Category Archives: NCAA Basketball
2015 NBA Draft: Yahoo Sports recaps the NBA Draft’s 1st round, offering team grades for each player selected from No. 1-30:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns (PF/C, Kentucky, Fr., 19, 7-0, 248): The Towns vs. Okafor debate faded recently as NBA personnel fell in love with the versatile ex-Kentucky big man. Towns shined in the paint for the Wildcats, protecting the rim with his ability to alter shots at one end and bullying big men for low-post baskets at the other. He will never be as brilliant a back-to-the-basket scorer as Okafor, but he runs the floor well, moves more fluidly defending the perimeter and is capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A+
2. Los Angeles Lakers – D’Angelo Russell PG/SG, Ohio State, Fr., 19, 6-5, 193): Once considered a tick or two below some of the elite players in his class, Russell ascended draft boards this winter thanks to a brilliant freshman season. He has the quickness and vision to run the point in the NBA yet also possesses the shooting ability and scoring instincts to thrive off ball too. By going with Russell instead of Jahlil Okafor, the Lakers keep alive the possibility of adding a free-agent big man this summer in a year when a handful of frontcourt standouts will be available. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A
Duke freshman guards Tyus Jones & Grayson Allen deliver in the 2nd half as the Blue Devils come back to beat Wisconsin in Final:
Via The Associated Press:
INDIANAPOLIS — Call them freshmen. Please, do not call them kids.
Led by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, Duke’s talented group of youngsters outscored Wisconsin by 14 points over the final 13 minutes Monday night to grit out a 68-63 victory for the program’s fifth national title.
Okafor, the likely first pick in the NBA draft if he decides to leave, got outplayed by Badgers center Frank Kaminsky but came through like a veteran when the pressure was highest. He made two straight buckets over Kaminsky, sandwiched between a pair of 3-pointers from Jones, to help the Blue Devils (35-4) turn a one-time nine-point deficit into an eight-point lead with 1:22 left.
A furious Wisconsin rally ensued, but it came up short. Then, it was Okafor on the bottom of a rowdy, raucous dog pile — a scene very reminiscent of the last time the Final Four was Indianapolis, back in 2010 when Duke edged out Butler in another scintillating final. Read the rest of this entry
Kentucky, Duke, and Wisconsin are the remaining No.1 seeds in a NCAA Tournament headlined by dominant undefeated Kentucky:
The Kentucky Wildcats ended up where everyone expected them on Selection Sunday: seeded No. 1 on their quest to become the first undefeated team since 1976.
“Everyone is 0-0 right now,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in an appearance on ESPN. “This is a one-game shot.
“All I want for my team right now is individually to be the best version of yourself.”
Wisconsin secured the first top seed in program history after overcoming an 11-point deficit Sunday against Michigan State to win 80-69 in overtime in the Big Ten championship.
“It felt like everything aligned perfectly,” Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky said. “Just how we played at the end of the game, how we pulled out a come-from-behind victory down 11. … It was just crazy, like it was written in the stars.”
But the Badgers (31-3) must play in the West Region, where second-seeded Arizona is certain to draw more fans.
The other No. 1 seeds were Villanova in the East and Duke in the South. Read the rest of this entry
Connecticut Defeats Kentucky Capping Off A Surprising National Championship Run, Fueled By Senior Shabazz Napier
UCONN’s backcourt led by senior point guard Shabazz Napier too much for Kentucky, as Huskies win 4th title in past 15 years:
Via CBS Sports:
ARLINGTON, Texas — Coaches and players left them. Others told them to go away.
The guys who stuck around at Connecticut ended up with the last laugh and a pretty good prize to go with it: The national title.
Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 victory against Kentucky’s freshmen and bring home a championship hardly anyone saw coming.
“You’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier told the crowd and TV audience as confetti rained down. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.”
The senior guard had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.
The victory comes only a short year after the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014.
NCAA March Madness: Looking at key story lines for each of the remaining 4 teams heading to Texas for the Final 4:
Via SI: Making the Final Four means that Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Wisconsin have eradicated most of the lingering doubts about them.
Still, there are a few questions worth asking about each of the participants at AT&T Stadium this weekend. So we’re asking them, four apiece for each Final Four contender, who are presented here in chronological order.
1. Can Shabazz Napier keep doing this?
Given that the senior guard led his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals during the regular season and has then averaged 23.3 points per game during the NCAA tournament to date, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. Napier has faced stiff backcourt battles for three straight games, against Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State, and been the best player on the court every time. Read the rest of this entry
CBS Sports Garry Parrish on the impact of Kansas freshman Joel Embiid who is emerging as the top 2014 NBA draft prospect:
LAWRENCE, Kan. — It was clear in the preseason, if you spoke with anybody on the Kansas staff, that Bill Self and his assistants believed they had something special in Joel Embiid.
The freshman big was getting a fraction of the attention reserved for Andrew Wiggins.
But his so-called ceiling, they quietly insisted, was just as high.
