The pairs short program in figure skating is underway even though much of the attention is still focused on the stunning developments from the women’s free skate as gold-medal favorite Kamila Valieva stumbled throughout her performance and finished fourth.
(Miss something? Get caught up on all of Thursday’s action right here.)
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Friday that he was “very disturbed” by Valieva’s disastrous performance while also ripping members of the teen’s “closet entourage,” in an apparent nod to her controversial coach, Eteri Tutberidze.
Immediately after Valieva’s performance, TV cameras captured Tutberidze asking critical questions of her 15-year-old. According to Russian news outlets, she asked Valieva, “Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why?”
Chinese-American Eileen Gu dominated Friday, earning a third medal of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Gu won gold in big air’s Olympic debut last week and silver in freeski slopestyle. “The trifecta has always been my biggest goal,” she had said earlier. Elsewhere, Team USA lost to Canada in the bronze medal match in men’s curling, as the defending gold medalists will not reach the podium in Beijing.
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Jordan Stolz top American finisher in 1,000-meter speed skate
Beijing — Racing in his first Olympics, the 17-year-old from Wisconsin, Jordan Stolz, was the top American finisher in the 1,000 meters, with a time of 1:09.12 at the National Speed Skating Oval. He took 14th place in the Beijing Winter Games.
Three months shy of his 18th birthday, everyone will be watching to see Stolz’s developments in the coming years.
But for now, this race belongs to European champion Thomas Krol, 29, who is among a group of strong Dutch skaters.
Krol in particular was on a mission in these Games after the Dutch skating federation decided not to select him for the Pyeongchang Games four years ago, instead opting for Kai Verbij with its 10 skater limit.
Krol dominated in his race while one of his best friends, Verbij, pulled up in his race and didn’t contend.
Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil took the silver and Haavard Holmefjord Lorentzen took bronze.
Eleven of the Olympians were in the 1:08 range, which Stolz was hoping for. He was having good, fast practices leading up to these finals.
“Yeah, the times in practice were really good. And same with last week, and then when I get to the race, they just fall off? So I’m not sure what that’s about,” said Stolz.
Because of that, Stolz had mixed emotions after the race.
“I felt it could have been a little bit better. But you know, I’m just happy to be here racing,” said Stolz. “The goal was from the beginning of the season to get to the Olympics, and just peak at the right times to be able to make the team and that’s what I did. I’m happy with that.”
Skaters from either Netherlands or United States have won gold in this event at the past seven Winter Games.
— Lori Nickel
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Official Olympics merchandise of Bing Dwen Dwen, the Beijing Games’ mascot, is hard enough to come by. But a panda hat? That might be tougher.
(It was one of her sponsors, Anta, who also made organizers’ uniforms for the Games.)
But Gu was more excited about why she likes it.
“You know how Bing Dwen Dwen is very rare right now and people can’t find it? So this is like the ultimate collectable, so I kind of had to flex because how sick is this?,” Gu said. “And also because I feel like, it’s the essence of freeskiing. This sport is so unlike any other because it’s so creative. It’s so unique. It’s so expressive.”
In addition to winning gold in halfpipe and big air here, to go with her silver in slopestyle, Gu is a model who has appeared on the covers of the Chinese versions of InStyle, Vogue and Elle.
“Especially for me coming from the fashion industry as well and just being able to have my own style and have fun with it,” she said. “I’m a kid. Let me wear my panda hat. It’s so awesome. It’s warm and it’s fun.”
— Rachel Axon
US men lose bronze in curling
The Americans lost the bronze medal match to Canada, 8-5, and simply got out-played in crucial moments in the second half of the game. In both the semifinals against Great Britain and the bronze medal game, skipper John Shuster continually got put in tough positions and could not manufacture shots to get out of trouble.
It eventually caught up with the U.S., which led 5-4 after six ends but always felt as if it was playing from behind.
“They’re going to give you maybe five or six cracks to get them during the course of the game, and if you give them any more cracks than that, they’re just a great curling team,” Shuster said. “Hats off to them. We’re a great curling team, too. That’s just how our game works.”
The door was cracked open slightly for the U.S. to take control in the seventh until Canadian skipper Brad Gushue pulled off a tough double takeout, eliminating a steal possibility for the U.S. after Shuster had put him in a difficult position.
