Archie Goodwin, Alex Oriakhi, Keion Bell

Florida-Kentucky highlights a heavy slate of bubble games

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No. 11 Florida at Kentucky (Sat. 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS): This is how weak the bubble is this season: We said that Kentucky couldn’t afford a loss at Arkansas and still go dancing. After they lost, we said they really couldn’t afford a loss at Georgia and still go dancing. And now here we are, after the Wildcats lost both of those games, and they can put themselves into a position where one win in the SEC tournament may lock up an NCAA at-large bid if they can somehow find a way to beat Florida on Saturday afternoon.

It’s not going to be an easy thing to do, mind you. Florida is a very good basketball team with a really, really good defense that finally got healthy. They can pressure the Wildcats in the half court or the full court, something that hasn’t exactly been a good thing for Kentucky in the Ryan Harrow era.

San Diego State at Boise State (Sat. 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network): Boise State is on the brink of locking up an NCAA tournament bid, especially if they can manage to knock off San Diego State on Saturday afternoon. Don’t worry though. Even if they lose, they’ll be getting a rematch in the first round of the Mountain West tournament anyway. The Aztecs probably aren’t in danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament.

Missouri at Tennessee (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): It’s do or die time for Tennessee. The Vols have won seven of their last eight games to put themselves in a position where they have a shot at the tournament. Missouri struggles mightily on the road and Jordan McRae has been playing like an all-american of late. I’m not sure a win locks up a bid completely, but it certainly puts them a lot closer to the right side of the bubble than they are now.

Maryland at Virginia (Sun. 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Both the Terps and the Cavs are at a point where they probably need (at least) three wins to make their way into the Big Dance. What that means is Saturday’s matchup will be a play out game. Win, and they have a chance. Lose, and they might as well resign themselves to the fact that they are going to need the automatic bid.

Xavier at Butler (Sat. 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): You want another example of how week the bubble is this season? After beating St. Louis on Wednesday, if Xavier can somehow manage to pull off an upset at Butler on Saturday, they may have gotten themselves to the point that a win or two in the Atlantic 10 tournament could get them into the tournament. How much do you think Chris Mack regrets blowing that 17 point lead to VCU now?

The rest of the weekend’s bubble action:

  • La Salle at No. 16 St. Louis (Sat. 1:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
  • Ole Miss at LSU (Sat. 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Iowa State at West Virginia (Sat. 1:30 pm. ET, ESPN3)
  • UMass at Rhode Island (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET)
  • Nebraska at Iowa (Sat. 2:21 p.m. ET, Big Ten)
  • Georgia at Alabama (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • South Florida at Cincinnati (Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Arizona State at No. 18 Arizona (Sat. 4:30 p.m. ET, FSN)
  • No. 4 Kansas at Baylor (Sat. 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Louisiana Tech at Denver (Sat. 7:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • UCF at Southern Miss (Sat. 8:00 p.m. ET)
  • No. 21 VCU at Temple (Sun. 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.