Indiana v Illinois

Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Indiana falls and eight overtime games on Thursday

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Game of the Night: Marist 105, Iona 104 (2OT)

On a night that featured eight games that went to overtime this thriller in New Rochelle took the cake. A Chavaughn Lewis 65-footer as time expired in the first overtime tied the game, with Marist winning by a point when Lewis blocked a Sean Armand shot attempt at the end of the second overtime. Adam Kemp led the way for Marist with 29 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots, and Lamont Jones scored 37 off the bench to pace the Gaels. Iona allowed an opportunity to close the gap at the top of the MAAC slip away, as first-place Niagara lost at Rider.

Important Outcomes 

1. Illinois 74, No. 1 Indiana 72 

This was a win the Fighting Illini, who entered Thursday with a 2-7 record in Big Ten play, needed for their NCAA tournament resume. A Tyler Griffey layup as time expired gave Illinois the win in a game they trailed by as many as 13 in the second half. Indiana still has yet to beat an NCAA tournament-worthy team on the road, and the lack of such a victory could get them in trouble when it comes to landing in the Midwest Region on Selection Sunday.

2. No. 4 Duke 98, N.C. State 85 

In the first of two games the Blue Devils will play against teams whose fans stormed the court after beating Duke, Mike Krzyzewski’s team put together its best half of offense this season. Duke scored 58 first-half points, then held on as Richard Howell (23 points, nine rebounds) attempted to come back in the second half. But Howell fouling out on a flagrant 1 with 8:54 remaining essentially shut the door on the Wolfpack. Mason Plumlee led the Blue Devils with 30 points and nine rebounds, and both Seth Curry (26 points) and Quinn Cook (21) surpassed the 20-point mark as well.

3. Colorado 48, No. 19 Oregon 47 

Illinois wasn’t the only team to pick up a needed resume-building victory. Colorado led just once all night in Eugene: on an Andre Roberson layup with 23 seconds remaining. But all that matters for the Buffaloes is that they were able to get the win, which drops Oregon to 1-3 without point guard Dominic Artis and leaves Arizona alone atop the Pac-12. Roberson (ten points, 13 rebounds) was the lone Colorado player to reach double figures, and E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory scored 14 apiece to lead Oregon.

Other Notable Outcomes 

1. Murray State 79, Belmont 74 

Belmont may still have the best record in the OVC but the Racers made sure that it was understood who the defending champions are. Isaiah Canaan led all scorers with 26 points and hit the three-pointer that gave Murray State the lead for good with 35 seconds to go. Ian Clark led Belmont with 22 points, but the Bruins’ comeback from 16 down in the second half fell short.

2. San Diego 74, BYU 68 

The Cougars had the most damaging loss of the night when it comes to the NCAA tournament, falling by six at San Diego. Tyler Haws (27 points) and Brandon Davies (20) combined to shoot 18-of-31 from the field, but their teammates shot 8-of-31. Johnny Dee scored 19 to lead the victorious Toreros.

3. Texas A&M 70, No. 21 Missouri 68

The Tigers dropped to 0-5 in true road games, losing in College Station on a Fabyon Harris three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining. Harris led the Aggies with 17 points while Missouri once again struggled with turnovers. The Tigers turned the ball over 16 times, which resulted in 22 points for Texas A&M.

Starred

1. G Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) 

Wolters went off on Thursday, scoring 53 points on 17-of-28 shooting to lead the Jackrabbits past Fort Wayne, 80-74. Wolters also grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists. On Saturday Wolters and the Jackrabbits take on an Oakland team led by Travis Bader, who scored 47 (the previous high in college basketball this season) in a win over IUPUI on January 24.

2. F Jamal Olasewere (LIU Brooklyn) 

Olasewere shot 12-of-13 from the field in the Blackbirds’ 81-75 win at Central Connecticut State, scoring 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

3. C Adam Kemp (Marist) 

29 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Red Foxes’ 105-104 double overtime win at Iona.

Struggled

1. Central Arkansas

The Bears had a rough night offensively, shooting 31.3% from the field and turning the ball over 20 times in their 72-36 loss at Stephen F. Austin.

2. F Milton Jennings and F Devin Booker (Clemson) 

These two controlled the first meeting between the Tigers and Virginia, combining for 36 points and 20 rebounds. To say the least that didn’t happen tonight as they combined for nine points and 12 rebounds in a 78-41 loss in Charlottesville.

3. Virginia Tech players not named Cadarian Raines or Erick Green

While Raines (14 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots) and Green (29 points) combined to score 43 points, their teammates accounted for just 12 points on 5-of-29 shooting in a 60-55 loss to Maryland.

