In the past 12 hours, Fletcher Magee has become one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, the plucky David the nation will root for to carry Wofford past the Big Blue Goliath tomorrow afternoon. Who is this guy, anyway? Let’s find out.
He broke the NCAA career three-point record last night
Above all, Magee is a shooter. His seven threes last night took his career total to 509, setting an NCAA Division I record. It was the 15th time in his career he’s hit seven threes in a game. He and Steph Curry are the only Southern Conference players to make at least five threes in an NCAA Tournament game in the past 20 years. Speaking of Steph, Magee is only 11 threes away from breaking his single-season record (162) set back in 2007-08.
He was on Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney’s AAU team
Magee was an unranked recruit in the 2015 class, but played AAU with Antonio Blakeney and Ben Simmons, two five-stars Kentucky fans should definitely remember. The three played for Each 1 Teach 1 Elite on the EYBL circuit.
He also played on the FABC All-Star game with Tacko Fall back in 2015:
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He declared for the NBA Draft last summer
After his junior season, Magee explored the NBA Draft waters, working out for several teams before deciding to return to Wofford. Here he is describing his game to Los Angeles Lakers reporters:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 22, 2018
He’s struggled vs. ranked opponents
Magee’s averaging 20.6 points off 44.6 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from beyond the arc, but those numbers are lower when you look at Wofford’s three games vs. ranked opponents:
|#8 UNC||L, 78-67||21 points||7-23||30.4%||3-16||18.8%|
|#2 Kansas||L, 72-47||7 points||1-14||7.1%||0-9||0%|
|#17 Mississippi State||L, 98-87||24 points||7-13||53.8%||4-10||40%|
As Todd Harris notes (and logic would suggest), the Terriers as a whole cool down considerably from the outside vs. Power Five opponents:
Wofford vs Power5 teams(5 games) 3pt shooting 50-144 = 34.7%.
Wofford vs non Power5(29 games) 3pt shooting 327-758 =43.1%
— tgh3316 (@tgh3316) March 22, 2019
He’ll have a big cheering section tomorrow
Last night, Magee, an Orlando native, had almost 75 family members and friends in the stands in Jacksonville, a number that will surely grow tomorrow. As Kentucky fans, we’re used to it, but brace yourself because everyone in America will be cheering for him and the Terriers to pull off the upset.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 9:30pm
PJ Washington sent the collective blood pressure of the BBN skyrocketing when he showed up to tonight’s game in a hard cast riding a scooter. During the telecast, CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl said PJ told her the pain in his foot was a 10/10. Afterwards, John Calipari explained the decision to put on the hard cast, not ruling out PJ’s return for Saturday’s game vs. the winner of Seton Hall and Wofford.
“First of all, the option was a boot or the cast. The cast would speed up the healing so we said put the cast on. Whether they’ll take it off tomorrow to check, I don’t know. If they don’t, he won’t play Saturday and they’ll probably try to take it off Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to see how his foot feels. Everything was negative as far as the X-Rays, but they just want — it was a sprained foot so they just want to keep it calm. That’s what it is.”
There you go.
UPDATE: Calipari told ESPN he doubts PJ will be able to play on Saturday.
By Nick Roush on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 9:07pm
No P.J. Washington, no problem.
The second-seeded Wildcats from Kentucky cruised to a 79-44 victory over Abilene Christian to open NCAA Tournament play in Jacksonville.
Making their NCAA Tournament debut, the Wildcats from Central Texas struggled to get out of the gate. Kentucky took an 8-0 lead that quickly turned into an 18-3 lead after only eight minutes of action.
With Washington on the sidelines in a cast on his sprained left foot, E.J. Montgomery earned the start and grabbed 11 rebounds. Reid Travis picked up the slack in the post with 18 points and nine boards, while Keldon Johnson led the team in scoring with 25 points.
Kentucky will take on the winner of Seton Hall-Wofford this Saturday in Jacksonville.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 6:30pm
Looking for some pregame reading prior to Kentucky’s opening-round matchup with Abilene Christian in the NCAA Tournament tonight? I’ve got you covered.
Usually these go up on Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings, but with Keion Brooks Jr.’s announcement this past Friday and my mini post-commitment insider notes going live shortly after, I decided to push these back a little bit to let the dust settle on UK’s newest addition and what’s next for the Wildcats.
Let’s break it down.
Keion Brooks Jr. commits
In the middle of Kentucky’s matchup with Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals last week, the Wildcats picked up a commitment from 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr., and it’s one the coaching staff is absolutely giddy over.
