Fred Hoiberg

No call on charge, banked-in three could cost Iowa State a tourney bid

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Iowa State is one of the most entertaining teams in the country to watch play.

They have athletes up and down their lineup, they spread the floor offensively, every player on the floor as the green-light when it comes to firing up a three, and they’d rather run to offense than play much defense.

The result is what you saw last night against Kansas: uptempo, high-scoring basketball games.

And if the only two games you’ve watched the Cyclones play this season were their two games against the Jayhawks, you probably would think that Iowa State is pretty safe as a tournament team.

But you’d be wrong.

The Cyclones lost to Texas Tech on the road this season. They also lost at Texas. And at Iowa. In fact, before Iowa State beat Baylor in Waco last Wednesday, the Cyclone’s only two true road wins were at TCU and at UMKC. That’s why they are still on the bubble. The two top 50 wins and the five top 100 wins are nice and, for the most part, better than some other bubble teams. But their struggles on the road — and those two horrendous losses to Texas teams — are like a spaghetti stain on an all-white button down.

That’s why Monday’s 108-96 overtime loss is going to hurt so much. That’s why the Cyclones are going to regret losing to Kansas in overtime in Lawrence back in January. Either one of those wins would have all but locked up ISU’s bid. And while Dave Ommen still has the Cyclones on the right side of the bubble in his latest bracket projections, they are anything but safe.

To make matters worse, last night’s game may have been a different story if it wasn’t for some questionable officiating down the stretch.

With less than ten seconds remaining, Elijah Johnson drove the lane and committed what looked like a charge on a layup attempt. Now whistle was blown on the play until Johnson was given a pair of free throws on a questionable foul while fighting for a loose ball:

To make matters worse, the guy that kept the offensive rebound alive, Jeff Withey, shouldn’t have even been on the floor. After Johnson hit a three to cut ISU’s lead to 87-85 with 30 seconds left, Withey fouled Korie Lucious in the back court. The foul would have been Withey’s fifth, but it was given to Kevin Young.

So not only did the refs miss a charge and then give Kansas two free throws they likely didn’t deserve, those free throws came as a direct result of the refs blatantly missing the fifth foul on Withey.

That’s a tough way to lose.

Especially when their first loss to Kansas was the result of a banked-in three.

Hopefully, that doesn’t cost ISU a trip to the tournament.

Because they are dangerous enough to put together a run to the Sweet 16 if their threes start falling.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: