N.C.A.A. Panel Proposes Reforms, Including End to ‘One and Done’


Prosecutors said that an Adidas executive and several others with ties to the sneaker giant were central to schemes to bribe players’ families and college basketball coaches in order to coax top prospects to commit to schools that Adidas sponsored, like Louisville, Miami and Kansas, and later sign with Adidas.

The commission included former players (Grant Hill, David Robinson), former coaches, university presidents, the heads of the Association of American Universities and U.S.A. Basketball, and others — stopped short of taking on the so-called collegiate model, instead tacitly endorsing the status quo, in which athletes are “students first” who are barred from all kinds of compensation, even as college basketball has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry.

“Our focus has been to strengthen the collegiate model — not to move toward one that brings aspects of professionalism into the game,” said Rice, the former secretary of state, who was chairwoman of the commission and who delivered a prepared statement at N.C.A.A. headquarters Wednesday morning.

Yet the commission also acknowledged that the very corruption it sought to eliminate arose in part because of the substantial sums players can generate for high school teams, agents, money managers, college teams, coaches and shoe companies, and how this collides with N.C.A.A. rules prohibiting players from taking money beyond a scholarship and related costs of attending school.

“Millions of dollars are now generated by television contracts and apparel sponsorship for the N.C.A.A., universities and coaches,” the report said. “The financial stake in success has grown exponentially; and thus, there is an arms race to recruit the best talent – and if you are a coach – to keep your job.”

For this reason, Rice expressed tacit report for providing athletes with a cut of the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses, which is currently before courts.

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N.C.A.A. President Mark Emmert says college basketball is broken and needs substantive change.

Credit
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

“Most commissioners believe that the rules on name, image and likeness should be taken up as soon as the legal framework is established,” she said. “It is hard for the public, and frankly for me, to understand what can be allowed with the college model — for the life of me I don’t understand the difference between Olympic payments and participation in ‘Dancing With The Stars’ — and what can’t be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing college basketball.”

Rice was referring to the ABC show on which Arike Ogunbowale, a current Notre Dame women’s basketball player who sunk two dramatic shots in the most recent Final Four, will be permitted to compete while maintaining her college eligibility.

The committee also proposed regulating summer basketball, the primary locus of recruiting, so that by 2019 new programs administered by the N.C.A.A. are the only ones college coaches are permitted to attend.

Noting that the corruption scheme outlined by federal prosecutors included the use of phony purchase orders to use Adidas money to pay players’ families illicitly, Rice said: “These public companies should be concerned about how their money is being used. I have served on quite a few public boards, and I can tell you, this should be an area of concern.”

It suggested allowing limited, regulated contact with agents, starting in high school, in order to help prospects make decisions about the N.B.A.

The commission also recommended upping the severity of penalties to five-year postseason bans; overhaulling the sanctions process to include outsiders; and appointing several outsiders to the N.C.A.A.’s board.

The association-wide Board of Governors and the Division I board of directors were expected to review the recommendations. Legislation designed to implement them could then be written and passed as soon as August. N.C.A.A. President Mark Emmert has said he is aiming for results “by tip-off 2018.”

Last October, Emmert all but declared a state of emergency a few weeks after federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York filed three complaints detailing various schemes, including one in which top high school prospects’ families were bribed and another in which assistant coaches accepted money to steer their players toward a specific agent or money manager. The allegations, Emmert said then, “strike at the fundamental integrity of college sports.”

The last time a scandal of this nature and scope hit college basketball may have been in the early 1950s, when revelations of point-shaving by several top teams knocked the sport on its back.

The federal charges, which were followed by indictments, introduced the risk of criminal prosecution into a well-known part of college basketball. In the past, players, coaches and others have only missed out on games, awards and cash. The allegations made a mockery of N.C.A.A. amateurism rules and painted a black mark on several of the most prominent basketball programs. Documents obtained by Yahoo Sports in February seemed to implicate players at a dozen other blue-chip programs.

The commission had pledged substantive change, not tinkering, with Rice, a former Stanford provost who served as national security adviser and then secretary of state to President George W. Bush, calling for “lasting solutions.”

