NCAA Talk

Notre Dame falls short in bid for Final Four against UNC

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Notre Dame falls short in bid for Final Four against UNC

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Roy Williams will take his postgame injuries as long as he and the North Carolina Tar Heels are headed to the Final Four.

The Hall of Fame coach bit his tongue and cut a finger during the net-cutting ceremonies after the Tar Heels beat Notre Dame 88-74 on Sunday night, leaving them as the only No. 1 seed in the Final Four.

"I was screaming. I started to take a step back and I felt like the ladder moved and I grabbed. When I grabbed I grabbed the end of the scissors and it started bleeding," he said.

That's OK since his team will head to Houston.

"Never in my life have I wanted something for someone else as I wanted to get these guys to Houston," he said.

Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Tar Heels reached the Final Four for a record 19th time and the first since 2009, when they won the last of their five national championships.

North Carolina (32-6) will face Syracuse, the 10th seed from the Midwest Regional, in another all-Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in the Final Four on Saturday. The Orange beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62.

"He should be used to cutting nets," senior point guard Marcus Paige said of Williams. "He said 'I'll bleed for you guys if you keep playing the way we're playing.' We'll get him patched up."

Sunday's halves were very different. In the first, the teams went shot for shot with both teams shooting over 58 percent and neither leading by more than six points. The second half was run for run and the Tar Heels, taking control of the boards, had the last and biggest one to seize control over the final 10 minutes.

It was Johnson's school-record 23rd double-double of the season.

"It took us four years to do this, but we're finally there," Johnson said of the Final Four.

Paige added 13 points and Joel Berry II had 11 points and eight assists for North Carolina, which has won its four tournament games by an average of 15.4 points. The Tar Heels finished with a 32-15 rebound advantage. They had more offensive rebounds than Notre Dame had on the defensive end.

"We got going a little bit and all of a sudden they made a huge run," Williams said of the second half. "(In a timeout) Marcus said, 'It's a game of runs. They made runs. We're going to make our run.'"

Demetrius Jackson had 26 points and V.J. Beachem had 18 for sixth-seeded Notre Dame (24-12), which has made the Final Four once, in 1978.

"I thought we put ourselves in position," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We took that one-point lead and they answered it like men. ... I thought the way they answered that run was championship level."

[MORE: Notre Dame's furious finish ends Badgers' NCAA Tournament run]

The teams split their games before the tournament, with the Tar Heels winning by 31 in the conference tournament two weeks ago.

The second half Sunday seemed like it was going be similar with North Carolina making a big run.

This time, a 12-0 run gave the Tar Heels a 63-52 lead with 9:19 to play. North Carolina showed its depth during the run with the final eight points coming from reserves Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson.

North Carolina opened the second half with an 8-2 run and Kennedy Meeks scoring all the Tar Heels' points down low. Notre Dame answered with 12 straight points. During that run, Johnson was charged with a technical foul for throwing the ball high in the air after he was called for a foul. He apologized after the game.

"That was dumb on my part," Johnson said. "But my teammates did a very good job of playing. They stepped up during a time of need."

After an incredible first half in which both teams played about as well as they could offensively, North Carolina led 43-38.

Both teams shot better than 58 percent from the field and from 3-point range. In one stretch, North Carolina went 4 minutes without missing. It was the third half this tournament that North Carolina shot better than 60 percent. North Carolina finished 61.5 percent for the game (32 for 52).

Notre Dame shot 55.1 percent (27 for 49).

Williams went to a 1-3-1 zone for a while trying to slow down the Fighting Irish from 3-point range. They made five of their first eight from beyond the arc and finished 6 for 10 for the half and 9 for 18 for the game.

North Carolina was 16 for 25 from the field (64 percent) and 4 from 6 on 3s, while the Fighting Irish were 14 for 24 from the field (58.3 percent).

NCAA is taking steps to allow student-athletes to make money off their likeness

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USA TODAY

NCAA is taking steps to allow student-athletes to make money off their likeness

Bulls rookie guard Coby White has talent, an infectious smile and an afro that makes him stand out on the court. It’s a fair bet he could have made some money off his likeness while he played at North Carolina if the rules allowed it.

The NCAA is taking steps towards allowing its athletes to do so, but there’s still a long way to go in the process. The organization’s Board of Governors unanimously voted to start the process. That vote moves things to the NCAA’s three divisions “to consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies,” as it was worded in the NCAA's press release.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, the chair of the board and president of Ohio State. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

The board asked each division (Division I, Division II, Division III) to make any new rules immediately and no later than January 2021.

It’s important to note that none of the changes are final, or even imminent. It’s still relevant that the NCAA is going through the process at all, after being so strongly in favor of amateurism across the board for its student-athletes.

The potential changes would not allow for compensation based on performance or participation in a sport. Of course, the natural grey area is that higher performing athletes will be more marketable so they would be compensated on performance indirectly.

This comes after California passed legislation to allow college athletes to receive endorsement/sponsorship money and other states are pursuing similar.

This is still far from being official or finalized, but it will continue to be a major story in college sports over the next couple years.

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

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USA TODAY

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

The DePaul men's basketball team has been placed on three-year probation and head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended three games for the 2019-20 season, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

The program was found guilty of "failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance while Leitao did not "prevent violations from occurring in his program."

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel concluded that a "former DePaul associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly directed the former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a recruit."

The NCAA found that three coaches knew about the situation but failed to report the infractions. DePaul will vacate all wins earned while the ineligible player competed and suffer recruiting restrictions. They were also fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget.

In 2019, DePaul had their first winning season since 2007 by going 19-17.