Wholesale Miami Hurricanes Jerseys

On a day when the defense dominated the majority of the practice, Deejay Dallas took it upon himself to change the course of practice.

“I was just trying to get us a spark, trying to be that spark player,” Dallas said afterward on Tuesday.

So what exactly did Dallas do when he came face-to-face with a defender during his next rep?

“He trucked him,” coach Mark Richt said. “He ran his you know what over.”

It was a telling sign from Dallas, who is emerging as a vocal presence from the Hurricanes’ offense early in spring practice. It was also, perhaps, a glimpse of what’s to come for a player who spent his freshman year learning Miami’s playbook and trying to find his role in the offense after a changing positions midyear.

“Good things come to those who wait,” Dallas said.

For Dallas, though, waiting time is over. The all-around athlete wrapped up in a 5-10, 221-pound frame, is ready to take on an expanded role for the Hurricanes after a strong finish to his freshman year.

“It’s more comfortable now. [It’s] Year 2,” Dallas said. “The first year, you’re kind of shaky. Year 2, it’s time to make something happen.”

He gave the coaching staff a taste of what he could do in the back half of the 2017 season. After seeing minimal action through the first seven games of the season, Dallas transitioned from wide receiver to running back to give the Hurricanes more depth in the backfield. In the end, Dallas rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the final six games of the year. Included in that was a two-touchdown night against Notre Dame.

“From Day 1, Deejay has been a competitive football player,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said.

That was back when he was 200 pounds and still figuring out how to handle the load at running back against ACC-caliber defenses.

Since then, he has gained about 20 pounds, enough to help him go head-to-head with defenders but not too much for him to lose his explosiveness.

“When he makes contact,” Richt said, “it’s impressive.”

And while Dallas has always been confident in his abilities, having more reps under his belt helps, too.

“It’s like instincts now,” Dallas said. “Last year, I was like ‘oh, what do I do?’ Now, it’s like ‘I’m doing it.’ It’s clockwork.”

Now, the focus shifts back to the field, where Dallas hopes to be part of a running back rotation that will feature him, Travis Homer and top freshman Lorenzo Lingard. Each offers a different look: Dallas’ versatility, Homer’s physicality, Lingard’s speed.

And Dallas is taking it upon himself to make sure Lingard, who came to Coral Gables as the No. 2-ranked running back in the 2018 class, has a smooth transition to his college football career.

Dallas’ main message to the freshman is the same one he told himself last year as he was switching positions: Don’t overthink it.

“I’m trying to hold his hand through the way,” Dallas said, “but he’ll get it.”

Richt announced Tuesday that starting linebacker Zach McCloud suffered a wrist injury and will be out for the remainder of spring practice.

“He won’t be able to go through spring, but he’ll be ready in the fall,” Richt said. “I think the entire summer he’ll be good as well to train.”

McCloud had a brace on his left wrist during practice Tuesday. During the portion open to the media, he took part in non-contact drills with a group including De’Andre Wilder, Romeo Finley and Derrick Smith.

In 26 career games over his first two seasons (including 22 starts), McCloud has recorded 85 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 defended passes and a forced fumble. He had a career-high 10 tackles in Miami’s loss to Pittsburgh last season.

Wholesale Michigan Wolverines Jerseys

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines

Michigan fans wanted to fire John Beilein as recently as last year. Like, badly.

The Wolverines opened the 2016-17 Big Ten season losing four of their first six in-conference games. They were 12-7 overall in mid-January, well off where they had been at that point during the season before, which ultimately ended in a first-round NCAA tournament ousting. The year before that, they were also 12-7, before finishing 16-16 and missing the Big Dance altogether.

In context it made sense Michigan fans were lighting message boards saying things like “the team has lacked intensity and grit for far too long,” and predicting the end of NCAA tournament runs past the Sweet 16 unless a change was made. The team had been mired in injuries and bad defense for more than two years. Never mind that Michigan had gone to a national title game and chased it with an Elite Eight appearance under Beilein, too. Mediocrity had gotten to feel like the new normal in Ann Arbor.

