Jeff Eisenberg

  • Michigan State police to revelers: 'Guys, what's with the bagels?'

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 56 mins ago

    The centerpiece of the campus celebration after Michigan State secured an improbable Final Four bid was something you probably wouldn't expect.

    Bagels. Yes, bagels.

    Hundreds of Michigan State students gathered af East Lansing's Cedar Village and began throwing bagels into the air after the seventh-seeded Spartans defeated fourth-seeded Louisville in overtime on Sunday afternoon. Video of the airborne bagels spread quickly via social media, prompting a handful of bemused tweets from authority figures.

    Guys, what's with the bagels?

    What did the Bagels ever do to you? #CedarVillage #FinalFour

    The flying bagels were the most memorable part of a campus celebration that also included sweatshirts and couches set ablaze. Police eventually dispersed the crowds and reportedly arrested at least a handful of revelers, some of who were handcuffed and led away.

    - - - - - - -

  • Highly touted Myles Turner will enter the NBA draft

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 hrs ago

    Texas won't only have to replace its coach this offseason.

    The Longhorns also are losing their most talented freshman.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Myles Turner, Rivals.com's No. 9 recruit in the class of 2014, announced Monday via a self-made YouTube video that he is leaving Texas and entering the NBA draft. The freshman forward averaged 10.1 points, 6.5 boards and 2.6 blocks in his lone season with the Longhorns.

    “My name is Myles Turner, UT alum, and I’ve decided to forgo my education and submit my name to the 2015 NBA draft,” Turner said in the video. “I love the university, I love the atmosphere here, great education, great people, great basketball program, facilities and it’s given me everything I need to succeed.”

    Texas fans probably will have mixed feelings looking back at Turner's lone season in Austin.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Wisconsin stars strike back at those who doubted the Big Ten

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    Even though Michigan State pushed Wisconsin to overtime in the Big Ten title game two weeks ago, the Badgers were excited the Spartans will be joining them in the Final Four.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    They believe the presence of two Big Ten teams in Indianapolis only bolsters the reputation of a conference many have said wasn't as strong as usual this year.

    The Big Ten had a down year right?

    Remember when everyone said the Big Ten wasn't that good this year? Yea, me too.

    #BigTenRepresent

    Credit Wisconsin for its season-long brilliance and Michigan State for peaking in March, but the idea that the NCAA tournament proves the Big Ten was underrated doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

    What having two Final Four teams does do for the Big Ten is give it better odds of ending its national title drought. The Big Ten has been one of the nation's strongest leagues more often than not over the past 15 years, but the last Big Ten team to win a championship was Michigan State in 2000.

    - - - - - - -

  • Kentucky will be tested by heavyweight Final Four field

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 17 hrs ago

    If Kentucky is going to become college basketball's first unbeaten national champion in nearly four decades, the Wildcats will have to emerge from a heavyweight Final Four field.

    They'll be joined in Indianapolis by fellow No. 1 seeds Wisconsin and Duke and an underdog Michigan State team that has a few too many Final Four appearances in recent years to be labeled a Cinderella. 

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Duke's victory over Gonzaga ensured that the Final Four will have three No. 1 seeds for only the second time this century and the fifth time since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1986. The 2008 Final Four remains the only one that featured all four No. 1 seeds.

    The winner of the Kentucky-Wisconsin game will face either Duke or Michigan State, two programs that have combined for 12 Final Four appearances since 1999. The Blue Devils defeated the Spartans 81-71 in Indianapolis back in November behind 19 points from Quinn Cook and 17 from Jahlil Okafor, but Michigan State is a stronger team today than it was then.

    - - - - - - -

  • Michigan State clinches Tom Izzo's most unlikely Final Four appearance

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    The battle between two of March's most successful coaches was in the hands of one of the most unlikely players on the floor.

    Fouled on a put-back attempt by Michigan State's Marvin Clark with 4.9 seconds remaining and his team trailing by one, Louisville center Mangok Mathiang had the chance to send the Cardinals to the Final Four by making two free throws.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    The 48 percent foul shooter's first attempt bounced off the back rim and fell through, drawing a wince from Michigan State alum Magic Johnson. The second bounced hard off the back rim and caromed out, giving the Spartans new life.

    That Michigan State is going back to the Final Four is surprising given the talent it lost last spring and the recruits it has recently swung and missed on.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • DePaul tries to recapture past success by bringing back Dave Leitao

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 21 hrs ago

    When Dave Leitao left DePaul for Virginia in April 2005, he tried to soften the blow by insisting "DePaul will always have a special place in my heart."

    Apparently the feeling was mutual.

    DePaul announced Sunday it has hired Leitao to fill the vacancy created when the school parted ways with Oliver Purnell earlier this month. It's a surprising choice considering the Blue Demons reportedly had been targeting promising up-and-comers like Bryce Drew of Valparaiso and Bobby Hurley of Buffalo. 

