final Four and ensure the teams competing for the national title will have an outsider among them yet again.

Syracuse clinched a spot in the Final Four earlier Saturday, and the other two teams will come down to former champions (Duke or Louisville and Florida or Michigan).

But Wichita State, the second-place team in the Missouri Valley this year, joined the ranks of VCU, Butler and George Mason in recent years to upend the college basketball power structure.

At first Saturday, Gregg Marshall’s team looked like it would cruise to a win Saturday. Wichita State led by 20 with 11:01 remaining, but Ohio State clawed its way back to a four-point deficit in the final minutes.

What carried Wichita State all season, though, sealed the Final Four trip. The Shockers were one of the best rebounding teams in the country all year and continued to own the glass during this year’s run.

An offensive rebound ended Ohio State’s surge when Tekele Cotton grabbed a teammate's missed three-pointer, which translated to a basket by Fred VanVleet to open an insurmountable six-point lead with a minute to go.

Wichita State will be a fitting addition to the narrative of mid-majors reaching the Final Four. Its roster is littered with success stories: Carl Hall, a force in the paint, has uses medication to cope with a heart condition that has caused him to pass during games in high school and junior college. Small-town guard Ron Baker missed 21 games with a foot injury to become the Shockers’ most well-rounded player. The roster is led by a junior college transfer (Cleanthony Early) and a Division I transfer (Malcolm Armstead from Oregon).

And the Shockers' coach, Gregg Marshall, is a big-time personality who hasn't grabbed a big-time job despite eight NCAA tournament apperances in 15 seasons as a head coach at Winthrop and Wichita State.

Of historical note:
► Wichita State is making its first Final Four since 1965, when the Shockers lost 108-89 to UCLA for John Wooden’s second national title. Wichita State then lost a national third place game 118-82 to a Princeton team led by Bill Bradley.

► Wichita State is the first Missouri Valley team to reach the Final Four since Larry Bird led Indiana State to the 1979 title game against a Magic Johnson-led Michigan State team.

► The Shockers are the fourth team seeded in the bottom half of the bracket (ninth or lower) to reach the Final Four since the field expanded in 1985. Wichita State joins 2011 VCU, 2006 George Mason and 1986 LSU. Besides Wichita State, all three were No. 11 seeds.

► Wichita State and 1986 LSU were the only two teams in that group of four to reach the national semifinals to defeat the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in their region. Wichita State defeated No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State. LSU in 1986 defeated No. 2 Georgia Tech in the Sweet 16 and No. 1 Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

► Among notable teams to reach the national semifinal as a Missouri Valley team: Oklahoma A&M/Oklahoma State (won titles in 1945-46) Cincinnati (won titles in 1961-62), Louisville and Memphis.

Teaser:
<p> Shockers will disrupt a blue-bood laden national semifinal</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 22:11
Path: /college-basketball/elite-eight-saturday-schedule-times-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

We’re one step closer to the Final Four, and the final days before the national championship could wind up as unexpected as the entire season.

For the four teams playing for the national semifinals Saturday, defense has led the way. Syracuse shut down Cody Zeller and the Indiana offensive attack, while Miami couldn’t make a shot against Marquette.

Ohio State has won two of its three tournament games on late three-pointers, but the Buckeyes’ defensive effort is led by Aaron Craft. The true surprise here is Wichita State, which has used its interior defense to bring it to the brink of its first Final Four since 1965.

Here’s a quick look at Saturday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

Sweet 16/Elite Eight Previews
Midwest
| South | East | West

Related:
Athlon staff picks the Sweet 16
Re-ranking the Sweet 16 teams

SATURDAY ELITE EIGHT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern

No. 4 Marquette vs. No. 3 Syracuse
Time and TV: 4:30, CBS
Region: East, Washington, D.C.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
Last Final Four appearances: Marquette (2003), Syracuse (2003, won championship)
From the Sweet 16: Great defensive efforts from both. Syracuse held Indiana’s Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell to a combined 0 for 8 from the floor while blocking 10 IU shots from the field. Against Marquette, Miami struggled to make shots, making 34.9 percent of their attempts from the field.
What to watch: Syracuse took advantage of Indiana’s unfamiliarity with the zone to stifle one of the best offensive attacks in the country. The Orange won’t have the same luxury against a conference foe in Marquette. Vander Blue was a non-factor in the only game these two teams have played this season, but he’s been Marquette’s best player in the tourney so far.
Game in a Tweet: Buzz Williams is 3-3 against Syracuse with all three wins coming in the last four meetings.

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Time and TV: 7:05, CBS
Region: West, Los Angeles
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller
Last Final Four appearances: Wichita State (1965), Ohio State (2012)
From the Sweet 16: LaQuinton Ross’ game-winning shot deserves most of the attention, but Ohio State showed resilience by battling back from down 11 in the first half and then withstanding a second-half surge led by Mark Lyons. Meanwhile, Wichita State forward Carl Hall made easy work of La Salle’s four-guard lineup by fueling the Shockers’ 14-2 start.
What to watch: Despite the three-point outburst against Gonzaga, Wichita State’s interior is carrying the Shockers through the tournament. The Shockers are shooting 50 percent from two-point range in the Tournament while holding opponents to 39.6 percent shooting inside the arc. One of the top teams in rebound rate, Wichita State is grabbing 53.3 percent of missed shots. Meanwhile, Ohio State is getting more dangerous as the Buckeyes can now depend on Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross to take the final shots in close games.
Game in a Tweet: The Buckeyes seek to become third Big Ten team to reach consecutive Final Fours since '85.

Teaser:
<p> Elite Eight Saturday Schedule: Times, TV, announcers and more</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/trey-burke-hits-deep-three-keep-michigan-alive-against-kansas
Body:

Michigan shouldn’t have even been in this position.

The Wolverines were beat -- several times -- against Kansas. But Trey Burke kept Michigan alive.

With a deep three-pointer over the 6-8 Kevin Young, Burke tied a game it hadn’t led since the early minutes against Kansas. A day after LaQuinton Ross hit a game-winning three-pointer for Ohio State, Burke may have upstaged his rival for the shot of the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas had its way with Michigan in the first half, punishing the Wolverines in the paint. Michigan was lucky to be down merely 40-34. Kansas led by as much as 14 with 6:51 to go, but Burke wouldn’t let Michigan go down easily by scoring eight of the Wolverines’ final 10 points in regulation.

