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.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.