Final Four Rundown (and CIT/CBI Recap): Saturday, April 1st

CLICK HERE to view our most recent Hoops HD Report, where we give a much more extended breakdown of each team and the games today.

#7 SOUTH CAROLINA VS #1 GONZAGA  (CBS, 6:09pm, est).  Just about everyone (including myself) is picking Gonzaga to win this game, but South Carolina’s overall play, particularly their defense, has been so good throughout this tournament that you can’t just write them off.  This is a team that beat Duke, who many felt should have been a #1 seed, and who blew Baylor off the court, so simply based on the road each team took to get here, South Carolina’s has been more impressive.  Both teams play great defense, and Gonzaga has certainly shown that they’re capable of scoring, even against tough defenses like West Virginia.  I like the Zags a little better, but am not ready to just write off South Carolina.

#3 OREGON VS #1 NORTH CAROLINA (CBS, approx 8:49, est).  Oregon had to sweat out their Round of 32 game against Rhode Island, as well as their Sweet Sixteen win against Michigan, but then pulled off what I still think is the most shocking single game performance when they ran away from Kansas in the Elite Eight.  North Carolina had some trouble with Arkansas, but then beat Butler without too much trouble and then downed Kentucky on a near last second shot.  North Carolina has looked like the better team especially when you consider Oregon isn’t at full strength, but it seems silly to keep pointing that out considering that Oregon has made it this far while not being at full strength.  UNC could be dealing with injuries of their own.

OTHER GAMES PLAYED ON FRIDAY

Last night, the CIT came down to an exciting finish between Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Saint Peter’s. The Islanders were able to draw a foul while attempting a game-tying 3 pointer with 3 seconds left in regulation. They were able to hit all 3 free throws to tie the score. After SPC inbounded the ball cross court in front of their bench, they called their last timeout to set up one last play. They inbounded cross-court to someone who had an open drive to the bucket and managed to draw a foul with under a second remaining. Trevis Wyche hit the first free throw for the Peacocks and intentionally missed the 2nd one – Corpus Christi’s last-second prayer went unanswered to give Saint Peter’s a 62-61 victory and their first CIT title.

Elsewhere, Wyoming ended up with another 24-point victory to win the CBI championship. This time, they got off to a fast start with a 42-23 halftime lead. Coastal Carolina was unable to put together any runs of significance, and Wyoming won their first postseason tournament since winning the 1943 NCAA Championship.

Under The Radar Postseason News, Notes and CBI/CIT Championship Previews – Friday, March 31

For the penultimate Hoops HD podcast for the 2016-17 season – CLICK HERE.

TCU left little doubt as to who was the hottest team outside of the NCAA Tournament last night. They got out to an 11-point lead at halftime last night and outscored Georgia Tech by 21 in the 2nd half to cruise to an 88-56 victory over the Yellow Jackets in the NIT Championship game last night. Kenrich Williams had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Horned Frogs – Williams was also named Most Outstanding Player in the NIT for his efforts.

Elsewhere last night, the 3-point shooting contest and slam dunk contest were held last night at Grand Canyon’s on-campus arena in Phoenix. Peter Jok (Iowa) won the men’s 3-point shooting contest and Kendred Wesemann (Kansas State) won the women’s 3-point shooting contest. The finals between Jok and Wesemann ended in a tie, but Weseman ended up winning the overall contest on having the best overall round throughout the night. Rodney Prior (Georgetown) ended up winning the slam-dunk contest.

CBI (Game 3)

COASTAL CAROLINA at WYOMING (7:00 PM, ESPNU). Wyoming forced a decisive third and final game with an 81-57 win over Coastal Carolina on Wednesday night. While Justin James and Alex Aka Gorski provided Wyoming their main firepower, the Chanticleers were able to get 6 guys in double-figures in the scoring column in their win on Monday night.

CIT (Championship)

SAINT PETER’S at TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI (9:00 PM, CBS Sports Network). Thanks to a relatively easy victory over Furman on Wednesday, Saint Peter’s will make their second trip to Texas (following a win at Texas State in the quarterfinals) in the CIT. Their opponent will be Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – the Islanders earned the right to host the championship game with a 79-61 win at UMBC.