Teaser:
<p> Michigan's star point guard ties game with miracle shot to keep UM alive</p>
Post date: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 22:00
Path: /college-basketball/sweet-16-friday-schedule-time-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

The Sweet 16, as always, finds a way to capture the imagination.

The NCAA Tournament moves into the second weekend with its share of storylines, even if the biggest one from Dunk City seems to overshadow all.

Few people saw Wichita State, the runner up in the Missouri Valley, advancing this far. And even fewer could have tabbed La Salle to go on a run out of the First Four.

Beyond those out-of-nowhere stories, the Sweet 16 will feature games that have the look of Final Four matchups: Indiana-Syracuse, Duke-Michigan State, Ohio State-Arizona.

Here’s a quick look at Friday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

Sweet 16/Elite Eight Previews
Midwest
| South | East | West

Related:
Athlon staff picks the Sweet 16
Re-ranking the Sweet 16 teams

FRIDAY SWEET 16 VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 7:15, CBS
Region: Midwest, Indianapolis
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Johnathan Loyd helped neutralize Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart in the round of 64, and then he stepped up for a struggling Dominic Artis in the easy win over Saint Louis. Will the Ducks’ point guards be able to answer the call against Louisville on both ends of the court? That’s going to be tough. The Cards’ press has been effective as it’s been all season, and Russ Smith returned to his early season form in the offensive end. Dana Altman pushed the right buttons at point guard last week, but his backcourt will be put to the test against the Cardinals.
Game in a Tweet: Louisville forces a turnover on 27.4 percent of possessions. Oregon commits one on 21.2 percent.

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Kansas
Time and TV: 7:37, TBS
Region: South, Arlington, Texas
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: What will we see from Ben McLemore? An All-America candidate during the regular season, he’s struggled in the NCAA Tournament -- to a point that Bill Self played him only 24 minutes against North Carolina. McLemore went 2 of 14 from the field last week. Can Kansas advance if he’s not back to form? And for Michigan: How will the guard-oriented Wolverines counter Jeff Withey down low?
Game in a Tweet: Michigan is seeking first Elite Eight since ’94. Kansas has been to eight since then.

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Duke
Time and TV: 9:45, CBS
Region: Midwest, Indianapolis
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Duke clamped down on Creighton’s Doug McDermott in the round of 32, but the Blue Devils may be guessing as to who will be the offensive focus for Michigan State. Forward Adreian Payne is a matchup problem who can be the best player on the floor, and freshman Gary Harris can get hot from the perimeter. Duke is thankful for Seth Curry being steady all season and for meaningful contributions off the bench, but it’s time for Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly to take charge.
Game in a Tweet: Tom Izzo is 1-7 all-time against Mike Krzyzewski, but the only win was in the 2005 Sweet 16.

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 3 Florida
Time and TV: 10:07, TBS
Region: South, Arlington, Texas
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: Seriously, how many people even heard of Florida Gulf Coast a week ago? Now we know their coach, their nickname, their style of play and their care-free set of overlooked players. This is the best story in the Tournament in quite a while, and now they face the state’s best basketball program. The Gators are one of the best defensive teams in the country (third in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, fifth in effective field goal percentage and second in fewest points per game). Billy Donovan will be under pressure to close the borders on Dunk City.
Game in a Tweet: FGCU shot 56.9 percent from the field in the second half last week, outscoring opponents 101-82.

Teaser:
<p> A quick look at Friday evening's Sweet 16 games</p>
Post date: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/ohio-state-advances-again-late-three-pointer
Body:

Ohio State has another postseason hero.

After Aaron Craft made the game-winning three-pointer to defeat Iowa State in the round of 32, LaQuinton Ross had a monster second half and the game-winning three-pointer to defeat Arizona 73-70 and move onto the Elite Eight.

Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State in scoring as usual, but Ross had 14 points in the final eight minutes, capped by a three-pointer at NBA range with two seconds remaining.

At one point of the season, it would have been tough to imagine anyone but Thomas taking the final shot in a close game, but not in the NCAA Tournament.

Athlon Sports' Braden Gall had a chance to sit down with Ohio State's Sam Thompson following the win:

Teaser:
<p> Ohio State advances again on late three-pointer</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 22:26
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-sweet-16-panel-predictions
Body:

Like everyone's brackets, some of Athlon Sports' NCAA Tournament picks did not fare so well (Thanks, West region).

That's not going to stop us from giving it another try. Our editorial staff picked every game in the Sweet 16, hopefully with better luck this time around.

Sweet 16/Elite Eight Previews
Midwest
| South | East | West

Related:
Sweet 16 Thursday Viewers Guide
Re-ranking the Sweet 16 teams

Thursday's games

David Fox Braden Gall Mitch Light Mark Ross
Marquette vs. Miami Miami by 4 Marquette by 2 Miami by 3 Marquette by 3
Arizona vs. Ohio State Ohio State by 6 Ohio State by 7 Ohio State by 4 Ohio State by 5
Syracuse vs. Indiana Indiana by 9 Indiana by 13 Indiana by 4 Indiana by 7
La Salle vs. Wichita State Wichita State by 8 Wichita State by 5 Wichita State by 7 Wichita State by 8
Friday's games        
Oregon vs. Louisville Louisville by 15 Louisville by 14 Louisville by 14 Louisville by 12
Michigan vs. Kansas Michigan by 3 Kansas by 6 Michigan by 7 Michigan by 5
Michigan State vs. Duke Duke by 4 Duke by 4 Michigan State by 2 Michigan State by 3
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida Florida by 12 Florida by 17 Florida by 17 Florida by 9

Teaser:
<p> Athlon editors and writers make their picks for the Sweet 16</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:54
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/sweet-16-thursday-schedule-time-tv-announcers-and-more
Body:

The Sweet 16, as always, finds a way to capture the imagination.

The NCAA Tournament moves into the second weekend with its share of storylines, even if the biggest one from Dunk City seems to overshadow all.

