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Villanova’s record-setting three-point barrage sends them to the national title game – CollegeBasketballTalk

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SAN ANTONIO — 21 minutes.

That is all the time that Villanova needed to put together the single-greatest three-point shooting performance in Final Four history.

The Wildcats made 13 first half threes, tying a Final Four record that was set all the way back in 1987, the first year that three-pointers were in the college game, when UNLV pulled it off against Indiana. They broke the record on the second possession of the second half. Kansas had just scored, cutting Villanova’s lead to 13 points, and on the ensuing possession Udoka Azubuike just about put a hole in the backboard blocking a shot. The loose ball squirted out to Eric Paschall, who, with the shot clock winding down, fired up a 27-foot three with a hand in his face.

Dagger.

It might have been the earliest dagger in the history of college basketball, but it was a dagger nonetheless.

Because anyone watching at home or in San Antonio’s Alamodome could see it. Kansas looked deflated, punched in the gut. They did everything that you’re supposed to do against what is the best offense that we’ve seen in the KenPom era.

And it did. Not. Matter.

Kansas never quit, but from the moment that shot went in, the result — a 95-79 win for Villanova — felt inevitable. Villanova eventually slowed down, making only five second half threes to finish 18-for-40 from beyond the arc on the night, but the Jayhawks never cut the lead to single digits after Villanova’s 22-4 run to open the game.

“Well,” Jay Wright said after the game. “That was just one of those nights.”

That it was.

“I feel bad for Kansas,” he continued. “They’re a great team. We just made every shot, and sometimes that happens.”

That’s what this Villanova offense does. They are demoralizing. Everyone in their rotation, everyone that played at least ten minutes on Saturday night, shoots better than 38.5 percent from three on the season with the exception of Eric Paschall. But he’s been on fire since starting the season in a 1-for-25 slump, shooting better than 44 percent from beyond the arc in that span. They all have the ultimate green light as shooters, they never stop shooting those threes and every time they see a couple of them go down, everyone on the roster seems to catch fire.

“It’s contagious,” Donte DiVincenzo said.

And, perhaps most importantly, they just do not care about who gets the shine.

None of them do.

The running joke in the media room at this year’s Final Four is just how boring and how robotic Villanova is. To a man, they answer every question they are asked with at least one of the following talking points: That’s Villanova basketball, we want to defend and play hard first, we are brothers, we all get along so well, there’s a culture, we have an attitude.

At the end of the open locker room session, DiVincenzo was asked why he didn’t stay on brand during one interview. Laughing, he answered, “I didn’t say attitude? Oh man.”

And while their answers get more and more predictable as the tournament goes on, the fact of the matter is that what they are saying is probably true. They do play “Villanova basketball”. They do make an effort to play defense and rebound first and foremost. There is a culture.

And they are brothers.

If you are a Michigan fan — or if you are Luke Yaklich, Michigan’s defensive coordinator that is going to be tasked with trying to find a way to slow this buzzsaw down — the most terrifying part of what Villanova did on Saturday night was who did it. It wasn’t Jalen Brunson, the National Player of the Year who finished with 18 points and seven assists on 7-for-14 shooting or Mikal Bridges, Villanova’s resident lottery pick, who had just ten points on 4-for-8 shooting. Both of them did much of their damage after the game was already in hand. It wasn’t Donte DiVincenzo, who might be the second-best NBA prospect on the roster, either.

It was Paschall, who finished with 24 points, 16 in the second half, on 10-for-11 shooting from the floor, banging home 4-of-5 threes. It was Omari Spellman, Villanova’s starting center that went for 15 points, 12 boards and three blocks while making three threes of his own.

Think about that for a second.

Villanova blew out a No. 1-seed, the team that beat one of the tournament favorites in Duke just six days ago, by 20 points and set a record for the most threes every hit in the Final Four on a night where the National Player of the Year and the best NBA prospect at the Final Four both had a quiet, by their standards, night.

That is what makes them the best offense that we’ve seen in the last 16 seasons. That is what makes them so dangerous. They have five guys on the floor at all times that can win them a game — Brunson, Bridges and DiVincenzo have done as much in this tournament alone — and their starting bigs can do it by making threes.