There are numerous potential changes to amateurism short of permitting universities to pay salaries to players: stipends; rights to money generated from their names, images and likenesses; and the ability to sign endorsement deals, as Olympic athletes do.

A pending federal antitrust lawsuit seeks to eliminate N.C.A.A. restrictions on payments to players, freeing individual schools, or perhaps conferences, to set far higher monetary caps in the lucrative sports of men’s basketball and football. It is being brought in California, where two years ago a federal appeals court ruled that those N.C.A.A. rules are not above antitrust considerations.

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Led by Condoleezza Rice, N.C.A.A. Calls for Substantial Basketball Reforms


The association-wide Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors were expected to review the recommendations. Legislation designed to implement them could then be written and passed as soon as August. Emmert has said he is aiming for results “by tip-off 2018.”

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N.C.A.A. President Mark Emmert says college basketball is broken and needs substantive change.

Credit
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Last October, Emmert all but declared a state of emergency a few weeks after federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York filed three complaints detailing various schemes, including one in which top high school prospects’ families were bribed and another in which assistant coaches accepted money to steer their players toward a specific agent or money manager. The allegations, Emmert said then, “strike at the fundamental integrity of college sports.”

The last time a scandal of this nature and scope hit college basketball may have been in the early 1950s, when revelations of point-shaving by several top teams knocked the sport on its back.

The federal charges, which were followed by indictments, introduced the risk of criminal prosecution into a well-known part of college basketball. In the past, players, coaches and others have only missed out on games, awards and cash. The allegations made a mockery of N.C.A.A. amateurism rules and painted a black mark on several of the most prominent basketball programs. Documents obtained by Yahoo Sports in February seemed to implicate players at a dozen other blue-chip programs.

The commission had pledged substantive change, not tinkering, with Condoleezza Rice, a former Stanford provost who served as national security adviser and then secretary of state to President George W. Bush, calling for “lasting solutions.”

It was also charged with addressing three specific areas, all of which were covered by Wednesday’s recommendations: N.C.A.A. enforcement, the nexus of apparel companies and agents and college basketball’s relationship to the N.B.A. None of these areas directly overlap with compensation.

Many have noted that the scandal arose from simple economics: the gap between, on the one hand, the millions of dollars top prospects can generate for high school teams, agents, money managers, college teams, coaches and shoe companies, and, on the other, N.C.A.A. rules prohibiting players from taking money beyond a scholarship and related costs of attending school.

There are numerous potential changes to amateurism short of permitting universities to pay salaries to players: stipends; rights to money generated from their names, images and likenesses; and the ability to sign endorsement deals, as Olympic athletes do.

A pending federal antitrust lawsuit seeks to eliminate N.C.A.A. restrictions on payments to players, freeing individual schools, or perhaps conferences, to set far higher monetary caps in the lucrative sports of men’s basketball and football. It is being brought in California, where two years ago a federal appeals court ruled that those N.C.A.A. rules are not above antitrust considerations.

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On College Basketball: Donte DiVincenzo Is Villanova’s Newest Star. Next Year It’ll Be Someone Else.


But what speaks most succinctly about how Villanova won two titles in three seasons is precisely that DiVincenzo was able to go from imitating an opposing superstar in one title game to being the superstar in the next one. It is a trajectory distinctive to the program, which could reasonably be expected to lead to another title a year or two from now.

Hield never had a game as spectacular as DiVincenzo had on Monday, particularly on a Final Four court.

The statistics — 31 points on 15 shots, five rebounds and three assists — still undersell the extent to which DiVincenzo was his team’s fulcrum Monday night. The team’s sixth man, he was the one who stopped the bleeding after the underdog Michigan surprised the 67,831 spectators in the Alamodome and millions more watching on television who had expected a fairly easy victory by Villanova, the top seed.

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DiVincenzo defending against Charles Matthews of Michigan in the second half.

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Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Before DiVincenzo scored his first basket, Michigan led 14-8. Villanova’s next 8 points were DiVincenzo’s: a 3-pointer, a 3-point play, a jump shot. DiVincenzo responded to ball screens by hitting long 3s from where he was standing or, once, finding Omari Spellman down low on a brilliant bounce pass.