Few people saw Wichita State, the runner up in the Missouri Valley, advancing this far. And even fewer could have tabbed La Salle to go on a run out of the First Four.

Beyond those out-of-nowhere stories, the Sweet 16 will feature games that have the look of Final Four matchups: Indiana-Syracuse, Duke-Michigan State, Ohio State-Arizona.

Here’s a quick look at Thursday’s games, including times, television networks and broadcast pairings.

Sweet 16/Elite Eight Previews
Midwest
| South | East | West

Related:
Athlon staff picks the Sweet 16
Re-ranking the Sweet 16 teams

THURSDAY SWEET 16 VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m. Eastern


No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 2 Miami
Time and TV: 7:15, CBS
Region: East, Washington, D.C.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Miami’s miracle season was thrown a curve ball when center Reggie Johnson was lost for the weekend following knee surgery. He’s played 20 minutes in a game once since Feb. 27. But at 6-10, 292 pounds, he’s Miami’s biggest big man and another senior. The Canes will have to adjust. This will be against a Marquette team that’s liberal in going to its bench.
Game in a Tweet: How to win close games: Marquette was 20 of 25 from the free throw line in the second half last week.

No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Time and TV: 7:47, TBS
Region: West, Los Angeles
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller
What to watch: Aaron Craft vs. Mark Lyons. Arizona point guard Mark Lyons scored 27 points against Harvard and 23 against Belmont. Can he keep that up against one of the best defenders in the nation in Craft?
Game in a Tweet: Thad Matta faces his former assistant Sean Miller for second time (first was an OT Buckeyes win in 07 Tourney).

No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 1 Indiana
Time and TV: 9:45, CBS
Region: East, Washington, D.C.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Temple’s Khalif Wyatt had his way with Indiana, who curiously did not use Victor Oladipo to defend him at times. How will the Hoosiers’ match up with Michael Carter-Williams? Indiana’s ability to play against different styles will be tested: After facing Temple’s grinding game, the Hoosiers face Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense.
Game in a Tweet: Syracuse is looking to reach the Elite Eight for second straight year and second time since 2004 title.

No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 9 Wichita State
Time and TV: 10:17, TBS
Region: West, Los Angeles
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller
What to watch: Florida Gulf Coast has stolen the thunder of these two programs, one of whom will be a game away from the Final Four. La Salle went 2-9 in the Tourney from 1956-2012. The Explorers are 3-0 this year behind a guard-heavy lineup that has shot lights out in all but one half of one game this offseason. And what of the personality of Wichita State, led by talkative head coach Gregg Marshall?
Game in a Tweet: This game will produce the 12th team seeded ninth or lower in the Elite Eight since 1985, possibly first 13th seed or lower (La Salle).

Teaser:
<p> A quick look at Thursday evening's Sweet 16 games</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: USC Trojans, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/who-are-possible-coaching-replacements-usc
Body:

The job of finding a new basketball coach at USC just got a little more difficult for athletic director Pat Haden.

The Trojans fired Kevin O’Neill -- hired to shepherd the program after Tim Floyd was fired amid NCAA sanctions -- midseason. Any advantages of getting ahead of the curve may have diminished when USC suddenly became the No. 2 vacant college job in its own city when UCLA fired Ben Howland.

USC is something of a sleeping giant, especially with a new arena and plush facilities. But the Trojans are a football-first program, and after recruiting violations surrounding O.J. Mayo put the program on probation, Haden won’t be able to gamble on a coach with NCAA baggage.

POTENTIAL CANDIDATES AT USC
Gib Arnold, Hawaii
If USC is interested in revisiting the Tim Floyd era, it could take a look at Arnold, an assistant at USC for five seasons. In three seasons at Hawaii -- a struggling basketball program when he arrived -- he went 14-16 in the WAC and 10-8 in his first season in the Big West.

Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s
Bennett has built the Gaels into a perennial challenger for Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. But for all he’s accomplished, he’s yet to grab a major conference job. That will be tougher -- especially as far as USC is concerned -- after Saint Mary’s was hit for sanctions for recruiting violations. Bennett was suspended for five games in 2013-14 for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance after an assistant was found committing major recruiting violations.

Bob Cantu, USC interim coach
Cantu went 7-8 as interim coach, including wins over UCLA and Arizona. The Trojans were 7-10 when Kevin O’Neill was fired.

Mike Hopkins, Syracuse assistant
He’s been an assistant at Syracuse for 18 seasons. And though he’s been acknowledged as a possible successor for Jim Boeheim, Hopkins has been in the mix for other openings and some not as high-profile as USC.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
After 15 seasons at Winthrop and Wichita State, maybe it’s surprising Marshall hasn’t moved to one of the major conferences yet. After three consecutive seasons of 27 or more wins, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Wichita State and a Sweet 16 berth, now may be the time to jump.

Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State
Menzies’ name has cropped up for openings before, including Colorado State before last season. A former Rick Pitino assistant at Louisville, Menzies also spent time as an assistant at USC and San Diego State. He’s never won an outright conference title with the Aggies, but reached the NCAA Tournament three times by winning the WAC Tournament.

Josh Pastner, Memphis
He was mentioned as an early candidate, but he signed a long-term deal to stay with the Tigers.

Leon Rice, Boise State
A former Gonzaga assistant under Mark Few, Rice led Boise State to its first at-large NCAA Tournament bid in school history after going 9-7 in a difficult Mountain West. That came a year after the Broncos went 3-11 and tied for last place in their first season in the league.

Shaka Smart, VCU
The 35-year-old will be a hot name in the coaching carousel again after the 2011 Final Four and a seamless transition to the Atlantic 10. All indications are Smart is happy at VCU. After all, he turned down Illinois last season.

Buzz Williams, Marquette
After reaching the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons, Williams will be a hot commodity in the carousel. The Golden Eagles have been among the best teams in the Big East despite losing Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and Williams has proven he can unearth talent on the recruiting trail. He turned down opportunities last season to stay with the program that rolled the dice on him five years ago.