To rewind just a bit, I genuinely thought there was zero chance Brooks would end up at Kentucky following Kahlil Whitney’s commitment back in August. They don’t technically play the same position (Whitney is more of a two/three while Brooks is a three/four), but it was close enough to where I figured the UK coaching staff wanted to go all in on the remaining true big men.
When I talked to a source within the program in early January, though, not only was I told that Brooks was still an option for Kentucky, it was made very clear to me that UK was one of the strong favorites to land him.
It’s no secret Brooks grew up dreaming of playing for his hometown Indiana Hoosiers, but that dream slowly faded when he watched Archie Miller’s group, led by Romeo Langford, crumble their way to the NIT this season. Brooks’ relationship with the coaching staff was strong, but reality set in that he likely wouldn’t have progressed the way he hoped for in his one or two seasons in Bloomington. He wanted to make it to the NBA early, but he watched Langford’s draft stock fall in his lone season. He wanted to play for something of substance in college, but he watched the Hoosiers miss the NCAA Tournament. It was the perfect storm for Kentucky to go in for the kill, as they could offer both things. That’s exactly what they pitched to the 6-foot-8 forward out of Fort Wayne.
When it comes to the actual decision process, sources tell KSR that Kentucky and Indiana were the only two schools seriously in contention over the last week and a half or so, with Michigan State having a shot over two weeks ago, and North Carolina also being involved a bit earlier. That’s how the unofficial cut process went down.
I’m told that when it came down to both schools, Brooks wanted to play with his friends at Indiana, but everything changed once his family and inner circle shifted toward Kentucky. When they said they wouldn’t mind driving down to Lexington for home games and felt he would develop better under Calipari, along with his impressive unofficial visit for the Kentucky vs. Tennessee game, his mind changed. It wasn’t a done deal, but it was enough for the Cats to take the lead, and they never fell behind from that point on.
When he announced his decision date, he knew he was favoring Kentucky, but wanted to give him some time to make a final decision. As the week of the decision came around, Brooks visited with both coaching staffs, and we still saw little-to-no movement on his leaderboard, which was good news for Kentucky. Things went quiet from Wednesday evening through late Thursday, and the official decision was made sometime in that timeframe. And then on early Friday morning, word leaked out that Kentucky would be the choice.
At 8:00 p.m., Brooks made it official.
With that, we can finally close the book on Keion Brooks Jr. and turn to Kentucky’s final few remaining targets in the class of 2019.
One of the most important? Five-star forward Jaden McDaniels.
While his final list consists of Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Washington, most believe the decision will come down to the Wildcats and Huskies.
I’ve said in the past that things have been extremely quiet with him, but I will tell you that there has been a lot of Washington buzz as of late, with several recruiting analysts changing their predictions in favor of the Huskies. Though a lot of that might be educated guesses, there is genuine interest in McDaniels staying out west and playing with his friend Isaiah Stewart, a five-star center out of Fort Wayne, IN.
While I do believe Washington is a serious threat, and very well could win out in the end, I think that we’re still a week or two away from hearing any significant updates on his recruitment. Next week is the McDonald’s All-American Game, and with McDaniels selected to participate in the event, he will certainly be answering questions on his status. I will be there to get as much information on his interest in Kentucky as I can.
Just a few weeks ago, one source I trust flat-out told me Kentucky was not a serious option for the consensus top-ten 2019 prospect. The very next week, Calipari was up in Minnesota visiting Hurt and other recruiting analysts said the Cats were still one of the main contenders. It was admittedly an odd stretch.
We also reported here at KSR that there was worry from Hurt’s camp that Kansas, the perceived leader, was scaring them away a bit with their involvement in FBI rumors. I’m under the strong belief that any serious violations/sanctions found in that scandal will steer him away from the Jayhawks. With Bill Self possibly getting called to testify and more information leaking out of his school’s involvement, that’s looking like a serious possibility.
If that’s the case, Hurt will likely go through an entire second recruitment, where Kentucky will be one of the top options with Duke, North Carolina, and Memphis as the other strong contenders.
Like McDaniels, Hurt was also selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game, so I will be sure to ask about where Kentucky stands and when a decision might come. If you’re playing the odds, I wouldn’t expect a decision until all of the NBA decisions are made and the dust settles a bit on the FBI/college basketball trial. But you’ll have an update this time next week.
Beyond those two, there’s nothing really new on Isaiah Todd, N’Faly Dante, and the other reclassification candidates. I was also told Kentucky will explore the graduate transfer market if need be, but that’s only if the other options fall through and there is a perfect fit a la Reid Travis.