You can’t guard that.

You just have to hope that you play good enough defense to make them miss.

“We shoot ’em up and we sleep in the streets,” Wright said. “Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. This is one of those nights where everything went in.”

They quite literally shot the lights out.

Midway through the second half, the ribbon scoreboard that hangs at the front of the second deck went out, darkening the upper decks and making the stadium, which is just 25 years old, feel significantly older than it is.

But it wasn’t all bad.

Without the ribbon board on, Kansas couldn’t see what the score was.



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COVID-19: Millions of Indians travel to celebrate Maha Kumbh Mela despite rising coronavirus rates | World News

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They have gathered in their millions in the temple town of Haridwar, in Uttarakhand.

Hindu pilgrims have come to celebrate Maha Kumbh Mela, a religious festival that happens once every 12 years.

And today is a very auspicious day in the religious calendar to take a dip in India‘s River Ganges.

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Millions will gather this month to celebrate a Hindu festival, despite experts warning against it
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Coronavirus rates have increased in India the last few months, with the country in the midst of a second wave

All this amid a raging pandemic.

The festival has been been flagged as a super spreader as more than 50 million people are expected to attend this month-long event.

The country registered almost 170,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, the highest number of COVID-19 cases anywhere in the world.

With more than 13.5 million cases, India is second only to the United States.

In the same period, 839 people died, taking the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 170,209.

Millions will gather this month to celebrate a Hindu festival, despite experts warning against it
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Millions will gather this month to celebrate the Hindu festival, despite experts warning against it

Sarasswati Dattani, 56, has travelled over 400 miles (644km) from Rajasthan with her husband.

She tells Sky News: “Our children had tried to stop us because of coronavirus.

“I am not afraid, Mother Ganga is with us all the time.

“People are getting the virus sitting at home. We have to die once, it’s all in God’s hands.”

Raghav, 25, from Jalandhar in Punjab, says “coronavirus could not stop me from my belief in God, our faith is far stronger than anything at the moment.

“I have also come to pray that this pandemic gets over soon.”

The devotees come from every part of the country and a majority are from smaller towns and villages.

The fear among health activists is that rural India will be exposed to the virus.

Speaking to Sky News, Dr Atulya Mishra, who is the medical officer in charge of a section of the banks, said: “People are very irresponsible, they do not follow any of the COVID-19 behaviour protocols.

Millions will gather this month to celebrate a Hindu festival, despite experts warning against it
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Health experts have urged people not to travel but people are not following guidance

“We provide them with face masks but people don’t wear them.

“We put our lives on the line while the public takes the virus very lightly. It is very frustrating for us health workers.”

The administration has enforced COVID-19 protocols – pilgrims must wear face masks and are only allowed to attend with a negative PCR test result.

Millions will gather this month to celebrate a Hindu festival, despite experts warning against it
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People will take a dip in the River Ganges during the month-long festival

But in reality, social distancing is almost impossible to enforce.

India is in the midst of a second wave.

The low number of cases in the winter months had lulled people into believing it’s over.

Opening up society, a low fatality rate and vaccinations have led to Indians letting their guard down.

The festival will also mean people take a dip in the River Ganges
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The festival is seen as a super spreader event

For many weeks the country has been immersed in state elections.

The prime minister, his cabinet and leaders of all political parties are campaigning at rallies with thousands in attendance.

Roadshows expose every nook and corner.

Experts have also said the new variants of the virus are far more infectious but less lethal.

Genome sequencing of all cases in Punjab show around 80% of them are due to the UK variant.

While millions will make their way to the Maha Kumbh over the next few weeks, the rising number of cases are sure of grave concern for the government.

India began its vaccination programme on 16 January but less than 1% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

Though the process had a slow start it has picked up pace over the last few weeks.

India may have one of the lowest fatality rates in the world, but it can ill afford a severe burden on its already inadequate and creaking public health care system.

For decades successive governments have spent just over 1.2% of the GDP on healthcare.

Over 70% of its citizens rely on expensive private health care and one illness can push a family into poverty.