    The appeal of Leitao is that he's the last coach to enjoy any semblance of success with the Blue Demons.

    In three seasons at DePaul from 2002 to 2005, Leitao went 58-34, won a Conference USA title and took the Blue Demons to two NITs and an NCAA tournament. Leitao enjoyed some success on the recruiting trail too, plucking Delonte Holland from the junior college ranks and winning a recruiting battle with Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State to land future pro Wilson Chandler.

    The challenge Leitao faces at DePaul now is also considerably tougher than it was during his first stint a decade ago. 

    - - - - - - -

  • Three keys to the Elite Eight clash between Gonzaga and Duke

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    In 1999, guards Matt Santangelo and Richie Frahm led 10th-seeded Gonzaga on a stunning Elite Eight run, starting the process of transforming a little-known small-conference program into one of college basketball's most prominent brands.

    Sixteen years later, the Zags are finally back in the Elite Eight and again one win away from the program's first Final Four.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Another No. 1 seed stands in Gonzaga's path, though the Zags aren't the plucky little underdogs they were in 1999 entering a 67-62 loss to eventual national champion UConn. Gonzaga has been a season-long fixture in the AP top 10 and is just a 2.5-point underdog against a top-seeded Duke team with a rotation of eight former McDonald's All-Americans.

    The matchup between Gonzaga and Duke will determine which team wins the South Region and joins No. 1 seeds Kentucky and Wisconsin and either Michigan State or Louisville at the Final Four in Indianapolis next weekend. A look at three keys to the matchup between the Blue Devils and Zags:

    1. Can Gonzaga defend Justise Winslow?

  • Wisconsin's lethal offense makes it the biggest threat to Kentucky

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    LOS ANGELES — When Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky embraced at mid-court after clinching Wisconsin's second straight trip to the Final Four, the two close friends only had time to exchange a few words.

    The ones they chose were simple but telling.

    "I told him, 'Let's go get a title," Dekker said.

    [DraftKings: Free $25,000 March Madness Fantasy Basketball Contest]

    That's an attainable goal for the Badgers despite the undefeated Big Blue juggernaut in its path. They have enough shooters to spread the floor against Kentucky the way Notre Dame did, the size to defend and rebound against the Wildcats the way the Irish couldn't and two human mismatches in Dekker and Kaminsky who fuel the nation's most unstoppable offense.

    Three different Arizona defenders took turns trying to defend Kaminsky, yet he still scored a game-high 29 points.

    All the different looks Arizona tried to throw at Kaminsky created mismatches for fellow frontcourt standouts Dekker and Nigel Hayes.

    Both Kentucky and Wisconsin are better teams than they were a year ago.

    - - - - - - -

  • This is the rare Elite Eight that truly lives up to its name

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The silver lining to the NCAA tournament playing out largely as expected so far is that this weekend's Elite Eight actually lives up to its name.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Six of the top eight teams in the final AP Top 25 are still alive and the remaining two teams are name-brand programs that have been to the Elite Eight a combined 14 times this century.

    A showdown in the West Regional between top-seeded Wisconsin and second-seeded Arizona is one of the most hotly anticipated games of the tournament pitting two teams that met with a Final Four berth on the line a year ago. The Badgers rode Frank Kaminsky's 28-point performance to a one-point overtime victory last March, dooming Sean Miller to his third Elite Eight defeat in three tries and sending Bo Ryan to his first Final Four.

    Any game involving unbeaten Kentucky could be one-sided considering the dominance that the top-seeded Wildcats have exhibited, but at least they drew the most dangerous possible Elite Eight matchup out of any team in the South Regional.

    This year is different. This eight truly feels elite.

  • Unusual last-second foul call wreaks havoc on Duke-Utah betting action

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    When referees ruled Brandon Taylor had committed a last-second foul before the end of Friday's Utah-Duke game, their decision to put seven-tenths of a second back on the clock and send Quinn Cook to the foul line wasn't as meaningless as it may have seemed.

    A lot of money changed hands because Cook sank one of two free throws to increase the Blue Devils' final margin of victory to 63-57.

    Most sports books listed top-seeded Duke as either a five-point favorite or a 5.5-point favorite entering its Sweet 16 matchup with fifth-seeded Utah. A bet on the Utes to cover would have either won or pushed based on those lines until Cook's otherwise innocuous free throw changed that. 

    Reaction from gamblers was immediate and wide-ranging on social media simply because of the unusual circumstances in the game's final seconds. Both teams were so sure the game was over that Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Utah's Larry Krystkowiak had already shaken hands and the players were already going through the handshake line as well before referees sent them back onto the floor.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg