UNC Avoids Sanctions From Academic Cheating Case

Written by Jeff Goodman at ESPN.com

North Carolina avoided major sanctions after the NCAA could not conclude the school violated academic rules when it made available deficient Department of African and Afro-American Studies “paper courses” to the general student body, including student-athletes.

The NCAA said in a release Friday the committee on infractions panel found two violations in this case — the former department chair and a former curriculum secretary failed to cooperate during the investigation.

“While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called ‘paper courses’ offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes,” said Greg Sankey, the panel’s chief hearing officer and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, in the release. “The panel is troubled by the university’s shifting positions about whether academic fraud occurred on its campus and the credibility of the Cadwalader report, which it distanced itself from after initially supporting the findings. However, NCAA policy is clear. The NCAA defers to its member schools to determine whether academic fraud occurred and, ultimately, the panel is bound to making decisions within the rules set by the membership.”

The investigation centered on a system in which a significant percentage of student-athletes took classes that had academic irregularities — and whether that resulted in those athletes receiving an impermissible benefit. The classes were taken by more than 3,100 students — nearly half of them athletes — from 1993 to 2011. However, the investigation was focused from 2002-11.

The independent study-style courses came in the Department of African and Afro-American studies and often required no attendance, grade changes, forged faculty signatures and just one paper at the conclusion of the semester. The athletes were reportedly guided into the classes to help remain academically eligible.

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Cameron Johnson And The Hypocrisy of the NCAA

Written by Andrew Carter at News Observer.com

Citing the hypocrisy of college sports, an NCAA bylaw and standards of decency, Cameron Johnson, a graduate transfer from the University of Pittsburgh, made his case on Tuesday for the immediate eligibility that he seeks at North Carolina.

After announcing his intention to transfer to North Carolina, Johnson, a former basketball player at Pitt, released a lengthy statement in which he argues why he should be immediately eligible to compete at UNC.

Johnson, who has two years of remaining eligibility after he graduated in three years from Pitt, wrote that UNC is “the one school that fits my academic and athletic interests the most.” Pitt, though, is restricting Johnson’s transfer and attempting to force him to sit out next season at UNC.

Unlike undergraduate college athletes, who are forced to sit out for one season after they transfer, those who transfer after graduating are eligible to compete immediately under NCAA rules. Different conferences and universities, though, have their own policies for graduate transfers.

Pitt’s policy restricts graduate transfers from being immediately eligible at any other ACC school, or any other school on Pitt’s schedule during the next year. And so while Johnson could be immediately eligible at schools outside of the ACC, Pitt is attempting to force him to sit out next season at UNC.

In his statement, Johnson emphasized the hypocrisy of such a stance. He wrote about how his first head coach at Pitt, Jamie Dixon, left the school and immediately began coaching at TCU, and about how Kevin Stallings left Vanderbilt to become Dixon’s immediate successor at Pitt.

During Johnson’s three years at Pitt, the university also lost one athletic director and hired another. Johnson also noted that the associate athletic director who heard his transfer appeal recently left for another job at another institution.

Of those who had come and gone, Johnson wrote, “all had the freedom to move as they pleased. As a student-athlete, who is not a paid employee of the school, and a graduate, shouldn’t I be granted the same freedom of movement?”

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NCAA Championship Preview

Written by Scott Gleeson at USA Today.com

Back on Selection Sunday, before the official madness began, both North Carolina and Gonzaga weren’t full-on locks as No. 1 seeds like fellow top seeds Villanova and Kansas. Duke and Arizona, two teams with earlier-than-expected NCAA tournament exits, were then in the mix to steal away a top seed.

Here in April, the Tar Heels and ‘Zags — both No. 1 seeds — are the only teams still standing.

While North Carolina is on a revenge quest from last year’s heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the title game, Gonzaga played much better than any team in Saturday’s Final Four games and hardly looks like an underdog (although Las Vegas has UNC as a two-point favorite, just like it was last year against Villanova). Which team has the edge in the national title game (9 p.m. ET, CBS) on Monday? Here’s a look at the key areas.

Frontcourt edge: North Carolina

The teams both have tantalizingly huge frontcourts but play much different than the other. Gonzaga is more finesse and skill — with 7-footer Przemek Karnowski roaming the paint, creating space and showing great vision as a passer when he’s not scoring with a feathery touch. He’s complemented or relieved by freshman 7-footer Zach Collins, a lengthy and versatile big man who was exceptional against South Carolina with six huge blocks and a game-defining three-pointer. He’ll be a top-10 pick in June’s NBA draft because of his upside and blossoming this March. Then 6-9 forward Johnathan Williams is the X-factor for the ‘Zags with his ability to stretch the floor.

All that said, UNC has the edge here because of the depth of its bigs. Seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are ferocious on the glass and play with a physicality that gives UNC a backbone. Tony Bradley, a freshman, is solid as well to add to the brute force stockpiling. Then Luke Maye, the Tar Heels’ Elite Eight hero, adds depth. The reason UNC is so ridiculously good at rebounding is because of ACC player of the year Justin Jackson and utility man Theo Pinson adding to that effort. Jackson is more of a point-forward but his versatility scoring — whether it be via jump hooks or deep jumpers — gives North Carolina the advantage.

Backcourt edge: Gonzaga

Nigel Williams-Goss played like a man possessed at times against South Carolina, with seemingly all of his 23 points coming during key momentum spurts. That’s the type of impose-your-will grit that coach Mark Few needs in his floor general to cut down the nets Monday. Williams-Goss has nice pieces around him, whether it be Cal transfer Jordan Matthews (10.7 ppg), Josh Perkins (8.2 ppg) or Silas Melson (7.3 ppg) that will all offset UNC’s guard play.

Whether it was due to injury or not, Joel Berry II, who shot 2-for-14 from the floor against Oregon, was not on his A-game. And he’ll need to be against the ‘Zags. If he can get reinforcement from role players Kenny Williams and Nate Britt, that’ll help. But coach Roy Williams knows he needs his senior to win a championship.

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Why Calling the ACC Basketball Overrated is Just Silly

Written by John Cassillo at ScACC Hoops.com

Following a very rough first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the ACC was taking heat from all sides. ESPN, FOX and NBC started the troll deluge, and even SB Nation (and others) were happy to carry the narrative too — though at least Mike Rutherford had far more substance in his reasoning (and his opinion comes from actually caring about the conference’s success).

Just a year after putting a record number of teams (six) through to the Sweet 16, the conference had just one make it in 2017: last year’s runner-up North Carolina.

The Tar Heels ended up making it to the Final Four yet again. For some reason, this season’s still considered a failure for the “top conference” in the land.

Why?

In part, it’s just a comparison to 2016’s excellence, which any conference would fall short of. It’s also a reaction to the historical dominance of the ACC and its top programs (some of which have been in the league longer than others). UNC, Duke, Louisville and Syracuse are hate-able to a lot of fan bases outside of the league. You could probably add Notre Dame, Virginia, Pitt and others to that list as well.

So while the ACC failed to hit last year’s high bar, it’s doing just fine. The Heels are back in the Final Four, which makes this the only conference that can claim three straight years of Final participants. The ACC’s also made six of the last eight.

This isn’t just about wins, either. Those wins also equal credits from the NCAA (one per win), and those credits equal dollars (each unit’s worth over $260,000 annually for five years) which are then invested into the league’s 15 programs.

The ACC’s collected the most credits for the past two years — 21 in 2015 and a record 25 in 2016. This year, they have 18 already (best in the country) and can get to as high as 20 with two more wins by UNC. The SEC can match them with two South Carolina wins, but that would also require a Heels loss in the semifinal.

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UNC Wins On Last Second Shot To Advance to Final Four

Written by Michael Rosenberg at SI.com

Go ahead: call it a miracle. It sounds right, doesn’t it? Luke Maye, who walked on to the North Carolina basketball team, responded to a game-tying three-pointer from Kentucky’s Malik Monk with a game-winner of his own, sending the Tar Heels back to the Final Four. It stunned the crowd here and made Maye the talk of the nation, but you know what? North Carolina does not really believe in miracles.