Before the eighth end, Canada requested to mop the ice, as Gushue felt that a piece of debris had affected one of his shots. Typically, the ice is only mopped after the fifth end. The Americans did not object to the request, though they could have.
“There’s nothing against the rules, and it would be weirder if we said no,” said U.S. team member Matt Hamilton. “At the end of the day, this is a gentleman’s game and if they felt like they were a little uncomfortable with the ice, I don’t want an excuse that we beat them because the ice was bad. I’d rather beat them by making more shots. If they ask to sweep the ice go ahead it doesn’t bother me at all.”
It’s impossible to know how it impacted play, but the Americans’ hopes of winning a medal certainly turned worse after that.
The Americans momentarily breathed a sigh of relief in the eighth end when Gushue threw a bit too heavy with the hammer, missing an opportunity for three points. Still, getting two gave Canada a 6-5 lead, putting the Americans in the same situation they faced in the semifinals against Great Britain.
At that point, Shuster’s ideal game plan was to either take the lead with two in the ninth or play for a blank to retain the hammer for the 10th and final end.
Instead, Canada set up the board perfectly, luring Shuster into a tremendously difficult double-takeout attempt. He could not execute it, giving Canada a steal of two and an 8-5 lead. Though the U.S. did not concede, a comeback was almost impossible and Canada closed out the game easily in the 10th.
Shuster, playing in his fifth Olympics, was hoping to add a third medal to his collection to go along with the bronze from 2006. Instead, the U.S. will have to settle for fourth place.
“For me, it’s disappointing to get fourth,” Shuster said. “But I told myself before we came here, if we prepared well, played hard, played great, had great attitudes and enjoyed being here with our teammates, whatever happens was going to be just fine. We very, very much accomplished those goals. It probably makes (the experience) a little more satisfying than I’d have expected with a fourth-place finish.”
— Dan Wolken
US women’s freeskiers come up empty handed in halfpipe
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — For the first time since freeskiing was added to the Olympic program, an American woman did not medal in the halfpipe.
Though three qualified to the final at Genting Snow Park on Friday, none finished higher than Olympic newcomer Hanna Faulhaber in sixth.
“I’m really disappointed I couldn’t have skied the way I wanted to,” said Brita Sigourney, the bronze medalist in Pyeongchang four years ago. “It’s hard not to have expectations, and it’s hard when you’re not able to display what you want to when it matters.”
Sigourney finished 10th in her third, and final, Games. Carly Margulies finished 11th after having troubles with her skis on her first two runs.
Besides Sigourney, the Americans have a gold medal from 2014 when Maddie Bowman reached the top of the podium in the event’s debut.
Eileen Gu, an American-born teen who competes for her mother’s native China, won gold to claim her third freeskiing medal of these Games. The 18-year-old also won big air in its Olympic debut and took silver in slopestyle.
Canadians Cassie Sharpe and Rachael Karker claimed silver and bronze, respectively.
Faulhaber made her first Games at 17 and came into them with a silver at X Games last month. She struggled throughout practice before the competition, fighting windy conditions to land a run.
“I think I just cracked. It was tough,” Faulhaber said. “I think I put quite a bit of pressure on myself going in. Just to be able to put something down in finals made me so happy, made me have fun again.”
Margulies, meanwhile, was competing in her first Games after missing more than two years of competition with knee injuries.
The brake on her ski popped off on her first run, and she had a problem with her back-up ski on her second run and didn’t finish it. On her third run, she landed a right 900 on her last hit, the first time she’d ever done that trick in competition.
“I am so happy,” she said. “Even though it was kind of sloppy, I’m really happy with myself for putting (the right 900) down.”
The American women did not earn a medal here in any of the three freeskiing events.
— Rachel Axon
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Ryan Regez led a 1-2 finish by Switzerland in the Olympic skicross final on Friday at Genting Snow Park.
Regez grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it along a course filled with bumps, jumps and rolling terrain. He raised his arms in triumph shortly after crossing the finish line.
His teammate, 36-year-old Alex Fiva, finished with the silver medal and Russian athlete Sergey Ridzik grabbed the bronze.
As a kid, Regez always thought his future was in Alpine skiing, more specifically the downhill. When that didn’t pan out, he started an apprenticeship as a structural draftsman before discovering skicross.
It paid off in gold.