Teaser:
<p> The Trojans made a coaching change at midseason. Who could be the next coach at Southern Cal?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/tubby-smith-fired-minnesota-who-are-possible-coach-replacements
Body:

Minnesota raised eyebrows with the firing of Tubby Smith on March 25. The question being, why would Minnesota fire a national title coach who had more fortune than most in program history.

The Gophers have a limited track record of basketball success -- or at least success that wasn't followed by NCAA sanctions -- and they fired a coach who won their first Tournament game since 1997. But Smith never had a winning conference record at Minnesota and had a handful of high-profile transfers under his watch (Colton Iverson and Royce White, for starters).

Minnesota demanded more than what Smith delivered. Still, the Gophers remain a lower-tier job in the Big Ten. Minnesota is in need of a facility upgrade and is lacking in recent tradition. The next coach will be expected to deliver under these circumstances.

POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR MINNESOTA
Andy Enfield, Florida Gulf Coast
A jump from the Atlantic Sun to a major conference job would be quite a leap, but Enfield is an unusual circumstance as the first coach to guide a No. 15 seed and an A-Sun team to the Sweet 16. Beyond the NCAA Tournament, Enfield proved himself as a program-builder by finishing second in the conference in the league's second season as a full Division I member. This would be a press conference-winning move, but an interesting risk.

Anthony Grant, Alabama
Minnesota’s athletic director, Norwood Teague, worked with Anthony Grant at VCU, so he’ll be in the rumor mill. Grant made two Tourney appearances at VCU, including a win over Duke in 2007. At Alabama, he’s gone 33-17 in conference in the last three years, but that’s translated to only one NCAA appearance.

Chris Mack, Xavier
The last five Xavier coaches have left for major conference jobs, so that’s reason for speculation around Mack. Xavier missed the Tournament in 2013 but reached the Sweet 16 in 2012. Mack is a Cincinnati native who has watched his predecessors go to Arizona, Ohio State and Wake Forest. He has good reason to be choosy.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
After 15 seasons at Winthrop and Wichita State, maybe it’s surprising Marshall hasn’t moved to one of the major conferences yet. After three consecutive seasons of 27 or more wins, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Wichita State and a Sweet 16 berth, now may be the time to jump.

Steve Prohm, Murray State
The 2011-12 season was a miracle one for Prohm, who won 31 games in his first season as a head coach. After personnel losses, Murray State went 21-10 in 2012-13. The Racers still went 10-6 and won the OVC West in a competitive low-major league. He’s a Southeastern coach, but at 38, he’s at the younger end of the spectrum.

Flip Saunders, former NBA coach
Saunders has been a coach with the Timberwolves, Pistons and Wizards in the NBA. He’s an accomplished alum who’s not coaching now. That makes him an interesting candidate.

Shaka Smart, VCU
A fantasy candidate for Minnesota, for sure. He’s listed only because Minnesota’s athletic director hired Smart at VCU. Smart already turned down a better job in the same conference, and Smart could court dozens of jobs better than Minnesota. That is, assuming he wants to leave VCU in the first place.

Buzz Williams, Marquette
After reaching the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons, Williams will be a hot commodity in the carousel. The Golden Eagles have been among the best teams in the Big East despite losing Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and Williams has proven he can unearth talent on the recruiting trail. He turned down opportunities last season to stay with the program that rolled the dice on him five years ago.

Teaser:
<p> Minnesota fired Tubby Smith despite a rare NCAA Tournament win. Who's next?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Pac 12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/ucla-fired-howland-who-are-possible-coaching-replacements
Body:

UCLA is in the market for a new coach after the legendary program fired Ben Howland on March 25.

Finding the right fit won’t be easy, and the job isn’t for the timid.

UCLA fired a coach who went to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08 and won the Pac-12 regular season title this season. But the program has fallen from the national elite since ’08. The Bruins missed the NCAA Tournament in two of the last four years and failed to reach the second weekend on each of the last three trips. Player transfers, recruiting classes that didn’t pan out and in-team turmoil all played a role in Howland’s ouster.

Candidates may be lining up for UCLA, but here are a few Athlon Sports think could be a good fit for the Bruins.

POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR UCLA
Tad Boyle, Colorado
Boyle revived Colorado basketball step-by-step from an NIT in 2011, a surprise Pac-12 tournament title in 2012 and a secure NCAA at-large bid in 2013. The three-year run marked the first back-to-back Tourney appearances since 1963 and first time the Buffaloes reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons. That’s despite losing a player like Alec Burks. Boyle can win on the major conference level, but he also laid the groundwork at low-major Northern Colorado.

Mike Brown, former Los Angeles Lakers coach
Brown was fired early in the season with the Lakers and has no college coaching experience. Working in the NBA with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, though, would give him something to sell on the recruiting trail.

Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Cronin rebuilt the Bearcats after the end of the Bob Huggins era, leading Cincinnati to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. He’s spent his career at Cincinnati, Murray State and Louisville, so he might be an odd fit out of the tri-state area. And if anyone’s looking for an exciting up-tempo brand of basketball, Cronin might not fit the bill.

Billy Donovan, Florida
Florida hung onto its two-time national championship coach despite two Kentucky coaching searches and got Donovan back a week after he took the Orlando Magic job. It might take a special opening to pry Donovan away from Florida. UCLA, perhaps?

Mark Gottfried, NC State
Gottfried can recruit, and he’s a former UCLA assistant. His name is being floated around for the Bruins, but the let down this season at NC State will be tough to sell.

Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
He’ll get attention in the coaching carousel as long as he’s leading Iowa State to the Tournament. But his nickname isn’t The Mayor for nothing. Iowa State gave Hoiberg his first college coaching job. If the Ames native and Iowa State alum leaves after three years, the Cyclones would be devastated.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
After 15 seasons at Winthrop and Wichita State, maybe it’s surprising Marshall hasn’t moved to one of the major conferences yet. After three consecutive seasons of 27 or more wins, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Wichita State and a Sweet 16 berth, now may be the time to jump.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington
His tenure at Washington has been up-and-down, but the Huskies have played in the NCAA Tournament six times in 10 seasons under his watch. He can recruit at a high level, and his teams are usually fast-paced. Of interest to UCLA, he was an assistant on the last Bruins team to win a national title in 1995.

