With “Selection Sunday” a little over a week away, there is plenty of mid-major hoops happening across the country. An NBA lottery pick led his team to the OVC Final, a coach in the MVC is stepping down, and one coach is a victim of the recent FBI probe. Here are the latest college basketball news and notes.
Morant sends Murray St to OVC final
Sophomore sensation Ja Morant hit a shot to take the lead with eight seconds to go as Murray State defeated Jacksonville State 76-74 to advance to the Ohio Valley Conference final. Morant finished with a game-high 29 points.
Murray State also had scoring efforts from players besides Morant. Shaq Buchanan added 13 points, Darnell Cowart had 11 points to go along with 12 rebounds, and KJ Williams also chipped in 10 points. For Jacksonville State, Jason Burnell led the team with 22 points, along with 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Racers, who were the two-seed heading into this tournament, will square off against the one-seed Belmont on Saturday night for the OVC final. Belmont rolled past Austin Peay 83-67 in the other semifinal game on Friday.
SIU’s Hinson announces departure
Following a heart-breaking 61-58 loss to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals, Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson announced that he will not return as head coach.
“We made a pact that, if we didn’t go to the NIT or the NCAA, that it would be time for me to step away,” Hinson said in his postgame press conference. Hinson has been the coach of the Salukis for seven seasons but has never reached the NCAA tournament.
With SIU’s season over and Pinson stepping down, sources told ESPN that Loyola Chicago associate head coach and former SIU point guard Bryan Mullins is the lead candidate for the head coaching job. Mullins and Loyola will take on Bradley in one of the MVC semifinals, followed by Drake versus Northern Iowa.
LSU suspends Wade after FBI probe
LSU has suspended head coach Will Wade indefinitely, one day after the reports of FBI wiretaps intercepting Wade making calls and expressing frustration regarding offering recruits money and other illegal benefits.
The calls were from 2017, with Wade speaking with business manager Christian Dawkins. The FBI was monitoring one of Dawkins’ cell phones as part of the ongoing investigation into college basketball corruption. Some people familiar with the calls believe the conversation was centered around an illegal offer proposed to current LSU guard Javonte Smart.
LSU, the 10th-ranked team in the nation, will host Vanderbilt on Saturday in their regular-season finale. With Wade suspended, the university is also expected to make an announcement regarding Smart’s status ahead of tipoff.
The last Saturday of regular season basketball is here. Some notable games on the schedule include No. 8 Texas Tech at Iowa State, No. 4 Duke at No. 3 North Carolina, and No. 7 Michigan at No. 9 Michigan State. And with the NCAA Tournament around the corner, be sure to use Vegas Odds as your go-to site for March Madness odds, analysis, and more!