In the small final, Italian skicross racer Simone Deromedis won the heat with a little bit of flair. He was coming off the last jump and did the splits before crossing the finish line.
— Associated Press
BEIJING — International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Friday that he was “very disturbed” by Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s disastrous performance the night before, while also ripping members of her inner circle who did not visibly support her.
In his first comments on the Valieva story, which he called “very sad,” Bach said he watched Thursday night’s long program on television and was struck by the pressure that Valieva, 15, must have been feeling. He said he struggled to watch her struggle through her program and repeatedly try to compose herself.
Bach also ripped Valieva’s “closest entourage,” in an apparent nod to her controversial coach, Eteri Tutberidze, and the “tremendous coldness” she showed toward her skater when she came off the ice.
“It was chilling to see this, rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her,” he said.
Bach said the Valieva scenario has also raised questions about whether there should be a minimum age limit for Olympic competition. He said discussions over the issue have already begun in the IOC’s executive board.
— Tom Schad
Most gender equal Winter Games? Our analysis says not quite
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – To hear the International Olympic Committee tell it, gender equity is just around the corner.
Ushered in by the organization’s addition of mixed team events over the past three Winter Olympics, the most gender equal Games are happening here in Beijing, organizers declare.
A USA TODAY Sports analysis of mixed team events in these Games found that rather than improve the place of women at the Olympics, those mixed team competitions draw few new athletes in and favor men both in participation and medals.
Rather than helping women catch up to the men, they leave them behind in the name of equity.
— Rachel Axon
Chinese-American teen Eileen Gu wins freeski halfpipe gold
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – It was ambitious to set out for three Olympic medals, a logistical challenge Eileen Gu has pursued with little rest over the past two weeks.
Lofty as it was, the goal was realistic for the 18-year-old who has been one of the most dominant athletes her sport has seen. That expectation became coronation on Friday as Gu won the third medal, and second gold.
Gu, competing for her mother’s native China, took the lead after landing back-to-back corked 900s a first run that featured the biggest amplitude of the day, and then extended her lead on a similar second run, scoring 95.25.
Canadians Cassie Sharpe and Rachael Karker won silver and bronze, respectively. All three American women in the event – Hanna Faulhaber, Brita Sigourney and Carly Marguiles – finished off the podium.
— Rachel Axon
‘There is no happiness’ for skating silver medalist Alexandra Trusova
At the end of what was a difficult week for the Russian Olympic Committee women’s ice skating team, a silver medal wasn’t enough to keep emotions from spilling out of Alexandra Trusova.
Moments after the results of the competition were revealed and after Trusova saw she won silver behind her teammate Anna Shcherbakova, broadcast cameras captured Trusova crying in the post-competition “kiss-and-cry” area.
“Everyone has a medal, everyone has, but I don’t!” Trusova said in Russian during the broadcast, according to a translation by USA TODAY video producer Anastasiia Riddle. “I hate it all. I’m never going to … never …”
Trusova did not finish her sentence and didn’t say explicitly that she would never skate again, as some translations have indicated. When asked after the competition about her comments and whether they meant she would never skate again, Trusova told reporters, “We’ll see.”
“I am not happy with the result,” she said. “There is no happiness.”
— Lorenzo Reyes
Alysa Liu the top finisher among US women skaters
BEIJING – Alysa Liu ensured that she will be the top-finishing American woman at the Beijing Olympics after another relatively smooth program.
With an overall score of 208.95, Liu took over first place at the conclusion of her program, ahead of compatriots Mariah Bell (202.30) and Karen Chen (179.93). There were still seven skaters remaining after Liu and she ended up finishing seventh overall.
Liu, 16, is the youngest member of Team USA in Beijing. Skating to Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D op. 35” by Joshua Bell, she attempted and cleanly landed a planned triple axel in her long program Thursday, but it appeared to be underrotated.
– Tom Schad
US figure skater Mariah Bell finishes program with a flourish
The 25-year-old, and oldest U.S. women’s figure skater since 1928, put together a clean free skate the judges ruled a 136.2 to temporarily move her into first place. However, there were 11 more skaters remaining.
Skating to “Hallelujah” by k.d. lang, Bell’s first half went smoothly and her more difficult back end of the program was well-executed. Both triple lutzes went according to plan for the 2021 U.S. national champion.
Coach Adam Rippon had his hands in the air for those big jumps and greeted her with a warm embrace as she stepped off the ice.
