Ohio State draft decisions: Curtis Samuel leaving for NFL, Tyquan Lewis coming back

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USA TODAY

Ohio State draft decisions: Curtis Samuel leaving for NFL, Tyquan Lewis coming back

Two more Ohio State stars announced their NFL Draft decisions Monday.

H-back Curtis Samuel announced he'll leave for the draft, while defensive end Tyquan Lewis made it known he'll be back in scarlet and gray next season.

Samuel starred both catching the ball and running it this season. He was the team's leading receiver, catching 74 passes for 865 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He also carried the ball 97 times for 771 yards and eight touchdowns.

Samuel finished with 107 catches for 1,249 yards and nine touchdowns plus 1,286 rushing yards 15 rushing touchdowns.

"I arrived in Columbus in 2014 as a Brooklyn boy excited for the opportunity of playing college football on the biggest stage," Samuel wrote on Twitter. "The passion of Buckeye Nation has made my experience at The Ohio State University unforgettable. I have been privileged and honored to have amazing and incredibly talented teammates who are my friends for life.

"As I reflect on the past three years, I am very proud of our accomplishments. We beat TTUN (The Team Up North a.k.a. Michigan) all three seasons. We made it to the College Football Playoff this season and of course we were national champions in 2014.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer and I have the strongest bond, I am extremely thankful for everything he has done for me. He has helped develop me into both the player and the man I am today. Coach (Mickey) Maroti, you helped sculpt me both physically and mentally. I will always be thankful for the hard work you have put in with me.

"I would like to thank my family, which has been there to support me through every step of my journey. Their love and support gives me the strength to keep getting better every day. I thank God for the opportunities that he has blessed me with, to put me in the situation I am in today. I have decided to realize my dream and enter the 2017 NFL Draft."

Lewis was the team's leader with 10.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He recorded 29 total tackles. In his first three seasons at Ohio State, he's totaled 92 tackles with 26.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

"It has been an honor to receive my bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University and to play football at the highest level for the best program in the nation and in front of the best fans," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "I can honestly say that I love my teammates, coaches and support staff. And no one is better at mentoring, leading and helping a young person develop on and off the field than coach Meyer, coach (Larry) Johnson and our strength coach, coach Mick. I am so proud of being a part of four Ohio State teams, including winning a national championship in 2014. But I am still hungry for more. And that's why I have made my decision to return to The Ohio State University next season to help the Buckeyes reach our goal of playing for championships and once again being the best team in the country. I can't wait to get started."

While Samuel's departure strips the Buckeyes of one of their only reliable receivers from the 2016 campaign, Lewis' return maintains a strong defensive line that should be even stronger in 2017.

Kansas mops the floor with another Big Ten team as Purdue bounced from NCAA tournament

Kansas mops the floor with another Big Ten team as Purdue bounced from NCAA tournament

Purdue was hands-down the best team in the Big Ten this season. But when it's all said and done at the end of this NCAA tournament, Kansas might be the best team in the country.

The Jayhawks proved to be just way too much for the Boilermakers in Thursday night's Sweet Sixteen matchup, using a monster second half to sprint away from the Big Ten regular-season champs and win by a 98-66 score.

Purdue's season came to an end with the loss, though it will be a memorable campaign, one that stretched to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2010.

But much like it did this past weekend against Michigan State, Kansas exploded on a massive second-half run and went from a narrow lead to an gargantuan one in a hurry, flexing its muscles as perhaps the best team remaining in this tournament field.

The incredibly talented duo of Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson scorched the Boilers, combining for 41 points. But it was actually Devonte' Graham that along with Mason led the Jayhawks with 26 points.

Kansas shot 53.6 percent from 3-point range on the night, splashing home 15 of the 28 triples it hoisted.

Purdue's own player of the year candidate, Caleb Swanigan, helped the team stay alive in the early stages of the second half after a 20-7 run gave Kansas a seven-point lead at halftime. After an ugly first half for the Big Ten Player of the Year — six points, two rebounds, 1-for-2 from the field, four turnovers — Swanigan's third 3-pointer of the night cut the gap to just two about three and a half minutes into the second half.

