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Kentucky beats UNC, 76-69

Kentucky Wildcats’ DeAndre Liggins (34) reacts with the Wildcats bench after sinking a three-pointer against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their NCAA East Regional college basketball game in Newark, New Jersey, March 27, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The Wildcats held a slim lead for most of the game, but found themselves tied at 67-67 with 3:18 to play after Tyler Zeller hit a pair of free throws to cap a 10-2 run for the Tar Heels.

On the next trip down the court, Brandon Knight picked a great time to hit his fifth three-pointer of the game. Zeller’s tip-in cut the lead to one, but then DeAndre Liggins hit a three of his own to give the Wildcats a four-point lead with 0:35 to play.

Just like the VCU/Kansas game, three-point shooting was the difference in this one. Kentucky went 12-of-22 (55%), while the Tar Heels made just 3-of-16 (19%) from long range.

Kentucky joins VCU, UConn and Butler in the Final Four. They’ll play Kemba Walker and UConn on Saturday.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Refs bungle end of UNC/Washington game

Washington Huskies guard Isaiah Thomas (2) walks off the court after losing against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their third round NCAA men’s basketball game in Charlotte, North Carolina March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

North Carolina outlasted Washington, 86-83, in Charlotte, but most of the talk after the game was how the officials determined the amount of time remaining on the last play of the game.

Washington’s Venoy Overton heaved a half-court shot (with his off hand, no less) and the ball hit John Henson’s hand before it went out of bounds. The replay clearly showed it hit the floor out of bounds with 1.2 seconds remaining, yet when Washington’s coaching staff asked the refs to check the time, they said it was fine and play proceeded with 0.5 seconds remaining. Washington didn’t have much time to get a good look and ended up taking a contested two-pointer that wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game even if it had gone in.

The NCAA director of men’s officials, John Adams, told CBS after the game that the officials acted correctly since there’s a lag time between when the ball hits, when the official blows his whistle and when the scorekeeper stops the clock.

Fine. But there’s an elephant in the room — why didn’t the officials bother to go to the video? They don’t have to check the video, but if the Washington coaching staff did indeed ask about the time, then the officials should have double-checked. With the Sweet Sixteen on the line, why not take a minute and make sure you got it right?

Who knows, had Washington had an extra 0.7 seconds, maybe they would have had time to get a better shot.

It’s a good day to be a college basketball fan

Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski (L) talks with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill head coach Roy Williams prior to the teams’ NCAA basketball game in Durham, North Carolina February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Ellen Ozier (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Check out this lineup of college hoops today (all times ET):

12 PM: #2 Kansas @ #24 Missouri (CBS)
The Jayhawks need a victory in Columbia to win the Big 12 outright. They have a one-game lead over Texas with one game to play and are hoping to secure a #1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament as well. Meanwhile, Missouri is hoping to complete an unbeaten season at home.

2 PM: #7 Notre Dame @ #16 UConn (ESPN)
It’s senior night for the Huskies, who have beaten the Irish seven straight times at Gampel Pavilion. Notre Dame can earn the #1 seed in the Big East tournament with a win today and a Pittsburgh loss to Villanova.

4 PM: #19 Villanova @ #5 Pittsburgh (CBS)
Villanova has faded after a strong start to the season, but could still spoil the Panthers’ bid to be the top seed in the Big East Championship if they’re able to upset Pitt on their home floor. The Panthers need a win to solidify their bid to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

6 PM: #14 Florida @ #20 Vanderbilt (ESPN)
These two teams went into overtime the first time they met this season and the Gators can clinch the outright SEC title with a win against the Commodores in Nashville.

8 PM: #4 Duke @ #13 North Carolina (CBS)
The ACC regular season championship is on the line as the Blue Devils face the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. In the first meeting at Cameron, UNC had a 16-point lead before Duke came back to win 79-73. Duke is hoping to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and needs a win tonight to round out its resume.

It’s not often that there are five Top 25 matchups lined up every two hours like there are today. And don’t forget, #10 Wisconsin plays #1 Ohio State at 4 PM (on CBS) on Sunday.

North Carolina recruit says that Coach K ‘looks like a rat’ [video]

UNC recruits Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock were interviewed by DraftExpress as part of the McDonald’s All-American events, and while Barnes and Marshall were diplomatic when discussing their arch-rival, Bullock was not. (Thanks to the SPORTZ ASSASSIN for finding the video.)

Barnes is from Iowa and Marshall is from Virginia, while Bullock is from North Carolina — maybe that has something to do with it.

Stan Van Gundy on D1 basketball

Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy told the Orlando Sentinel that if he were to fall out of the NBA coaching ranks, he’d rather coach at a small college than at the major D1 level:

“As far as what it’s all about at the Division 1 level and what it’s all about here, it’s all the same thing. It’s all about winning and losing, putting people in the seats and money,” the Magic coach told the Sentinel after Wednesday’s shootaround.

“I mean, those people throw out that they are really into academics and all that … There may be four or five schools that’s true of.

“I don’t know of coaches getting fired winning 20-25 games a year and kids aren’t graduating. I don’t know people who are keeping their jobs that aren’t winning and are graduating. It’s about the same stuff.

“Here, [in the NBA], it’s just more honest. We all know what it’s all about. You don’t have to pay lip service to things. This is the best basketball in the world.”

He makes a good point, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to do something about it.

Duncan suggests that schools that cannot graduate at least 40 percent of their student-athletes be banned from postseason play. If the rule was applied to this year’s tournament, 12 of the 65 teams would be locked out of the tournament. Three of them are No. 6 seeds or better—the University of Tennessee, the University of Maryland, and the University of Kentucky. “If you can’t manage to graduate two out of five players, how serious are the institutions and the colleges about the players’ academic success?” Duncan asks. “How are they preparing student-athletes for life?”

The data is from 1999-2003, and it seems a little unfair to focus on players that played seven to 11 years ago. Also, programs that send a lot of players to the NBA shouldn’t be penalized because their players are good enough to make millions playing professional ball. If this rule were implemented, it should focus only on players that stayed in college for four years.

For years, The Bootleg has studied graduation rates for football, basketball and baseball. The data is more recent, from 2004-2007. I’m not at all surprised to see my former coach, Bo Ryan, and the Wisconsin program near the top of the Big Ten (78%). He tends to recruit smart players who will likely stay in school for four years. Duke is second in the ACC at 92%, while North Carolina is at 75%. Maryland brings up the rear at a measly 8%. That’s just pathetic.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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