Saturday, March 17, 2018

Retrieved at last: UMBC becomes first 16 seed to dethrone a No. 1 seed

By: Jeff Hauser
Twitter: @radiohauser

CHARLOTTE— UMBC stood tall as true underdogs and shocked the world of March Madness.

Never before has a No. 16-seed put a top-ranked team on the canvas. That was before tonight when the general populous found out what the Retrievers from Baltimore were made of by becoming the first ever to defeat the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers by a final score of 74-54.  The Retrievers’ first ever win in the NCAA tournament was a game that wasn’t predicted to be close.

Both teams were tied at 21 all going into halftime and for Vegas standards this was too close for comfort, but every dog has their day. The Retrievers came into the biggest game of their NCAA Tournament lives as 20.5 points underdogs and didn’t disappoint.

“Nobody believed we could do it,” UMBC guard Jairus Lyles said about the historic setting. “We joked about this before the game and if there would be a 30-for-30 about it and… Well, here we are.”

A Cinderella storybook setting seemed too good be true. The previous 135 teams couldn’t fathom what it felt like to pull off the biggest upset in sports history. UMBC took the game in an even pace by coming out of the locker room with a defensive tone. By the 16:23 mark in the second half, Virginia had fallen down by 11 points, 36-24, with a 3-pointer from UMBC’s Joe Sherburne. And from that point on something inside Spectrum Center was electric.  

That’s when the crowd of restless, faithful Retrievers fans along with curious onlookers were in disbelieve. The once dominant Cavaliers were on the ropes. What started out joke became more serious as time began to tick on history.  UMBC never let up or felt the momentum slip away from them thanks to Lyles. The instant tournament legend scored 20 of his 28 points after the 15:52 mark, taking the game over in dramatic fashion for his 16th 20-point game of the season.

Lyles knew what the moment meant for UMBC, as both of his parents attended the lesser known Maryland school as well. “I think we had the confidence coming into the game,” Lyles said. “I don’t think there was a point in the game that we thought we couldn’t play with them, we thought we could play with them coming into the game. Tying up with them at half definitely gave us more confidence.”

The Retrievers shot 54.2 percent from the field (26-of-48) along with 50 percent from beyond the arc. A great way to enter the tournament for a team that most people in America thought wouldn’t be advancing past tonight. “These guys have worked extremely hard to earn a moment like this,” coach Ryan Odom noted. “American East Champions with our backs against the wall, down nine, to come back and win this game and then, just go toe-to-toe with the number one team in the country, I mean, unbelievable is all I can say.”

The 53 points UMBC put up in the second half alone against the mammoth team from Charlottesville was one point less than the Cavaliers scored in the entire 40 minutes of play. Also marking the first time UVA surrendered more than 70 to an opponent all season. Virginia falls to an overall record of 31-3 to end the season and 12-6 all-time as a top-ranked seed.

Looking Ahead:

No. 16-seed UMBC will look to make history again facing No. 9-seed Kansas State on Sunday at with tipoff at 7:45 pm ET.

Social Media:

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Texas A&M lives to fight another day in a 73-69 win over Providence

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard- USA TODAY Sports
By: Jeff Hauser
Twitter: @radiohauser

CHARLOTTE— Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright were determined to have one more NCAA Tournament run.

The Providence seniors experienced heartbreak in last year’s first four vs. No. 11 seed USC and would get another shot this year as a No. 10 seed. A different year, but the same result for the Friars as the No. 7 seed Texas A&M powered their way to a 73-69 first round win in the first-ever meeting between the schools.    

The Aggies didn’t skip a beat after missing last year’s tourney, despite getting off to a slow start by going scoreless in the first 6:33 of the contest.

Both teams struggled to find consistency through the rest of the first half with Providence down by one point, 28-27 at halftime. The back-and-forth scoring affair continued into the second half before Cartwright knocked down a jumper from the elbow, capping an 11-3 run for the Friars and bringing the game to a 50-50 tie with 9:06 remaining.