Luck, sure—Roy Williams tells his team sometimes that you need a little luck. But mostly, North Carolina believes in basketball. Smart, complete, fundamentally sound basketball. That’s what Dean Smith taught Roy and what Roy teaches his team every year, and it’s what you saw here in the final seconds.

The two most storied programs in the sport had played a wild game, occasionally sloppy but always riveting, and then Monk had drained a game-tying three-pointer, because he is Malik Monk and this is what he does. Monk could sink three-pointers with his eyes closed and handcuffs on while undergoing a root canal. His shot tied the score at 73–73.

Kentucky fans went crazy, but North Carolina players knew what North Carolina players have known for five decades: Their coach would not call timeout. Dean didn’t. Roy doesn’t. Why give the defense a chance to set up? Take advantage of the chaos.

North Carolina inbounded to Theo Pinson. He had missed the last game these teams played, a 103–100 Kentucky win, and here was Pinson’s chance to be the hero. But he didn’t think about being a hero. He thought about the right basketball play, and he saw right away that Kentucky was scrambling. Isaiah Briscoe had been guarding Pinson, but when the ball was inbounded, he was too far away from Pinson. Wildcats freshman De’Aaron Fox picked up Pinson and shadowed him down the court.

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UVA Holds UNC To Lowest Points Total Since Before Shot Clock

Written by Chip Paterson at CBSSports.com

North Carolina had won four straight and captured at least a share of the ACC regular-season championship. The Tar Heels had a chance to claim that outright league title against Virginia in Charlottesville on Monday night, but that opportunity faded along with UNC’s efficient offense in a 53-43 loss.

The setting wasn’t ideal for Roy Williams’ group: the next-to-last game in a tough final stretch of games, a Saturday-Monday turnaround and the final test before the highly anticipated rematch with Duke in Chapel Hill. Williams values the regular-season crowns — “that’s one way to get a banner up,” he says — and brought in a team that’s now in the No. 1 seed discussion for the NCAA Tournament. But it didn’t take long for Virginia to establish dominance with its defense and set North Carolina down a familiar path to defeat.

It’s the worst loss for North Carolina since getting beat by 15 at Miami on Jan. 28. In that game, North Carolina had just 22 points at halftime, the lowest mark of the season. Virginia held the Tar Heels to just 23 before halftime, and got 18 of its 27 first-half points off 12 turnovers. It’s also the fourth-lowest scoring total (43) in the ACC era.

No one this season has scored more points off North Carolina turnovers than Virginia did, and that inability to take care of the ball allowed the Wahoos to make up for the gap in offensive ability between these two teams. It’s not realistic to expect UNC to play so poorly in the ACC tournament, NCAA Tournament or even against Duke on Saturday night, but it’s a good sign for Virginia — particularly heading into the postseason — to see their defensive effort power take down one of college basketball’s top teams.

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Duke Beats UNC, Wins Leg One of College Basketball’s Biggest Rivalry

Written by Matt Norlander at CBSSports.com

With the comfort of a raucous arena losing its mind around him, Grayson Allen on Thursday night put up one of the strongest games of his career.

Maybe it winds up being the most important.

“Grayson had an amazing game,” Mike Krzyzewski said after Duke’s 86-78 win over North Carolina.

The word “amazing” is thrown around way too frequently in sports, but Allen’s showing in the biggest rivalry in college basketball qualifies. A national stage, a big moment for his team and the validity of its talent — and he came through. He was the most consistent player on the floor. Without him, Duke does not win against North Carolina. There’s no higher compliment for him right now than that.

In previous games, Allen’s been a bit player, inconsequential at times. He looks like he’s returning to star status, which will only make Duke more dangerous.

Perhaps now Allen will be able to get through the rest of the season without melodrama, the North Carolina test serving as a potential final barrier to clear. For the first time in a very long time, Allen’s performance and all of the talk afterward was only about what he did and what his team did — in victory. He put up a game-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, sinking seven 3s in the process. After a couple of his 3-pointers, he looked left, to the Crazies, and very much seemed to feed off their energy. He looked like the player a lot of people predicted would be the national Player of the Year.