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China deploys jets and bombers into Taiwanese airspace in ‘biggest incursion to date’ | World News

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Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft have entered Taiwanese airspace in the largest reported incursion to date, according to officials.

Taiwan‘s government has complained in recent months after repeated missions by China‘s air force near the island.

The incursions have been concentrated in the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defence zone.

Pic AP
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Chinese vessels and aircrafts have conducted drills near Taiwan for several years, but in the last 12 months the actions have stepped up. Pic AP

The latest mission on Monday involved 14 J-16 and four J-10 fighter jets – and four H-6K bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons.

Two anti-submarine aircraft and an early warning aircraft also took part, Taiwan’s defence minister said.

It is believed to be the largest incursion by the Chinese air force into Taiwanese airspace, and officials said combat aircraft were dispatched to intercept and warn the intruders away.

Missile systems were also deployed to monitor the Chinese vessels as the aircraft flew in an area close to Thailand’s Pratas Islands, according to the defence ministry.

It came just three days after the US issued new guidelines that will deepen its ties with Taiwan.

The latest guidelines from the US State Department will mean American officials can meet more freely with their Taiwanese counterparts.

America, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but it has watched on as tensions between Beijing and the island nation have stepped up in recent years.

Pic Reuters
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Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu has vowed the island nation will ‘fight to the very last day’ if China attacks

Washington’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last Friday that the US is concerned about China’s aggressive actions against Taiwan – and warned it would be a “serious mistake” for anyone to try to change the status quo in the Western Pacific by force.

Mr Blinken’s statement came after Taiwan scrambled an aircraft to broadcast a warning message after 12 Chinese jets flew over its airspace on 7 April.

The tense start to 2021 comes after a report released by a government-backed think tank found that China made a record 380 incursions into Taiwan’s defence zone last year.

China describes Taiwan as its most sensitive territorial issue and a red line the US should not cross.

Beijing sees the island as a breakaway province that will one day become part of the country again. It has never renounced the possible use of force to bring about eventual unification.

However, Taiwanese people see themselves an independent state and the dispute with their giant neighbour has left relations frayed with the constant threat of violence.

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January 2021: Taiwan military simulates China attack

China has in the past described its missions as being to protect the country’s sovereignty and deal with “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.

Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu has previously said the country will fight “to the very last day” if China attacks.

More widely, China continues to exercise its muscle in the South China Sea.

Over the weekend, military activity near the Philippines spiked as a Chinese aircraft carrier entered the region, and the US military is preparing joint drills with the Philippine military nearby.

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Off-duty Italian police officers find stolen Roman statue in Belgium – a decade after it vanished | World News

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A first-century Roman statue has been recovered by two off-duty Italian police officers almost a decade after it was stolen.

The statue was stolen from the Villa Marini Dettina, an archaeological site on the outskirts of Rome, in November 2011 and has now been found in an antique shop in Belgium.

It was discovered by the off-duty officers from the Italian police’s archaeological unit.

The Togatus statue, featuring a headless Roman wearing a draped toga, is valued at €100,000 (£86,000).

The statue is believed to be worth 100,000 (£860,000) and was stolen from an archaeological site near Rome. Pic: AP
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The statue is believed to be worth 100,000 (£860,000) and was stolen from an archaeological site near Rome. Pic: AP

The two officers were on assignment in Brussels when they took a walk after work in the Sablon neighbourhood, known for its antique shops.

They spotted a statue that they suspected was from Italy and confirmed their suspicions when they cross-referenced it with their stolen antique database.

An Italian businessman, who used a Spanish alias, has been referred to prosecutors for further investigation. He is alleged to have received and exported the statue abroad, police said.

Italian authorities have been attempting to recover stolen antiques for years.

In 2019, a dozen pieces of artwork were returned to Italy by private auction house Christie’s. The items featured a marble fragment from the sarcophagus in Rome’s catacombs of St Callixtus, a piece worth £50,000.

In June 2020, officials found a stolen Banksy mural in Italy that was taken from the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

The image was created in memory of the victims of the 2015 terrorist attack in the French capital. It was cut out and removed from the concert hall in 2019.

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