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College Hoops Today: Final Four Frenzy

April 2, 2024 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Donovan Clingan is having a coming out party for the Connecticut Huskies.
Donovan Clingan (32) has raised his draft stock. (Austin Bigoney, UConn Athletics)

March Madness is nearly done… how’s your bracket look so far?

This week, SMU showed it plans to enter the ACC in style with former USC Coach Andy Enfield the new man in charge; NC State has reached the Final Four for the first time in 41 years; and Zach Edeywho recently had his number retired — went off for 40 points to help punch Purdue’s ticket to the national semifinals.

Donovan Clingan Dominates

The Connecticut Huskies just keep steamrolling their opponents and while Illinois stayed within range for most of the first half, that trend continued for UConn with a 30-0 run to put the game away and surge into the Final Four.

Sophomore centre Donovan Clingan came up huge in the Elite Eight after having a rough offensive game in the Sweet 16. Against Illinois, he sunk 9-of-13 and finished with his second double-double in the last three games while throwing another block party (he had eight in the second round and another five on Saturday).

What Clingan’s been doing in the tournament has really helped beef up his stock in what is looking like a fairly pedestrian NBA draft class in 2024. Already expected to be a mid-range first rounder, his March exploits have sent him soaring up draft boards. Hell, some even think Clingan could go first overall now, or at least within the top three.

Small wonder FanDuel has him listed at +340 to be named Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

Clingan still doesn’t log a ton of minutes, but certainly stepped up his rebounding work this season while improving his assist numbers (he’s a rather good passer for a big man), blocks and steals. He also did a better job of avoiding foul trouble considering he saw nine extra minutes per game.

It’s becoming quite clear that Clingan has a bright future as a productive NBA player and is capable of using his immense frame at both ends of the court (see video below).

Ben Burnham Bolts From Charleston

We didn’t get a chance this season to talk about how the Charleston Cougars have returned their program to prominence with back-to-back appearances in the tournament. Charleston made March Madness in 2017-18, but regressed for three straight seasons before Pat Kelsey took over as Head Coach, got the Cougars winning again, and ultimately back into the tourney.

Unfortunately, in round one they ran into the offensive buzzsaw that is Alabama, and while they tried to make a game of it in the second half, the Crimson Tide had built too big a first half cushion to make a comeback feasible.

Cougar junior forward Ben Burnham enjoyed a strong finish to the season, pacing the team with 19 points, the third time in four games he had scored at least 14. A full-time starter this season after coming off the bench exclusively as a soph, he again sunk more buckets and improved his rebounding, but regressed as a FT shooter.

Burnham was named to the CAA’s Third Team this season, but he’s now entered the transfer portal, ostensibly to find a place where he has a greater chance of gaining national attention in his senior campaign.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

David Bowie‘s influence extended beyond his music to his stage presence. Here’s “Lady Grinning Soul,” apparently a last minute addition on Aladdin Sane.

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