NCAA

Louisville announces postseason ban for men's basketball

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Louisville announces postseason ban for men's basketball

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville has announced a one-year postseason ban for its men's basketball team amid ongoing investigations into a sex scandal in which an escort alleged that a former staffer paid her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

University President James Ramsey said Friday at a news conference that an investigation by the school has revealed that some violations did occur. Ramsey said the ban is for all postseason tournaments, including the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments.

Ramsey said he received the latest results of the investigation on Thursday, but noted the review of the allegation is continuing.

"We found out yesterday that we had a problem," said athletic director Tom Jurich, adding that university wanted to deal with the findings as quickly as possible.

Men's basketball coach Rick Pitino was stunned by the university's decision.

"This is a punishment I never thought would have happened this season," said Pitino, who also attended the news conference with Ramsey, Jurich and former NCAA investigator Chuck Smrt. "This is as harsh as anything I've ever seen in college basketball."

The Cardinals (18-4, 7-2 ACC) are currently are ranked No. 19 and scheduled to play Boston College on Saturday. They would have been a lock for a tournament berth if they had not won the league title.

The 63-year-old Pitino has denied knowledge of allegations in a book by Katina Powell that former director of men's basketball operations Andre McGee paid $10,000 for 22 shows performed by her and other strippers, including three of her daughters.

Powell's allegations in her tell-all book rocked the Louisville community and led to four separate investigations into Pitino's program.

Louisville notified the NCAA about the allegations in late August and immediately launched its own investigation. The athletic department hired Smrt of The Compliance Group to look into the allegations.

Smrt said Friday that the action taken by the university is "a very significant step" considering the investigation is ongoing.

Within a week following the book's initial release, campus police chief Wayne Hall announced that his department would work with Louisville Metro Police and the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office to review the allegations for possible criminal conduct. The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring of a law firm to review the allegations two days later.

Powell's book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen" was released online Oct. 3 and in hardcover 17 days later. On Oct. 20, Powell said in interviews with ESPN's "Outside The Lines" that she had no proof that Pitino knew about the shows that took place in the players' Billy Minardi Hall dormitory from 2010-14.

But Powell said that with "a boatload" of recruits and dancers, "loud music, alcohol, security, cameras" in a campus dormitory, "how could Rick not know?"

The NCAA hasn't accepted coaches' explanations that they didn't know about violations or illegal activities. The sports' governing body has at times viewed ignorance as a sign of lack of institutional control in penalizing programs.

College athletics' governing body has recently cited Hall of Famers such as Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and SMU's Larry Brown, suspending both coaches nine games each for violations they contended occurred outside of their view.

Powell has said many of the shows took place in the players' Billy Minardi Hall dormitory, which Pitino named after his late brother-in-law who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Powell wrote that McGee paid her $10,000 plus tips during that period for her and dancers to strip and have sex with Louisville recruits and some of their fathers, along with some Cardinals players.

Pitino said McGee denied the allegations when brought to his attention in August, and he said other assistants weren't aware of the activities described in the 104-page book.

As successful as the defense-minded Pitino has been at winning college basketball games, he has also been at the center of some embarrassing episodes of sexual misconduct.

The first occurred in 2010 when Karen Sypher, the ex-wife of former assistant Tim Sypher, was convicted of trying to extort money from Pitino to keep secret their 2003 tryst on a restaurant table. She is serving a seven-year sentence for the crime in a Florida prison.

Last February, Pitino dismissed senior guard Chris Jones from the team just before his arrest for rape and sodomy of two women in a campus dorm. A grand jury declined to indict Jones and two other men in the incident.

The same year that Sypher was convicted, McGee allegedly had begun hiring Powell to dance for recruits. McGee left the program in 2014 to become an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid administrative leave on Oct. 2 

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2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

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2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

The Big South conference had a surprising start to their league play this year with preseason favorites UNC-Asheville and Winthrop losing two of their first three games.  Since, things have settled down in the Big South with those two squads separating themselves from the pack late in the season.

