image001-5

Saturday’s Bubble Winners

Leave a comment

Big Winners

Alabama: The Crimson Tide is rolling, as it looks like Anthony Grant has finally made it known: you do things my way, or you play somewhere else. With Tony Mitchell no longer on the team and JaMychal Green finally returning to the lineup, Alabama cruised to a 67-50 win over Mississippi State, solidifying their standing as fourth in the SEC pecking order and putting themselves in terrific position come Selection Sunday. With games left against Auburn and Ole Miss, all the Crimson Tide has to do is win the games they are supposed to win. They’ve now won three in a row and six of their last eight while wins over Purdue and Wichita State look better by the day.

Purdue: The Boilermakers all but punched their ticket today as they went into Ann Arbor and knocked off No. 11 Michigan, 75-61. Terone Johnson went for 22 points and Robbie Hummel added 17 as Purdue picked up the marquee victory they so desperately needed. Coming in, Michigan was 15-0 at home and they had just beaten Ohio State in Crisler Arena. So yeah, this is a good win, their first against the top of the conference.

St. Joseph’s: The Hawks still have some work to get done, but after beating No. 22 Temple on Saturday evening, Phil Martelli’s club is that much closer to completing the task. St. Joe’s needed a quality win desperately to help fill out their resume, and they got it, beating the Owls 82-72. They still have to go up to St. Bonaventure this week, a game that the Hawks probably should win if they want an at-large bid, because as of right now, St. Joe’s is right on the cut-line.

Memphis: Two games ago, the Tigers lost to UTEP at home while blowing a 13 point lead. Josh Pastner made the decision to take the names off the backs of their jerseys, and that decision has worked. Memphis beat East Carolina by 23 points and followed it up on Saturday with a 20 point win at Marshall, a team that still had some slim hopes alive for making a run. Memphis should be in good shape, but its also Memphis; this team isn’t exactly known for their consistency.

Iowa State: The Cyclones personified life on the bubble. Prior to Saturday’s game at Kansas State, there was discussion that, with losses to the Wildcats, Baylor and Missouri in their final three games, ISU could miss the NCAA Tournament. After beating K-State 65-61 on the road, not only are the Cyclones in excellent position for a bid, there is talk that a win in their last two games could vault them up to a six seed.

They helped themselves by not losing

Drexel and VCU: The Dragons and the Rams both have slim hopes of actually getting an at-large bid. But with wins over Old Dominion and George Mason, respectively, both teams can keep hope alive that a trip to the CAA title game will be enough.

Washington: The Huskies had to rally from an 11 point second half deficit to beat Washington State on the road, but the only thing that matters is that they won. A loss would have been disastrous.

Xavier and Dayton: The Musketeers hung on to beat Richmond while Dayton blew out UMass at home. Xavier is probably barely on the right side of the bubble right now while Dayton still has some work to do. But hey, its better to be in the discussion than simply playing for seeding in your league tournament.

Arizona: The Wildcats still have some hope alive for an at-large bid. They probably cannot afford another loss and may need to make a run in the NCAA Tournament if they want a bid.

Texas: Texas avoided a disastrous loss by winning at Texas Tech. The Longhorns are still sitting right on that cut line.

BYU: The Cougars are still in the picture, but they are going to probably have to beat Gonzaga or St. Mary’s in the WCC tournament to get an at-large bid.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles have been puttering along down the stretch, and a close win over Rice doesn’t change that. But USM should feel pretty confident about their chances if they win out.

Northwestern: The Wildcats have absolutely no margin for error, but as it stands right now, they are probably sitting on the right side of the bubble. Barely. And while a one point win — one that may have been helped by a friendly whistle down the stretch that gave John Shurna two FT’s for the win — at Penn State doesn’t say much for the team, Northwestern is still alive.

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Leave a comment

Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

Lehigh Virginia Basketball
AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org