So yeah, on one hand it’s easy to understand where the “Fire Beilein” folk were coming from. On the other hand — Ahahaha! Get a load of those goobers now. Michigan went on to win the 2017 Big Ten tournament after a getting in a plane crash, then they went to the Sweet 16 as a No. 7-seed after upsetting two-seed Louisville. This year, they won another Big Ten tournament title and they’re in the Final Four, with 11-seed Loyola-Chicago standing in the way of Beilein’s second title game appearance in six years.

Now Michigan fans are offering up mea culpas, though it’s not like Beilein has ever needed them. This year’s Michigan team has looked roughly like the vision of Beilein teams in the past. The Wolverines space the floor well with scorers, and they don’t turn the ball over. The bigs can shoot and the guards can penetrate and feel confident guarding anyone. When they’re at their offensive best, like they were against Texas A&M last weekend, they can seemingly take whatever they want from a defense. Michigan put up 99 points against Kenpom’s No. 13 efficiency defense on 61.9 percent shooting, making roughly 64 percent of theirs twos and 58 percent of their threes.

The fact Michigan can fill it up isn’t what makes it special, however. By Kenpom, they’re a solid 31st in offensive efficiency, but that’s actually the team’s second-worst mark since 2011 (only that 16-16 team was worse). Relative to past Michigan teams, this edition isn’t great from deep, and it has a very real Achilles heel in free throws, ranking 321st out of 351 teams at 66 percent from the stripe.

In fact, among Michigan’s four NCAA tournament games, that A&M game was a blip. In the three others, the Wolverines shot a combined 39 percent from the field, and 25 percent from three. Moe Wagner, Michigan’s season leading scorer and conference tournament star, has been erratic offensively. Against Florida State in the Elite Eight, he was 0-for-7 from three-point range, contributing to he a 4-for-22 team effort, and the Wolverines nearly blew its lead late by missing four of its last six free-throw attempts — two on the front of one-and-ones (which makes Florida State’s decision not to foul late all the more odd, but alas).

Here’s how Michigan has evolved under Beilein. The Wolverines have been impeccable defensively since late in the season, climbing up to No. 4 in Kenpom’s defensive efficency ratings. Their previous high under Beilein was 37th in 2011 and 2013, and normally they reside somewhere between 60th and 100th as a team that rarely presses and often lacks athleticism in the post. Yet for this tournament, opponents are shooting just 38 percent against Michigan with just 34 assists to 49 turnovers.

The reason for the uptick is multifaceted, but starts with Beilein admitting that, yes, something was wrong. After the 2016 season, he essentially delegated defensive coaching responsibility to assistant coach Billy Donlon, and then Luke Yaklich this season after Donlon was hired by Northwestern. After Selection Sunday, Beilein confessed to the Associated Press that his eye isn’t trained for defense.

“My eye draws to offense all the time,” he told the AP. “Even if we have our first team practicing against our second team, I look at offense both ways. I don’t see certain things.”

Beilein also said that, even at 65, “I have changed like the wind.” The best example of that may be the decision to make sophomore Zavier Simpson his primary point guard after playing him in a platoon early in the season. Simpson isn’t a typical Beilein point guard in one important facet: He can’t shoot. At just over 30 percent for the season from three and a moribund 51 percent from the free throw-line, you can understand why he wasn’t given the reins immediately. In all other ways, however, Simpson is the Beilein prototype — undersized but pugnacious, and fearless towards the rim much like last year’s super-senior Derrick Walton, and former National College Player of the Year Trey Burke before him.

Most importantly, Simpson is an unrelenting defender. For the last three weeks, he has been perhaps Michigan’s most important player for the way he has shut down opposing point guards and the point of attack. In the second round, he held Houston’s Rob Gray, who had 39 points in a round-one game against San Diego State, to 8-for-22 shooting. Texas A&M point guard T.J. Starks dubbed himself “unguardable” before Simpson held him to 2-for-11 and five points. And on Saturday night, Florida State’s dual point guards C.J. Walker and Trent Forrest went a combined 1-for-9 with five turnovers.