Top 25 Scores

Illinois 74, No. 1 Indiana 72

No. 4 Duke 98, N.C. State 85

No. 6 Gonzaga 82, Pepperdine 56

Colorado 48, No. 19 Oregon 47

Texas A&M 70, No. 21 Missouri 68

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

PHOTO: Nevada wearing pink jerseys to honor Coaches vs. Cancer this week

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Nevada announced that they’ll be wearing special pink uniforms for the next two games to promote cancer awareness.

The Wolf Pack will wear the jerseys on Wednesday (Jan. 25) on the road against Boise State and at home on Saturday (Jan. 28) against New Mexico.

“We are extremely excited and honored to release our new Pink “Cancer-Awareness” Jerseys. It was apparent very early in our time here, that many members of our Nevada Wolf Pack Basketball Program and in our Pack community have been affected or are currently being affected by cancer,” Nevada head coach Eric Musselman said in the release. “We could not be more proud to help support the cause and unite to fight this horrible and devastating disease.”

 

UCLA is no longer a Final Four contender if their defense doesn’t improve

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after making a three-point basket against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half of the game at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s win over No. 8 UCLA was massive for No. 7 Arizona for a number of reasons.

They got Allonzo Trier back into the fold. They remained undefeated atop the Pac-12 standings, keeping pace with an Oregon team that’s dealing with another Dillon Brooks foot injury and getting ready to make the nightmarish trip to the Mountain schools, Utah and Colorado, this weekend. They took a two game lead over the Bruins in the Pac-12 standings.

Perhaps more importantly, the Wildcats certified themselves as a legitimate threat to get to the Final Four. Their 17-2 record entering Saturday was pretty. A win at Pauley finally gave that résumé some substance.

So good for Arizona.

But that wasn’t the biggest story line coming out of Pauley Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.

UCLA’s defense, or lack thereof, was.

Ever since the Bruins went into Rupp Arena and knocked off then-No. 1 Kentucky, UCLA has been considered one of the very best teams in the country. Villanova’s up there, too. So is Kansas, and Gonzaga, and those Kentucky Wildcats. North Carolina probably should be in that conversation as well. Maybe Baylor, maaaybe Florida State.

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You get my point. The Bruins, for better or worse, were one of the handful of teams that everyone thought would enter the NCAA tournament as a favorite to win the national title, but it’s time for us to question whether or not that is actually the case. That’s how bad the UCLA defense has been this season, particularly of late.

Against Arizona, the Bruins were a train-wreck. They gave up 96 points on 1.315 points-per-possession, which, for those of you who aren’t into advanced stats, is atrocious. That game was the culmination of a four-game stretch where UCLA’s defense had gone from concerning-but-good-enough to a major red flag. In those four games – road trips to Colorado and Utah and home games against Arizona and Arizona State – the Bruins allowed an abysmal 1.153 PPP. For comparison’s sake, the 2015 Kentucky team that went 38-1, the best defense we’ve seen in the KenPom era, gave up 0.847 PPP. UCLA averages 75 possessions a game, which is a difference of 23 points over 40 minutes.

That’s a big deal.

And on the season, UCLA has fallen the way to 125th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric.

That’s a bigger deal.

For those that don’t know, KenPom.com is a website that ranks teams based on how many points they score and allow per possession, adjusted for schedule strength. It’s widely considered the best way to determine who the best offensive, the best defensive and the best overall teams are.

It’s been around since 2002.

And since 2002, given where UCLA’s defense is today, they would be the second-worst defensive team to ever get to a Final Four.

In 2011, VCU ranked 138th in defensive efficiency as of Selection Sunday*, and they are the only team to ever rank outside the top 80 in defensive efficiency and make it all the way to the Final Four. Only three other teams have ranked outside the top 50 and made it to the final weekend of the season: Marquette in 2003 (76th), Butler in 2011 (72nd) and Michigan in 2013 (66th). Two others ranked outside the top 40 and won at least four games in the Big Dance: Texas in 2003 (46th) and Wisconsin in 2014 (50th):

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*(All of this info is via KenPom.com and as of Selection Sunday in those given seasons. That’s important to note, because winning games against good teams in the tournament changes those stats.)

The precedent is there.

UCLA, unquestionably, has to get better defensively if they want to win a national title.

But all hope is not lost.

The two teams with the lowest defensive efficiency entering the NCAA tournament to win the national title – North Carolina in 2009 and Duke in 2015 – both had top three offenses nationally.