“It feels good to just be out the playing the game that I love — and loving it,” Allen said. “Really just having fun with it, whether my shot falls or not. That’s how I grew up playing the game. Just loving to compete. It feels good to do just that.”

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UNC Vs Duke Preview

Written by Steve Wiseman at News and Observer.com

North Carolina’s reputation as a ferocious rebounding team precedes the Tar Heels’ invasion of Cameron Indoor Stadium Thursday night.

“I’m breaking out in a rash when you talk about rebounding,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Wednesday.

When Krzyzewski’s No. 18-ranked Blue Devils play the No. 8 Tar Heels in the rivalry’s next chapter, rebounding will be a key factor in who emerges victorious.

North Carolina (21-4, 9-2 ACC) leads the country in rebounds per game (44.7) and mainly because the team is so effective on offensive rebounding. UNC averages 16.36 offensive rebounds per game, second nationally only to Kent State’s 16.54.

According to kenpom.com, UNC is No. 1 in the country because it has corralled 42 percent of the rebounds available on its it offensive end.

Hence Krzyzewski’s concerns.

While UNC has 6-10 senior forward Kennedy Meeks, 6-9 senior forward Isaiah Hicks, 6-8junior forward/guard Justin Jackson and 6-10 freshman forward Tony Bradley leading the push inside, the Blue Devils (18-5, 6-4) have a rebounding weapon or two of their own.

Forward Amile Jefferson has only lost one game to UNC that he’s participated in. When the 6-9 grad student has led Duke in rebounding, the Blue Devils are 10-1 this season and 35-3 in his career.

“There is no more important player for what we are doing than Amile,” Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski was talking about all phases of the game, but rebounding is of particular importance. So is Jefferson’s leadership and he is impressing upon his teammates how to attack this game.

“We have to fight,” Jefferson said. “We have to be tough. We have to rebound collectively. We have to put bodies on guys. They are an excellent rebounding team. It’s something they do really well. So we all have to be rebounders. We all have to out well. We all have to be ready to do that for 40 minutes.”

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Mitch Trubisky is A NFL Level Draft Prospect


Written by Greg Gabriel at STLToday.com

Going into the 2016 college football season, the quarterback names we heard as potential premium-round draft prospects were Deshaun Watson from Clemson, Chad Kelly from Ole Miss and Brad Kaaya from Miami.

After the first couple of games, Notre Dame third-year sophomore DeShone Kizer jumped to the top of the list.

Based on his play in the first half of the season, a new name has emerged in the last few weeks and that is Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina.

Trubisky is a fourth-year junior and while he has had some starts in the past, this is his first year as a full-time starter.

Coming out of high school, Trubisky was rated as a three-star prospect, but still received offers from some top schools. Ohio State, Michigan State and Alabama were among the schools offering Trubisky.

Trubisky has excellent size (listed at 6-3, 225 pounds), is very athletic and has a very strong arm. While he plays in a fairly simple spread offense, you see him make all the throws that an NFL quarterback makes.

Through seven games he has competed 203-of-285 throws for a 71.2 percent completion rate and 2,378 yards. He has also thrown for 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions. His breakout game was against Pitt in Week Four when he led North Carolina to a come from behind victory, passing for 453 yards and five touchdowns.

Trubisky’s stats can be a bit deceptive, as they throw a number of bubble screens and quick passes designed for the receiver to gain yards after the catch. Still, he shows good accuracy and ball placement on the medium to long range throws. He easily can complete a throw 50-60 yards downfield.

Trubisky has an overhand delivery with a quick release and throws a tight ball with good velocity. While he makes some outstanding throws, he can get lazy with his footwork at times and throw off his back foot or when out of balance. When that happens, the ball can sale and his accuracy is off.

Trubisky generally shows good ability to read the field, has a minor progression to go through and makes good decisions. He seldom forces the ball. He also has the athleticism, quick feet and speed to avoid pass rushers and make and extend plays with his feet. It is very obvious on tape that he is in command on the field and has leadership skills.

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Who Could Crash the College Football Playoff?