On defense, during one stretch he forced a driving Zavier Simpson into a miss and then, on the next possession, the 6-foot-5 DiVincenzo straight-up blocked an attempted dunk by Isaiah Livers.

At one point, after back-to-back 3-pointers, DiVincenzo winked at the crowd. He later said he was aiming for Hart.

Had DiVincenzo been in a video game, flames would have been coming off his ball.

It would be easy to characterize him as an overachieving diamond in the rough, another scrappy kid from Villanova’s backyard (he is from Delaware) who thrived in Coach Jay Wright’s system. The story sounds great, but it doesn’t check out. DiVincenzo was a four-star recruit who had offers from Florida, Notre Dame, Syracuse and elsewhere.

The Villanova innovation, rather, is to have a talent like DiVincenzo, as a redshirt sophomore, come off the bench.

“All he wants to do is play,” said DiVincenzo’s mother, Kathy, elated in a straw cowboy hat with a Villanova “V” as she watched him being named the Final Four’s most outstanding player. “He doesn’t care if he starts.”

What makes Villanova the class of college basketball — the first team to win two titles in three seasons since Florida repeated more than a decade ago, the second since Kentucky did it in 1996 and ’98 — is this model of sustainable success, with players who could be the center of attention at other big programs sacrificing to play for the Wildcats.

“Donte could do more,” Assistant Coach George Halcovage said on Sunday, the day before the title game. “He’s a great player. He’s the sixth man. He could be starting on any team in the country.”

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Coach Jay Wright of Villanova, center, celebrating with DiVincenzo after the game. Wright’s program focuses on teaching his players that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

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David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Halcovage added, “Understanding being part of something bigger than himself allows him to give us a guy who is a starter off the bench.”

Villanova’s way should challenge our own preconceptions. We think of one-and-done factories (and, let’s face it, we are thinking of Duke and Kentucky) as facing a test that is not only difficult but unique: the need to reload rosters annually as they lose players to the N.B.A. draft.

But Villanova’s experience shows the difference is one of degree, not kind. (It also shows that the popular dichotomy between one-and-done programs and others is an oversimplification.) Players graduate. Players transfer — though fewer than the norm do from Villanova. Players come out early, but not as freshmen. Everyone must reload.

Villanova lost two starters from its title team two seasons ago, and then two more from the team that last season was the N.C.A.A. tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. Just three players — Brunson, Bridges and the redshirt junior Phil Booth — contributed major minutes to both championship teams. Brunson is the only player who started for both.

Where was DiVincenzo during the 2016 championship game? “I was on the bench in a suit,” he said Monday.

Like DiVincenzo, Booth was the sixth man on the 2015-16 team. Like DiVincenzo, he was Villanova’s leading scorer in the championship game. There is a pattern here.

Part of the way Villanova makes this work is careful attention to what Wright called “roster structuring.” Wright and his staff carry a chart around that projects every player’s next three seasons. Players are considered in their final seasons not based on whether their eligibility is about to run out, but based on when they are likely to leave (like Brunson and Bridges, juniors who are both projected as first-round draft picks). The coaches then recruit to the spots they anticipate having holes in.

They “talk about it every day,” Wright said.

But there is still the matter of persuading top players to head for Philadelphia’s suburbs with the knowledge that they may enter this complex chart and be stashed away while a veteran gives Villanova his best basketball. The key here might be a popular motto of Wright’s, which he echoed in a tweet early Tuesday morning: “We play for those who came before us.”

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N.C.A.A. Championship Live: Can Michigan Beat Villanova?


In its other three losses, Villanova shot 34, 31 and 15 percent from 3-point range. On the season it averaged 40 percent.

As Kansas found out on Saturday, a hot-shooting Villanova is hard to beat. Michigan needs to find a way to cool them off.

It’s not impossible: Loyola averaged seven 3-pointers a game. Michigan held them to 1.

How to Win $1 Million on the N.C.A.A. Championship

All the Michigan Wolverines have to do is defeat the Villanova Wildcats tonight in the N.C.A.A. title game for casino owner Derek Stevens to cash a big ticket on his alma mater.

Nevada bookmakers are not giving him much of a chance. Villanova, coming off Saturday’s 95-79 humiliation of Kansas in the semifinal. are heavy favorites over Michigan. They are 7-point favorites over Michigan at the Golden Nugget, where Stevens made the wager.