If you’ll remember, EJ Montgomery committed to Kentucky on April 9, while Travis didn’t officially commit until June 20. I’m told that while they do have their top options in place, we could see more opportunities open up once March Madness ends and players go through the draft process.
Kentucky wants at least one more frontcourt signee, and there are plenty of solid options out there to snag. Be patient with this one. After getting Brooks, anything else is icing on the cake.
By Nick Roush on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 5:00pm
The biggest names in the NFL will be in the Bluegrass tomorrow morning for Kentucky Football Pro Day. Headlining the event is college football’s consensus National Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Allen.
“Josh is like Elvis,” said Vince Marrow, “maybe Michael Jackson and you got the Jackson Five.”
Like Tito and Jermaine, the rest of the Cats’ class is benefitting from Allen’s spotlight. ESPN, the NFL Network and every other major media outlet will be at the Nutter Field House for tomorrow’s festivities, along with representatives from all 32 NFL teams.
“It’s actually going to be like a combine. All of the guys you see at the NFL Combine will be here because we’ve got the potential No. 1 pick.” Marrow said. “I think what’s underestimated is the draft is built on day two and day three and we’re going to have six or seven guys drafted on those days. Right now we got a lot of position coaches requesting room time to meet with different guys, meet with Benny Snell, meet with our DBs. Jordan Jones has like three different meetings with three different teams, so it’s going to be a big event.”
How big? Marrow believes it will be one of the biggest days in the history of the program. It’s not just because Josh could be joined by Lonnie Johnson in the first round. Those who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine have a chance to make serious money at UK Pro Day.
“Big George, Bunchy, Westry — it will not shock me if three of those guys are drafted. I think the two linemen are going to be drafted. If you look at the numbers they’re going to do Friday, it’s going to be in the upper echelon of what the guys did at the combine.” Marrow added, “It’s going to be a big event.”
Even if the players do not post incredible raw numbers, that’s not all NFL teams are evaluating. Brad White would know. He did just that for six years with the Indianapolis Colts.
“Everybody thinks about the height, weight, speed stuff, but I think what’s really important tomorrow is all of those individual drills after the initial testing numbers. It’s when they get in and they actually have to do football movements,” White said.
“At the end of the day it’s about what you can do on a football field. Can you translate those numbers into production and explosion?”
Mike Edwards and C.J. Conrad will not get the benefit of the Josh Allen spotlight tomorrow. A pair of medical issues forced them to push back their Pro Day until April 8. Even with the slight setback, Marrow believes Conrad has exactly what NFL teams want.
“You can hear this from me right now, C.J. will not be a free agent. I guarantee you that,” Marrow said. “I think what people are going to get with C.J. is he’s smart. He’s a student of the game. In the NFL you only play three or four tight ends, so you gotta play hurt. That kid played hurt from freshman (year) all the way to his senior year. You save roster spots when you do that…I will bet C.J. plays eight to ten years in the NFL because the tight end coach, the offensive coordinator, the offensive line coach are going to love him because he brings what you need to bring to that room. I’m so excited for him.”
Marrow has a little extra pep in his step this week, and not just because so many NFL big wigs will be in town. They also plan on hosting quite a few high profile recruits over the weekend.
“We just happened to have recruits coming in this week,” Marrow said with a smile. “We didn’t know that was going to happen, it just happened to happen.”
And if they happen to run into Josh Allen and pose for a picture, “He just happened to be here.”
UK Pro Day
Time: 9:15 a.m. to Noon
TV: SEC Network+ or UKAthletics.com
- Josh Allen
- George Asafo-Adjei
- Derrick Baity
- Dorian Baker
- David Bouvier
- Miles Butler
- Tymere Dubose
- Nick Haynes
- Lonnie Johnson Jr.
- Jordan Jones
- Adrian Middleton
- Benny Snell Jr.
- Bunchy Stallings
- Darius West
- Chris Westry
- Tristan Yeomans
By Adam Luckett on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 12:00pm
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The best postseason tournament in sports begins today and Kentucky will take the floor in Jacksonville as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region. It will be the second time in the John Calipari era that the Wildcats are coming from the 2-hole and it was of course the seed UK won the national title out of in 1998.Awaiting the Wildcats for the 7:10pm tip will be the Southland Conference champs. Abilene Christian will be making their first ever appearance in the tournament and they’ll be gunning to make a big splash.