Shaka Smart, VCU
The 35-year-old will be a hot name in the coaching carousel again after the 2011 Final Four and a seamless transition to the Atlantic 10. All indications are Smart is happy at VCU. After all, he turned down Illinois last season.

Brad Stevens, Butler
Stevens is even more entrenched at Butler than Smart at VCU. He’s an Indiana native who has shown little interest in moving to a new job. Also working in Butler’s favor: The job keeps getting better. The former Horizon League power will be in the Big East along with Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Xavier and Creighton in the coming years.

Buzz Williams, Marquette
After reaching the Sweet 16 in three consecutive seasons, Williams will be a hot commodity in the carousel. The Golden Eagles have been among the best teams in the Big East despite losing Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and Williams has proven he can unearth talent on the recruiting trail. He turned down opportunities last season to stay with the program that rolled the dice on him five years ago.

Jay Wright, Villanova
It may be an odd sight to see Wright leave Villanova, where he’s coached since 2001. But the program has leveled off a bit since reaching the Final Four in 2009. In the last four seasons, Villanova has reached the Tournament three times and failed to reach the Sweet 16 in each trip.

Teaser:
<p> After UCLA fired Ben Howland, which coaches around the country are possible candidates?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 15:58
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-ranking-teams-sweet-16
Body:

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament has caused us to rethink some things, specifically all those brackets with Gonzaga, New Mexico and Georgetown making deep runs.

We’ve learned a little bit -- we know where Florida Gulf Coast actually is, apart from, you know, the Gulf Coast of Florida. We know La Salle is actually pretty good, despite being one of the last teams in the field.

But some things remain the same in our reassessment of the final 16 teams in the field. Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed to start the Tournament, is looking every bit the favorite as is preseason No. 1 Indiana.

Here’s our reevaluation of the Sweet 16.

SWEET 16 POWER RANKINGS
1. Louisville (Midwest)
Opponent: Oregon
Coach: Rick Pitino (10-0 in the Sweet 16, 6-4 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The Cardinals’ press has hit its stride, with opponents averaging 21.4 turnovers since the start of the Big East Tournament. If that’s not enough, the Cards’ offense is doing just fine, too. Russ Smith scored 50 combined points in the first weekend while Louisville as a team shot 56.9 percent against North Carolina A&T and Colorado State.
Bad news: Louisville’s regional includes a red-hot Oregon team and either Michigan State or Duke.
Breakout: Montrezl Harris, who was released from his letter of intent at Virginia Tech less than a year ago, has been integral in the postseason. After scoring 20 against Syracuse in the Big East title game, Harris scored 19 points in 36 minutes in the first weekend.

Related: Midwest Region Preview

2. Indiana (East)
Opponent: Syracuse
Coach: Tom Crean (1-1 in the Sweet 16, 1-0 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Indiana demolished James Madison as it should have. The Hoosiers showed good resilience in a matchup against Temple where the Owls’ tempo forced IU to prove it could win a game without scoring 60 points -- the Hoosiers had been 0-3 when scoring less than 60 this year. Khalif Wyatt scored 31 on Indiana, but the rest of the team scored 21 on 9-of-38 shooting.
Bad news: Jordan Hulls played only 19 minutes against Temple due to a shoulder injury. The Hoosiers don’t have the greatest depth, so this will be worth watching.
Breakout: It was against overmatched James Madison, but freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell’s surprising scoring output (16 points) was good to see for an aspiring national champion.

Related: East Regional Preview

3. Michigan (South)
Opponent: Kansas
Coach: John Beilein (1-1 in the Sweet 16, 0-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The Wolverines, who stumbled late in the season, won their first weekend games by a combined 40 points. Michigan had little trouble with Nate Wolters and even less against VCU’s defense.
Bad news: Trey Burke had seven assists in each game, but he went 2 of 12 from the field against South Dakota State and had seven turnovers against VCU.
Breakout: Freshman Mitch McGary gave Michigan a much-needed physical presence, especially with an upcoming matchup against Jeff Withey. McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds against VCU.

Related: South Region Preview

4. Ohio State (West)
Opponent: Arizona
Coach: Thad Matta (3-2 in the Sweet 16, 2-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The seas parted for the Ohio State to have easiest path to the Final Four, at least as far as the seeds are concerned. Arizona is the top team left in the West, and the Wildcats were shaky for most of the season. After that, it’s either Wichita State or La Salle.
Bad news: There’s no shame in going down to the wire with Iowa State. Aaron Craft missed the front end of two one-and-ones and turned the ball over twice late to put the Cyclones back into the game, but he atoned for it with his game-winning shot.
Breakout: Sam Thompson scored 20 points and 10 rebounds against Iona, but LaQuinton Ross’ 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting against Iowa State may be more encouraging. And Craft’s 18 points was his fourth-highest scoring total of the season.

Related: West Region Preview

5. Michigan State (Midwest)
Opponent: Duke
Coach: Tom Izzo (7-3 in the Sweet 16, 6-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Michigan State cruised past Valparaiso and then made easier work of Memphis. Adreian Payne was at his best against Memphis with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Michigan State’s passing down low and rebounding stood out against the Tigers.
Bad news: The Spartans’ 17 turnovers against Valpo and 18 against Memphis was alarming for a team with Final Four aspirations.
Breakout: Michigan State gets a two-fer here: Derrick Nix took advantage of a size advantage to score 23 points with 15 rebounds against Valpo, and freshman guard Gary Harris scored a season-high 23 against Memphis.

6. Duke (Midwest)
Opponent: Michigan State
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (12-8 in the Sweet 16, 11-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Doug McDermott scored 21 points against Duke, but it wasn’t easy, especially in the second half. The Creighton star went 4 of 16 from the field.  It was an uneven effort against Creighton offensively, but the Blue Devils had the scoring depth to counter the Bluejays.
Bad news: Ryan Kelly scoring eight points against Albany and then scored one point while fighting through foul trouble against Creighton. It will be tough to get through Michigan State and Louisville/Oregon without Kelly at full speed.
Breakout: Rasheed Suliamon filled the gaps on the scoresheet against Creighton with 21 points, but Tyler Thornton was nearly as important with eight points and six rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench Sunday.