And, my God, there’s still so much more to say about this Michigan team here. We haven’t even gotten to Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the West region in large part thanks to a heroic 17-point performance against Florida State when every one of his teammates couldn’t find the net. Nor have we mentioned Jordan Poole, the bushy-haired, short-shorted freshman with an overdose of swag who hit a time-expiring three-pointer to beat Houston. There’s a lot to cover, as there ought to be for any team that has just earned its banner in the rafters and may soon be playing for its first national title in nearly 30 years.

For now, let’s think back to January 2017, to that time when so many fans were ready to say goodbye to the first coach to take Michigan back to a championship game since the Fab Five, and what we know about Beilein now — the way he held firm to some principles and the way he let go of others, the patience and humility that took, and the way that, this time as in the past, his players have been able to play up to their exact capabilities at the perfect time of year.

No, Beilein teams don’t just win in March, and this won’t last forever. We’re probably too quick to deify coaches based on this one silly month, and nor should the way we view a coach swing because of one bad season or tournament (i.e., if you want hate on Tom Izzo, pick something that matters). Overreaction to a bad season-and-a-half-ish of basketball almost cost Michigan one of the best coaches in the game.

And by the way, Michigan will almost certainly have an off year or two again, regardless of what happens in San Antonio. That’s just what tends to happen when your talent is annually of the three- and four-star variety, not four and five. We’ve seen Beilein at Michigan long enough to know a few things to be certain, however: 1) Beilein is absolutely one of college basketball’s dorkiest coach-dads, 2) Players will develop under him as well as they would at any school in the country, and 3) Michigan may or may not make another Final Four before he retires, but it’d be stupid to bet against him.

The lesson is never assume anything, like that if something isn’t working, that means it needs fixing. Patience is boring is hell, but as Beilein and Michigan could tell you it does wonders for healing. If you ever need a reminder, don’t worry — just wait, it’ll come to you.

Wholesale North Carolina Tar Heels Jerseys

Join us daily at ACC DieHards for the latest North Carolina recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Tar Heels. Don’t miss any coverage from Cody Pace and the DieHards.com team. Read his daily notebooks here at 7 p.m. ET Sunday through Thursday. In this edition, we discuss the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association all-state team.
Teammates Rechon Black, Wendell Moore named to all-state squad

North Carolina’s Class of 2018 is one of its best in a long time.

When most people talk about how good this basketball class is, they bring up 5-star small forward Nassir Little, one of the Tar Heels’ highest-rated recruits this decade, or 5-star combo guard Coby White.

Not discussed as often is 4-star guard/forward Rechon Black, who’s also a very good player. Basketball fans across the state were reminded of that on Tuesday when the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association announced its all-state team.

In a state loaded with basketball talent, Black was one of the first-team selections, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Black averaged 13.4 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.2 steals in his senior season at Cox Mill.

Also on the first team was Black’s teammate, 5-star Class of 2019 small forward Wendell Moore. One of North Carolina’s top targets in the junior class, Moore averaged 25.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. An excellent season also earned him the association’s Player of the Year award.

Black and Moore were joined by two of North Carolina’s early Class of 2020 targets. Jaden Springer, a 5-star shooting guard at Rocky River High School, was a first-team selection while Jalen Cone, a 4-star point guard from Walkertown High School, earned a spot on the third team.

Those four players join White and 4-star Class of 2019 shooting guard Josh Nickelberry on the postseason awards list. White and Nickelberry were named to the Independence Schools Athletic Association all-state team in February for the 1A classification.

Tar Heels expecting big visitor Saturday

As far as football recruiting is concerned, spring practice brings positives and negatives.

On the negative side, it’s a lot harder for coaches to get on the road to evaluate players and continue to build relationships. The positive is that, with actual football practices happening, it gives recruits who already have some kind of relationship cultivated a reason to make visits and check out the program.

This weekend, the Tar Heels expect their first big recruit to attend spring practice. Four-star Class of 2020 tackle Mitchell Mayes will be on campus, according to his Twitter account.

Mayes, a Raleigh, N.C., product, has just three offers — North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke. North Carolina was the last of the three to offer, extending Mayes his offer on Feb. 2.

It’s not surprising to see those schools offer such a talented player in their own backyard. Mayes ranks as the No. 3 tackle and No. 16 overall player in the sophomore class, according to 247Sports.