Perhaps even higher.
I realized this for the first time in late September when I attended a KU practice while in town. I returned home still intrigued by Wiggins, of course, for all of the obvious reasons. But the lasting image from that trip was one of Embiid — alone on the court, perfecting post moves, smiling when his coaches instructed him to show me his Dream Shake.
Everything Embiid did seemed so natural.
USA Today’s Sam Amick on the buzz surrounding the elite level future NBA talent at the Champions Classic in Chicago:
The traffic between Philadelphia and nearby Trenton, N.J., was heavier than normal on Feb. 10, 2002, with a parade of NBA scouts, coaches, and executives clogging I-95 because they all had somewhere special to be.
Seventeen-year-old LeBron James of St. Vincent-St. Mary was facing off against fellow high school phenom Carmelo Anthony of Oak Hill Academy, and the hordes of talent evaluators who were already in town for the All-Star game gleefully made the 35-mile trek to see these young stars who already seemed destined for greatness. It was, as one executive who was on hand that day described it, “a day where you felt the earth move.”
It moved again on Tuesday night, when three of the top contenders for No. 1 pick in the celebrated 2014 NBA draft took part in the Champions Classic in Chicago that likely will be remembered in the same vein as the James-Anthony faceoff by the estimated 80 NBA types who were on hand. Power forward Julius Randle of No. 1 Kentucky set the bar extremely high in the opener (27 points and 13 rebounds), showcasing his power style in a 78-74 loss to No. 2 Michigan State.
Myron Medcalf of ESPN looks at the interesting story lines and key matchups as the Final 4 is set:
The survivors, those who’ve persisted toward Atlanta for the Final Four and a shot at the national title, are diverse.
There’s the Big Ten team that’s not the Big Ten team many expected to see there. And the Kansas school that believes in the code of the WuShock, not the Jayhawk.
The Big East’s best team is still thriving. But Louisville’s conference colleague, Syracuse, is coming, too. They’re all different. Their styles, their systems, their paths.
But there’s a similarity that can’t be overlooked as we prepare for the final chapter of the 2012-13 season. They’re all led by elite quarterbacks (point guards).
Trey Burke, Malcolm Armstead, Michael Carter-Williams and Peyton Siva are savvy leaders who’ve demonstrated their value throughout the NCAA tournament.
Yahoo Sports looks at the remaining Sweet 16 teams and their chances to win the NCAA Title:
The opening weekend of the NCAA tournament produced plenty of surprises, but it did not change the favorite to capture the national title. That remains No. 1 overall seed Louisville, which looked as dominant as anyone advancing to the Sweet 16.
With the regional semifinals set to tip off Thursday evening, here’s ranking of the 16 teams still alive from most likely to least likely to win a championship. To be clear, this is not merely a best-to-worst list – it also takes into account upcoming draw and where those games will be held.
How they got here: Defeated North Carolina A&T and Colorado State
Up next: No. 12 Oregon
Outlook: Since a five-overtime loss to Notre Dame during Big East play, Louisville has reeled off 12 wins in a row, captured the Big East tournament title and throttled its first two NCAA tournament opponents by an average of nearly 30 points. The team that beats the Cardinals will have to be patient, careful with the ball and torrid from the field, which is bad news for an Oregon team that plays at a fast pace and turns the ball over a little too frequently.
How they got here: Defeated James Madison and Temple
Up next: No. 4 Syracuse
Outlook: It took a key block, a shrewd coaching decision and a game-clinching 3-pointer for Indiana to survive Temple’s round of 32 upset bid, but the Hoosiers did what they needed to do, which was survive and advance. They have the firepower to solve Syracuse’s zone and to overcome Miami or Marquette in the regional finals, but more production from everyone besides Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller is essential.
How they got here: Defeated Northwestern State and Minnesota
Up next: No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast
Outlook: Dominant as Florida has been in its first two games, questions remain how the Gators will fare down the stretch in a close game and whether they can hold onto a late lead in an Elite Eight game the way they’ve failed to do the past two years. Florida may have the size, length and athleticism to put Florida Gulf Coast away early, but whether it’s the Elite Eight or the Final Four, the Gators eventually will be tested in a close game.
SI’s Ben Golliver on Nerlens Noel’s NBA prospects after the Freshman star tears his ACL:
Kentucky announced Wednesday that center Nerlens Noel, regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2013 NBA draft, tore the ACL in his left knee during a Tuesday loss to Florida, an injury that will end his freshman season.
“Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!,” Noel tweeted on Wednesday. “I love you all and can’t thank y’all enough for the prayers.”
There is never a good time and place for an ACL injury but this is about as bad as it gets. Noel was less than five months away from the 2013 draft, in which he has been regarded as a likely top-three pick, and perhaps the No. 1 overall selection. His injury generally carries a nine-to-12 month recovery, forcing him to choose between returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, joining the team midseason once he’s healthy, or taking his chances by declaring for the draft.