Pregame Shootaround 1.6.13: Upset-minded Temple travels to meet No. 6 Kansas

Leave a comment

Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: No. 6 Kansas vs. Temple (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Temple already has one major upset under its belt, having beaten then-No. 3 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in December. They now face another non-conference challenge as they travel to Allen Fieldhouse to take on No. 6 Kansas.

Khalif Wyatt and Anthony Lee were the catalysts in the win over Syracuse, Wyatt on the perimeter and Lee cleaning up down low. Against Kansas, Temple finds a team that has won ten straight games and rolled over then-No. 7 Ohio State on the road. Temple should be most concerned with two players, freshman Ben McLemore and senior Jeff Withey.

The Owls likely won’t have the same opportunities on the interior as they did against Syracuse, thanks mostly to the shot-blocking ability of Withey and the solid team rebounding of the Jayhawks. That means that Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson will have to work harder on the boards to get Temple second-shot opportunities and keep Kansas at bay.

But that still leaves the problem of McLemore. He has scored in double figures in 10 of Kansas’ 12 games, including 22 points in the Jayhawks’ big win over Ohio State. His athleticism naturally creates a matchup problem on the perimeter, something that Temple coach Fran Dunphy will have to account for Sunday afternoon.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Virginia against North Carolina

The Cavaliers are favored by one or two points Sunday, being that the Tar Heels are traveling to Charlottesville for this ACC matchup. The key, though, will be the return of Reggie Bullock. After missing UNC’s win over UNLV due to a concussion, Bullock will return to the lineup Sunday, according to the school. This gives North Carolina more help on the perimeter defensively and also reinserts the team’s second-leading scorer into the rotation.

James Michael McAdoo will battle with Virginia’s Akil Mitchell down low, but the Tar Heels should be able to get an ACC win on the road.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Wichita State vs. Bradley (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

The Shockers were rolling before a loss to Tennessee on Dec. 13, but are now back on track with four straight wins. Bradley is hurt by the loss of Will Egolf, who was arrested on a drug possession charge this week and did not play Jan. 2 in a win over Southern Illinois.

Leading scorer Carl Hall has missed the last four games for the Shockers, but they have not missed a beat. That is due in large part to Cleanthony Early, who is averaging over 14 points per game in his absence. Wichita State will have the advantage on the backboards, especially without Egolf, which could be the difference on Sunday. Look for Bradley’s Tyshon Pickett (11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) to try to change that.

Five Things to Watch

1) Iowa ran Indiana to the wire in their Big Ten opener, and now have another chance at an upset Sunday on the road at No. 2 Michigan. The Hawkeyes are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and will need to beat the Wolverines on the boards to limit second-shot opportunities for Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke, and Glenn Robinson III.

2) Andre Hollins had 22 points and six assists in a statement win over No. 18 Michigan State on New Year’s Eve. Expect something similar from him Sunday against Northwestern at home.

3) Colorado had its heart broken when a game-winning three-pointer was waved off against No. 3 Arizona and the Buffalos eventually lost in overtime. They return to the floor Sunday against tough freshman point guard Jahii Carson and Arizona State.

4) In what otherwise would be just another C-USA game on the schedule, Tulsa vs. Southern Methodist is special for one reason Sunday–the coaching matchup. First-year coach Larry Brown leads SMU against his former star player, Danny Manning, now the head coach at Tulsa.

5) The annual Civil War erupts in Oregon Sunday, as Oregon meets Oregon State in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. The Beavers are still trying to work past their loss to Towson in late December, but face a tough test against Arsalan Kazemi and Oregon.