This 2017-18 season, the Big South is a single bid conference but does have opportunities to get a couple of teams into the NIT. Depending on how this tournament plays out, there may be two or three teams in the second biggest tournament in the country.

READ MORE: NCAA TOURNAMENT BUBBLE WATCH

Like always the tournament will be hosted at multiple sites. The first round will be on campus-sites with the No.7 and No. 8 teams hosting their respective games. From there, the remaining teams will head to Asheville, NC for two rounds as the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed. The highest remaining team will then host the championship game.

Home-court advantage will clearly be a factor for which ever team hosts, but it has also been a theme of the Big South. Combined, the entire conference is 88-38 at their home court. Only Liberty has a winning record on the road at 5-4. The host of the quarterfinals and semifinals, UNC-Asheville, is 13-1 at Kimmel Arena. The lone loss being against Liberty.

Only one year in this format, Winthrop won the championship in 2016-17 as the hosts.

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION:

When is the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be Tues. Feb 27, March 1-2, and the Big South championship is on March 4.

Where is the Big South Tournament?
The Big South tournament will primarily be hosted at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, North Carolina. The higher seeds will host the first round match-ups. The Big South Championship will also be at the highest seed’s home court.

How to watch the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be televised as a part of ESPN’s family of networks, excluding the first round. The first round can be seen on the Big South Network, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be streamed on ESPN3, and ESPN will televise the Big South Championship.

Who is the defending Big South Champion?

The Winthrop Eagles won the 2016-17 Big South Championship after hosting the main portion of the tournament. It was the Eagles 11th Big South Championship in their history, the most ever in the Big South.

2018 BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT BRACKET:

First Round – Tuesday, Feb. 27

No. 9 Presbyterian at No. 8 Charleston Southern 7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)
No. 10 Longwood at No. 7 High Point                     7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)

Quarterfinals - Thursday, March 1

7/10 Winner vs. No. 2 Radford                     1:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 6 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 3 Winthrop   3:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
8/9 Winner at No. 1 UNC Asheville              7:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 5 Liberty vs. No. 4 Campbell                  9:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Semifinals - Friday, March 2

TBD vs. TBD                          6:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
TBD vs. TBD                          8:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Big South Championship - Sunday, March 4

TBD vs. TBD                          1:00pm, higher seed host (ESPN)

MORE NCAA: ALL THE TOP BRACKETOLOGISTS PICKS IN ONE PLACE

PREVIEW:

Even as the No. 3 seed and losers of their last two games, Winthrop is probably still the favorite heading into the tournament. Their offense is one of the highest scoring in all of college basketball (80.7 ppg), with Xavier Cooks scoring 17.6 ppg (3rd in Big South). However, the Eagles’ offense is not powered entirely behind three-point shooting, it is done with balance on both sides of the ball. They have the best two-point shooting percentage in the league (47.3 percent), lead the Big South in rebounding averages, blocks, and field goal defense. In addition, their guards’ three point shooting ability is pretty good too at 37.5 percent and making 9.5 deep balls a game.

However, when they go quiet from long range or another team matches their three-point shooting for a contest, they are susceptible. Also as defending champs, they have been here before and are motivated to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

As the Big South tournament hosts, UNC Asheville will have a leg up on the competition, but they have not been as dominant as a top seed should be. The Bulldogs are one of the most consistent teams in the conference with all five starters scoring in double figures each game. If one is betting, they are the safe bet to win it all based on what is mentioned above.

While Radford was a pleasant surprise throughout league play, do not anticipate that they will be a contender. They are eighth in scoring in the conference (68.2) and around the same mark when it comes to shooting. Their defense has bailed them out as probably one of the top defensive units in the league, but their leading scorer is a post player, Ed Polite Jr.  (13.6 ppg) and if shut down in the paint, there is no offense.

Liberty is the darkhorse in the Big South Tournament. The do boast the best defensive numbers in the conference (64.0 points against per game) and have a high-powered offense, although it is spotty.  Two players are shooting well above 40 percent or better from behind the arc. Dominating the boards, they limit other team’s second chance opportunities. Do not bet against the Flames in a one-on-one contest.

PICK: No. 3 Winthrop

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.