College basketball

David Hookstead | Reporter

Duke got the scare of a lifetime Sunday against UCF.

The Blue Devils won 77-76, but the dramatics were high. Coach K’s guys took a lead with seconds remaining, and then nearly blew it on two missed shots from the Knights. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

If you have a heart condition or a weak stomach, I wouldn’t recommend watching the ending sequence below.

Simply an unreal finish. UCF had two chances to win after Tacko Fall fouled out. Two of them in the closing seconds!

This game was everything I hoped for and much more. Fall was incredibly entertaining to watch, Zion Williamson was incredible down the stretch and Duke survived to fight another day.

That’s what March Madness is all about. You fight to earn the right to play 40 more minutes. It doesn’t get much more American than that.

There was no reason for Duke to win that game. Absolutely none at all, but they did. That ending was literally the type of situation you can’t script.

Welcome to March, gentlemen. It’s always one hell of a fun ride.

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Source: The Daily Caller

William Davis | Contributor

Alabama has officially decided to “mutually part ways” with head basketball coach Avery Johnson.

The Crimson Tide announced its decision in a press release on Sunday. Johnson had been Alabama’s coach for four years, and finished his career with a record of 75-62. (RELATED: Avery Johnson Could Be Out At Alabama, Says Report)

“After meeting with Coach Johnson, we made the decision to mutually part ways,”  Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne said. “This was not an easy decision, and we thank him for his contributions over the past four seasons. We wish Coach Johnson and his family the very best.”

Johnson handled his departure with the same class that he displayed over his four years at Alabama. (RELATED: Nick Saban And Bill Belichick Photographed Together At Alabama’s Pro Day)

“This was an opportunity of a lifetime, and we truly enjoyed our experience at Alabama,” Johnson said.  “I also want to thank my family for all of their support and contributions to the program.”

I had the opportunity to meet Coach Johnson a few years ago when I was a student. He’s a class act and a good basketball coach, but he couldn’t get the program over the hump. Best of luck to him and his family.

The question now becomes who Alabama hires next. We have an incredibly talented roster returning, and a good recruiting class. This is clearly one of the best open jobs in the country right now, but Alabama has to get this hire right.

Many fans are going to want the Crimson Tide to look at Rick Pitino, but that seems unlikely given all of his baggage. Alabama alum Steve Prohm has been solid at Iowa State, although he appeared to deny interest in the job.

Regardless of who Alabama hires, it’s time for this program to finally start living up to its potential. Alabama basketball is a sleeping giant, but it has to wake up now.

It’s now or never.

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Source: The Daily Caller

The TV ratings for March Madness are huge.

According to a release from March Madness TV on Twitter, the Friday primetime slot across CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV hit a 28-year high of 7.7 for the tournament. Streaming numbers on March Madness Live were also up 20 percent from 2018. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

Duke playing in primetime obviously helped the numbers, but these ratings are outstanding. It initially looked like the ratings were going to take a substantial dip after Thursday. Clearly, that wasn’t a trend that would actually hold. (RELATED: Watch Wisconsin Beat Kentucky In The 2015 Final Four)

You know that things are going good in America when college basketball TV ratings hit a near three-decade high. Our founding fathers would be proud as hell.

The other thing worth noting that’s so impressive is the fact these games haven’t been particularly close, but people keep watching. That’s a great sign.

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Make sure to keep tuning in for all the action as we go down the stretch this beautiful Sunday and into next week. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss one second of the action.

God bless this beautiful country!

Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

Houston basketball coach Kelvin Sampson had some powerful thoughts about families that need financial assistance to see their kids play.

Houston has had a great season, making it to the tournament as a three seed. However, not all the families could afford to make the trip to watch their March Madness run, and there’s no help from the NCAA. That really bothers the Houston coach, as it should. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

“I’ve had families ask if they can sleep on their son’s hotel room floor. Think about that now,” Sampson told the media when explaining how some families can’t afford to travel.

Watch his full comments below.

I couldn’t agree more. The NCAA tournament prints money. It is essentially an ATM. There’s nothing wrong with that. People enjoy the games, and it generates big money. (RELATED: Watch Wisconsin Beat Kentucky In The 2015 Final Four)

There’s no excuse for the NCAA not helping facilitate travel and housing for families during the tournament. There is plenty of money out there. At the very least, allow the schools to pay for it themselves.

The system we currently have has no problem using young men to produce cash through college football and basketball. God forbid their families get a little help so they can travel to games.

It’s almost like the NCAA doesn’t actually care about the well-being of the student-athletes. This should be fixed, and it should be fixed immediately.

Of course, we all know that’s not likely, which is a damn shame.

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Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

Fans gave Minnesota star Jordan Murphy an emotional goodbye after losing to Michigan State Saturday night.

The Gophers got blown out by the Spartans in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but that didn’t stop the fans from showing their appreciation for Murphy, who has been a major part of the Minnesota program these past few years. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

Coach Richard Pitino pulled him from the game with just under a minute and a half left as the crowd got to its feet, and started applauding.

The senior star shared some emotional hugs as he went down the bench.

That’s how this journey will end for every single player on ever single team except one. Sports are about huge emotional swings, and most people will hang up their shoes without ever getting close to a championship.

I have no doubt last night was a hard pill to swallow for Murphy. I have no doubt at all, but the sting of losing his final March Madness game will eventually fade.

When it does, people will always remember just how great he was for the Gophers.

Props to him on a very successful career in the Big Ten. Now, it’s time for him to go make some money playing this incredible sport.

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Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

Scott Van Pelt has gone viral for some comments defending Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.

Izzo tore into Aaron Henry during their first NCAA tournament game against Bradley, and he refused to apologize for his treatment of the freshman. (RELATED: Tom Izzo Goes Ballistic On Aaron Henry, Refuses To Apologize)

You can watch the intense moment below.

