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Liberty Links: Getting ready for the NCAA Championship game

Gonzaga vs. UNC for all the marbles.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-South Carolina vs Gonzaga Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just five games away from the end of another Sixers season. I’ll eventually miss it when it’s gone, but for now I think we could all use a bit of a break.

Here’s what happened over the weekend:

The Sixers fell to the Raptors, 113-105

In typical Sixers fashion, they managed to stick with a quality team in the Toronto Raptors until midway through the third quarter, where they finally imploded. Continued credit to Brett Brown and the gang for fighting until the end, even if it isn’t producing victories. One fun storyline as we come to the conclusion of a disappointing season? Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot continues to find ways to contribute. After scoring 19 points against the Cavaliers on Friday, he dropped 23 on the Raptors while shooting 3-7 from beyond the arc. He deserves to get some quality rotation minutes last year, even when this team is at full health.

Russell Westbrook goes for five-point play, nearly succeeds

I’ll go on the record as saying James Harden would be my vote for MVP, but that doesn’t mean I’ve haven’t been enamored by 41.8 percent usage Russell Westbrook. In his quest to do something amazing every night, Westbrook converted a tough jumper while being fouled, and attempted to cut away at a late 14-point lead by intentionally missing his free throw in order to convert on the putback. He did, but got called for a lane violation. Still a really dope play by a guy who’s been putting together a hoop mixtape all season.

Man child Zion Williamson continues to throw down insane dunks

Speaking of dope, here’s number two recruit in the class of 2018 continuing to destroy high school rims.

Derrick Rose is out for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus

The torn meniscus monster has apparently made it’s way up the turnpike. Derrick Rose has missed the last two games with a knee injury, and the team finally announced on Sunday that he’d miss the remaining five games with a torn meniscus. The season has been over for the Knicks for a long time, but it’s another knee ailment to add to the list for Rose this summer. He’s a 28-year-old impending free agent, and he’s likely going to be looking for some longterm job security this summer. Whoever signs him is going to be taking a serious risk. Rose anticipates he’ll be healthy in two months.

Tracy McGrady, former Sixer George McGinnis to be inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame

McGrady and McGinnis will be joined by Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Krause, who passed away on March 21, Kansas head coach Bill Self and seven others. The induction ceremonies will take place in Springfield from Sept. 7-9. We’ll see if somebody can top Allen Iverson’s speech from last year, but I highly doubt it.

North Carolina-Gonzaga is a national title game showdown unlike any other we’ve ever seen - Mike Rutherford, SB Nation

This isn’t the little guy vs. the big guy. This is the big guy vs. the other big guy who’s been told that he’s little for his entire life. The overwhelming evidence to the contrary that no one seems willing to pay attention to has only exacerbated his frustration. This is that big guy’s opportunity to show his complete dimensions to an American public that had used any excuse it could find to look the other way for the past two decades whenever that size was on display. They won’t have anywhere else to look Monday night.

Should make for an incredible game tonight. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:20 p.m.

Draft Express previews the championship game from a prospect perspective

Jonathan Givony points out that Gonzaga’s Zach Collins and UNC’s Justin Jackson are the most obvious prospects to watch, but also notes the potential pro prospects of Kennedy Meeks. Meeks is a big body, and will be a real test for Zach Collins based on the contrast of playing style. One name I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more attention if Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss. He’s come up large when it’s mattered most, putting up a combined 46 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while shooting 8-12 from beyond the arc in the Zags last two games. He’s got good size for a point guard, plays solid defense, and can score at all three levels. Perhaps he’s lost in the mix of a relatively crowded class of point guards, but Williams-Goss seems like a legitimate pro prospect. He may not declare for the 2017 draft, but should kept close tabs on in 2018.

Enjoy the game!

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