Under The Radar Postseason News, Notes and NIT Championship – Thursday, March 30

Thanks to Wyoming’s win over Coastal Carolina last night, we are now assured of 3 more under-the-radar games remaining in the 2016-17 college basketball season. The Cowboys went into halftime with a modest 33-27 halftime lead, but they kicked into another gear in the 2nd half and ended up with a blowout 81-57 win at home over the Chanticleers last night. Justin James led Wyoming with 21 points and Alex AkaGorski also added 17 points off the bench. Friday night’s game will be a winner-take-all affair for the CBI Championship on Wyoming’s home floor.

In the CIT last night, Rashawn Thomas became the first 2,000-point scorer in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s program history. The Islanders got a decisive 79-61 victory last night over UMBC. They will play host to the CIT Championship on Friday night against Saint Peter’s – the Peacocks also had a comfortable 77-51 victory at home last night against Furman.

As we type this article this morning, Dayton has announced that Anthony Grant will return home as their next head coach. He played for the Flyers under legendary head coach Don Donoher in the mid-80s and was part of a team that went to the Elite 8 in 1984. He spent 3 years as a head coach at VCU and 6 seasons at Alabama in the collegiate coaching ranks. Right now, he is an assistant coach on Billy Donovan’s staff for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic 10, former Chattanooga head coach Matt McCall will officially become the new head coach at UMass. The job was originally going to go to Pat Kelsey, but he did a 180 just prior to being announced as their new head coach at the time. Former Purdue associate head coach Jack Owens will become the new head coach for the (Mother) Miami RedHawks as well.

NIT (Championship)

(6) GEORGIA TECH vs. (4) TCU (8:00 PM, ESPN). Regardless of who wins tonight’s game, we are assured of at least one feel-good story in the coaching ranks in terms of rapidly rebuilding a moribund program. Will it be Josh Pastner’s Georgia Tech team – a team picked by some pundits to not win a single game in ACC play all year? Or will it be Jamie Dixon and TCU – a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since the run-and-gun days of Billy Tubbs in the late 1990s?

Under The Radar Postseason News, Notes and Highlighted Games – Wednesday, March 29

For a photo recap of Jon Teitel’s postseason coverage of the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, DC – CLICK HERE

All good things eventually come to an end, and the same thing held true in the NIT last night for the Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners. Georgia Tech won 76-61 in the first semifinal game to advance to their first NIT Championship game. The Yellow Jackets were led by Josh Okogie’s 22 points along with Ben Lammers’ 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Awaiting them in the championship game on Thursday night will be the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU won 68-53 in a game where just about everyone in a Horned Frog uniform got in on the act. They had 20 assists on 26 made field goals, and outrebounded Central Florida 44-35. They will play Georgia Tech in the NIT Championship Thursday night at 7 PM.

There were also a couple of notable players that declared for the NBA Draft in the past 24 hours and signed with an agent. Maryland’s Melo Trimble will forgo his final year of eligibility. Xavier’s Edmond Sumner also declared yesterday, although he will be unable to do workouts as he rehabs his knee following ACL surgery and awaits surgery later this spring on a torn labrum in his shoulder.

CBI (Game 2)

COASTAL CAROLINA at WYOMING (9 PM, ESPNU). Coastal Carolina won the first game of the best-of-3 CBI Finals on Monday night and must win at least one game at Wyoming to win their first postseason title in their program’s history. Coastal had 6 players in double-figures in the point column on Monday night, but going from sea level to 7,220 feet in altitude will be demanding from a conditioning point of view for the Chanticleers.

CIT

TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI at UMBC (7:00 PM, CBS Sports Network). The UMBC Retrievers have won all 3 games at home during the CIT – their most recent victory came against Liberty on Sunday. They will take on the Southland’s perennial bridesmaid TAMU-CC (at least during the SFA years) in the first of 2 semifinal games to be broadcast on CBS Sports Network tonight.

FURMAN at SAINT PETER’S (9:00 PM, CBS Sports Network). As alluded to a couple of days ago, both Furman and Saint Peter’s were unlikely 2nd-place finishers in their respective conferences during the regular season. The Paladins did get a road win on Saturday against Campbell to advance to tonight’s semifinal. Saint Peter’s also returned from their brief road trip with a win against Texas State last Saturday night as well.