Top 25 Games

No. 2 Michigan vs. Iowa (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 6 Kansas vs. Temple (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 7 Syracuse vs. South Florida (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 9 Minnesota vs. Northwestern (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 13 Florida vs. Yale (5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Other Notable Games 

Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (4:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Colorado vs. Arizona State (8:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Tulsa vs. Southern Methodist (8:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

North Carolina vs. Virginia (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Oregon vs. Oregon State (10:00 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Bubble Banter: Kansas State, Virginia Tech add crucial wins to help overcome poor schedules

David Becker/Getty Images
Leave a comment

As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Monday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 37, NBC seed: Play-in): The Wildcats went and added two — potentially three — Quadrant 1 wins in their last three games, beating Oklahoma and TCU at home last week before picking off Baylor (currently 76th in the RPI, but I’d guess they’re top 75 to end the year) on Monday night. A home loss to Tulsa (RPI 112) is going to stick out, as will a non-conference SOS that ranks 344th. Those two things means that the Wildcats have a very small margin for error, but with the way they are playing, I think that they’ll do enough to get in with a seed that seems too low for them.

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: , KenPom: 54, NBC seed: Out): The Hokies did quite a bit to change their NCAA tournament chances on Monday by knocking off North Carolina at home. It’s easily the best win on their résumé, and given that their only other Quadrant 1 win came on a neutral against a Washington team ranked 50th in the RPI, it is easily their most important win. A Nov. 16th loss to Saint Louis (RPI 147) looks really bad, but VT still has Miami twice, Duke twice, Virginia, Louisville and Clemson left on their schedule. Those are all potential top 20 wins. They’ll need them to overcome a non-conference schedule that ranked 319th.

TEXAS (RPI: 42, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 9): The Longhorns did what they needed to do against Iowa State at home, picking up a win to help shake off the whooping they took at West Virginia on Saturday. Believe it or not, but Texas currently has four Quadrant 1 wins to their name without anything worse than a high Quadrant 2 loss — at Baylor, at Oklahoma State, Gonzaga on a neutral, Michigan at home.

LOSERS

MARYLAND (RPI: 47, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: Next four out): The Terps picked up their worst loss of the season, falling at Indiana. In a year where Mark Turgeon’s club has already lost Justin Jackson and where it seems like they suffer a new injury just about every week, a tournament berth seems increasingly unlikely. Their next two games are at home against Michigan State and at Purdue. They might beed to win both.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 64, KenPom: 67, NBC seed: Out): The Cornhuskers missed out on a golden opportunity to add a marquee win to their résumé as they lost by five at Ohio State, a top 15 team in the RPI. The Cornhuskers currently do not have a Quadrant 1 win to their name — their best win comes at home against Michigan — and the only chance they’ll have to add one the rest of the regular season comes at Minnesota, who could very well drop off that level. There are only two teams left on Nebraska’s schedule that are in the top 100 of the RPI.

BAYLOR (RPI: 76, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: First four out): Baylor lost at home to Kansas State on Monday night. They’re now lost six of eight to start Big 12 play and their next two games are at Florida and at Oklahoma, both of which would be marquee wins the Bears currently lack.

VIDEO: Kenrich Williams posterizes West Virginia

AP Photo
Leave a comment

I am not sure what was more impressive tonight, Kenrich Williams going for 14 boards and six assists against No. 7 West Virginia, the fact that he played the point for them against that press … or this dunk:

It was the dunk.

Definitely.

Alex Robinson leads TCU past No. 7 West Virginia

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

You’d be forgiven if you thought that TCU’s season was done and dusted when starting point guard Jaylen Fisher went down with a knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season.

Fisher was the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.3 points and ranked second in assists. He was shooting 43.9 percent from the floor. More importantly, he was backcourt defensive presence that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the TCU roster.

When the Horned Frogs lost Fisher, they were coming off of their second loss to Oklahoma in the span of two weeks and their fourth loss in the first five games of league play. With two games against both West Virginia and Texas Tech, and a trip to Allen Fieldhouse, left on their schedule, this had all the warning signs of a season in danger of sliding into oblivion.

On Monday night, in TCU’s third game without Fisher, Jame Dixon’s club put together their best performance of the season. They held No. 7 West Virginia to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and led by as many as 20 points in an 82-73 win in Fort Worth, a win that puts an entirely knew feel on where this season can and will go.

The biggest reason for that may be Alex Robinson.

A 6-foot-1 hometown kid and a redshirt junior that transferred into the program from Texas A&M, Robinson has seemingly always been overlooked in this TCU program. Part of that is because he’s not a great scorer or shooter. Part of that is because he isn’t really a defender. And part of is, frankly, is because he never quite got his chance.