UCLA leads the nation in offensive efficiency.

AP Poll: Villanova, Kansas neck-and-neck for No. 1

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 13: Head coach Jay Wright and Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats congratulate Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats in the second half against the Temple Owls at The Pavilion on December 13, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Temple Owls 78-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova maintained a slim lead over Kansas for the No. 1 spot in this week’s AP poll, with Gonzaga being the only other program to receive any first place votes.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBCSports Top 25

After losing to Arizona at home, UCLA dropped to eighth as the Wildcats vaulted them into No. 7 in the poll.

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1. Villanova (35 first-place votes)
2. Kansas (28)
3. Gonzaga (2)
4. Kentucky
5. Baylor
6. Florida State
7. Arizona
8. UCLA
9. North Carolina
10. Oregon
11. Butler
12. Virginia
13. Louisville
14. Notre Dame
15. Wisconsin
16. Creighton
17. Duke
18. West Virginia
19. Cincinnati
20. Purdue
21. Saint Mary’s
22. Maryland
23. South Carolina
24. Xavier
25. Florida

Coaches Poll: Kansas remains No. 1, Villanova No. 2

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 21: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives to the goal against Andrew Jones #1 of the Texas Longhorns in the first half at Allen Field House on January 21, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Kansas remained No. 1 in the Coaches Poll this week, getting 18 of the 32 first-place votes.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBCSports Top 25

Villanova sits at No. 2 in the poll, with Gonzaha in third, the only other team to receive a first-place vote.

After beating UCLA in Pauley Pavilion, Arizona jumped up to No. 9 but still sits two spots behind UCLA at No. 7.

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1. Kansas (18 first-place votes)
2. Villanova (11)
3. Gonzaga (3)
4. Kentucky
5. Baylor
6. North Carolina
7. UCLA
8. Florida State
9. Arizona
10. Oregon
11. Butler
12. Notre Dame
13. Virginia
14. Louisville
15. Wisconsin
16. Creighton
17. Duke
18. West Virginia
19. Cincinnati
20. Purdue
21. Sainy Mary’s
22. Xavier
23. Maryland
24. South Carolina
25. Florida

College Basketball Talk Top 25: It gets muddy after a clear-cut top four

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in front of Lamarr Kimble #0 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks in the first half at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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This week’s rankings were probably more difficult to put together than any week so far this season.

The top four, frankly, seem pretty obvious. I have Villanova No. 1, but I would have no qualms with ranking any of Kentucky, Kansas or Gonzaga in that No. 1 spot. I expect those to be the four teams that get votes for No. 1 in the AP and Coaches Polls this week.

After that, however, is when it gets difficult. Are you going to rank North Carolina above Florida State? UNC beat the Seminoles when they squared off this season but that was the Seminoles lone loss in a six game run against ranked teams. I went with Carolina over them because, simply, I think UNC is a better team.

Then there’s the question of what to do with the top three teams in the Pac-12. Arizona just won at UCLA and they got Allonzo Trier back. Oregon also owns a win over the Bruins, but there’s came at home on a buzzer-beater from Dillon Brooks, who is dealing with a foot injury again. And while UCLA has consistently proven to be one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country, they are a nightmare defensively right now.

Where does West Virginia slot in after a pair of losses? What about Creighton without Mo Watson Jr.? Butler’s profile looks great but their performance on the floor has been less than stellar since their win over Villanova. Is Duke actually back?

You can find the rankings below. What did I get wrong?

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1. Villanova (19-1, Last Week No. 1)
2. Kentucky (17-2, 2)
3. Kansas (18-1, 4)
4. Gonzaga (19-0, 5)
5. North Carolina (18-3, 5)
6. Baylor (18-1, 7)
7. Florida State (18-2, 8)
8. Arizona (18-2, 16)
9. UCLA (19-2, 3)
10. Oregon (18-2, 10)
11. Louisville (16-4, 11)
12. Wisconsin (16-3, 13)
13. Purdue (16-4, 15)
14. Notre Dame (17-3, 17)
15. Cincinnati (17-2, 18)
16. Duke (15-4, 19)
17. West Virginia (15-4, 10)
18. Butler (17-3, 14)
19. Creighton (18-2, 12)
20. Saint Mary’s (17-2, 20)
21. Virginia (16-3, 22)
22. South Carolina (15-4, 24)
23. Maryland (17-2, 25)
24. Kansas State (15-4, NR)
25. Iowa State (12-6, NR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 21 Xavier, No. 23 Florida
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 24 Kansas State, No. 25 Iowa State