Wholesale Notre Dame Fighting Irish Jerseys

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The final NCAA sanctioned swimming event of the season looms on the horizon. Looking to ride the momentum of a successful campaign in the water into the national meet, the University of Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team will take part in the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

No. 19 Notre Dame returns to the NCAA meet following the best finish at the championships in program history in 2017. The Irish scored 29 points to place 25th at the NCAA Championships last March in Indianapolis, raising the bar for the program at the national meet in 2018. Notre Dame sends four individual competitors and four total relay squads to Minneapolis in search of NCAA points and prestige.
Irish Storm The NCAA Pool
A host of Notre Dame student-athletes have punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships, which will be held Wednesday through Saturday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Three Notre Dame swimmers have qualified for individual events at this week’s NCAA men’s meet. Justin Plaschka will race in both the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly events, entering the meet ranked 23rd nationally in the 50 free and 11th nationally in the 100 fly.

Rob Whitacre will compete in both the 200 backstroke and the 200 IM during the 2018 NCAA Championships for Notre Dame. Whitacre set an Irish program record in the 200 back earlier this season, ranking 13th nationally. His top 200 IM effort is the 34th-fastest time in the country thus far in 2017-18.

Zach Yeadon enters his first career NCAA Championships meet in the midst of a historic freshman season for Notre Dame. Yeadon, a two-time ACC Men’s Swimmer Selection of the Week (Oct. 10 and Jan. 30), will race in the 500 and 1650 freestyle events. To date, his Irish record time in the 500 free ranks seventh in the country and earned him an automatic invitation to the NCAA meet. Yeadon’s school record 1650 free swim is slotted third in the country on the eve of NCAAs, with his additional record split in the 1000 free ranking sixth in Division I men’s swimming.

On the relay schedule, Notre Dame will be represented in the 200 and 400 freestyle relay events, along with the 200 and 400 medley relay preliminary heats. The Irish posted NCAA A-cuts in both the 200 (1:17.61) and 400 (2:51.62) free relays earlier this season to earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.

In diving, Joe Coumos returns to the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in his career and will dive off both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. Coumos was the ACC runner-up in the 1-meter event at the conference championships meet last month with a score of 391.90 points.
Irish Rewrite The Record Books
A total of eight Notre Dame program records have been established during the 2017-18 season on the road to the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Seven individual swimming events and one diving high score off the 3-meter board set the pace in Irish program history, with the oldest top time in the Notre Dame record book now dating back only as far as 2014.

Justin Plaschka threw down the fastest Notre Dame 50 freestyle in history, placing fourth in the ‘A’ final at the ACC Championships with a time of 19.30. Plaschka added the top 100 butterfly mark ever by an Irish men’s swimmer during the ACC meet, touching the wall in :45.41 for an NCAA A-cut and automatic slot in the national meet. Plaschka previously set the Notre Dame 100 freestyle (:42.78) last season.

Zach Yeadon etched his name into three places on the Notre Dame record book during his freshman season. His runner-up time of 4:12.74 in the 500 freestyle at the ACC Championships was good for the fastest in Irish history and a silver medal. Yeadon added his second silver finish at the ACC meet with a time of 14:34.60 in the 1650 freestyle, with his 8:51.16 1000 free split also on the top of the all-time Notre Dame list.

Rob Whitacre has enjoyed a standout senior season for the Irish in the backstroke, putting his name on the top 100 and 200 back swims in program history this season. Whitacre swam a prelim time of 46.46 in the 100 backstroke at the ACC Championships before finishing seventh in the event final to extend his team mark. He was also the top seed in the 200 back at ACCs following a Notre Dame record time of 1:40.17 in his prelim session.

Off the 3-meter diving board, Joe Coumos extended his own team record with 419.80 points on his way to victory at the Shamrock Invitational. Coumos also holds the top Notre Dame score in the 1-meter dive with a score of 420.00 points in 2017.
Irish Riding High In 2018
Racking up a 9-2 record in dual meets earlier in the season, Notre Dame staked its claim as one of the top teams in the ACC on its way to a fourth-place finish at the conference championship meet. The Irish downed No. 7 Louisville (Oct. 7), No. 23 Purdue (Oct. 27) and No. 20 Florida State (Jan. 19-20) in dual action, adding a first-place result in a talented Shamrock Invitational field that featured two additional ranked foes in January and a third-place finish at a loaded Ohio State Fall Invitational last November.