7. Florida (South)
Opponent: Florida Gulf Coast
Coach: Billy Donovan (5-1 in the Sweet 16, 3-2 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The Gators defeated their first weekend opponents by a a combined 46 points, but the first was a No. 14 seed and the second was a No. 11 who fired its coach the next day. Worth noting, the last team Tubby Smith defeated was UCLA, which also fired its coach. Why is Florida this low? The Gators beat up on lesser teams all season. The first weekend was not totally unexpected.
Bad news: Florida let Minnesota chip away at a 21-point lead in the second half, which is a concerned for a team that failed to win close games all season.
Breakout: Mike Rosario has been frustrating to watch at times, but he carried Florida against Minnesota with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three-point range.

8. Oregon (Midwest)
Opponent: Louisville
Coach: Dana Altman (first Sweet 16)
Good news: Oregon defeated Oklahoma State and Saint Louis with all-around efforts in both games. The Ducks crushed both opponents on the boards, thanks to the play of Arsalan Kazemi while holding the Cowboys and Billikens to a combined 8 of 38 three-point shooting.
Bad news: Oregon didn’t have the resume of a No. 12 seed, but it didn’t have the resume of the top three teams in its region (Louisville, Duke and Michigan State), either. Will the Ducks fall to earth?
Breakout: Damyean Dotson was one of the top freshmen in the Pac-12, but he’s been at his best in the postseason. He went scoreless in a loss at Utah on March 9, but since then he’s averaging 16.8 points per game since then. He scored 17 against Oklahoma State and 23 against Saint Louis.

9. Miami (East)
Opponent: Marquette
Coach: Jim Larranaga (1-0 in the Sweet 16, 1-0 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Between Larranaga’s dancing and Julian Gamble’s photobombing, Miami seems to be enjoying itself in the Tournament. The Hurricanes defeated Pacific 78-49 and survived Illinois 63-59 in the round of 32. Shane Larkin played the role of star as usual.
Bad news: Illinois kept itself in the game with 15 offensive rebounds against the Canes.
Breakout: Rion Brown has been able to offer a spark off the bench all season, adding his third 20-point game of the season with 21 against the Illini.

10. Syracuse (East)
Opponent: Indiana
Coach: Jim Boeheim (5-11 in the Sweet 16, 3-2 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Syracuse trounced Montana for the biggest victory for a team seeded third or lower in the NCAA Tournament (47 points). In the second game, Syracuse held Cal’s best players, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, to a combined 13 points.
Bad news: The second game was a little more spotty. Syracuse struggled to put away Cal despite the struggles of Crabbe and Cobbs. The Orange went 26 of 41 from the free throw line and went for 12 minutes without a field goal at one point.
Breakout: Baye Moussa Keita flourished in his matchup the the Cal frontcourt, scoring 11 points with seven rebounds. Most of Keita’s work came at the free throw line where the big man went 7 of 10.

11. Kansas (South)
Opponent: Michigan
Coach: Bill Self (7-2 in the Sweet 16, 2-5 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Kansas responded to its close call with 16th-seeded Western Kentucky to defeat North Carolina 70-58 in a game that was not in question by halftime. Jeff Withey has led the way with a combined 33 points, 22 rebounds and give blocks.
Bad news: Ben McLemore was 0 for 9 against North Carolina and spent most of the second half on the bench. He’s 0 for 8 from three-point range in two Tournament games. The Jayhawks finished the weekend with five total three-pointers.
Breakout: Travis Releford filled the gaps left by McLemore, scoring 22 points against North Carolina with eight rebounds.

12. Arizona (West)
Opponent: Ohio State
Coach: Sean Miller (2-1 in the Sweet 16, 0-2 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: A popular upset pick in the round of 64, Arizona cruised past 11th-seeded Belmont and 14th-seeded Harvard.
Bad news: Do we know a whole lot about Arizona? The Wildcats were rarely challenged over the weekend, which can be a good thing. Arizona will be put to the test against Ohio State.
Breakout: A major question entering the postseason was the play of Mark Lyons. He’s playing like the seasoned Tournament veteran he is with 27 points against Harvard and 23 against Belmont

13. Marquette (East)
Opponent: Miami
Coach: Buzz Williams (0-2 in the Sweet 16)
Good news: Vander Blue is emerging as one of the stars of this Tournament. He delivered the game-winner against Davidson and then scored 29 against Butler.
Bad news: Is Marquette living on borrowed time? The Golden Eagles defeated Davidson on a Wildcats meltdown, and Butler had its chances to beat Marquette thanks to a late turnover. Marquette has 14 assists to 24 turnovers in the Tourney so far.
Breakout: Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett had his best game since February with 13 points against Butler. He contributed 36 and 38 minutes off the bench in the first weekend.

14. Wichita State (West)
Opponent: La Salle
Coach: Gregg Marshall (first Sweet 16)
Good news: Talk about resilience. Wichita State trailed 49-41 and had two key players in foul trouble in the second half against Gonzaga, but came back to win 76-70. The reason was hot three-point shooting, but also defense in the first two games of the Tournament. Wichita State held Gonzaga and Pittsburgh to a combined 40 of 113 (35.4 percent) from the field and 9 of 49 from three-point range (18.4 percent).
Bad news: Wichita State had to play well to win, for sure, but how much did Gonzaga cough up an upset? The Shockers trailed by eight with less than 12 minutes to go. Wichita State’s 14 of 28 three-point shooting against Gonzaga was out of character (but, then again, so was the 2-of-20 performance against Pitt).
Breakout: Ron Baker, a redshirt freshman who missed a big chunk of the regular season with a foot injury, played 33 minutes and surprised Gonzaga with four three-pointers and 16 total points.

15. La Salle (West)
Opponent: Wichita State
Coach: John Giannini (first Sweet 16)
Good news: Ramon Galloway is one of the stars of the Tournament, scoring 24 points on Ole Miss, 19 on Kansas State and 21 on Boise State.
Bad news: La Salle played one bad half of basketball in three games, shooting 3 of 18 in the second half against Kansas State. Otherwise, La Salle shot 56.3 percent from the field.
Breakout: Known for its guard play, La Salle got a major lift from a forward. Jerrell Wright was one of the key players of the upset of Kansas State with 21 points and eight rebounds. He was extremely efficient, making all six shots from the field and 9 of 10 free throws.