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Stevens owns two hotel-casinos — The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate — in downtown Las Vegas. He is a Detroit native and a graduate of the University of Michigan, and more of a gaming man than a gambling one. But, before the tournament when the Wolverines were 40-1 longshots to win the national championship, Stevens decided to pursue a cool million on a futures wager.

The Golden Nugget has never made a payout larger than $100,000, according to its director, Tony Miller.

Now, Stevens is hours away from possibly turning his $25,000 bet into a $1 million.

Villanova vs. Michigan: What to Expect in the Championship Game

• They insist it’s not as easy as it looks. But the Villanova Wildcats have won all five of their N.C.A.A. tournament games this season by double digits, becoming just the fifth team to do so heading into the national title game. The last? North Carolina in 2016, which was the only one of the other four teams to wind up losing. And, of course, Villanova remembers that game well.

• On Saturday, Villanova forward Eric Paschall became just the fourth player to shoot 10 for 11 from the field in a Final Four game, joining Ohio State’s Jerry Lucas, Louisville’s Billy Thompson, and North Carolina’s Sean May. Paschall’s 24 points were a career high.

• Michigan has been an impressive second-half team this season, going 9-5 when trailing at halftime, including the win Saturday. But Villanova does not often relinquish leads. It has lost only once this season when it went into halftime ahead. It was against Creighton, their last loss of the season.

• Does anybody remember the last time either of these teams lost? Villanova’s last defeat came on Feb. 24, in overtime at Creighton, while Michigan has not lost since Feb. 6 — a 14-game winning streak that represents the program’s longest since 2003.

• In that 14-game winning streak, the Wolverines have held opponents to 62.1 points per game and just 40.3 percent shooting. In the N.C.A.A. tournament, the defense has been even better: opponents are scoring just 58.6 per game on 38.7 percent shooting. No team has scored more than 90 points against Michigan this season. Villanova averages 86.8 points per game.

• Villanova Coach Jay Wright is 3-1 in the Final Four and has a chance to go 2-0 in the national title game. He would become just the 14th Division I coach with two or more national titles.

• Villanova set a new N.C.A.A. record this season for made 3-pointers (454). But both teams love to shoot. Michigan was seventh in the nation in 3-point attempts, representing nearly half (43.3 percent) of the team’s overall shots. All 10 players on the floor will pull the trigger, including centers Omari Spellman for Villanova and Moe Wagner for Michigan, who each hit three 3-pointers on Saturday.

• It’s not the first time Michigan’s Duncan Robinson has played in the national title game. But his previous appearance was with Division III Williams College, which lost to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on a last-second tip-in in Salem, Va., in 2014. He became the first player to score points in both the Division-I and Division-III Final Four.

• Michigan lost the 2013 national championship game to Louisville, which was forced to vacate the title in February as part of the N.C.A.A.’s punishment for a sex scandal involving players and recruits. But Wolverines Coach John Beilein is not interested in staking claim to it now. “They didn’t have six guys on the court,” he said. “We lost the game. They won it. I’m going to leave it like that.”

• Villanova went to the free-throw line only seven times on Saturday, and they went the entire first half without attempting a shot from the charity stripe. Part of that is because of how well the team shares the ball; the defense could not keep up. The Wildcats finished with 20 assists on 36 field goals. Their past two opponents, Texas Tech and Kansas, had combined for 15 assists.

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The University Is Fake. The Laughs Are Real.


While the original perpetrators were eventually discovered by the N.C.A.A., which gives away tickets only to legitimate schools, a club was formed to keep the Final Four trips alive. The members maintained the university theme — Maguire has a chancellor, an admissions director, a dean of its nonexistent law school and a coach of its nonexistent swim team — and enrollment has swelled to more than 1,000, at least according to the email list.

Four trips to the Final Four with Maguire are considered enough to graduate, with a degree in bracketology and a minor in intoxicology. But there were plenty of alumni eager to visit San Antonio for this year’s 56th meeting; Comer reserved a block of 60 rooms at the Drury Plaza Hotel almost two years ago. Some were Loyola-Chicago fans; others were rooting for Villanova. Still more were here for other, more social reasons.

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Billy Rice is a member of Maguire’s hall of fame. Students are eligible two years after they “graduate,” that is, attend four Final Fours, and then are inducted on merit.

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Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

“It’s like getting thrown into the deep end of a pool,” Rudy Fasciani of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., who described himself as a fifth-year senior, said, “that’s full of beer.”

Though they call themselves the Jollymen, Maguire officials and graduates finally ceded to Title IX in 2003 and began accepting women, like Comer, who serves as treasurer. There are no dues, but there is tuition, which goes toward financing the annual Final Four pilgrimage, which this year ran around $2,000 for a five-night hotel stay. That does not include airfare, or the lengthy bar tabs, or even a ticket to the games. In fact, most of the attendees won’t step foot inside the Alamodome.

“We’ll watch the game,” John Kurek, 81, said as he nursed a glass of wine. “But it will be from the bar.”

Kurek, a member of the Maguire hall of fame (he has the emerald cubic zirconia ring to prove it) making his 25th straight Final Four trip, was sitting next to Charlie Hounihan, a Loyola graduate who remembers watching the 1963 team in action. They both live in Chicago and frequently attend Kelly’s Pub, which replaced Maguire’s as the main campus in 1988.

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On College Basketball: What Happened to College Hoops? Don’t Worry, the Kids Are All Right


You saw it moments after Michigan ended Loyola’s fairy tale run on Saturday and the Wolverines’ Jordan Poole, an 18-year-old freshman, sought out Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the Ramblers’ 98-year-old chaplain and inspiration, for a word. What did he say to her?

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Connecticut’s Richard Hamilton (32) and Duke’s Shane Battier playing in the 1999 N.C.A.A. championship game. Both players went on to have long, successful N.B.A. careers.

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Eric Draper/Associated Press

“I told her I was a big fan,” Poole said. “Everything that she brought to the table, and being able to have such a big impact on the team, being in a situation like this, I thought it was amazing. Kids don’t really get to live in opportunities like this, so having those guys being able to do it and her being behind their back, I thought that was pretty cool.”

You felt it when Wagner was told after his 24-point, 15-rebound performance that he had joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird as the only players to score at least 20 points and collect at least 15 rebounds in a national semifinal.

“Wow,” Wagner said with a tickled smile.

Wagner then explained how, as a boy in Berlin, he grew up watching the Final Four each year and how he had watched Michigan lose a close game to Louisville in the 2013 final. The Wolverines coach, John Beilein, had made an impression on him.

A year later, after a tip from a coaching acquaintance, Beilein flew to Berlin to talk Wagner out of signing a European professional contract and to persuade him to play college ball instead.

“So as a little kid, to see him in my living room,” he said, “for a couple of hours, just to meet my family and see where I’m from, it meant something. It’s crazy, but we’re in it together.”

Villanova Coach Jay Wright has abandoned the pursuit of All-Americans who want to spend the obligatory year (or, more often, a matter of months) in college before seeking fortune in the N.B.A. He said that he prefers players who actually want to attend college — to become a better student, a better person, a better player — and are willing to stay for however long it takes.

“That’s what we call our culture,” he said. “We’re more interested in maintaining our culture than we are getting guys to the N.B.A. or winning national championships. We feel like that fits our university and it will serve every player the best in the end.”

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Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, shooting over Lagerald Vick of Kansas, was the Big East’s player of the year, but also its scholar-athlete.

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David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The culture has been mostly a winning one of late; the Wildcats are seeking their second national title in three years. And no player embodies it better than Brunson. He gives no quarter on the court; he came out of high school on the same McDonald’s All-American roster as one-and-dones like Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, and he has collected nearly every player of the year honor available to him. But he also was named the Big East’s men’s basketball scholar-athlete of the year this season, and he will graduate after only three years, a fact that makes Wright just as proud as his play does.

“I knew the N.B.A. could wait,” Brunson said. “I needed to be a better player and person. I had enough confidence in myself knowing it’s nothing magical. It’s all in the work.”

While Brunson worked, even more one-and-dones came and went in college basketball. Another group arrived last fall — Deandre Ayton at Arizona, Marvin Bagley III at Duke, Michael Porter Jr. at Missouri — and now they, too, are off preparing for the draft.

