March Madness: 5 things to know about the NCAA women’s basketball tournament

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 2:00 PM

Jenna Burdette puts up a shot over the George Washington on Jan. 8, 2017. Erik Schelkun/Contributed photo
Staff Writer
Jenna Burdette puts up a shot over the George Washington on Jan. 8, 2017. Erik Schelkun/Contributed photo(Staff Writer)

Friday is the beginning of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. 

While No. 1 Connecticut tends to make most of the headlines, there are plenty of other things to know. 

Here are five: 

1. Dayton is the No. 12 seed in the Oklahoma City regional. 

The Atlantic 10 champions will face the No. 5 seed Tennessee in Louisville, Ky., at 4 p.m. Saturday. 

2. The Flyers are 0-2 all-time against the Lady Vols. 

Tennessee beat Dayton in 1986 and against in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. 

3. If the Flyers win, they will probably have to face a team on its home floor. 

Host Louisville is the No. 4 seed in the region. The Cardinals play Chattanooga in the first round. 

4. Ohio State is a five seed in the Lexington regional. 

The Buckeyes, who won the Big Ten regular season title, will face No. 12 Western Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Friday afternoon. 

With a win, Ohio State would also have to play a team on its home floor in the second round — assuming No. 4 seed Kentucky takes care of business in the first round against Belmont. 

5. Ohio State made the Sweet 16 last year while Dayton missed the tournament. 

But the last time the Flyers were in the Big Dance (2015), they advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to No. 1 Connecticut. 

The Buckeyes have not been to the Elite Eight since 1993, the same year they made their only Final Four appearance. 

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Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat pay tribute to Florida school shooting victims, survivors

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 2:47 AM

A large banner in memory of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is unfurled before an NBA basketball game in Miami on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, between the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
Gaston De Cardenas/AP
A large banner in memory of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is unfurled before an NBA basketball game in Miami on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, between the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)(Gaston De Cardenas/AP)

The Miami Heat held a touching pregame tribute Saturday for the those affected by the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

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Members of the Heat and Memphis Grizzlies gathered at midcourt to hold a large Stoneman Douglas banner while Dwyane Wade addressed the crowd.

VIDEO: Florida High School Shooting Survivors Perform Emotional Song

“Tonight, we honor the 17 lives that were tragically lost in Parkland,” Wade said. “We applaud the fearless students that are fighting for their lives. We also make sure that their voices are heard around gun safety. You are our nation’s inspiration. We salute you and we support you.”

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The Heat, who on Friday debuted a uniform patch to honor the victims, then honored each of the 17 victims on the video screen before Alex Wind, a Stoneman Douglas student and member of the school’s drama club, sang the national anthem.

>> Watch his national anthem performance here

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Alex Wind sings National Anthem

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Alex Wind delivers a powerful rendition of the National Anthem before the game between the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Posted by FOX Sports Florida / FOX Sports Sun on Saturday, February 24, 2018

>> Read more trending news 

“It’s an absolute honor for us to wear these patches,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before Friday’s game in New Orleans. “I know I speak for everybody in that locker room and everybody in the organization, we are so very inspired by the leadership and courage and absolute fearlessness of the kids and young men and women at Stoneman Douglas. It’s such a tragic event, but we hear their voices, loud and clear. And we are behind them and this is only the start.”

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Oregon earns massive NCAA Tournament resume builder, upsets Arizona

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 8:42 PM

The Oregon Ducks still have life on the NCAA Tournament bubble following their 98-93 overtime upset of No. 14 Arizona.

Playing on Senior Night against a program with multiple scandals swirling, Oregon survived a double-double from Deandre Ayton — 28 points and 18 rebounds — en route to the win. Elijah Brown was brilliant with 30 points, a game high.

Oregon is now 19-10 overall and 9-7 in Pac-12 play while Arizona dropped to 22-7 and 12-4 respectively.

Here’s the full game stats from ESPN:

Highlights

Observations

Oregon is still alive for the NCAA Tournament: The Ducks’ win over the Wildcats was Oregon’s first victory over an RPI top 25 team of the season. Coming off a victory over Arizona State earlier in the week, Oregon all of a sudden got two big boosts to its resume.

Ayton cannot be stopped: Allonzo Trier suspended? No problem. An FBI scandal directly involving you hanging over your head? So what? Deandre Ayton was an animal despite the loss — he had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds by halftime. Arizona cleared the big man to play in the game despite Sean Miller’s departure from the sidelines. Regardless of any outside circumstances, it appears Ayton seems focused on producing while on the floor.

Elijah Brown can plug a leak at the charity stripe: Not only did Brown score 30 points, but half of those came on a 15-of-17 performance from the line. Coming into the game, Brown had only missed four foul shots all year — although he’d never taken more than nine in a game. His consistency on his free throws allowed Oregon to keep Arizona at arm’s length in overtime.

Turning Point

This steal and dunk by Troy Brown was the second field goal of a 13-0 run in the second half that turned a 64-55 deficit into 68-65 lead for Oregon.

What’s next for Oregon, Arizona Basketball

Oregon travels to Washington State on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

As for Arizona — what’s next is a loaded question these days — it hosts Stanford on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on FS1.

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Miles Bridges cleared to play for Michigan State following ‘thorough internal review’

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Miles Bridges will be suiting up for Michigan State on Sunday, after all. The sophomore Spartans star was cleared to play Saturday after the school conducted an internal investigation into potential NCAA violations linked to Bridges’ family.