But that's when the Jayhawks took off, putting together an eye-popping 31-9 run to turn that two-point advantage into a 24-point lead in little more than 10 minutes. At one point, Kansas scored eight straight to grab its first double-digit lead of the night, the capper to that burst a Jackson 3-pointer that seemed to end the game right then and there despite the ample amount of time remaining on the clock.

When it was all over, Kansas outscored Purdue 45-15 from that two-point deficit at 53-51.

Swanigan, despite that poor first half, finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Vincent Edwards, who scored a combined 42 points in the first two games of this tournament, had himself an quiet night with just eight points.

Purdue shot 55.6 percent in the first half but just 31 percent over the game's final 20 minutes. The Boilers also turned the ball over 16 times, leading to a boatload of points for the Jayhawks.

The win advanced Kansas to the Elite Eight, where it will take on Oregon, which beat Purdue's conference-mate Michigan earlier Thursday night. The Jayhawks have been piling up the points in the tournament and became the first team to score 90 or more points in each of its first three tournament games in 22 years.

The loss brought an end to things for Purdue, which had a terrific season despite the blowout finish. The Boilers won the Big Ten title outright and made their third Sweet Sixteen under Matt Painter.

Michigan's magical March ends in one-point loss to Oregon in Sweet Sixteen

Michigan's magical March ends in one-point loss to Oregon in Sweet Sixteen

Michigan's March magic finally ran out.

The guy who's been so fantastic throughout his senior season, point guard Derrick Walton Jr., missed a game-winning 3-point try at the buzzer, and the Wolverines fell to the Oregon Ducks by a 69-68 final score in the Sweet Sixteen.

It was an incredibly competitive game between the Big Ten Tournament champs and the Pac-12 regular-season champs, with neither side ever leading by more than six.

But Moe Wagner, who scored a career-high 26 points in Michigan's second-round win over Louisville, was pretty much a non-factor in this one, scoring just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting.

Still, seniors Walton and Zak Irvin kept an unusually cold-shooting group of Wolverines alive with a combined 39 points, 23 of which came after halftime. D.J. Wilson also scored in double figures with 12, all coming on 3-pointers.

But Michigan, which had been on fire offensively for much of the last month, shot just 43.1 percent from the field and missed 20 of its 31 shots from behind the arc.

The Wolverines actually shot under 40 percent over the opening 20 minutes as the two defenses did good work for these typically high-scoring squads. Michigan turned the ball over seven times before the break but trailed by just two as it went to the locker room.

The tit-for-tat nature of the game continued at the outset of the second half before Oregon reached its game-high six-point lead, but Michigan responded with seven straight and grabbed its first lead of the second half around the 11-minute mark. The Ducks answered that mini surge with six straight of their own, part of a larger 10-4 spurt, before Wilson and Walton hit back-to-back triples to once again give the Wolverines a narrow advantage, this time with a little more than four minutes remaining.

Oregon and Irvin traded buckets from there, and a Walton jumper was Michigan's sixth straight make from the field, putting the Wolverines up three with under two minutes to play. But Michigan didn't score again, and Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey got back-to-back layups, the latter the game-winning one ahead of Walton's missed 3-point attempt as time ran out.

Dorsey was fantastic for the Ducks, scoring 20 points, his sixth straight game with at least 20 points. Bell had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Oregon advanced to its second straight Elite Eight with the win.

Michigan's entertaining end-of-season run is over. Entering Thursday night's game in Kansas City, the Wolverines had won seven straight and 10 of their last 12. Those two losses came by a combined seven points. Add this loss in and just eight points separated Michigan from 13 consecutive wins.

Certainly this group of Wolverines will be remembered for its sensational four wins in four days at the Big Ten Tournament after that horrifying aborted takeoff, as well as for reaching the third Sweet Sixteen in the last five seasons under John Beilein.