In addition to the key dual victories, Notre Dame scored a fourth-place finish at the ACC Swimming and Diving Championships in February to build off its third-place result in 2017. The Irish scored 941 points during the meet, with top finishes earned in the 500 and 1650 freestyle by Zach Yeadon (second place), a runner-up result for Rob Whitacre in the 200 backstroke and a silver medal for Joe Coumos off the 1-meter diving board. Whitacre added a fourth-place result in the 200 IM to his conference meet weekend, while Justin Plaschka was fourth in the ACC in the 50 freestyle.

ony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball, men’s soccer and swimming and diving programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.

Wholesale Ohio State Buckeyes Jerseys

Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes and South Dakota State Jackrabbits played an entertaining 5-vs-12 NCAA Tournament matchup Thursday afternoon with the Buckeyes prevailing 81-73. The hero may have been senior Kam Williams who converted on a four-point play with the game tied at 70 with 1:36 remaining. Junior Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 24 points and 12 rebounds. The Jackrabbits were paced by junior Mike Daum with 27 points on 5-10 shooting from three.

Let’s take a look at what we can learn from Ohio State’s first NCAA Tournament victory since 2015.
What We Learned
1. Ohio State Can Win With Offense In The NCAA Tournament

The formula for Ohio State’s success this season has been the Big Ten Player of the Year play of Bates-Diop and lockdown defense. The Buckeyes were a KenPom top 20 defense overall this season. Ohio State expected the replicate that type of game in today’s matchup

What they got was more of an offensive showdown with the Jackrabbits. Ohio State responded and leaned on its offensive playmaking from upperclassmen Bates-Diop, C.J. Jackson, and Williams. All had 20 points apiece and contributed with big shots down the stretch.

Now, this isn’t to disparage the Ohio State offense. They are rated no. 26 on KenPom and have shown an ability to light up the scoreboard, but overall, this is a team that digs in and wins with getting stops and grinding it out. It was somewhat unexpected to see Ohio State up-and-down the court keeping up with the Jackrabbits. It has to give the Buckeyes confidence to know that they can win NCAA Tournament games playing multiple ways.
2. Daum vs Bates-Diop Lived Up To The Hype

The talk before this afternoon’s game was the matchup between Mike Daum and Keita Bates-Diop. The talk was backed up with inspired play by both players.

Daum, who entered the game averaging 23.8 points per game and 10 rebounds, ended up leading all scorers with 27. Ohio State was able to limit him to just nine points in the second half, but the Nebraska-native played a heck of a game against a tough defensive team.

Bates-Diop was right there as well. The Big Ten Player of the Year dropped 24 and 12, 17 of which came in the first half.

Neither player was particularly efficient, both shot 20 or more shots. Still, it was exciting to see players of this caliber go at each other and delivering on this type of stage.
3. The Gonzaga Rematch Will Be Different

Now that the Buckeyes have gotten by the Jackrabbits, a rematch with Gonzaga awaits for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. The Zags destroyed Ohio State 86-59 in the PK80 tournament in Portland back in November. But just expecting a similar result in their game on Saturday would be foolish. True, the Buckeyes will need to solve Johnathan Williams, who scored 21 points in that game. The Buckeyes weren’t yet the Buckeyes from this year in that game. Defensively they were poor, giving up 44 first-half points, and Bates-Diop only passively took seven shots to score seven points. Expect the game to be much more competitive this time around, especially given Gonzaga’s struggles in their opening round matchup against UNC Greensboro.

Ohio State continued its strong turnaround season with a First Round victory over South Dakota State this afternoon. Before the season, this accomplishment looked improbable to even the most diehard Buckeye supporters. Still, the Buckeyes have done it and now look towards Gonzaga for some revenge on Saturday. It should be a great game with the Buckeyes playing with house money given all they have achieved this season.

Wholesale Oklahoma Sooners Jerseys

Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. — It was almost like a sudden gust of wind hit the floor at Lloyd Noble Center late Sunday afternoon. NCAA Tournament selection show host Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson reached the Os and right after Ohio State, there was Oklahoma.