And now, with Fisher out, Robinson is not only getting his chance, but he is making the most of it.

TCU is 2-1 in their three games without Fisher, and Robinson has been the star, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 boards and 10.7 assists. Against West Virginia, one of the nation’s most difficult defenses to deal with, Robinson finished with 17 points, nine assists and seven boards despite barely stepping foot off of the court. He got some help from Kenrich Williams, TCU’s best player, a 6-foot-7 forward that was a high school point guard and did the heavy-lifting when it came to breaking that press.

But that shouldn’t put a damper on how Robinson played on Monday.

And it shouldn’t take away from what he has been able to do with Fisher out.

Suddenly, TCU looks like a team that found themselves on the wrong side of lucky through the first seven games of Big 12 play. They lost five games during that stretch by an average of 3.3 points. Two of those losses came when the Horned Frogs missed game-winning shots at the buzzer.

They were and have been a top 25 team that found out the hard way how tough it is to win close games in this league.

And at this point it is probably fair to say that hasn’t changed despite having a new player running the point.

Monday’s Three Things to Know: TCU, Virginia Tech and Kansas State earn big wins

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

1. VIRGINIA TECH EARNED ITS BIGGEST WIN OF THE SEASON

Virginia Tech has been considered by many to be a disappointment this season. The Hokies haven’t beaten anybody notable in the ACC and the non-conference schedule didn’t deliver any signature victories.

Which is why Virginia Tech’s win Monday night over No. 10 North Carolina is so critical.

The Hokies finally have a great win to hang their hat on for the committee. Where has this version of Virginia Tech been all season?

2. TCU ALSO EARNS A SIGNATURE WIN

Entering Monday night, TCU could have rolled over and called it quits on this season.

The Horned Frogs had dropped four of five games by a total of 15 points. Talented sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher was diagnosed with a season-ending injury for TCU.

But TCU stayed strong through some adversity as they pulled off a huge 82-73 Big 12 home win over No. 7 West Virginia. Leading for nearly the entire game, TCU did a great job of slowing down Mountaineer offense as West Virginia struggled to score in the half court.

3. KANSAS STATE PICKED UP THE NIGHT’S BIGGEST BUBBLE WIN

It’s time to start keeping track of the bubble.

With March Madness creeping closer, every night will feature games with big bubble implications. Besides for TCU and Virginia Tech beating top-1o teams, Kansas State beating Baylor for a Big 12 road win was the most important bubble win of the night.

The Wildcats have suddenly won four of their last five — including wins over Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor in their last three games. Not many people are talking about Kansas State in a loaded Big 12 but they’re playing as well as any team in the league right now.

A few more wins like this and the Wildcats could play their way into the Field of 68.

Bates-Diop scores 20 as No. 13 Buckeyes slip past Nebraska

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Keita Bates-Diop scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and No. 13 Ohio State beat Nebraska 64-59 on Monday night, the fourth victory for the surging Buckeyes in the last eight days.

The back-and-forth game had seven lead changes in the second half. A pair of foul shots by Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. cut Ohio State’s lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but the Cornhuskers couldn’t pull any closer.

Jae’Sean Tate put the Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) up by six with a layup with 1:02 left, and a pair of foul shots by Kaleb Wesson stretched it to eight. Palmer hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Nebraska ran out of time.

Palmer had a career-high 34 points. Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) was fresh off a 20-point upset of then-No. 23 Michigan on Thursday.

Ohio State surpassed its win total for all of last season. Earlier in the day, it moved from No. 22 to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, its highest position since 2014.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The surprising Cornhuskers knocked off a ranked team last week and are a better squad than last season with Palmer carrying the load, but couldn’t outlast the steady Buckeyes.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes may have been fatigued after a rugged traveling schedule and three straight games on the road. But they found a rhythm in the second half and picked up another critical Big Ten win over a good team.

NEXT UP

Nebraska: At Rutgers on Wednesday.

Ohio State: Hosts Penn State on Thursday.