Nuts and Bolts
For 40 years from 1959-2009, ACU was a Division II contender on the basketball court. The Wildcats made multiple playoff appearances over those decades highlighted by an Elite Eight finish in 1966. However, going into the 2013-2014 season, the university decided make up jump into Division I.
The ultimate goal was to have a team good enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and in just their sixth season at the highest level they have accomplished that feat. Under alum Joe Golding, the Wildcats have had a slow build in Division I but in his eighth season, it appears that Golding has the Wildcats headed in the right direction.
After serving as as assistant coach at Arkansas-Little Rock, Golding landed the job at his alma mater and it was a slow climb. After six straight losing seasons to begin his head coaching career, the now 43 year old head coach has led ACU to consecutive winning regular seasons. This year was the breakthrough with 27 victories and a Southland Conference tournament title.
ACU hangs their hat on the defensive end. Under Golding, the Wildcats play at a slow pace and lean on their defense to make things happen. Abilene Christian uses a ball pressure man-to-man defense that is very good at forcing turnovers and limiting opponents to just one shot per possession. On the other end, ACU wants to take their time and get a good shot. Despite being an excellent three-point shooting team (38.3 percent), ACU only has 34.2 percent of their field goal attempts coming from behind the arc. ACU wants to attack the basket and use crisp passing in the halfcourt to create open looks.
This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs. Under Kentucky, John Calipari is 9-0 in the Round of 64, but their last game against a 15-seed was a little too close for comfort. Despite a two touchdown lead at half, UK struggled to put away Northern Kentucky on their way to just a nine-point victory.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 21-point favorite with a total of 132. That’s a projected final score of 76.5-55.5. On the season, Kentucky is 16-16-1 against the spread while ACU is 15-13-1. UK is just 3-7 against the number in their last 10 games.
At point for ACU is senior Jaylen Franklin who is putting up over 10 points and 4.9 assists per game. The Little Rock, Arkansas native has started every game for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-2 guard is an excellent perimeter defender who will give UK’s guards some fits when they put the ball on the deck. He’s limited on the offensive end, but is very good at drawing fouls and going to the line despite shooting under 60 percent at the stripe. He can make plays above the rim.
Next to Franklin on the perimeter is junior Payten Ricks who is this team’s top three-point specialist. The Kansas native has poured in 70 threes on a 40.5 percent shooting clip. Ricks is a really good shooter and you can expect most of his shots to come from three. Off the bench, head coach Joe Golding will use diminutive point guard Damien Daniels. The freshman guard from Kansas brings a scoring punch and is pesky on ball defender.
Just a few weeks ago, ACU was delivered a blow when starting guard BJ Maxwell was dismissed from the team. The off guard was this squad’s second best three-point shooter and a full-time starter. Despite his loss, ACU was still able to win the Southland tournament title.
ACU’s best player is found in the paint in senior Jaren Lewis. The 6-foot-6 forward plays the four for the Wildcats and he can step away from the hoop and space the floor (33.3 percent three-point shooter). He leads the team with 13.7 points per game and is a very solid offensive rebounder. He’ll be at a size disadvantage for 40 minutes, but has the athletic ability to make things happen with his quickness.
Next to Lewis in the post, ACU will use a platoon at the five. Both Hayden Farquhar and Joe Pleasant log time down low and they can both be considered glue pieces. Farquhar is the far more dangerous player with his three-point shooting ability. The majority of his shots have come from behind the three-point line.
On the wing, Trey Lenox plays the most when ACU doesn’t want to go to all in on a three-guard lineup. Lenox is another strong defender who does most of his damage with shots from behind the arc.
Keys to Victory
- In their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, you can expect for ACU to come out swinging early. It’s hard to not see how excited this team and program is to be here. UK should expect some big swings early. Following the gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee, it will be important for UK to take ahold of this game early and gain some confidence. Get a lead in the first five minutes and the talent should takeover for what should be a comfortable win.
- Despite not attempting too many three-pointers, ACU is one of the best teams in the country in making them. The Wildcats have four rotation players shooting at least 33 percent from deep. Against a talented defense with all kinds of length, don’t be surprised to see ACU launch at least 25 threes. If they hit 12 or 13 they will be in this game in crunch time.
- The strength of ACU is on defense and the Wildcats will play man-to-man and pressure the basketball. After a solid performance against Tennessee, Ashton Hagans will be challenged once again. If the freshman point guard is able to handle the pressure, hit lay-ups, and setup teammates that would be a good start to UK’s tournament run.