The month-long swoon where the Sooners dropped from a top-10 team in every poll and metric to on the NCAA Tournament bubble wasn’t enough to keep them out of the field.

“I was nervous,” freshman guard Trae Young said. “I was very anxious to see if our name was being called. I’ve been very comfortable throughout this whole process until the last minute and a half. But once they called our name, all my emotions just let go. I’m very fortunate that they chose us. I think they did it right.”

Whether the Sooners (18-13) belonged is a debate that heated up a few weeks ago and showed no signs of cooling off. NCAA Tournament selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen laid out the rationale for the Sooners’ inclusion in the field. For most doubters, it wasn’t enough.

If Oklahoma and its fans that gathered for their team banquet prior to the selection show knew they were a shoe-in for an at-large berth, the roaring sigh of relief wouldn’t have been as loud.

“Look we didn’t do what we needed to do towards the end, and so we put our fate up in the air,” Oklahoma center Khadeem Lattin said. “So, at this point, all we can do is get ready for whatever is ahead of us, and pray for the best outcome. That’s what we did. We had two very intense practices, and we just started to get ready for the fight that lies ahead of us.”

The Sooners are the No. 10 seed in the Midwest Region. They face No. 7 seed Rhode Island (25-7) on Thursday at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Oklahoma knows where it stands

The Sooners’ players are not deaf and they’re very adept at social media. They’ve heard all the critiques they’ve received while dropping nine of their final 12 games going into selection Sunday.

Young lobbied for the Sooners after the 71-60 loss Wednesday to Oklahoma State, which didn’t receive an NCAA Tournament bid. He cited Oklahoma’s strength of schedule and the quality of its victories.

Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley didn’t hold back. When the meeting with Rhode Island was announced he said: “I don’t think they deserve to be in the (NCAA) Tournament and they’re gonna lose to Rhode Island.”

“I know our team has a big chip on our shoulder. Me, personally, I have a tremendous chip on our shoulder. I’ll be ready to play,” Young said. “I hear a lot of things. Not a lot people think we should be in, which is fine. The people who make the decision that we should be and that’s what matters. If you put our blind resume up, I think we would be in. I think we’ll have a tremendous chip on our shoulder. I don’t think that a lot of people not having us in is gonna affect us. We have to be ready to play.”
Getting out of Big 12 play should help Oklahoma

It’s no coincidence that Oklahoma’s slide began in early February, which is when it started facing Big 12 opponents for the second time in the round-robin schedule. It’s one thing to scout an opponent. The understanding grows of personnel multiples after playing against them.

The Sooners and Rams have never met.

“I’m not gonna say it’s a relief,” Young said. “The relief now is that it’s zero and zero and everyone has the same record. Now we know who we have to play. It’s gonna be different playing against a non-Big 12 team. We have to get prepared for them [Rhode Island]. They’re a really good team and we have to be ready to play.”

Much like the Sooners, Rhode Island limped into the postseason. After securing the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season title, the Rams fell to St. Bonaventure and Davidson to close the regular-season. Davidson upset the Rams on Sunday in the Atlantic 10 Tournament title to grab a bid.

None of that matters to the Sooners. They’re in the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence and four days of sweating since their abrupt exit from the Big 12 tournament.

“Obviously any time you get to play in the tournament you’re delighted,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “A long year, and we’ve had the extremes all in one season, very good play to less than that by a lot.”

This represents their last chance to recapture that level of play they had in December and January that has been absent for a month.

Wholesale Oklahoma State Cowboys Jerseys

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma State continues to make college basketball as difficult as possible.

Its previous coach (Brad Underwood) left abruptly last March after one season for Illinois.
Underwood’s top assistant Mike Boynton then took over. Head coaching experience? Zero.
In September, Boynton’s associate head coach Lamont Evans was charged with fraud and bribery in the now infamous roundup by the FBI.
Leading scorer Jeffrey Carroll was suspended three games to start the season. Boynton kicked two other players off the team.

Now stuff all that into a current bracketology blender. A victory against Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Wednesday might leave the men’s basketball selection committee with one of its toughest decisions.