According to an explosive report by Yahoo Sports on Friday, Bridges’ mother allegedly received money from ASM Sports, an agency at the center of an FBI probe into college basketball corruption. While Bridges was not listed as receiving money, there were questions regarding his immediate eligibility after the Yahoo report.

Michigan State interim athletic director Bill Beekman cleared up those questions in a Saturday statement. Beekman said the findings of a “thorough internal review” were presented to the NCAA and Bridges was cleared.

“After learning of the allegations in yesterday’s Yahoo! Sports article, our compliance office conducted a thorough internal review. Michigan State presented its findings to the NCAA, and Miles Bridges has been cleared for competition moving forward.”

According to bank statements obtained by Yahoo, Bridges parents had a $70 meal with representatives from ASM Sports and Bridges’ mother, Cynthia Bridges, also received a $400 advance. The documents also listed Tom Izzo having a dinner with Christian Dawkins, one of the leaders of ASM.

Izzo released a statement Friday after the report surfaced.

“While we will cooperate with any and all investigations,” Izzo said, “we have no reason to believe that I, any member of our staff or student-athlete did anything in violation of NCAA rules.”

Michigan State plays at Wisconsin on Sunday in the team’s regular-season finale. Bridges is averaging 17.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the No. 2 Spartans this season.

MORE: What you need to know about Miles Bridges’ connection to the NCAA corruption case

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Arkansas bats around in ninth inning, breaks tie, beats San Diego State

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 7:33 PM

The Arkansas baseball team is so loaded, it batted around in the ninth inning without even recording a single hit. That takes talent.

Or a mistake-filled opponent.

The Diamond Hogs scored three runs in the ninth inning to break a 2-2 tie and dispatch San Diego State, 5-2, on Saturday night.

Arkansas’ ninth was just plain odd: four walks, one hit-by-pitch, one reached-on-error, one sacrifice fly. Three runs. No hits.

Casey Martin started it by trying to simply bunt his teammates over in the tie game. Instead the freshman 9-hole hitters, with runners at first and second, pegged one down to third. It was misplayed and Jordan McFarland scored from second and Grant Koch went up to third while Martin stood safe at firs and the Razorbacks had their lead.

Jax Biggers followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Koch. Eric Cole walked. Luke Bonfield was hit by a pitch. In stepped another freshman, Heston Kjerstad, with the bases loaded. He drew a base-on-balls on four pitches to force in a fifth run.

The Razorbacks are now 2-1 on their four-game trip out West. Arkansas beat Arizona on Wednesday and fell to Cal Poly, the Hogs’ first loss of the season, Friday night. They close their three-game set as part of the Tony Gwynn Classic on Sunday at noon against the University of San Diego.

Cole hit a solo home run in the sixth to break a 1-all tie. San Diego countered in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single to set the stage for the finish.

Cole’s homer was just Arkansas’ second hit in the game up to that point. Jax Biggers had led off the game with a double in the first. Cole’s lineout moved him to third and Dominic Fletcher’s sacrifice fly plated him to open the scoring. Harrison Pyatt kept the Diamond Hogs off-balance the next four innings.

Cole took the very first pitch of the sixth from Pyatt to the pull. Over the rightfield wall and it broke the tie. When Pyatt walked Fletcher to follow, he was finished.

Campbell was even better as his foil, though he suffered the same fate. San Diego State tied the game in the bottom half of the sixth after a leadoff double to start the frame and an RBI single followed. Campbell was lifted for Matt Cronin after giving up five hits and striking out seven in his work.

Arkansas had a golden opportunity in the eighth, but failed. The Razorbacks had the bases loaded for Carson Shaddy, who entered the game hitting over .400. But Shaddy took the 3-1 pitch and rolled it over to shortstop for the final out. On top of that, Luke Bonfield – like Shaddy, a senior – struck out looking with two on and one out earlier in the inning.

Matt Cronin worked the final four innings for Arkansas. He didn’t give up a hit and struck out five.

After Arkansas dropped 50-plus runs in its season-opening series against Bucknell, the Razorbacks were top, or near top, of college baseball in offensive categories. It was only natural, given the prodigious output, the rankings would level off. A complete crash back to Earth, though, was not anticipated. Arkansas has scored just nine runs in three games in California so far.

Grading the Hogs

Pitching: B+

Arkansas only gave up five hits, though three of them were pounded for extra bases. What has been most impressive this trip, though, is the staff’s lack of walks. Only one against the Aztecs lineup Saturday.

Hitting: D

Too early to be concerned, but Arkansas isn’t hitting against above-average teams. Bucknell doesn’t count. Biggers had two hits and Cole the other. That’s it.

The Big Stick + The Arm

Arm: Campbell

Blaine Knight is a preseason All-American, but it’s Campbell who makes scouts drool. His stuff, combined with his size, can be devastating. If he stays healthy, Arkansas as a 1-2 punch that almost no team in the country can match.

Stick: Biggers

A 2 for 4 night with a double, an RBI and a sac fly. Good game regardless of what the rest of the lineup did.

What’s next for Arkansas?

Arkansas has a final game out West on Sunday. The finale is against a San Diego team that was picked second in the West Coast Conference, a league that could get two teams into the NCAA Tournament.

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