- Even if Hagans plays well, UK is going to have some turnovers tonight. ACU’s best offense usually comes off of turnovers and they produce a lot of them. When turnovers do happen, UK must be locked in on transition defense. Don’t give up cheap buckets or transition threes and Kentucky will be just fine for most of the 40 minutes.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 10:01am
PJ Washington will not play vs. Abilene Christian. John Calipari just announced that the specialist PJ saw yesterday confirmed he has a sprained foot but no fracture, but put him in a hard cast as a precaution. He has been ruled out for today’s game.
The specialists confirmed our original diagnosis that @PJWashington has a sprained foot and there is no fracture. Once we determined that PJ was not going to play today, they put him in a hard cast for precautionary reasons. He is out for today’s game.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 21, 2019
Let’s win it and cut that cast off for Saturday.
By Maggie Davis on ©March 20th, 2019 @ 10:55pm
BBN, you can exhale. John Calipari isn’t going anywhere.
On Wednesday afternoon, rumors began circulating Coach Calipari showed “serious interest” in leaving UK to accept the UCLA head coaching job. Wednesday night, Calipari took to Twitter to respond to the speculation. He wrote:
“Before I go to bed, let me just say this: I’m coaching at the [University] of Kentucky. In my opinion, there is no better job in the world to coach basketball. My plan and my desire is to retire at Kentucky. I think the university feels the same as I do and we’ve talked openly about it.”
Whew. Rick Pitino, the Bruins’ job is all yours. In the mean time, the BBN should take Coach Cal’s advice:
Now let’s focus on this game tomorrow!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 21, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 20th, 2019 @ 10:35pm
Go on and turn your television on right now. I assure you one of the major ESPN shows or other sports networks are talking about the Duke Blue Devils this very second. Whether it be one of Zion Williamson’s viral dunks, RJ Barrett refusing to pass the ball (again), or Coach Krzyzsfjhlksjdhfkas being compared to a Greek God in the college basketball world, the publicity is there, just like it has been since the season tipped off.
Now that March Madness is officially here, will the Blue Devils be able to live up to the hype in the East? Or will they fall Mercer-fully in one of the early rounds? Who else has a chance to come out of Washington D.C.?
Let’s take a look.
GAME TIMES/TV INFORMATION
First Four | Tuesday | Dayton, OH
No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 11 Temple (Belmont wins 81-70)
First Four | Wednesday | Dayton, OH
No. 16 NC Central vs. No. 16 North Dakota State | 6:40 p.m. ET | truTV
Thursday | Jacksonville, FL
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale | 12:30 p.m. ET | truTV
No. 6 Maryland vs. No. 11 Belmont | 3:00 p.m. ET | truTV
Thursday | Des Moines, IA
No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota | 12:00 p.m. ET | CBS
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Bradley | 2:30 p.m. ET | CBS
Thursday | San Jose, CA
No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Liberty | 7:15 p.m. ET | truTV
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 13 Saint Louis | 9:55 p.m. ET | truTV
Friday | Columbia, SC
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 North Dakota State | 7:00 p.m. ET | CBS
No. 8 VCU vs. No. 9 UCF | 9:30 p.m. ET | CBS
ONE THING TO KNOW ABOUT ALL SIXTEEN TEAMS IN THE REGION
1. Duke — RJ Barrett leads the team with 22.9 points per game, followed by Zion Williamson at 22.1 PPG. Cam Reddish is (allegedly) a three-point threat, Tre Jones is great at defense, and Marques Bolden still made the wrong college decision. The team still can’t shoot threes, which as we saw in 2010 with Kentucky, can be detrimental to teams in March.
16. North Dakota State — Only two players on the team, Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward, average more than ten points per game. They defeated NC Central tonight for the opportunity to get destroyed by Duke on Friday night.
8. VCU — The Rams finished with an impressive 25-7 record en route to an at-large bid in the A-10, their first in school history. Despite making the tournament in seven of the last eight years, they haven’t move on past the opening weekend since 2011. Shaka Smart ain’t walking through that door.
9. UCF — Tacko Fall vs. Zion Williamson in the Round of 32. The world needs it. Make it happen.
5. Mississippi State — With guard Quinndary Weatherspoon leading the way with 18.2 points per game on 51 percent shooting and 40 percent from three, Bulldogs finished with a record of 23-10 and the No. 6 spot in the SEC.
12. Liberty — Scottie James is the team’s leading scorer (13.1 PPG) and rebounder (8.8 RPG), followed by Caleb Homesley (12 PPG) and Lovell Cabbil Jr. (11.5 PPG) as double-digit scorers. Myo Baxter-Bell, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound meatball out of Cincinnati, OH, averages 4.9 points (50 percent shooting), 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists for the Flames. He might not be a huge star for Liberty, but I love him.