In fact, take a look at nearly any N.B.A. mock draft and you’ll find a majority of the projected top-10 picks are one-and-dones. It’s nothing new. Shortly after UConn beat Duke all those years ago, Brand, William Avery and Corey Maggette — all underclassmen — did what was then considered unthinkable: they left the Blue Devils early for the N.B.A.

So what has happened to college basketball? Everything. And nothing.

The kids are making adult decisions faster. Some adults are acting like kids, making selfish decisions without thinking through the consequences.

Yet despite all of that, we follow the N.C.A.A. tournament. It’s easier when you remember that college basketball is about kids playing a game.

It brings us as much joy as it does them.

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Villanova Rolls Over Kansas to Reach Its Second N.C.A.A. Final in Three Years


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Villanova guard Jalen Brunson driving past Kansas guard Malik Newman in the second half.

Credit
Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

SAN ANTONIO — Villanova will play for its second N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship in three years after defeating Kansas, 95-79, in the national semifinals on Saturday at the Alamodome.

It was a battle between two No. 1 seeds — a surprisingly conventional culmination of a bracket that had produced a dizzying amount of upsets, including a men’s No. 16 seed, Maryland-Baltimore County, beating a No. 1 seed, Virginia, for the first time.

But the Wildcats and the Jayhawks survived the gantlet to reach the Final Four on the strength of their senior leadership and guard play.

Villanova (35-4) has the top-scoring offense in the country, but its defense has been primarily responsible for its March run. After an overtime loss to Creighton on Feb. 24, a team meeting sought to address the effort and communication that seemed to be missing on the defensive end. The team has not lost since.

The Wildcats returned several players from the team that defeated North Carolina to win the national title in Houston in 2016, including the backcourt duo of Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth. On Monday night against Michigan, they will have a chance to add to their collection of shiny hardware.

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Villanova Rolls Over Kansas to Reach Its Second N.C.A.A. Final in Three Years


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Villanova guard Jalen Brunson driving past Kansas guard Malik Newman in the second half.

Credit
Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

SAN ANTONIO — Villanova will play for its second N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship in three years after defeating Kansas, 95-79, in the national semifinals on Saturday at the Alamodome.

It was a battle between two No. 1 seeds — a surprisingly conventional culmination of a bracket that had produced a dizzying amount of upsets, including a men’s No. 16 seed, Maryland-Baltimore County, beating a No. 1 seed, Virginia, for the first time.

But the Wildcats and the Jayhawks survived the gantlet to reach the Final Four on the strength of their senior leadership and guard play.

Villanova (35-4) has the top-scoring offense in the country, but its defense has been primarily responsible for its March run. After an overtime loss to Creighton on Feb. 24, a team meeting sought to address the effort and communication that seemed to be missing on the defensive end. The team has not lost since.

The Wildcats returned several players from the team that defeated North Carolina to win the national title in Houston in 2016, including the backcourt duo of Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth. On Monday night against Michigan, they will have a chance to add to their collection of shiny hardware.

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Why Catholic Colleges Excel at Basketball


“Basketball was the sport they picked because it was so cheap,” Byrne, the Hofstra professor, said. “They could do it in incredibly limited space with incredibly limited equipment.”

Over time, the schools became a magnet for black players, including luminaries such as Bill Russell (University of San Francisco) and the championship Loyola-Chicago team of 1963, which broke an unspoken rule by starting four black players.

Black athletes, Catholic or not, often landed at these colleges partly because they frequently played basketball for the local chapter of the Catholic Youth Organization, which was originally founded as a kind of urban, Catholic parallel to the predominantly Protestant Y.M.C.A.s. The C.Y.O.s set many black players on the path toward Catholic colleges.

“As more and more ethnic Catholics moved out of cities but parishes and schools stayed put, black kids were admitted regardless of religious affiliation beginning in the ’60s,” James T. Fisher, an American Studies professor at Fordham, said in an email. “Then the church turned demographic fact into theological virtue by embracing urban advocacy and racial justice.”

