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Syracuse, N.Y. — Jim Boeheim says he fully intended for next year to be his last as Syracuse’s basketball coach, and he never thought otherwise until Sunday.

That’s when longtime assistant Mike Hopkins — and Syracuse’s coach-in-waiting — left to become head coach at Washington.

Boeheim said at a news conference Monday he never tried to change the agreement he made with the university to retire after next season. Boeheim says Hopkins informed him in a tearful meeting Saturday of the Washington offer.

The 72-year-old Boeheim thought Hopkins would be the best fit to succeed him. The university agreed, signing him as the head coach designate.

Athletic director John Wildhack says he quickly moved to keep Boeheim for the sake of continuity, and received approval from the chancellor and board of trustees.

Tuned in

CBS Sports and Turner Sports say viewership for the first Sunday of the NCAA Tournament, which was packed with close games and marquee teams, was up 34 percent over last year’s Sunday second-round coverage.

The networks announced Monday that the eight games aired Sunday on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV averaged 11.9 million viewers.

Last year’s Sunday second-round games drew 8.9 million viewers.

Sunday’s games featured some of the college basketball’s most notable power programs: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA and Kansas. Six of the eight games played were decided by seven points or less, with South Carolina upsetting Duke in prime time.

Overall, viewership for the tournament is up 10 percent from last year at an average of 9.325 million over the first four days.

Underwood with Illini

Brad Underwood is back home.

While the 53-year-old was born in McPherson, Kansas, Illinois became home when he served as an assistant coach at Western Illinois from 1992-2003.

Still, it was a surprise when his agent let him know Illinois and other schools had reached out about his availability after just one season coaching at Oklahoma State. He had taken the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament, but he had only been in Stillwater for a year and never let himself think about the possibility of coaching at Illinois.

On Saturday, he met with Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman and got the job he thought he’d never have.

“I felt this was an elite program,” Underwood said as the school formally introduced him in an on-campus news conference.

“I dream big, and I dream bigger. Winning national championships is something that can happen here, and I want to be a part of that.”

The hiring came as a surprise, and not just to Underwood and Oklahoma State.

It was Whitman making another aggressive move one year after bringing in Lovie Smith in a bid to turn around the moribund football program.

Whitman didn’t use a search firm as he looked for a replacement for John Groce, but did rely on others in the basketball community, including former players Jerry Colangelo and Mannie Jackson. After watching game film, interviews and other things, Whitman knew this was their guy.

With openings at Indiana, California and Washington, he knew he had little time to waste.

Underwood didn’t speak to Whitman until Saturday, but at that moment it seemed to be a perfect marriage for both parties.

“(Whitman’s) a tremendous salesman and so proud of his university,” Underwood said. “He didn’t have to sell me. The ‘we will win,’ that’s what I’m about.”

Underwood upped his salary for the second consecutive year. He will average $3 million for the next six seasons and has performance-based incentives in his contract. Underwood will also have $850,000 for three on-court assistants. and said he’ll talk to interim coach Jamall Walker about staying on his staff.

The new coach will also need to maintain the highly touted recruiting class he inherited. The incoming class is ranked in the top 15 and Underwood said he’s spoken to the commits and wants to meet with them to talk about potential roles.

SWEET 16

MIDWEST

At Kansas City, Mo.

Thursday

■Michigan (26-11) vs. Oregon (31-5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS)

■Purdue (27-7) vs. Kansas (30-4), 9:40 p.m. (CBS)

Saturday

Semifinal winners, TBA (TBS)

WEST

At San Jose, Calif.

Thursday

■Gonzaga (34-1) vs. West Virginia (28-8), 7:39 p.m. (TBS)

■Xavier (23-13) vs. Arizona (32-4), 10:10 p.m. (TBS)

Saturday

Semifinal winners, TBA (TBS)

EAST

At New York

Friday

■South Carolina (24-10) vs. Baylor (27-7), 7:29 p.m. (TBS)

■Wisconsin (27-9) vs. Florida (26-8), 10 p.m. (TBS)

Sunday

Semifinal winners, TBA (CBS)

SOUTH

At Memphis, Tenn.

Friday

■Butler (25-8) vs. North Carolina (29-7), 7:09 p.m. (CBS)

■Kentucky (31-5) vs. UCLA (31-4), 9:40 p.m. (CBS)

Sunday

Semifinal winners, TBA (CBS)

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