The Patriots provide a team plane to fly fans from Providence to Chicago for Friday’s NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal against No. 1 Kansas

“It’s the New England teams supporting the New England teams,” Cooley said Thursday in Chicago. “Our families can come, our donors can come, our supporters can come. I really appreciate him watching over us. Considering the number of planes used for the NIT, for the NCAA tournament, it was just limited.

Cooley said he spoke to Kraft about his appreciation for the former Patriots quarterback Tom Bradywho inspired him during his coaching career, and thanked Kraft for loaning the plane.

“I don’t know how many people would do that to have a small college literally send over their custom plane, their logo plane,” Cooley said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of our fans will be in it, they’re big Patriot fans. I like football. My team looks like a football team. We are not very pretty.

Cooley often discusses college basketball’s blue blood programs and includes Kansas in the category.

“I know they’re one win away from all-time wins in our game’s history,” Cooley said of the Jayhawks’ much-vaunted program. “And they deserved it. Coach [Bill] Self is a Hall of Fame coach, great players, great staff. . . An opportunity to play against a No. 1 seed is just something, just things you dream about. And we are living that dream and hope to keep dreaming big.

It’s a bet for Gonzaga’s Drew Timme

Gonzaga star Drew Timmewho will play Arkansas in the Western semifinals in San Francisco, found himself in a tight spot with the NCAA when he landed a name, image and likeness contract with a casino in the State of Washington.

Timme has been appearing in Northern Quest Resort & Casino advertisements since November. The NCAA, which has always taken a strong stance against all forms of sports betting, has left it up to schools to set the parameters of athlete branding. Northern Quest is one of Gonzaga’s longtime sponsors, and the casino does not take bets on games involving state teams.

Asked about his deal on Wednesday, Timme said: “Well every time I walk into the gym I see a big Northern Quest logo so I haven’t given it too much thought honestly. No it’s a great partner I have. They’re really good with the community and stuff, and they really relate to a lot of things in Spokane… I think they have a lot more than the game. That’s why I got them really loved.

Arizona guard tries to apologize

Arizona Guard Benoit Mathurin said he tried to apologize to a member of the TCU dance crew after a widely circulated video on social media showed the Pac-12 Player of the Year contacting her maybe after the Wildcats win in the second round.

Mathurin did not say what response, if any, he received from an email he sent through the TCU’s athletic department trying to convey his apology. He did not answer a follow-up question about whether or not he remembered touching the dancer as he left the floor after the overtime win over the Horned Frogs on Sunday night.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heke said in a statement Wednesday that Mathurin did not recall any contact.

The short video clip shows Mathurin stopping and looking up at the bleachers, then after a curtsey, he stands up with his arms fully outstretched. As he turns towards the tunnel, he appears to be looking in the opposite direction with his arms still outstretched as his left hand approaches the woman’s chest, although it’s unclear if there is a contact.

“We have been in contact with the University of Arizona and have received communication from their student-athlete,” the TCU athletic director said. Jeremiah Donati.

Tennessee grants Rick Barnes five-year extension

Tennessee awarded as men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes for winning the first Volunteer Southeastern Conference tournament championship in 43 years with a five-year contract extension through the 2026-27 season. Sports director Dany White announced the deal but did not disclose financial terms of the extension. The SEC Tournament title was Tennessee’s fifth all-time and first since 1979, clinching a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. The Vols (27-8) lost to Michigan in the NCAA second round. Barnes, 67, ranks seventh nationally among active head coaches with 754 career Division I wins, including 150 at Tennessee. . . South Carolina hired Chattanooga’s Lamont Paris as the new men’s basketball coach, handing the 47-year-old a five-year contract worth $12 million. Paris takes over for Frank Martin, who was fired earlier this month after 10 seasons and just one NCAA appearance with the Gamecocks. Paris becomes the first black male basketball coach in school history. Paris, who spent five seasons at Chattanoga, led the Mocs to a 27-8 record, regular season and tournament championships in the Southern Conference, and a near upset of the league’s fourth seed. Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling 54-53 last week. . . Coach Creighton Greg McDermott signed a new multi-year deal after leading the Bluejays to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16. Sports director Marcus Flower announced the new deal but terms were not disclosed. McDermott is 276-137 with seven NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons at Creighton and has the second-highest win total in program history. . . Maryland men’s basketball coach Kevin Willard announced its first official hire by appointing Tony Skinn, who was most recently an assistant at Ohio State, as an assistant on his Terrapins team. Skinn has deep local ties and worked under Willard for three seasons at Seton Hall.