16. Florida Gulf Coast (South)
Opponent: Florida
Coach: Andy Enfield (first Sweet 16 appearance)
Good news: Florida Gulf Coast. In the Sweet 16. Everything about this story is good news. This is no fluke, either. FGCU led by as much as 19 against Georgetown in the second half and went on a 17-0 run against San Diego State late in the second half to seal the win.
Bad news: The secret’s out. We don’t know how Florida Gulf Coast is going to react if a good defensive team like Florida limits the alley oop/dunk game.
Breakout: The whole team is a breakout, but let’s highlight Florida Gulf Coast’s defense: The Eagles forced 14 Georgetown turnovers and 17 San Diego State turnovers, both above those team’s season averages.

Teaser:
<p> Louisville is looking every bit the part of a title contender, other top teams not so much</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-stats-first-weekend-ncaa-tournament
Body:

After 52 NCAA Tournament games since Tuesday, the field is down to 16. And what a wild week it was.

When the next weekend starts, the players from Gonzaga -- and New Mexico and Georgetown and VCU and more -- will want what Florida Gulf Coast has.

The Sweet 16 will start with a bizarre field -- Sure, Michigan State-Duke, Indiana-Syracuse, Kansas-Michigan and Arizona-Ohio State are typical matchups. But who would have tabbed Wichita State-La Salle as a game for a trip to the Elite Eight. And never mind Florida-Florida Gulf Coast as a game for a regional final and a contest for the top team in the Sunshine State.

Here’s a look at the key numbers from the first week of Tournament games and a look at the Sweet 16.

4. Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16
The perception of the Big Ten being the top conference carried over into the postseason where four Big Ten teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State) advanced to the second weekend, more than any other conference. Only one of the league’s seven bids to the Tournament lost in its first game (Wisconsin). On the negative side, the SEC still has bragging rights over the Big Ten as two SEC teams were responsible for knocking out Big Ten teams with Florida defeating Minnesota and Ole Miss defeating the Badgers.

Here’s the final conference tally for the multi-bid conferences:

Conference Record Sweet 16 teams
ACC 5-2 Duke, Miami
Atlantic 10 7-4 La Salle
Big 12 3-4 Kansas
Big East 6-5 Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse
Big Ten 10-3 Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State
Missouri Valley 2-2 Wichita State
Mountain West 2-5 None
Pac-12 5-3 Arizona, Oregon
SEC 3-2 Florida
Sun Belt 0-2 None
West Coast 1-2 None

And just for fun, here are the records for notable leagues' eventual lineups:

Conference Record Sweet 16 teams
ACC 9-4 Duke, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse
Atlantic 10 5-2 La Salle
Big East/Conference TBA 2-3 None
Big East/Catholic 7 4-3 Marquette

10. Dunks for Florida Gulf Coast on the way to the Sweet 16
Florida Gulf Coast is more than just the best Cinderella story in the Tournament. The Eagles are one of the most fun teams to watch. In becoming the first No. 15 seed to win two in a row to reach the Sweet 16, Florida Gulf Coast introduced the country to its exciting brand of play. The up-tempo game relying on lobs and an alley oops produced 10 total dunks -- five against Georgetown and five more against San Diego State. That’s only part of the story: Each game featured five FGCU players scoring in double figures. And in the win over San Diego State, point guard Brett Comer had an amazing 14 assists to three turnovers.

4. Coaches making their first appearance in the Sweet 16
The Sweet 16 has some of the usual suspects -- Duke, Florida, Kansas, Michigan State and Syracuse -- plus rebuilt national powers Arizona and Indiana. But a key storyline are the Sweet 16 first-timers from a coaching standpoint. Along with the fast rise by Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield, there’s Oregon’s Dana Altman, who is making his first Sweet 16 appearance in his 24-year career. La Salle’s John Giannini, meanwhile, is one-for-one in reaching the regional semifinal in his first NCAA appearance. That said, Giannini had to wait 16 seasons for his first Tournament. Wichita State's Gregg Marshall is also making his first Sweet 16 apperance after eight trips to the Tourney with Winthrop and the Shockers.

21.4. Turnovers per game for Louisville opponents in the postseason
Louisville already had one of Rick Pitino’s better defensive teams, but the Cardinals’ press has turned it up a notch in the postseason. North Carolina A&T had 27 turnovers against the Cards, and Colorado State added 20 in the round of 32. Louisville’s opponents in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments are averaging 21.4 turnovers per game, compared to 18.5 turnovers during the regular season. And if that’s not enough, suddenly Russ Smith and Peyton Siva have returned to their early season form on the offensive end. Louisville is shooting 56.9 percent in the Tournament.

3. Combined margin of victory for Marquette on the way to the Sweet 16.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams doesn’t want to be Mr. Tactician, but he may be Mr. Drama. Marquette is the only Sweet 16 team whose first weekend games both came down to the final shot, with Vander Blue’s layup sealing a 59-58 win over Davidson and Andrew Smith’s missed three-pointer for Butler ending a 74-72 Marquette win. This is nothing new. The last eight games for the Golden Eagles have been decided by eight points or less. Marquette has gone 6-2 in those games.

58. Fewest points in a win for Indiana this season
The Hoosiers spent most of the season leading the nation in offensive efficiency, but they found a good time to prove they can grind out a lower scoring game. After failing to score 60 points in two losses to Wisconsin and another to Ohio State, Indiana won a game when it failed to hit the 60-point mark with a 58-52 win over Temple in the round of 32.

4. Consecutive Sweet 16s for Ohio State
The Buckeyes have the longest streak of reaching the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament by reaching the Sweet 16 in four consecutive years. This trip was dicey, though, as Ohio State coughed up a 13-point lead late in the round of 32 against Iowa State. A fortunate charge call on the Cyclones’ Will Clyburn and Aaron Craft’s three-point shot with less than a second left gave Ohio State a 78-75 win. Elsewhere, Florida, Kansas and Marquette all have Sweet 16 streaks of three consecutive seasons.

0. Times before 2013 Michigan and Michigan State appeared in the same Sweet 16
Hard to believe as it may be, Michigan and Michigan State have never appeared in the Sweet 16 in the same season. The Wolverines are making their first Sweet 16 since 1994 for their 13th trip in school history to the regional semifinals. Michigan State is in its 17th regional semifinal.

1. Point for Duke’s Ryan Kelly against Creighton
Ryan Kelly made a case for being Duke’s most indispensable player over the last two seasons, but Duke didn’t him to be on his game to advance to the Sweet 16. The forward struggled against Creighton, going 0 for 5 from the field for one point on a free throw. It’s been an about-face for Kelly, who shocked Miami for 36 points on March 3 and followed that with 18 against Virginia Tech. Kelly has been in single-figures in four games since then with exactly eight against North Carolina, Maryland and Albany.

24. Three-pointers against Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament
No. 16 seed Southern hinted that Gonzaga may be vulnerable from the three-point line, by shooting 10 of 23 from three (compared to 8 of 23 from inside the arc). Wichita State fully exploited the weakness by hitting 14 of 28 in the 76-70 upset of the top-seeded Bulldogs. A key question for Gonzaga’s Tournament let down: Where did this three-point vulnerability come from? The Zags gave up 6.3 threes per game entering the Tournament.

0-3. Roy Williams’ record against Kansas
The North Carolina coach is winless in three tries against his old school with each matchup coming in the NCAA Tournament. Sunday’s 70-58 loss was the first when Williams’ North Carolina was the lowest seeded team (the Tar Heels were a No. 8 seed, Kansas was a No. 1). In 2012, North Carolina was a No. 1 when it lost 80-67 to No. 2 Kansas in the Elite Eight. In 2008, both were No. 1 seeds when the Tar Heels lost 84-66 in the Final Four.

45. Rebounds for Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi in the last three games
Oregon was under-seeded as a No. 12, but few could have predicted the Ducks to roll over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. A major reason for the Ducks’ success has been the defensive presence of forward Arsalan Kazemi. The 6-foot-7 Iranian has 45 rebounds in his last three games, going back to the Pac-12 title game against UCLA (12). Kazemi had 16 boards against Oklahoma State and 17 against Saint Louis. Keep in mind: Kazemi played the last three seasons at Rice before transferring to Oregon.

71. Combined scoring margin in VCU’s Tournament games
It’s hard to imagine a more shocking turnaround for many Tournament teams, as VCU’s two games were decided by a combined 71 points. VCU overwhelmed a shorthanded Akron team 88-42 and then lost 78-53 to Michigan.

3. NCAA Tournament wins for La Salle, more than the last 58 years combined
A history refresher on La Salle: The Explorers won the 1954 NCAA title and played for another in 1955 with Hall of Fame center Tom Gola. Before that, La Salle won the NIT in 1952 when the NIT was on par with the NCAAs. Since then, La Salle fell into the obscurity, going 2-9 in the NCAA Tournament before defeating Boise State in the First Four on Wednesday, Kansas State in the round of 64 and Ole Miss in the round of 32 to reach the regional semifinal.

5. Career losses to a double-digit seed for John Thompson III at Georgetown
John Thompson III put himself in exclusive company with Bob Knight and Jim Boeheim, but not for the kind of distinction Thompson would like to hold. With a loss to No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, Thompson tied Knight and Boeheim with his fifth loss to a team seeded five spots lower in the NCAA Tournament, according to Patrick Stevens at D1scource.com. The difference, of course, is that Thompson has coached in nine Tournaments (seven at Georgetown, two at Princeton) while Knight coached in 28 Tourneys and Boeheim is at 30 and counting. Since the 2007 Final Four, Georgetown has been eliminated by No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, No. 11 NC State in 2012, No. 11 VCU in 2011, No. 14 Ohio in 2010, and No. 10 Davidson in 2008. Is that a reflection on Thompson or bad luck? To sum up: That's a loss to Stephen Curry, a Final Four-bound VCU and a Florida Gulf Coast team that turned around to upset San Diego State.

6. NCAA Tournament appearances for Belmont’s Rick Byrd without a win, nearing a record
Belmont has reached the NCAA Tournament is six of the last eight seasons, a notable accomplishment for a program that elevated leagues this season from the Atlantic Sun to the Ohio Valley and was in the NAIA as recently as 1996. But Byrd is 0-6 in the NCAA Tournament, tying DePaul’s Oliver Purnell for the second-most appearances without a win, notes CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. North Carolina A&T’s Don Corbett and Louisiana-Monroe’s Mike Vining hold the record of most appearances without a Tournament win at 0-7 each.
 

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/florida-gulf-coast-will-bring-dunk-city-sweet-16
Body:

The athletic director is a little annoyed CBS’s score graphic lists his school as “Florida G.C.” One scoreboard mistakenly listed the team as “Florida Golf Coast.” The New York Times issued a correction for a piece that called the school “Gulf Coast College.” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher accidentally called his opponent "Florida State" -- in a postgame press conference. And that doesn’t account for dozens of hastily typed acronyms.

Now every college basketball fan knows Florida Gulf Coast. Or better yet, Dunk City.

Florida Gulf Coast, a school that admitted its first student in 1997 and gained Division I status less than two years ago, is headed to the Sweet 16 after defeating Georgetown and San Diego State.

With the turnover among top teams this season, the question for most of the season was “Is this the year a No. 16 team will finally beat a No. 1?” That answer is no. Instead, this is the first season a No. 15 seed would win two in a row to reach the Sweet 16.

Now, the best story in the 2013 NCAA Tournament will face its in-state two-time national champion, Florida, for a chance at the Elite Eight.

It’s not so much that FGCU made this look easy -- the Eagles led Georgetown by 19 at one point Friday and then went on a 17-0 run against San Diego State on Sunday -- the Eagles made it look fun.

Here are the highlights from Dunk City:

 

 

 

Teaser:
<p> Florida Gulf Coast will bring Dunk City to the Sweet 16</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 21:36

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