NCAA Latest: Newman’s year sitting out pays off

NCAA Latest: Newman's year sitting out pays off
The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Latest on the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):

3 p.m.

Malik Newman’s year of work has paid off with a trip to the Final Four.

Newman sat out last year at Kansas and worked behind the scenes as a transfer after leaving Mississippi State following his freshman season. He has come up with big performances in recent games, including scoring 13 of his 32 points in overtime of last weekend’s Elite Eight win against Duke.

Newman says coach Bill Self stayed on him about becoming “a better point guard, a better player, a better leader.”

The 6-foot-3 sophomore says he “should have come here straight out of high school” and called the transfer “definitely the best decision that I made.”

The top-seeded Jayhawks play Villanova on Saturday night for a spot in the final.

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1 p.m.

When Michigan and Loyola-Chicago meet in the Final Four on Saturday night, one team will soon suffer its first loss in a long time.

The Wolverines have won 13 straight games since losing at Northwestern on Feb. 6. Michigan shot 50 percent in the first half and led 32-29 in that game, only to make only 5 of 20 shots and score 20 points after halftime in the 61-52 loss.

As for the Ramblers, they have won 14 straight since falling at Bradley 69-67 on Jan. 31.

Both teams advanced deeper into March Madness because of last-moment shots in earlier rounds.

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12:30 p.m.

Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill are among the 13-member class that will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

The Hall of Fame made the announcement Saturday before the NCAA Final Four semifinals.

The inductees also include Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Tina Thompson, coach Lefty Driesell, Charlie Scott, longtime executive Rick Welts, NBA executive Rod Thorn, Katie Smith, the late Ora Mae Washington and Croatian star Dino Radja.

Nash and Kidd were two of the greatest point guards of their generation. Nash is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and eight-time All-Sta. Kidd earned 10 All-Star selections.

Hill won two NCAA titles at Duke and seven NBA All-Star selections. Allen is the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history and a two-time league champion.

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12 p.m.

It’s been an almost all-or-nothing thing for Villanova and Jay Wright when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats reached the Final Four in 2009 before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina, then failed to get out of the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend 7/8for another six years. That included a loss to North Carolina State as a 1-seed in 2015.

Villanova finally made its push a year later, beating Kansas in a regional final then beating UNC on Kris Jenkins’ walk-off 3-pointer for the national title.

But last year, Villanova lost as a 1-seed in the opening weekend again against Wisconsin.

This time, the Wildcats arrived at the Final Four as the highest remaining seed in the tournament.

Villanova plays Kansas on Saturday night in the second semifinal.

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10:30 a.m.

Loyola-Chicago had to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship to secure its spot in the NCAA Tournament then made a run as an 11-seed.

Yet Michigan coach John Beilein sounds like he thinks the Ramblers might have been good enough to win a title in one of the power conferences.

Loyola and Michigan play Saturday night in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

Loyola-Chicago is only the fourth No. 11 seed to reach the national semifinals. Beilein says he thinks the Ramblers could’ve been seeded anywhere from No. 4 to No. 7 had they been in a bigger conference.

Beilein says he isn’t saying the seeding was wrong, but that “it’s an inexact science to try and figure out.”

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10 a.m.

It’s game day at the Final Four in San Antonio.

Saturday night features two NCAA Tournament semifinals at the Alamodome. The first is West Region champion and third-seeded Michigan against South Region champion and 11-seed Loyola-Chicago. Both teams have had wins during this tournament with last-moment shots.

The second is a battle of No. 1 seeds between East champion Villanova and Midwest champion Kansas. They’ve both played at a high level all year and entered March Madness as popular picks to win it all.

All four teams are past national champions. The Wildcats are pursuing a second national title in three seasons. The Jayhawks are trying for their first title since winning one in San Antonio in 2008.

Michigan won the title in 1989, while Loyola-Chicago won it in 1963.

The winners of the games Saturday will meet Monday night for the title.

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