The first but definitely not last major coaching domino post-regular season has fallen as Missouri, to no surprise, fired Mike Anderson. The school technically "forced him to resign" but will let him coach the Tigers in the Big 12 Tournament - they figure to lose Wednesday vs. Auburn. Anderson went 9-23 in his first season at Missouri, 10-21 in his second and is 7-23 in his third. He's 8-46 in SEC games. It's still a good job, although honestly not as good as it used to be back when Missouri was a force in the Big 12. An early candidate rumor for the opening is Cal's Cuonzo Martin, who is from East St. Louis, Ill., right across the river from the state of Missouri. He also coached at Missouri State for three years. However, Illinois is expected to pursue Martin as well if it fires John Groce.
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NC State vs. Clemson ( -6.5 )
ACC Tournament game at noon ET on ESPN2 from Brooklyn. The winner faces Duke on Wednesday. Since the ACC expanded to a five-day tournament in 2014, no team that won on the opening day has gone on to another victory on Day 2. It's likely the last game at NC State for Coach Mark Gottfried, who already has been fired, and stellar freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who will be a high lottery pick in this summer's NBA draft. I suppose it's possible that Missouri and NCSU could be looking at some of the same candidates. Butler's Chris Holtmann, for example.
The Wolfpack closed the regular season losing nine of 10 . Their regular-season finale was last Wednesday, a 78-74 loss at Clemson. The Tigers' Jaron Blossomgame, named to the All-ACC third team, scored all 16 of his points in the second half, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:27 left. Smith air-balled a 3-pointer with three seconds left. Then Clemson hit two free throws. Clemson had been 1-9 this season in league games decided by six points or less. The Tigers have played since then, beating visiting Boston College 82-68 on Saturday. Blossomgame had 17 in his final home game (barring perhaps an NIT berth). The Tigers shot 54.5 percent, their best of the season in a conference game. It was also their largest margin of victory in the ACC this season.
Key trends: The Wolfpack are 2-8 against the spread in their past 10 games. The Tigers are 6-2 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a losing record.
I'm leaning: Clemson.
Boston College vs. Wake Forest (-10.5)
ACC Tournament game at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2. While NC State, Clemson and Boston College have no shot at an at-large NCAA Tournament berth, Wake does. ESPN has the Deacons among the "last four in" so a loss here against the conference's worst team would be devastating. The winner faces Virginia Tech. Boston College was 9-8 at one point but has lost 14 straight. It was blown out Saturday at Clemson, 82-68. It was the Eagles' fourth straight double-digit loss. Jerome Robinson -- the ACC's fourth leading scorer at 19 points a game -- had nine points, four rebounds and five assists before fouling out.
Wake Forest won its third straight game Saturday, 89-84 at Virginia Tech. Brandon Crawford had 26 to lead the Deacons. Wake forward John Collins came into the contest having scored 20 points or more in 12 straight contests (the longest ACC streak in three years) but he picked up three fouls before halftime. Collins finished with 13 points. He was named to the All-ACC first team and was the conference's Most Improved Player while finishing runner-up for ACC Player of the Year. Collins, who averaged 7.3 points and 3.9 rebounds last season, improved his scoring by a league-leading 11.8 points per game and improved his rebounding by almost six per game. Wake beat Boston College twice this year, by 13 at home and five in Boston.
Key trends: The Eagles are 0-4 ATS in their past four. The Deacons are 1-7-1 ATS in their past nine vs. teams with a losing record. BC is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Wake Forest.
St. Francis (Pa.) at Mount St. Mary's (-5)
It's the Northeast Conference Tournament title game at Mount Saint Mary's and shown on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET. The school has never hosted an NEC and St. Francis has not played in a championship game in more than 25 years. Mount St. Mary's, the conference's regular-season champion, advanced with a 75-66 win over Robert Morris. Elijah Long scored 22 points for the Mount, which is playing in the NEC title game for the seventh time since joining the league in 1989-90. Long was a first-team all-conference selection. The Mountaineers haven't made the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
St. Francis, the fourth seed, beat No. 3 Wagner 71-70 in the semifinals. You've probably see the shot on SportsCenter as Keith Braxton hit an off-balance, desperation 3-pointer for the win. The Red Flash had blown a 14-point first-half lead. Isaiah Blackmon scored 20 points and Braxton added 15 with eight rebounds for St. Francis, which is in the conference title game for the first time since 1991. That's the only year St. Francis made the NCAA Tournament. Mount St. Mary's was 2-0 vs. St. Francis this season. The most recent game was 81-62 at St. Francis on Feb. 11. Long had 25 points and eight assists. The Red Flash turned it over 21 times. The game was tied at 55 before the Mountaineers went on a 24-0 run.
Key trends: The Red Flash are 5-0 ATS in their past five. The Mountaineers are 0-4 ATS in their past four vs. teams with a winning record.
I'm leaning: Mount St. Mary's.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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