– Chris Bumbaca
US figure skater Karen Chen falls during short program, does not medal
BEIJING – A mistake-filled Olympics for Karen Chen has mercifully come to end.
Chen almost made it through her free skate without falling but took a hard spill toward the end on a triple loop, the same move she fell on in the short program two nights ago. Earlier in the skate, her hand touched the ground on the first triple loop, a jump she expressed confidence in Tuesday night – and described as a cornerstone of her performance.
Chen’s score of 197.93 temporarily placed her in fifth. She will not medal.
The 2018 Olympian also fell during the short program of the team competition, in which the United States still took silver, but stayed upright in the long program.
Chen, who finished fourth at the world championships ahead of the last two Olympics, skated to “Butterfly Lovers” by Takako Nishizaki. The 22-year-old is expected to return to Cornell University.
– Chris Bumbaca
Brennan: Adults let Kamila Valieva down, and it showed in her Olympic meltdown
BEIJING – It was heartbreaking, all of it. A young woman, just 15, having tested positive for a banned substance, enduring a shocking meltdown on the grandest stage in her sport, the women’s figure skating long program at the Olympic Games.
At the end of an excruciating week of controversy, anger and uncertainty surrounding Russia’s Kamila Valieva, one of the most unsettling and stunning moments in Olympic history awaited.
The overwhelming gold medal favorite fell apart so completely that she dropped to fourth place in the final standings. It was difficult to watch, a young woman succumbing totally to the pressure of the moment, the pressure that the adults who coach and surround her forced on her.
Never lost in this terrible doping saga was the fact that this was a 15-year-old in the worldwide spotlight. And then that young woman – that girl – came apart in front of our eyes. She never should have been allowed to skate; that’s been said thousands of times the past week. Now we can be sure of it: because of the positive drug test, certainly, and because of what the pressure has done to her.
— Christine Brennan
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Chris Plys gets a ‘dream job’ in Olympic curling
BEIJING — Chris Plys went to his first Winter Olympic Games as an alternate on the U.S. men’s curling team 12 years ago and has a tattoo of the Olympic rings to show for it.
Since then, Plys has covered himself in tattoos. “I have a couple that, I mean, I’m not losing sleep over it,” he said, “but I’m like, ‘Ah, I wish I had that spot for something new.’”
However, it’s the moments imprinted on his psyche that Plys really wanted to bump into oblivion over the last decade.
He narrowly lost some national titles and came up short in his quest to make another Olympic team since that Olympic debut in Vancouver.
Plys and Team USA fell to Great Britain on Thursday in the semifinals, so they’ll play for bronze on Friday against Canada.
— Karen Rosen
Brian Boitano, Ashley Wagner haunted by women’s figure skating debacle
BEIJING – Brian Boitano and Ashley Wagner have been spending a lot of time together during the Olympics at NBC Sports’ studios in Connecticut, co-hosting the Peacock show “Olympic Ice.”
They were made for that role. Figure skating has been their life: Boitano is the 1988 Olympic men’s gold medalist, Wagner the 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist. Both won multiple national championships.
They have definitely seen the best of their sport. Thursday, they saw the worst of it.
“I’m still thinking about what happened. This can be a brutal sport at times but this took it to a whole other level. I don’t think I’ve seen anything as difficult to deal with, especially on the shoulders of a young girl (Kamila Valieva). To have to deal with this kind of pressure, it’s probably the hardest situation I’ve ever seen, with an outcome that is going to change her life and even make it more terrible,” Boitano texted just hours after the event.
“I can’t watch this,” Wagner wrote on Twitter. “They all look devastated. This just shows that these children are put in a position that is so wildly unhealthy and harmful to them. I’m sick to my stomach.”
— Christine Brennan
Armour: Drug cheats steal far more than Olympic medals
BEIJING – The outrage over figure skating phenom Kamila Valieva’s presence in Beijing has centered largely on Russia’s blatant, and continued, contempt for the norms and values of the Olympics. Russia technically doesn’t even have a team here, punishment – weak as it is – for its efforts to rig the system with a state-sponsored doping program.
But the anger over the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to hold the medals ceremony for the team figure skating event is just as fierce. Why should the American and Japanese athletes be punished, robbed of their chance to stand on a podium during the actual Games, because of Russia’s wrongdoing?