The Cowboys (19-13) have some of the top wins of any team this season. They also began Wednesday with an NCAA RPI of 89. That would be the lowest RPI of any tournament team since the formula was changed in 2005.

A conundrum grows.

“It’s been a heck of a ride,” Boynton said after that 71-60 victory against the Sooners. “I had a lot of stuff to deal with. The character of the kids is what gives you a chance. If I’ve got a bunch of knuckleheads, this thing implodes a long time ago.”

Instead, the Cowboys have become a fingernails-on-chalk-board crew that is a witch to play against. Ask Oklahoma, which was methodically ground down in three meetings. The Cowboys went from allowing 109 in the first meeting to 81 to 60.

Oklahoma State won two of the three and might have knocked the Sooners out of the NCAA Tournament. Previously, the Cowboys became the first Big 12 team to sweep a season series from Bill Self at Kansas (by a combined 23 points). They finished 4-2 against the top three teams in the league (Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech).

But that RPI is being weighed down by nonconference games against Charlotte, Houston Baptist and Mississippi Valley State — all three with sub-300 RPIs.

“They’re still alive,” CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm said of the Cowboys. “I said before the Big 12 tournament that they needed to get past Kansas to entertain a conversation about their prospects. That is still true.”

A third meeting with Kansas in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday should be dripping with desperation.

“None,” Boynton countered. “I don’t operate that way. People that have been around me … You don’t have to be desperate when you have success.”

Things are actually sort of falling into place for the Cowboys. Kansas will be without its center Udoka Azubuike due to a sprained MCL. Boynton wasn’t aware of that until after the OU game.

“The thing they do best is shoot threes,” Boynton said of Kansas. “He doesn’t shoot any of them. It’s not like Azubuike plays 35 minutes a game. It’s just that when he’s in there, you gotta have a plan.”

The Cowboys’ plan is to continue to be that team you can’t quite profile. Statistically, they don’t do anything especially well except shoot free throws (35th nationally). Every starter plays at least 20 minutes, only one more than 30 (Carroll). Sophomore forward Cameron McGriff plays the fewest minutes of the starters. He erupted for 18 points and nine rebounds against the Sooners.

“Cam is a microcosm of what our program will be, really embraced the hard work mentality,” Boynton said. “We’re not at a point where we’re bringing in a bunch of McDonald’s All-Americans that people assume are pros. Maybe that’s why people don’t think we’re any good to start with.”

The intent remains to be as difficult as possible. The Cowboys have played their way into the NCAA Tournament conversation by winning four of their past five. Previously, Oklahoma State has won at Allen Fieldhouse and WVU Coliseum. The Cowboys will face an overwhelmingly hostile crowd Thursday at the Sprint Center.

Not bad for a program that lost its coach, was tainted by the FBI probe and had a 36-year-old no-name as Underwood’s replacement.

“Everyone thought I was going to suck …” Boynton told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander last month.

How hard can it be keeping this roll going? The last time a team beat Kansas three times in a season was Oklahoma State in 1983 — when Self played for the Cowboys.

No sweat.

“I thought we were in [the tournament] all along,” Boynton said.

Wholesale Oregon Ducks Jerseys

SEATTLE — The queen is dead, long live the queen.

One week after winning its first conference title in 18 years, No. 6 Oregon vanquished No. 16 Stanford 77-57 in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game Sunday night at KeyArena.

The top-seeded Ducks (30-4) had never played in a conference tournament final until denying the tradition-rich Cardinal (22-10), seeded second, their 13th conference tournament crown.

Sabrina Ionescu, the Pac-12 player of the year, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after another legendary performance on a big stage.

The sophomore guard scored a career-high 36 points to lead Oregon to its first win against Stanford outside of Eugene since a 65-51 road victory on March 5, 1987.

“She’s just awesome,” Oregon freshman forward Satou Sabally said of Ionescu, who broke the record for points in a Pac-12 Tournament championship game held by Stanford’s Candice Wiggins (30, 2008). “One time she hit a three, and I was just smiling like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s crazy.’

“I don’t know, she’s just amazing and an inspiration to me.”