4. Virginia Tech — Led by head coach Buzz Williams, this is Virginia Tech’s highest NCAA Tournament seed ever. They finished the regular season with a record of 24-8 and a ranking of No. 16 overall. Four players on the team average 13 or more points overall.
13. Saint Louis — Former Kentucky guard Travis Ford, who played under Rick Pitino from 1991-1994, has been the head coach at Saint Louis since 2016. The Madisonville native has also coached at Campbellsville, Eastern Kentucky, UMass, and Oklahoma State since graduating from UK. The Billikens won the A-10 Tournament to punch their ticket to the big dance.
6. Maryland — Maryland finished with a record of 22-10 to earn an at-large bid out of the Big Ten. As a side note, do you know Dragan Bender of the Phoenix Suns? His older brother, Ivan, is a redshirt senior for the Terrapins. In case you were curious.
11. Belmont — Led by legendary head coach Rick Byrd, who has accumulated 712 wins at Belmont and 804 overall, the Bruins are considered one of the major sleeper teams out of the East. Three-point specialist Dylan Windler shoots 42.5 percent from deep and averages 20.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.
3. LSU — The scandal-filled LSU Tigers have taken over the bad boy role in the college basketball world. With head coach Will Wade being caught on FBI wiretap discussing a payment for a player, almost certainly guard Javonte Smart, the Tigers are putting their middle fingers in the air by allowing Smart to play the remainder of the season. It is the school’s first tournament appearance since 2015.
14. Yale — The team’s leading scorer (17.6 PPG) and assister (3.5 APG) also has the coolest name, Miye Oni. Four players on their roster average over ten points per game.
7. Louisville — Led by rookie head coach Chris Mack, the Cardinals put together a solid 20-13 season to get back into the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year. Forward Jordan Nwora is the team’s leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, followed by Dwayne Sutton at 10.2 PPG and Christian Cunningham at 9.8 PPG. After starting the year 17-6 and finding themselves ranked in the top 25 for a brief period of time, Louisville ended the season losing seven of the team’s final ten games. Also, hookers.
10. Minnesota — Led by Richard Pitino (not the hooker one), the Golden Gophers are making just their second tournament appearance in six years and third of their last nine. Guard Amir Coffey is the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, followed by forward Jordan Murphy (14.8 PPG) and Daniel Oturu (10.8 PPG). Guard Isaiah Washington is also known for inventing the viral “Jelly” layup move.
2. Michigan State — Once again under head coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans are rolling at the perfect time, but it might have come at a cost. After finishing the season on a five-game winning streak, including a victory in the Big Ten title game over Michigan, MSU actually jumped Kentucky for a chance to be Duke’s two seed. They also somehow lost to Indiana twice this season and Louisville once, so maybe they deserved it.
15. Bradley — The Bradley Braves, who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 years, made headlines following their decision to restrict media access to veteran reporter Dave Reynolds for being too negative in his coverage of the team. In non-controversial news, they have six players from foreign countries (Australia, Canada, Cameroon, England, Netherlands, and South Sudan).
BETTING ODDS TO WIN THE REGION
|North Dakota State||+20000|
No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Maryland is absolutely the game to watch out for. Last night, the Bruins defeated the Temple Owls with ease, and star forward Dylan Windler only managed five points on 2-7 shooting and 1-5 from three. Last time he finished in single digits? He followed it up with a 33-point outing the very next game.
With losses to teams such as Seton Hall, Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, Maryland is no stranger to disappointing finishes this season.
Windler will come back hot and knock off the Terrapins for the upset.
PICK TO WIN IT
Michigan State is a genuine threat and teams like LSU and Virginia Tech can certainly make a push, but the Blue Devils don’t really have any significant mismatches in their road to the Final Four. As mentioned earlier, they’ve proven to be vulnerable if they go cold from the outside, but it’d be silly to bet against Duke to come out of the region.
More than anything, the Blue Devils coming out of the East allows for a rematch with Kentucky in the national championship game. I can see the “they opened the season, now they’re going to close it” headlines already.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 20th, 2019 @ 3:05pm
According to John Calipari, PJ Washington sprained his foot during the Tennessee game but Kentucky expects him to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament.
“PJ sprained his foot in the Tennessee game. We had him in the boot for a while. X-rays, everything was negative, MRIs, but we sent him to a specialist, again [as a] precaution. He wants to play. If you know me, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s go get one more level of this.’ So, we expect him — he is not here with us now, he’ll be here in an hour or so, but we sent him to a specialist to make sure that he can’t harm himself but we expect him to play.”
By Nick Roush on ©March 19th, 2019 @ 11:01pm
Over the last 24 hours rumors have been flying around the Bluegrass that P.J. Washington injured his foot in Kentucky’s SEC Tournament semifinal loss to Tennessee.
Once they first surfaced, KSR checked the tape and scoured social to see the alleged injury. The research produced nothing, but this afternoon we discovered Washington is in fact wearing a boot.
UK officials tell KSR the sophomore forward has been wearing a walking boot since Sunday for “precautionary reasons.”
As of now, there’s no reason to panic. The severity of the injury is unknown. The team is currently on their way to Jacksonville. John Calipari will have an update on Washington’s status tomorrow afternoon.
Kentucky is scheduled to take the Veterans Memorial Arena court in Jacksonville for an open practice tomorrow afternoon at 3:25 p.m. ET.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 19th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Ah, the South Region, aka, the region Kentucky should be in but Tennessee had to go and lose to Auburn in the SEC Championship and ruin our chances. Another reason to hate the Vols, amirite?
Sadly, Kentucky won’t get to take advantage of what would have been a ridiculous home court advantage in Louisville, but there’s still plenty on intrigue in this part of the bracket. Is this Virginia’s year or will it be another early exit? Is there another team that can challenge them outside of Tennessee? Let’s break it down.
GAME TIMES/TV INFORMATION
|7:20 PM||(6) Villanova||(11) St. Mary’s||TBS||Hartford, CT|
|9:50 PM||(3) Purdue||(14) Old Dominion||TBS||Hartford, CT|
|12:15 PM||(7) Cincinnati||(10) Iowa||CBS||Columbus, OH|
|12:40 PM||(8) Ole Miss||(9) Oklahoma||truTV||Columbia, SC|
|2:00 PM||(4) Kansas State||(13) UC Irvine||TBS||San Jose, CA|
|2:45 PM||(2) Tennessee||(15) Colgate||CBS||Columbus, OH|
|3:10 PM||(1) Virginia||(16) Gardner Webb||truTV||Columbia, SC|
|4:30 PM||(5) Wisconsin||(12) Oregon||TBS||San Jose, CA|
ONE THING TO KNOW ABOUT ALL 16 TEAMS IN THE REGION
1. Virginia – The Cavaliers are first in the country in scoring defense, holding opponents to 55.1 points per game and second in the country in offensive efficiency, scoring 123.6 points per 100 possessions, per KenPom. That’s actually two things.
2. Tennessee – By now, you know all about the Volunteers, who have the nation’s top flopper in Grant Williams. Right, Calipari?
3. Purdue – Carsen Edwards is one of the nation’s best scorers, averaging 23.5 points per game; however, Minnesota proved that if you shut down Edwards, you can stop Purdue. In the Boilermakers’ two losses to the Golden Gophers in recent weeks, Edwards was 11-48 from the field.
4. Kansas State – I’m still annoyed by the Purple Wildcats after last year, specifically goofy Bruce Weber. Kansas State has underachieved this season and their tournament chances look especially grim now that Dean Wade is doubtful to play with a foot injury.
5. Wisconsin – I’ll forever be annoyed by Wisconsin, and this group seems to be just Ethan Happ and a bunch of dudes.
6. Villanova – My, how the mighty have fallen. Last year’s defending champ is a shadow of its former self after losing four players to the NBA, but Jay Wright should save them from a first-round exit.
7. Cincinnati – Per usual, Mick Cronin’s squad is physical, holding opponents to an average of 62.2 points per game. Assuming both teams advance to the second round, Cincinnati vs. Tennessee will be a game to watch, especially since it takes place in Columbus.
8. Ole Miss – Kermit Davis has done a great job with the Rebel Black Bear Landsharks this season, but they’ve lost five of their last seven, so don’t look for them to go farther than the second round. Also, this is dumb:
9. Oklahoma – Trae Young is gone, but the Sooners are dancing thanks to wins over Kansas, Wofford, and Florida.
10. Iowa – The Hawkeyes won three games by two points or fewer this season. That’s seriously the only interesting thing about them.
11. Saint Mary’s – You probably remember the Gaels from their win over Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Championship. They also lost to LSU by four back in December.
12. Oregon – Despite losing Bol Bol to a foot injury in January, the Ducks managed to make the tournament thanks to a win over Washington in the Pac-12 Championship. They could give a fading Wisconsin team a battle Friday afternoon.
13. UC Irvine – Their mascot is the Peter the Anteater, who got a makeover from Conan O’Brien back in 2015:
14. Old Dominion – The Monarchs are led by senior guard B.J. Stith, who is playing for the same coach, Jeff Jones, that his father did at Virginia 30 years ago. B.J. wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps at UVA, but after playing in only 13 games as a freshman, transferred to Old Dominion to play for Jones and his dad, who’s an assistant.
15. Colgate – The Raiders are not a toothpaste and are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.
16. Gardner-Webb – The team that will always remind us things could be much, much worse.
(12) Oregon over (5) Wisconsin
Not only because I’ll always hate Wisconsin but because Oregon is the exact type of team that can give the Badgers trouble. Junior point guard Peyton Pritchard can be a matchup nightmare and freshman Louis King is averaging 19 points over the last three games. Plus, Wisconsin’s star, Ethan Happ, is hitting only 46.8 percent of his free throws. Hack-a-Happ!
According to Bovada, Wisconsin’s only a 1.5-point favorite right now, making this the most likely 5/12 upset in the eyes of the oddsmakers.
BETTING ODDS TO WIN THE REGION
|Kansas State (4)||+1000|
|St Mary’s (11)||+4000|
|Cal Irvine (13)||+8000|
|Old Dominion (14)||+9000|
|Gardner Webb (16)||_20000|
PICK TO WIN IT
I’m chalking Sunday’s 20-point loss to Auburn up to fatigue and disinterest (although, come on Vols, have some pride). The Vols looked very impressive on Saturday, responding to every punch Kentucky had with one of their own (even if they got an assist from the refs). A smart, experienced squad that’s capable of lighting it up from the outside, Tennessee could knock Virginia out in the Elite Eight…or they could choke in the second round. I’m betting on the former simply for the possibility of a rematch with Kentucky in the Final Four, because that was some incredible basketball.
Randall Cobb will wear blue once again.
After eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, the former Kentucky wide receiver has agreed to a deal with the Dallas Cowboys, according to NFL Insider Jay Glazer. Cobb will the fill the Cowboys’ vacancy in the slot following Cole Beasley’s departure. Adam Schefter reports the deal is worth $5 million for one year.
Cobb’s best season came in 2014 when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. It’s his only season over 1,00 yards or ten touchdowns, thanks to nagging injuries.
The former Wildcat entered the NFL with a bang. In his debut he tied an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return touchdown. It was also the first NFL touchdown by a player born in the 90s.
I guess there’s only one thing to say: How bout them Cowboys?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 19th, 2019 @ 9:00am
Remember “Inside the Madness: Kentucky Basketball,” Facebook’s behind-the-scenes series on last year’s team? Turns out John Calipari made $1 million from it and gave it all to charity.
USA Today discovered the income through its annual survey of college basketball coaches’ salaries, and when they asked Kentucky about it, Cal said he told his players before they voted on whether or not to participate in the series that if they said yes, he’d be donating his profits from it to charity.
“In a perfect world, some of the money we made from the Facebook series would have been distributed to our players,” Calipari said in the statement to USA Today. “Our rules simply won’t allow it. Instead, I’m proud of how they chose to allow themselves to be part of doing something that would make a difference in the lives of so many other people through charitable donations.”
More than $600,000 went to eight nonprofits, including the Jimmy V Foundation and the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, with an additional $141,000 towards debt relief for 19 students in Kentucky’s College of Education. Cal also placed $100,000 in an educational fund to relieve debts for staff, managers and former players at UMass, Memphis, and Kentucky.
Another interesting note: the producers of “Inside the Madness” initially wanted to air the show on Showtime, but Kentucky declined. They reconsidered closer to the start of the 2017-18 season when it was pitched for Facebook because they thought it could reach more people.
“We felt like we were getting a lot of stuff about people being disconnected from our team because of the changeover in roster,” DeWayne Peevy said. “So really we thought it was a vehicle for people to be able to get to know our kids.”
Reading this story, I was reminded of something Calipari said during his preseason roundtable with reporters last fall.
“Being here, seeing the other side of it, which is, you have what you need, and your focus becomes what you’re doing within the program, or you have more time to be involved in charity work. I’m doing more of that, ten times more than I’ve ever did when I was younger. I would say my wife and I always try to give back and be charitable, but not to the level of what we do here, which means I’m probably spending twice the time doing that than I’ve ever spent in my entire life.”
I like my coach.