Jeff Eisenberg

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  • Missed call, technical foul on Chris Collins doom Northwestern's comeback bid

    SALT LAKE CITY — Already stomping mad after several borderline calls went against his team, Chris Collins simply couldn’t stomach another one.

    The Northwestern coach ran onto the floor wildly gesturing for goaltending after Gonzaga center Zach Collins illegally put his right hand through the cylinder of the rim while rejecting a Dererk Pardon dunk attempt.

    The technical foul Collins received proved to be the biggest sequence of top-seeded Gonzaga’s 79-73 second-round victory over ninth-seeded Northwestern on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

    Had Pardon’s dunk counted, it would have sliced the Zags’ 19-point second-half lead to three with five minutes to go. Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss instead sank two free throws to push the lead to seven and the Wildcats never again got as close as five until less than 20 seconds remained.

    “We had all the

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  • What’s the only upside to a humdrum, uneventful first round of the NCAA tournament in which teams seeded No. 4 or better went 16-0?

    It should give way to a second round loaded with quality matchups.

    Saturday’s second-round slate is headlined by a pair of tests for No. 1 seeds and two intriguing clashes of style between No. 4 and 5 seeds. Here’s a look at Saturday’s eight games ranked from most to least compelling:

    1. Villanova (1) vs. Wisconsin (8) (2:45 p.m. EST, CBS): The reigning national champs will get a huge opening-weekend test from a Wisconsin team gunning for its fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance. The Badgers lost five of six late in the regular season to fall out of Big Ten title contention, but they’ve righted themselves in the postseason. Bronson Koenig sank eight threes two nights ago, Nigel Hayes is averaging 16 points in his last three games and Ethan Happ could be a difficult matchup for an undersized Villanova team lacking a true center. Guard play will be an

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  • Lamar Odom visits locker room after Rhode Island's opening-round victory

    Rhode Island defeated Creighton for its first NCAA tournament win since 1998. (AP)

    One of Rhode Island’s most famous basketball alums was in the stands Friday afternoon when the Rams returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

    Lamar Odom celebrated with his alma mater in the locker room after its convincing 84-72 first-round victory over sixth-seeded Creighton in Sacramento.

    Before Odom won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, married (and divorced) reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and endured a public struggle with substance abuse, the 14-year NBA veteran spent one memorable season at Rhode Island. The versatile forward averaged 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds during the 1998-99 season, leading Jim Harrick’s Rams to 20 wins and the program’s most recent appearance in the NCAA tournament.

    It

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  • USC topples SMU to advance from the First Four to the second round

    At this time last week, USC wasn’t even sure if it had done enough to make the NCAA tournament.

    Now the Trojans are headed to the second round for the first time in eight years.

    Still trailing sixth-seeded SMU by two points with less than a minute to go in the game, USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin penetrated the lane and found Elijah Stewart spotted up in the corner. Stewart’s corner 3-pointer proved to be the decisive blow in the 11th-seeded Trojans’ surprising 66-65 upset victory.

    Storming back from a double-digit second-half deficit was nothing new for USC. The Trojans used the same formula to rally past Providence in their First Four matchup in Dayton on Wednesday night.

    Whatever happens to USC against third-seeded Baylor on Sunday, making the second round of the NCAA tournament is a major accomplishment considering  all the talent that left the program after last year’s breakthrough NCAA tournament season. Six upperclassmen bolted with eligibility remaining, most notably

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  • Semi Ojeleye's put-back slam may be the dunk of the first round so far

    One Shining Moment, Semi Ojeleye. Semi Ojeleye, One Shining Moment.

    The SMU forward secured his place on the NCAA tournament’s annual highlight reel with this soaring one-handed put-back dunk in the second half of the sixth-seeded Mustangs’ first-round matchup against 11th-seeded USC.

    A former top-50 recruit who languished on the bench at Duke for a year and a half, Ojeleye opted to transfer just two months before the Blue Devils won the 2015 national title. The versatile 6-foot-7 junior sat out the next 22 months at SMU, but he has proven to be worth the wait.

    A threat to score both in the paint and on the perimeter, Ojeleye has averaged 18.9 points and 6.8 rebounds this season. His emergence in a starring role is the biggest reason that SMU (30-4) won the American Athletic Conference and is a threat to make a second-weekend NCAA tournament run.

    More March Madness coverage from Yahoo Sports:
    Controversial flagrant foul call costs Seton Hall NCAA game
    Arkansas player credits

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  • When the selection committee pitted Michigan against Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the showdown between two of the nation’s five most efficient offenses figured to be one of the most compelling games of the opening weekend.

    Take a bow, Wolverines and Cowboys. Your matchup lived up to the hype.