Obviously, some people (not me) thought Izzo took it too far. Van Pelt wasn’t having it. He absolutely shredded Izzo’s critics in an awesome recent rant on ESPN. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

He specifically called out the people who don’t “really want context,” but just “want to be mad.” Watch the incredible segment below, which has since blown up on Twitter.

I agree with pretty much every single word spoken by the ESPN host. This is major college basketball we’re talking about here. It’s going to be tough. It’s not always pretty. That’s just the fact of the matter.

Izzo wasn’t pleased with his guy, and he let him have it. That’s called coaching and holding people to a standard of excellence. If we’re not going to do that, then why are we even playing the game?

This is March Madness. Everything is on the line. Izzo should lose his mind if his players aren’t giving their all.

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Good for Izzo for refusing to apologize, and props to Van Pelt for calling out the ridiculous critics. I couldn’t agree more with either of them.

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Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

LSU beat Maryland Saturday afternoon, and the refs really might have blown this one.

Tremont Waters hit the game winner in the final seconds of the second round matchup in the NCAA tournament against the Terrapins for the Tigers. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

There’s just one major issue. It appears that Waters took at least three steps after picking up his dribble. Watch the play below.

My friends, I’m not sure how many more steps you need before the refs blow the whistle. Obviously, at this point it doesn’t matter anymore.

The refs aren’t going to change the outcome of the game, but it clearly should have been a turnover. There’s no doubt in my mind that Waters took an extra step, and the refs clearly blew the call.

LSU will now be in the Sweet 16, and the rest of us will debate endlessly if the Terrapins got absolutely hosed here. In my mind, it’s not even a question.

That game should have gone into overtime, and it’s not even close.

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Source: The Daily Caller

A ton of people tuned in on CBS to see Duke beat North Dakota State 85-62 Friday night.

According to TVByTheNumbers, 6.2 million people watched Zion Williamson and company stomp all over the Bison in the first round of the NCAA tournament. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

That number led the TV ratings for Friday night by a massive margin and was more than two million more followers than the same time slot Thursday.

This is great news for America. I was a little worried when the ratings took a dive on CBS Thursday. That wasn’t a good sign at all, but it looks like it was a one off event. (RELATED: March Madness TV Ratings On CBS Plummet 26 Percent)

Of course, the Duke Blue Devils are the biggest draw in the sport right now. Even with Kentucky playing Thursday on CBS, I’m not the least bit surprised that Coach K’s squad garnered higher ratings.

Zion Williamson generates massive amounts of attention. It’s just that simple.

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I guess that we can all breathe a little easier knowing that America still loves college basketball.

My friends, that’s great news. Now, let’s grab a beer and get back to the games on this beautiful Saturday.

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Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

It’s time for the Wisconsin Badgers to take a hard look in the mirror, and I’m not sure we’re going to like whatever it is that we end up seeing.

Following our embarrassing loss to Oregon late Friday afternoon in the NCAA tournament, I got out some quick reactions and thoughts. It wasn’t pretty and we shouldn’t be happy. Fans should be disappointed. We should be upset. Anybody who swallowed that loss and is fine isn’t paying attention. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

This is the University of Wisconsin we’re talking about. It’s the crown jewel of the Midwest over the past 25 years. Not a single school in America has more tournament appearances and bowl games appearances than us in the past quarter century.

Yet, we fail to capitalize when it counts.

I’ve taken some time to think about what has happened, so now I’m attacking this with a rational angle and it’s clear to me something has to change.

I’m not saying we have to fire Greg Gard. I don’t think that’s a smart idea at all. What I do think is dangerous and completely unacceptable is the idea that fans should be content with just making the tournament or winning nine football games a season. (RELATED: Watch Wisconsin Beat Kentucky In The 2015 Final Four)

Neither is okay, and neither will ever be tolerated as long as I have a say in what’s going on. We expect to contend yearly for conference champions and national titles in both sports. This past season wasn’t where we need to be in both sports.

Yes, I’m aware that we still had a better basketball season than about 90 percent of the country. We won 23 games this season, but it’s just not good enough. I know most teams would trade places with us in a heartbeat. That’s not the point.

We should be better than 95 percent of the country in our default setting. We’re a top one percent program in both sports when we show up and show out.

My Badgers have to get back to where we were under Bo Ryan when it comes to basketball, and we absolutely have to get back to double digit wins in football. Looking in the mirror and acknowledging failure isn’t ever easy. It’s just not, but it’s necessary.

Major shoutout to Ethan Happ for the past few years. He won’t ever be forgotten. As for the rest of us, there needs to be some serious inward looking to find out where it’s gone wrong and how to stop it from happening ever again.

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Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

The UNC basketball team gave Scott Van Pelt a bit of a prank Friday night.

The ESPN host was interviewing Tar Heels star Luke Maye when several players from the team showed up.

Van Pelt seemed to be a good sport as he fed questions through Maye’s earpiece for the whole team to answer. It was a lighthearted moment that reminded us just how fun March Madness can be. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

UNC was clearly very loose after beating Iona. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. After all, they should be having fun in the tournament.

However, Washington isn’t going to be nearly as easy to conquer. I’m not sure they’re going to be messing around on ESPN broadcasts when the Huskies show up. (RELATED: Watch Wisconsin Beat Kentucky In The 2015 Final Four)

Will the Tar Heels win? Almost certainly, but the time for jokes might be over.

That was a fun moment, but I know all the UNC diehards out there want their guys to now be laser focused. Enough with the ESPN antics.

There’s a fight with Washington on the horizon, and that’s a team with an actual pulse. It should be a fun one Sunday afternoon on CBS.

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Source: The Daily Caller

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