Oregon avenged its 78-65 loss to the Cardinal on Feb. 4 in the only regular-season meeting between the teams. Brittany McPhee, who scored 31 of her career-high 33 points in the second half to will Stanford to the comeback win, was held to 12 points in the rematch.

“It was the Ionescu show today,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think she’s a competitor. Last time we played them, beating them up there was a great accomplishment, and it was the Brittany McPhee show. Britt really torched them.

“And then today Sabrina torched us.”

The Ducks have won nine consecutive games and are 19-2 against Pac-12 teams, including a 14-0 record when senior Lexi Bando is in the lineup.

The March Madness will continue in two weeks at Matthew Knight Arena, where the Ducks will host first- and second-round games after making a strong final argument for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“I love it,” said Bando, the former Willamette High star, after cutting down the nets with her teammates. “Everyone laughed, they said, ‘Why didn’t you cry on your senior night?’ I’m like, ‘Well I still have games to play at Matthew Knight.’

“It will be amazing. Our fans are unbelievable, I think the best in the Pac-12, so to be able to play in front of them hopefully a couple more times, it would just be amazing.”

Winning big games and collecting trophies is the new normal for the Ducks.

Oregon’s invitation to the Big Dance was a given, but winning the conference tournament qualifies the team automatically.

A year ago, after losing to Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, the Ducks made it to the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed with upsets of Temple, Duke and Maryland on the East Coast.

This year coach Kelly Graves will enter the bracket with a team that knows it has a chance to get to the Final Four.

“We’re still loose,” Graves said after cleaning the cupcake out of his ears deposited there by his players during the postgame celebration. “I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a group that is this close, and you can tell they play for each other. They’re great teammates, they’ve got talent and great leadership.

“So we’ve got all the pieces. We’ll see how far we can take this. I know we’re guaranteed one game.”

Maite Cazorla, who finished with 10 points and six assists, made a three-pointer and then found Ionescu in the corner for another three-pointer to give the Ducks a commanding 66-47 lead with 6:15 remaining.

Sabally, playing through a painful pelvis injury suffered during a collision in Saturday’s intense semifinal win over UCLA, made a pair of three-pointers early in the third quarter to give Oregon a 41-28 lead.

The Pac-12 freshman of the year finished with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes.

“I wanted to play this game no matter what,” Sabally said. “I just had to go through it. Adrenaline helped a lot and the crowd helped a lot, just like pushing.”

For the second consecutive Sunday, the Ducks were posing for pictures with a Pac-12 championship trophy in the locker room.

“It’s kind of unreal,” Sabally said. “I’m in my freshman year and it’s kind of normal for me now.”

Ionescu set the tone for both halves with 12 points in the first quarter and 11 points in the third quarter.

“I think we had some unfinished business,” Ionescu said. “Our coaches did a great job on the scouting. We adjusted from what we did last game, and I was just ready to come out.”

Graves sensed a special performance was coming from his best player before the team even arrived at the arena.

“I saw a little twinkle in her eye coming off the bus today and at shoot around and at pregame meal,” he said. “She had a different look about her. I didn’t know what that was going to translate into, but now I know the look.”

Stanford led 15-11 after a frenzied start in which the teams combined to make 12 of 19 shots before the first media timeout.

The Cardinal had a seven-point head start before Ionescu scored after grabbing an offensive rebounds. Then she buried a three-pointer to get Oregon within 13-11.

Ionescu was 5-for-7 from the field in the first quarter and gave the Ducks their first lead with a three-point play to make the score 18-17.

Stanford never regained the lead.

“When you have somebody like Sabrina, she shines the brightest in the biggest moments,” Graves said. “She sure did that tonight. That’s part of her competitive greatness.”

The second quarter began with Ionescu knocking down a deep three-pointer and then taking a steal in for a layup to give Oregon a 23-17 advantage.

Cazorla beat the shot clock with a desperation three-pointer, and Sabally drove the baseline for a basket to give the Ducks a 31-21 advantage.

Stanford finished 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) behind the arc. Forward Alanna Smith was the bright spot offensively with 17 points on 8-for-17 shooting.

Oregon scored 24 points off 16 Stanford turnovers, 19 points off 15 offensive rebounds and had a 30-24 rebounding edge.

Now Ionescu and the Ducks wear the crown.