John Thompson III

Georgetown loses, meaning those four No. 1 seeds are even more wide-open


No. 5 Georgetown entered Wednesday night’s trip to Philly to take on Villanova as the hottest team in the country: 11 straight wins, a streak that saw the Hoyas win at Notre Dame, beat Louisville and Marquette at home, and then go on the road and take care of Cincinnati, Syracuse and UConn in the span of 12 days.

That’s impressive.

It was enough to not only give the Hoyas into sole possession of first place in the Big East, but put them into the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. There were outlets that had Georgetown as a No. 1 seed as of Wednesday, an idea that came crashing down when the Wildcats knocked off Georgetown, 67-57.

This came just one night after Indiana lost at home to Ohio State. And three days after Michigan State lost their third game in a row. And a week after Duke lost to Virginia and Michigan lost to Penn State and Florida lost to Tennessee.

Put it all together, and here we sit, just 11 days away from Selection Sunday, and we don’t have a single team that has clinched a No. 1 seed.

Not one.

Part of the reason for that is there really aren’t any profiles that can stand up to being a one seed if that team lost their next game, but the other issue is that there is just no way to feel comfortable projecting any team to win out. And I’m not talking about winning their conference tournament, because trying to project who wins the Big Ten or the Big East tournament this season is foolish. It’s a crapshoot.

I’m talking about this week.

Back to my point, the perfect example for how upside-down this season has been is Gonzaga. The Zags are currently No. 1 in both polls by a wide margin — they got a combined 80 of the 96 possible first-place votes — but they are unlikely to end up getting one of those No. 1 seeds.

Think about it like this: everyone except Joe Lunardi has the Zags as a borderline No. 1 seed if the season ended today. That’s great, but the issue is that there is nothing that they can do to add to their profile. Beat Santa Clara? Meh. Get a win over BYU and St. Mary’s in the title game? How much good can a win over a bubble team do?

Now look at Michigan. They may not be a No. 1 seed today, but if they beat Indiana at home tomorrow and then get wins over, hypothetically, Illinois, Michigan State and Indiana on their way to a Big Ten tournament title, they have to be a No. 1 seed, right? What about if Kansas wins at Baylor on Saturday and then knocks off Kansas State in the Big 12 title game? Or what if Georgetown knocks off Syracuse on Saturday and then lands wins over Louisville and Marquette as they make a run in the Big East tournament? And how about if New Mexico, who has the No. 2 RPI in the country and won the second or third toughest league in the country by multiple games, picks up a couple of quality wins en route to the MWC tournament title?

The only certainty? All four No. 1 seeds are going to be determined by who plays well during Championship Week.

Having said that, would anyone be surprised is all four of those leagues had a cinderella make a run to the league title? Does a WCC tournament title earn the Zags a No. 1 seed if every other contender loses next week?

Who knows.

We won’t know for 11 days, and there will be plenty of arguments to be had during that time.

And when Selection Sunday finally does get here and the brackets do come out, I have a feeling that’s when the real No. 1 seed arguments will begin.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
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Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.

USC holds on to beat No. 20 Wichita State

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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With guards Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet both sidelined due to injury, No. 20 Wichita State arrived at the Advocare Invitational shorthanded. But even with that being the case the highly successful Shockers represented quite the opportunity for USC, and Thursday afternoon the Trojans took advantage.

Despite turning the ball over 23 times Andy Enfield’s team found a way to win, hanging on to beat the Shockers by the final score of 72-69. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright, a tough matchup for most teams as a 6-foot-10 stretch forward who can score from the perimeter, shot 5-for-9 from three and scored a team-high (and career-high) 22 points.

The tandem of he and junior Nikola Jovanovic, who added 14 points and 11 rebounds, outplayed the Wichita State front court on a day in which the Shockers needed greater contributions from those players. Add in 15 points and four assists from Jordan McLaughlin, ten points off the bench from Katin Reinhardt and a 12-for-23 afternoon from three, and the Trojans were able to do enough to make up for their high turnover count and Wichita State’s 24 points off of turnovers.

Given the absence of VanVleet and Shamet there’s no reason to panic regarding Wichita State. Ron Baker, who was exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy load he was asked to shoulder, scored a game-high 25 points and the play of freshman Markis McDuffie was a positive to build on.

McDuffie, who entered Thursday’s game without a made field goal in his first two appearances as a Shocker, shot 5-for-9 from the field and contributed 14 points and three rebounds off the bench. With their current perimeter rotation being what it is McDuffie will have opportunities to contribute, and the Shockers will need him to take advantage as they await the returns of VanVleet and Shamet (and the addition of Conner Frankamp).

Doing so will not only help Wichita State in the short term but in the long-term as well, thus giving Gregg Marshall another option to call upon on his bench.

Thursday’s outcome, even with the desire to see more from Anton Grady (eight points, seven rebounds), says more about USC at this point in time than Wichita State. Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm were about amassing the talent needed to compete in the Pac-12 while also gaining valuable (and at times painful) experience. In year three the Trojans hope to take a step forward within the conference, and wins like this one provide evidence of the program’s growth.