Arizona & Michigan State in NCAA “Sweet 16”; Evansville advances in CIT


Three schools participating in the 2015 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy are still competing in the post-season, including NCAA “Sweet 16” qualifiers Arizona (Pac-12 Conference) and Michigan State (Big Ten). Evansville (Missouri Valley) will play at Louisiana-Lafayette Thursday in the Tournament. Boise State (Mountain West), Providence (Big East) and UC Irvine (Big West) lost opening games in the NCAA tournament. Other schools competing in the three-day, 12-game DIRECTV Wooden Legacy will be Boston College (Atlantic Coast) and Santa Clara (West Coast). The 2015 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy will be played in southern California featuring the opening rounds November 26 and 27 at Titan Gym on the campus of Cal State Fullerton with the final four games being staged November 29 at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Arizona (16-2 Pac-12 record, 33-3 overall) – The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16” by defeating Texas Southern (83-72) and Ohio State (73-58) to improve their winning streak to 13-straight games. The Pac-12 regular- and post-season champions, the Wildcats are the second-seeded school in the NCAA West Region and will play Xavier Thursday in Los Angeles. The Wildcats have five underclassmen among their top six scorers led by freshman Stanley Johnson (6-7 forward, 14.0 points and 6.6 rebounds a game), a 2015 Wooden Award finalist and the Pac-12’s freshman of the year. Other Arizona leaders are juniors Brandon Ashley (6-9 forward, 12.2 points and 5.3 rebounds), Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 center, 9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds, 57.9 field goal percentage) and Gabe York (6-3 guard, 9.1 points), and sophomore Rondae HollisJefferson (6-7 forward, 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds). Ashley was the most valuable player in the Pac-12 tourney. Hollis-Jefferson was named to the league’s all-defensive team and joined Johnson as a first-team all-Pac-12 selections.

Boise State (14-4, 25-9) – The Broncos dropped a first-round game by losing 56-55 to home-standing Dayton. It was the first-time since 1987 that a school played an NCAA tournament game on its home court and Dayton has won 22-straight contests at UD Arena – seventh longest active streak in Division I. Boise State, the 11th-seeded team in the NCAA East Regional along with Dayton, led by seven with 3:43 to go but the Flyers finished the game with a 10-2 run. Coach Leon Rice, who has posted a 102-63 record in five seasons at Boise State, will rely on underclassmen junior Mikey Thompson (6-4 guard, 7.6 points per game), and sophomores James Webb III (6-9 forward, 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds, 55.2 field goal percentage) and Nick Duncan (6-8 forward, 9.4 points). Rice was the Mountain West’s coach of the year. Webb was a MWC second-team selection along with being named the league’s newcomer of the year and a member of the all-defensive team.

Boston College (4-14, 13-19) – The key for Coach Jim Christian is keeping Wooden Award nominee Olivier Hanlan around for his senior season. Hanlan, who earned first-team all-ACC honors as the junior guard led the league in scoring by averaging 19.5 points a game along with being 10th in assists (4.2 per contest), is listed on as the No. 12 NBA shooting guard prospects (83rd overall).

Evansville (9-9. 22-12) – The Purple Aces defeated IPFW 82-77 at home and won at Eastern Illinois (83-68) in an opening Tournament games to advance to a Thursday meeting at Louisiana-Lafayette. Evansville’s “Dynamic Duo” of D.J. Balentine (6-2 guard) and Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10 center) were MVC’s first-team all-league selections. Balentine leads the league in scoring (19.5) and Mockevicius in rebounding (10.0). Mockevicius has 19 double-doubles this season and is shooting 59.0 percent (141-239) from the field. He also is averaging 2.2 blocked shots per game.

Michigan State (12-6, 25-11) – The Spartans advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16” for the 13th time in the past 18 seasons by defeating Georgia (70-63) and upsetting Virginia (60-54) in Charlotte as the seventh-seeded school in the East Region. Michigan State, which will play Oklahoma in the regional semi-finals Friday in Syracuse, tied for third in the Big Ten’s regular-season standings and lost in overtime to Wisconsin in the finals of league’s post-season tournament in Chicago. Top Michigan State underclassmen are juniors Denzel Valentine (6-5 guard, 14.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game), Bryn Forbes (6-3 guard, 8.8 points) and Matt Costello (6-9 forward, 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds), sophomore Gavin Schilling (6-9 forward, 5.1 points and 4.0 rebounds), and freshman Marvin Clark, Jr. (6-6 forward, 4.7 points). The “versatile” Valentine was a third-team All-Big Ten pick. Coach Tom Izzo’s 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances mark the nation’s second-longest active streak, and the fourth longest in NCAA history.

Providence (11-7, 22-11) – Like Boise State, the Friars lost to Dayton (66-53) in their opening game of the NCAA East Region in Columbus. Keeping Kris Dunn (15.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game) around for his junior season will be newsworthy as the 6-3 guard is listed as the No. 3 point guard for the upcoming NBA draft (20th overall prospect). Dunn currently ranks second in the nation in assists and fourth in steals. A BIG EAST first-teamer, Dunn is also the league’s co-Defensive Player of the Year. Dunn is the first player in the history of the BIG EAST to lead the league in assists and steals.

Santa Clara (7-11, 14-18) – Jared Brownridge (6-2 guard, 15.9 points and 2.5 assists per game) was a first-team All-West Coast Conference pick as he became the first true Bronco sophomore and just third in WCC history to score 1,000-plus career points. Brownridge, who has scored 1,076 career points, works as an EyeBronco reporter for the SCU Media Relations office and hosts his own YouTube series: “Long Walks With Jared”. With a couple cameras filming their walk, Brownridge walks around the picturesque Mission campus chatting with his subject.

UC Irvine (11-5, 21-12) – The Anteaters first NCAA (Division I) appearance ended with a heart-breaking 57-55 setback to nationally ranked Louisville in Seattle. Seeded 13th in the East Regional, UC Irvine earned the post-season berth by defeating UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i in the Big West tourney. Guards Luke Nelson (6-3 sophomore) and Alex Young (6-1 junior) are averaging 10.5 and 9.4 points per game, respectively, while combining for 7.6 assists per contest. Sophomore center Mamadou Ndiaye is the nation’s tallest player (7-6). He has played in only 15 games this season with a 10.5 scoring and 5.1 rebounding averages while shooting 63.4 percent from the field (64 of 101).

40TH ANNIVERSARY – The 2014-2015 season marks the 40th anniversary of John R. Wooden’s last campaign at UCLA as the Bruins finished the season by capturing the legendary coach’s 10th NCAA title highlighted by the school’s 92-85 win over Kentucky in the championship game March 31, 1975 in San Diego.

2014 DWL PARTICIPANTS – Led by Xavier, three schools from the 2014 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy advanced to the post-season. Xavier defeated Ole Miss and Georgia State to advance to the NCAA “Sweet 16” against Arizona in Los Angeles Thursday. The Musketeers defeated San Diego before losing to UTEP and Long Beach State in the 2014 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy. UTEP, the 2014 DWL runners-up, lost to Murray State in the first round of the NIT. Western Michigan lost to Cleveland State in the Tournament.

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