After Providence stormed back, there was no answer for Texas A&M's tandem of Robert Williams and Tyler Davis. The “tall towers” combined for nine of the next twelve Aggies’ points and pushed the first double-digit lead of the game, 62-52, with 2:37 left. Texas A&M extended their “five minute lead” streak to 20-1 on the season by scoring a total 20 points in that time.  

Davis came into the game shooting 57.9 percent from the field and averaged a team-high in both points (14.5) and rebounds (8.8). He finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks on the day.

Bullock finished his career at Providence leading all scorers with 22 points and five rebounds. The Friars had a total of three players in double figures with Alpha Diallo’s 21 points and Cartwright having 11 points. Providence shot 44 percent from the field (27-62) and a lackluster 30 percent from three-point range, falling below their season mark.

Providence’s season comes to an end having lost their first tournament game in each of the past three seasons. The last time the Friars advance past the regional round was in 1997 with an elite eight loss vs. No. 4 Arizona. 


The NCAA announced in April of 2017 that Charlotte, N.C. would remain a host site for the first and second rounds of the 2018 tournament. All following the repeal of HB2, the state’s controversial legislation that allowed discrimination against the rights of the LGBTQ community. The state was in jeopardy of losing NCAA related championship events until 2022 and would’ve cost an estimated $3.76 billion in lost revenue over 12 years. In a similar move, the NBA stripped Charlotte being the host city for the 2017 All-Star Game due to concerns over HB2, before ultimately decided to re-award the weekend to the Queen City next year.     


Texas A&M advances to play the winner of No. 15 seed Lipscomb and No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday with a tipoff time TBD. The SEC is now a perfect 5-0 to start the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Providence and Texas A&M come into the first round on opposite paths

Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

By: Jeff Hauser
Twitter: @radiohauser

An unlikely SEC vs. Big East meeting in Charlotte, N.C. could be the best neutral site game in the entire 2018 NCAA tournament.  

Texas A&M (20-12) comes into the Big Dance as the West Region's No. 7 seed with something to prove in a "Jekyll and Hyde" type season. After jumping out to a blazing 11-1 start, the Aggies dropped 10 of their next 16 games and lost to Alabama, 71-70, in the first round of the SEC tournament. 

Billy Kennedy's team reached as high as the No. 5 spot in the Associated Press poll with impressive wins over No. 11 West Virginia and No. 10 USC. All prior to a five-game losing skid, but nonetheless a second trip to the round of 64 in Kennedy's seven-year tenure at College Station. With an absence from last year's tourney, the Aggies advanced to the sweet 16 in 2016 before being stopped by Oklahoma.   

A matchup against the No. 10 seed Providence (21-13) could be a one-and-done scenario for Texas A&M's hopes of advancing to the round of 32. The Friars ended the regular season with a deep run in the Big East tournament by beating eventual No. 1 seed Xavier and Creighton in overtime before losing to Villanova, 76-66, in the championship game. This marks a fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Providence under coach Ed Cooley, who's led the Friars to a 144-93 record since taking over in the 2011-12 season. Despite finding success, Cooley has yet to advance Providence to a sweet 16 run.

Both teams struggled to overcome a tough conference schedule with eight losses each, respectfully. Providence had a deeper run, but will have to play as a better second half team against A&M. The Friars were outscored by their opponents in the final period fifteen times this season, resulting in four losses against ranked teams. 

On the other hand, the Aggies are dealing with the loss of point guard Duane Wilson and ended the season with a 3-4 record in the last seven games due to a weakened backcourt.

Providence has three players averaging double-figures with Kyron Cartwright, Rodney Bullock and Alpha Diallo contributing a combined 38.8 point per contest. Texas A&M's future NBA frontcourt duo of Tyler Davis and Robert Williams is a huge reason why the Aggies were bumped off being a bubble. 