 

Under The Radar Postseason News, Notes and Highlighted Games – Tuesday, March 28

There were a couple more coaching hires that were announced yesterday. The first one comes as a little bit of a surprise – Akron’s Keith Dambrot will become the new head coach at Duquesne (sorry, @CoachMarkTitus). He spent 13 seasons as Akron’s head coach that included 5 regular season championships in the MAC (in the East Division) and 3 MAC Tournament championships in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The only thing missing here was an NCAA Tournament victory.

Elsewhere, Quinnipiac also has a new head coach in place. That would be former Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy. He is the son of Tulane head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. and the brother to current NBA player and former Duke player Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Last night, the CBI Best-of-3 tipped off with Coastal Carolina beating Wyoming 90-81 in Game 1. Jaylen Shaw, Michel Enanga and Demario Beck each had 15 points for the Chanticleers. Jason McManamen led the Cowboys with 19 points. Games 2 (and 3, if necessary) will be played at Wyoming later on this week. Wednesday’s game is set for a 9 PM tip (Eastern time).

NIT

(8) CAL STATE-BAKERSFIELD vs. (6) GEORGIA TECH (7:00 PM, ESPN). The Cinderella Lite run continues for Bakersfield – they advanced to Madison Square Garden with 3 consecutive road wins against California, Colorado State and Texas-Arlington (which was the only game the Mavs lost at home all year). Georgia Tech actually got a pair of home wins due to Indiana’s unwillingness to play at home and a matchup with lower-seeded Belmont in the 2nd round, but proved themselves worthy of a trip to New York with their win at Ole Miss in the quarterfinals last week. Still, the Yellow Jackets have far exceeded what little was expected of them this season.

(4) CENTRAL FLORIDA vs. (4) TCU (app. 9:30 PM, ESPN). Both the Knights and the Horned Frogs knocked out the #1 seeds in the 2nd round (UCF won at Illinois State and TCU won at Iowa) and both teams won at home in the quarterfinals (UCF against Illinois and TCU against Richmond). While UCF’s Tacko Fall literally towers over everyone left in the field, don’t sleep on TCU’s Kenrich Williams, either. He is half a rebound away from averaging a double-double.

 

Elite Eight Recap and other Under The Radar Games – Monday, March 27

***NOTE***  We will be recording this week’s Hoops HD Report on Thursday night instead of the normal Monday night.

After yesterday’s games in the NCAA Tournament, our Final Four is now set for next weekend. In the first game, South Carolina was able to call on their defense one more time and were able to come up with a 77-70 victory over Florida. A year of firsts continues to roll on for the Gamecocks and are now assured of their first trip to the Final Four. They will play Gonzaga in the first game on Saturday.

The other game was even more of a nailbiter. North Carolina had a 7-point lead in the final minute and managed to give up back-to-back 3s sandwiched around a 5-second call where they failed to inbound the ball against Kentucky’s pressure defense. After a Carolina layup, Kentucky hit a game-tying 3-point shot with 7 seconds to play, but Carolina’s Luke Maye hit a game-winning shot just inside the arc to give the Tar Heels the final ticket to the Final Four. They will play Oregon in the second game on Saturday night.

As for the CIT, the final 2 quarterfinal games were played yesterday. Fort Wayne was unable to take advantage of their 2nd-round bye; they looked a little rusty on the road in their 78-62 loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. UMBC’s magic carpet ride also continued with their 80-68 win at home over Liberty. This now sets up both semifinal matchups for Wednesday night – Corpus Christi will travel to UMBC for the first semifinal game at 7 PM. The other game will feature Furman hitting the road to Saint Peter’s for a  9 PM tipoff. Both games will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Last and not least, ESPN is reporting that GW officially named Maurice Joseph their permanent head coach with a 5-year deal. He was the interim head coach after Mike Lonergan was dismissed last fall just prior to the beginning of the season.

CBI (Game 1)

WYOMING at COASTAL CAROLINA (7:30 PM, ESPNU). At last, the under-the-radar tournaments are beginning to wrap up. The CBI championship will be determined in a best-of-3 series with each team assured of at least one home game. The first game will be played at Coastal Carolina – the Chanticleers defeated Illinois-Chicago 89-78 to advance to the championship series. Wyoming gets to host the second and final games (if necessary), but must first hit the road for the first and only time during the CBI. They beat Utah Valley 74-68 to advance to the championship series.