USA TODAY’s Nancy Armour spoke with two athletes who experienced a similar loss four years ago. They found it’s impossible to replace a memory that never existed, one more thing stolen by the cheaters.
Team USA tops 20-medal mark
The results could have been better on Thursday at the Beijing Olympics for the United States, but Team USA did add two more medals to its overall total.
The U.S. women’s hockey team fell to Canada and will take home the silver medal after winning gold four years ago. In addition, speedskater Brittany Bowe won the bronze medal in the women’s 1,000 meters. That brings the United States’ total to 21 medals, tied with Germany for third overall.
Norway leads the way with 13 gold medals and 28 total. Germany is second with 10 golds and the U.S. is third with eight.
Razzies royally torch 'Diana' musical and 'Space Jam 2,' show love to Oscar favorite Will Smith
In its proclamation of the worst films of 2021, the Razzies lambasted a critically reviled Princess Diana musical and LeBron James’ “Space Jam” sequel, but spread love instead of hate for Will Smith.
The Golden Raspberry Awards, annually announced the day before the Academy Awards, bestowed five dishonors on Netflix’s “Diana: The Musical,” a filmed production of the recent Broadway show that closed after 33 performances. “Diana” beat out “Infinite,” “Karen,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “The Woman in the Window” for worst picture, plus picked up worst screenplay and worst actress for star Jeanna de Waal.
“New Legacy,” the live-action/animated hybrid basketball comedy featuring James hooping it up with Bugs Bunny and Co., earned three Razzie awards. James was named worst actor and also was saddled with worst screen couple – which went to James and “Any Warner Cartoon Character (or WarnerMedia Product) He Dribbles On” – while the movie snagged worst sequel.
How to watch the 2022 Oscars:Everything you should know about Sunday’s Academy Awards
“House of Gucci” star Jared Leto lost his Screen Actors Guild race for best supporting actor but nabbed the Razzie for worst. And Bruce Willis does so many VOD movies now that he received his own special category (worst performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 movie) that, to no one’s surprise, he won – for “Cosmic Sin.”
Smith, who’s expected to win the best actor Oscar Sunday for “King Richard,” received this year’s Razzie Redeemer Award for previous Razzie honorees who’ve come back with quality efforts. Recent winners include Ben Affleck, Sylvester Stallone, Melissa McCarthy and Eddie Murphy.
The full list of this year’s Razzie “winners”:
Worst picture: “Diana: The Musical”
Worst actor: LeBron James, “Space Jam: A New Legacy”
Worst actress: Jeanna de Waal, “Diana: The Musical”
Worst supporting actress: Judy Kaye, “Diana: The Musical”
Worst supporting actor: Jared Leto, “House of Gucci”
Worst performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 movie: Bruce Willis, “Cosmic Sin”
Worst screen couple: LeBron James and Any Warner Cartoon Character
(or WarnerMedia Product) He Dribbles On, “Space Jam: A New Legacy”
Worst remake, rip-off or sequel: “Space Jam: A New Legacy”
Worst director: Christopher Ashley, “Diana: The Musical”
Worst screenplay: “Diana: The Musical”
As more marijuana dispensaries get targeted by robbers, SAFE Banking Act lingers in Congress
A bill that could allow electronic transactions at weed dispensaries nationwide is again make its way through Congress but the SAFE Banking Act might not be the cure-all that supporters envision.
In over a decade of operating cannabis shops in Washington, Shea Hynes never once worried about his stores getting robbed at gun point – until recently: In a span of three weeks, his stores were robbed three different times at gun point.
Reports of armed robberies at cannabis dispensaries like Hynes’ have nearly doubled in the first quarter of this year compared with all of last year, according to data maintained by the Craft Cannabis Coalition. The group, which represents more than 50 stores in Washington, has recorded more than 65 armed robberies so far this year, compared with 35 in 2021 and 29 in 2020.
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Takeaways from Friday's Sweet 16: North Carolina looks like national title contender
CHICAGO — In a ridiculous coincidence, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks wrote NCAA Tournament history on National Peacock Day with a thrilling upset of Purdue.
The mid-major became the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight, outdoing previous No. 15 seeds Oral Roberts (2021) and Florida Gulf Coast (2013). Exactly 0.8% of people picked the Peacocks to get this far, with the school from Jersey City, New Jersey, defying all odds. Is Saint Peter’s the best Cinderella of all time?