Davis leads the team with an average of 14.5 points along with 8.8 rebounds. Williams holds down the middle as a hybrid forward/center, averaging a near double-double with 10.3 points and 9.0 rebounds. Both Davis and Williams helped Texas A&M earn a top five ranking for rebounds per game (41.3). Both teams are almost even when it comes to overall scoring. Texas A&M maintains an average of 75.0 points per game (144th) compared to Providence's 73.7 (175th).

The winner of Texas A&M/ Providence will go on to meet the winner of No. 15 seed Lipscomb (23-9) and No. 2 North Carolina (25-10). The Tarheels' defense of their national championship starts off 140 miles from campus being favored over the Atlantic Sun champions Bison. An eventual winner out of the four teams will advance to the semifinal round in Los Angeles, Calif.   

No. 10-seeded Texas A&M vs No. 7 Providence 

Site: Charlotte, N.C. 

Date: Friday, March 16, 12:15 p.m. ET

TV/Online: CBS/March Madness Live (desktop/mobile only)/CBS All Access 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The 2018 Genotology field of 68

X= Automatic Bid








Saint Mary's




Arizona State

Middle Tennessee

Notre Dame

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Villanova escapes Providence in a Big East classic in overtime

Photo Credit: Geno Green

NEW YORK— There is no place like Madison Square Garden on a Saturday night with raucous fan bases converged for a Big East Tournament title at stake.

The Villanova Wildcats (30-4) became the first team to repeat as Big East Tournament champions since the Louisville Cardinals (2012-13), but faced a steep challenge from the Providence Friars (21-13) before ending the game on an 8-0 run for a 76-66 win in overtime.

From start to finish, the physicality from both teams harkened back to the days of the old Big East and Villanova coach Jay Wright knew the title game would be special from the opening tip.

The atmosphere, you know, sold out. You can hear it from the beginning, Wright said. The tough, physical play. You dont see that as much in college basketball. It was old-school Big East and – old-school Big East in 2018.

Jalen Brunson finished with a career-high 31 points, but missed the front end of a one-in-one with 2:11 left and made two free throws with 30 seconds left, which sent the game to overtime. Brunsons experience helped in terms of having a short memory when it comes to misses.

I approach every free throw the same, make or miss, Brunson said. Just concentrate and focus on the basket and myself. My teammates always have confidence in me. Thats pretty much it. Approach it the same way.

Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player Mikal Bridges produced another stellar performance with 25 points, on 9-of-14 from the field, highlighted by a three-point make to go up 68-64 in overtime.

“I saw JB driving and I was trying to move off the ball and fill behind him,” Bridges said. “I guess he lost the ball and I saw it, and I was just aggressive and just catch and shoot, simple.

Kyron Cartwright started out 1-of-6 with two points, but found a burst with 17 points in the second half/overtime and Wright raved about Cartwrights play through the course of the tournament.

We knew when it came down to crunch time that he would be a big part of the game, Wright said. He had a great tournament and is the leader of that team. Hes been great throughout his career and has become better every year.

Brunson played an integral part as he scored or assisted in the first seven points for the Wildcats, which highlighted an 11-2 start.

The Friars appeared to show signs of fatigue from playing back-to-back overtime games in as many days, but found a boost with a 9-0 to even the score behind six points from Alpha Diallo. As Providence surged, simple shots for Villanova came to a halt with six straight misses.

Providence turned the ball over on a more frequent basis and Bridges benefited with  seven points, which keyed Villanovas 10-0 run. The half of runs continued as the Friars went on a 9-0 run of their own to keep the Wildcats on alert. Villanova stayed balanced as it would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the half as it went in the locker room with a 31-27 advantage.

The creativity of Brunson appeared on full display as he scored the first six points of the second half, highlighted by an acrobatic layup, which ended in a conventional three-point play to put Villanova back up by double digits.