It also made competitive sense. Much as a New Yorker, Frank McGuire, won the 1957 title at the University of North Carolina by taking several first- and second-generation Irish- and Jewish-Americans from the New York metropolitan area down to Chapel Hill, another coach from New York, Al McGuire (no relation), used his personality — his charism? — to recruit black players to Marquette, in Milwaukee, in the 1960s and ’70s, when many state schools still had unwritten quotas.

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Marquette University’s former coach, Al McGuire, on top of the scorer’s table after a win over Wisconsin, heavily recruited African-American players.

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Paul Shane/Associated Press

“He sold kids and families on the fact that: ‘Hey, I’m a white Irish Catholic. I didn’t grow up in the neighborhood, but I grew up next door to it,’ ” Fisher said.

There is nothing in Catholic dogma that specifically elucidates the virtues of basketball. Yet several scholars pointed to elements of American Catholicism that helped persuade schools to embrace sports.

Jesuit philosophy — embedded at so many top basketball schools, such as Gonzaga, Xavier, Creighton and Georgetown — extends to all aspects of life. It preaches cura personalis, or “care for the person” — in not only the intellectual and spiritual sense, but the physical one, too.

Catholicism in America taught that all aspects of life could be sacred, Byrne said, maybe even basketball.

“It’s not that sports were particularly holy, but you could see it as a holy thing to do. It could have the potential to give glory to God,” said Byrne, referencing the Jesuit phrase “ad majorem Dei gloriam, or “for the greater glory of God.”

For St. Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli, these teachings comport with the sport that he called the “greatest societal experiment.”

“In basketball, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, rich or poor, city or suburbs,” said Martelli, whose wife, Judy Marra Martelli, played on those three Immaculata champions. “And in the Catholic faith, you shouldn’t be measured by those things — your W-2 or what you drive. You should be measured by your character.”

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Villanova Returns to Final Four With Gritty Win Over Texas Tech


Jalen Brunson, the Wildcats’ do-it-all junior guard, went 0 for 4 from 3-point range, but still finished with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Eric Paschall had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Villanova closed the first half on a 7-0 run, part of an overall 21-8 surge that came after the score was tied less than nine minutes in. During that span, Texas Tech missed 11 of its 14 shots.

The Red Raiders subbed players early and often, leaning again on the top-scoring bench in the Big 12 Conference. Against Purdue on Friday, their multifaceted offensive attack wore down the Boilermakers’ defense. But it seemed Villanova had an answer for every challenge.

Texas Tech’s surprising run to the round of 8 began with defense as a foundation, but the team’s casualness on the biggest stage in program history also stood out. The Red Raiders laugh, joke around and blast music during practices — their playlist including hip-hop selections and Merle Haggard.

“Diversity is the spice of life,” Coach Chris Beard said Saturday.

Beard would know a little something about it. His professional biography reads like the closing credits of a feature film. There were stops at Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian, North Texas, McMurry University, Angelo State University, Arkansas-Little Rock, and U.N.L.V. Those were just the N.C.A.A. schools. Beard also coached two junior colleges (Fort Scott Community College, in Kansas, and Seminole State, in Oklahoma), a team in the American Basketball Association, and the Swiss national team.

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Zhaire Smith of Texas Tech lost control during a dunk attempt against the stiff Villanova defense during the second half.

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

All along this itinerant path, he has maintained an attitude of “win or go home,” one that he said he cultivated as a youth player in pickup games at Northwest Park recreation center in Irving, Tex. The one-shot mentality never left him.

So surprised was Beard to be in this position that after Friday’s win he could not even remember the name of the round his team had just reached.

“What’s it called?,” he asked. “Great Eight?”

“Elite,” guard Keenan Evans corrected him, with a laugh.

Evans, Texas Tech’s leading scorer, never found a rhythm on Sunday. Justin Gray never hit a field goal. Jarrett Culver never made an assist.

Texas Tech tried to rally in the second half. A 3-pointer by Brandone Francis with six minutes remaining brought the Red Raiders within 5 points, but a steal by Brunson led to a Villanova layup by Phil Booth on the next possession. Two minutes later, a putback dunk by Donte DiVincenzo, who finished with 12 points, kept the margin just wide enough.

It was Villanova’s 134th win in the last four seasons, breaking the record for the most in a four-year span, set by Duke in 2001.

These Wildcats have given themselves an opportunity to compete for two more.

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