    In what was easily the most well-played, fun-to-watch game of the NCAA tournament so far, Michigan edged Oklahoma State 92-91 because its high-powered offense was just a tick better than that of the Cowboys. The Wolverines rallied from a six-point second-half deficit by sinking 11 of 15 attempts from behind the arc, an unfathomable percentage even for a team that’s in the top 50 nationally in 3-point percentage.

    The catalyst for Michigan’s second-half brilliance was point guard Derrick Walton Jr., who carved up the Oklahoma State defense off the bounce and torched the Cowboys from behind the arc. The dynamic 6-foot-1 senior scored 26 points, dished out 11 assists and

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  • NCAA tournament viewing guide: What to watch and what to skip on Friday

    After an unusually upset-free opening day of the NCAA tournament, perhaps more carnage awaits on Friday. Here’s a look at what to watch and what to skip on day two of the NCAA tournament: 

    FRIDAY AFTERNOON SESSION

    12:15 p.m. ET — No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 10 Oklahoma State (CBS)
    12:40 p.m. ET — No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 New Mexico State
    1:30 p.m. ET — No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Seton Hall
    2 p.m. ET — No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 14 Iona

    Must-see: Two sleeper threats to make deep NCAA tournament runs meet in Friday’s opening game. Surging Michigan reeled off four wins in four days to capture last weekend’s Big Ten tournament. Oklahoma State had won 10 of its previous 11 before ending the regular season with a trio of close losses to Kansas and Iowa State.

    Must-skip: There’s always one humdrum 8-9 game each season, and Arkansas-Seton Hall may be this year’s. The Pirates defend and control the glass. The Razorbacks boast a top-30 offense. But the winner of this game is likely just cannon fodder for

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  • Oft-questioned Saint Mary's makes case for more respect by beating VCU

    SALT LAKE CITY — As Saint Mary’s point guard Emmett Naar was watching ESPN the past few days, he noticed an aggravating trend.

    “A lot of people had us losing today even though we were the 7-seed and we’d won a lot of games,” Naar said. “We wanted to go out and prove something and we definitely accomplished that.”

    In addition to advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament for just the second time in program history, Saint Mary’s achieved something else with its 85-77 victory over VCU. The seventh-seeded Gaels secured validation for a 29-win season impressive enough to keep them in the Top 25 from start to finish but not to win over the legion of skeptics who questioned if their success would translate against a tougher schedule.

    Only five teams Saint Mary’s faced all season cracked the top 100 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. The Gaels defeated NCAA tournament-bound Dayton and Nevada in non-league play and swept three games from BYU, but they also fell at home to Texas Arlington and

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  • Vanderbilt's costly gaffe gives Northwestern its first NCAA tournament win

    SALT LAKE CITY — At first, Bryant McIntosh thought he was the one who messed up.

    The Northwestern guard was so surprised Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis fouled him intentionally that he initially assumed he had the score wrong.

    “I was kind of shocked,” McIntosh said. “I thought maybe I had made a mistake. Maybe we were up one and they needed that foul.”

    The scoreboard, of course, told a different story. It was Fisher-Davis who lost track of the score. Instead of Vanderbilt being one defensive stop away from securing a dramatic first-round NCAA tournament victory, Northwestern’s best free-throw shooter was going to the foul line with 15 seconds to go and a chance to put his team in front.

    Matthew Fisher-Davis'
    Matthew Fisher-Davis’ “dumb-ass foul” helped Northwestern notch its first tournament victory in school history. (AP)

    Fisher-Davis’ costly mental gaffe proved to be the biggest play in Northwestern’s first NCAA tournament victory, a 68-66 win that earns the eighth-seeded Wildcats a second-round crack

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  • NCAA tournament viewing guide: What to watch and what to skip on Thursday

    Happy college basketball Christmas, folks. 

    For one glorious 36-hour stretch between 12 p.m. EST on Thursday and 12 a.m. EST on Saturday, CBS and Turner Sports will televise 32 opening-round NCAA tournament games. Here’s a look at which games on Thursday’s slate are must-see and which you can afford to click away from until the final two minutes.

    THURSDAY AFTERNOON SESSION

    12:15 p.m. — No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 Princeton (CBS)
    12:40 p.m. — No. 5 Virginia vs. No. 12 UNC Wilmington (Tru TV)
    1:30 p.m. — No. 4 Butler vs. No. 13 Winthrop (TNT)
    2 p.m. — No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 South Dakota State (TBS)

    Gonzaga forward Zach Collins.
    Gonzaga forward Zach Collins.

    Must-see: The contrast of styles between slow-paced, methodical Virginia and disruptive, up-tempo UNC Wilmington should make the Round of 64’s first game a fun watch. The Seahawks pushed Duke deep into the second half a year ago, but this could be a tougher matchup since Cavaliers point guard London Perrantes is so adept at dictating tempo.

    [Fill out your NCAA

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