Every time Villanova seemed to pull away, Providence would not go away like bed bugs as it went layup for layup to keep the game within range at 49-41. Cartwright came alive and found a second wind as he delivered the next eight points, which jolted the Friars crowd.

Seldom used Drew Edwards came off the bench and delivered a layup and a free throw, which gave Providence its first lead of the night at 52-51 with 7:49 left in regulation. The Wildcats retained the lead 53 seconds later on a layup from Bridges, but the Friars continued to hang on to the yo-yo strings of the Wildcats.

Brunsons miss on the front end of a one-in-one opened the door for Cartwright to deliver a fadeaway jumper on the other end as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 58. Cartwrights impact continued with a bounce pass to Diallo to put Providence ahead 60-58, but Brunson returned the favor with a pair of free throws as overtime loomed.

The overtime period witnessed Bridges clutch three-point shooting as the Wildcats led 68-64 and would not look back as they clinched their third tournament crown in four seasons— arguably the toughest one yet.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams will await their first round draws during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on March 11 at 6 p.m. ET on TBS.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Follow College Sports Overload on Twitter @CSportsOverload.

Genotology for March 10, 2018

Photo Credit: Chantel Shetler


* New entry in the field

> UP


x Automatic Berth via Conference Tournament Championship





Saint Mary's




Oklahoma State



Middle Tennessee

Friday, March 9, 2018

Green: Bridges doing all the right things on both sides of the ball

Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray- USA TODAY Sports

When the average fan thinks of Villanova basketball, Jalen Brunson comes to mind and with all of the right intentions.

Brunson won the Big East Player of the Year award on March 7 and came into Fridays semifinal with a team-high 19.1 points per game, but another player emerged this season in All-Big East first team Mikal Bridges.

Bridges is on target to graduate this spring has been the ying to Bridges yang with 17.8 PPG on the season and averaged 22.9 points in his last seven games.

Fresh off a 25-point performance against the Marquette Golden Eagles on March 8, Mikal Bridges continued his stellar play over the last month with a game-high 18 points as the Villanova Wildcats defeated the Butler Bulldogs, 87-68 in the Big East Tournament semifinal round.

Bridges set the tone with the games first five points, which highlighted a 19-0 run as Villanova kept Butler from developing any rhythm. As a testament to the Wildcats philosophy under coach Jay Wright, Bridges gave credit to his teammates to help contribute to the run.

“It was my teammates finding me, moving without the ball, just being aggressive,” Bridges said. “My teammates, my first shot, Jalen Brunson found me in the beginning. So my teammates behind me and I'm just being aggressive.”

After a career-high 32 points against Seton Hall on March 8, Kamar Baldwin came back down to reality and was held to 12, mainly due to Bridges length on defense.

Butler coach LaVall Jordan knows first hand what Bridges has brought on both sides of the ball in three meetings this season.

Mikal is so long defensively and we tried to get him off a couple of backdoors, but deflected them and put him in front of the three quarter press, Jordan said. He presents a challenge on both sides with matching him on one end, but disrupting your flow offensively on the other end. He is a lottery pick and a good battle for these guys to go up against him.

With a wingspan at 7 0’’, Bridges versatile skillset has given other teams across college basketball problems— most notably on defense and was on display against Butler on Friday night.

The perimeter defense of Bridges has been a testament to the ability of taking on any challenge Wright puts on the table and accomplishes with ease.

“[Butler] is mentally strong and that's how their coach and that's what the program is and they stayed throughout and they kept battling throughout the whole game,” Bridges said.And we had some slip-ups and we got on each other. Coach got on us and we had to keep playing our way and stop backing up.”

As a likely lottery pick in Junes NBA Draft, Bridges could make an immediate impact for any team.

Until then, the bright lights of the Big East Tournament championship game looms tomorrow against Providence and Bridges will look to make another mark before the NCAA Tournament looms in the horizon.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Follow College Sports Overload on Twitter @CSportsOverload.