Meanwhile, the ACC is sitting pretty with three teams – Duke and now North Carolina and Miami (Fla.) – in the Elite Eight on the same day the Big Ten saw its last team go down.
A look at three key takeaways from Friday:
Saint Peter’s writes NCAA history
Coach Shaheen Holloway has this team playing inspired basketball, and now the Peacocks (22-11) are just one win from the Final Four. The best Cinderellas of the last two decades to reach Final Fours – George Mason in 2006, VCU in 2011, Loyola-Chicago (2018) all were double-digit seeded mid-majors. But none was as highly seeded as this Saint Peter’s team that’s now beaten No. 2 seed Kentucky, No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue.
WINNERS, LOSERS:Poised Saint Peter’s keeps the dream alive; bye-bye, Big Ten; hello, ACC
OPINION:Saint Peter’s embodies wackiness and uncertainty of this NCAA Tournament
ANALYSIS:Purdue’s loss leaves Big Ten shut out of Elite Eight. We could see this coming.
MORE:Legendary Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson: Coach K’s farewell tour ends Saturday
OPINION:Houston is leaving Phi Slama Jama in the 1980s for good
While other bracket-busting NCAA Tournament darlings of yesteryear have had flair (FGCU’s “Dunk City”) or a lovable fan (Loyola’s Sister Jean), this team from the MAAC is doing it with defense, namely with nine steals. In spite of being undersized against the Boilermakers, the Peacocks used aggressiveness and hustle to outduel their seemingly superior opponent behind 6-8 freshman Clarence Rubert and 6-7 junior Hassan Drame. Daryl Banks III (14 points) is the go-to scorer for Saint Peter’s, but Mr. Clutch has been guard Doug Edert (10 points) off the bench. One stat to note: a 19-for-21 clip from the free-throw line. What’s been most impressive is the Peacocks’ ability to stay hungry and poised under pressure, winning close games in all three NCAA Tournament matchups.
Blue-bloods show title potential
Duke and Villanova advanced on Thursday, and fellow blue-bloods Kansas and North Carolina will now join them in the Elite Eight. And yes, if both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels win Sunday, we could see them meet in the Final Four.
Ever since North Carolina embarrassed Duke in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Heels have been red-hot – knocking out No. 1 Baylor in the previous game in overtime. That continued against a UCLA team that reached the Final Four last year and seemed destined to get back. Caleb Love was brilliant again, finishing with 30 points off six three-pointers. Armando Bacot’s tip-in with 22 seconds left sealed the win in another impressive outing for coach Hubert Davis’ resilient team.
The last remaining No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas stayed alive, escaping Providence by five points. It’s coach Bill Self’s ninth trip to the Elite Eight with Kansas and 11th of his career, as the Jayhawks (31-6) are one win from the Final Four. They’ve now won eight in a row and are looking like a title contender after entering the NCAA Tourney having won the Big 12 tournament.
The secret weapon for Kansas has been guard Remy Martin. For the third consecutive tournament game, Kansas got a jolt off the bench from the fiery Martin (23 points), the Arizona State transfer who has erupted in these NCAAs after playing a reserve role throughout 2021-22.
ACC > Big Ten
Despite garnering nine NCAA Tournament bids on Selection Sunday – the most of any conference – the Big Ten is out following Purdue’s stunning exit vs. Saint Peter’s. The league tanked in the first two rounds, with No. 5 Iowa – the conference tourney champ – getting upset by Richmond in the first round. No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 Illinois, No. 7 Michigan State and No. 7 Ohio State all lost in the second round. And now, with Michigan’s loss to Villanova, the overall underachievement is on full display. That’s a 9-9 finish in the tournament.
No Big Ten team has cut down the nets since 2000 (the Spartans), and it’s a depressing outlook for the league that posted the second-best NET score in 2021-22 and showcased several teams with Final Four potential.
The ACC, which finished with the sixth-worst NET score as a league, has Duke, North Carolina and Miami all in the Elite Eight. That’s after the Tar Heels, Hurricanes and Notre Dame were all bubble teams in early March. The NCAA Tournament is about matchups and pathways. No matter how well the Big Ten did in the regular season, much like the Pac-12’s surprising finish last year, the ACC is well-positioned with three teams still alive and two of them title contenders.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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