Late Night Snacks: Bad night for bubble teams

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Game of the Day: Florida State 53, Virginia 51

This wasn’t the prettiest of basketball games but it did supply what seems to be a predictable outcome when Florida State has the ball and the chance to win in the final seconds. That’s Michael Snaer time, as his three-point play with 4.4 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Tallahassee.

The result means more for Virginia, who has now lost at both Boston College and Florida State after knocking off Duke in Charlottesville last Thursday. The Cavaliers host Maryland in their regular season finale, and as a result of their last two losses Tony Bennett’s team will arrive in Greensboro for the ACC tournament next week with a solid amount of work to do if they’re to get back to the NCAA tournament.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 10 Michigan State 58, No. 22 Wisconsin 43

The Spartans ended their three-game losing streak in East Lansing, and the hope among Michigan State fans has to be that the win will also be a step in the right direction for point guard Keith Appling. Appling scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, and while he dished out just one assist the junior did not register a single turnover. Michigan State’s win guarantees Indiana the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament, and the Spartans remain a game behind the Hoosiers as they hope to grab a share of the regular season crown.

2. Georgia 72, Kentucky 62 

Multiple bubble teams suffered damaging defeats on Thursday and the young Wildcats were one of them, as they lost at Georgia by ten. Kentucky didn’t come out with the energy required to win on the road and it cost them, as John Calipari’s team was unable to overtake the Bulldogs in the second half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 24 points to lead Mark Fox’s squad, which is now 9-8 in SEC play. Kentucky drops to 11-6, and their home game against No. 11 Florida on Saturday becomes even more important due to Thursday’s disappointing result.

3. New Mexico State 78, Louisiana Tech 60

The Bulldogs’ 18-game win streak came to a screeching halt in Las Cruces, and the result likely ended Louisiana Tech’s chances of grabbing an at-large bid should they not win the WAC tournament. Louisiana Tech did force 17 NMSU turnovers but overall the defense that has been a staple for Michael White’s team all year long failed to show up. The Aggies shot 54.7% from the field and Daniel Mullings was all over the box score, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists to lead New Mexico State.

Starred

1. F Stan Okoye (VMI) and F Michael Kessens (Longwood) 

These two forwards were outstanding in the Big South quarterfinal between the Keydets and Lancers, which was won by VMI due in part to Okoye’s 31 points and nine rebounds. Kessens scored 36 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Longwood in a losing effort.

2. G Josh Greene (Cal State Northridge) 

The Matadors won’t qualify for the Big West tournament but that didn’t matter as they beat Hawaii 88-75 with Green accounting for 37 points and six assists.

3. G Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)

Hawkins, who went off for 40 points and 12 rebounds in a win at Hawaii earlier this season, shot 12-of-19 from the field and scored 34 points (seven rebounds as well) in the Aggies’ 77-76 loss to Long Beach State.

4. F Xavier Johnson (Colorado) 

The Buffaloes were without the services of leading rebounder Andre Roberson but Johnson was one reason why his absence didn’t hurt Colorado, as he shot 7-of-7 and scored 22 points in a 76-53 win over No. 19 Oregon.

Struggled 

1. G Jontel Evans (Virginia) 

Rough night in Tallahassee for Evans, who scored two points on 1-of-8 shooting and dished out two assists in the Cavaliers’ 53-51 loss at Florida State.

2. F Alex Poythress (Kentucky) 

Poythress played just 19 minutes before fouling out in Kentucky’s 72-62 loss at Georgia, finishing with four points (1-of-3 FG), four rebounds and three assists. The Wildcats can’t afford for Poythress to have games in which he attempts just three shots.

3. G Chaz Williams (Massachusetts)

For UMass to have a shot at beating a team the caliber of Butler, Williams has to be the best player on the floor. Williams dished out eight assists and tallied four steals but also turned the ball over five times, scoring eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. Butler won, 73-62.

4. F/C Jared Berggren (Wisconsin) 

Berggren shot 2-of-9 from the field in Wisconsin’s 58-43 loss to Michigan State, finishing with six points, seven rebounds and four turnovers.

Top 25 Scores

No. 10 Michigan State 58, Wisconsin 43
Colorado 76, No. 19 Oregon 53

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

College Basketball Coaches Poll: Michigan State moves atop the Top 25

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Michigan State is your new No. 1 team in the country, according to the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Spartans received 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes after their comeback from 27 points down to beat Northwestern on the road on Saturday.

Virginia is still sitting at No. 2 while Villanova and Xavier round out the top four. Duke climbed a few spots to No. 5.

Here is the full coaches poll:

1. Michigan State (20 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (8)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Gonzaga
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Wichita State
13. Auburn
14. Arizona
15. Ohio State
16. Michigan
17. Clemson
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Saint Mary’s
21. West Virginia
22. Nevada
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee State
25. Arizona State

Was Bob Huggins justified in his anger over foul shots in Kansas win over West Virginia?

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Much has been made of Bob Huggins’ ejection on Saturday evening, as West Virginia blew yet another double-digit lead at Phog Allen Fieldhouse as Kansas picked up a critical, 77-69 win.

The ejection was hilarious, and everything that I want to remember Huggy Bear by: Cussing out all three refs as he earns his second technical and an ejection while needing to hold up his pants with his hands:

Huggs is a national treasure.

The more interesting conversation, however, centered around why Huggins was tossed. Kansas shot 35 free throws on Saturday. West Virginia shot just two, which is an absolutely staggering number.

And I thought this was deserving of further scrutiny.

Let’s start with the obvious: West Virginia fouls a lot, enough that it’s not an exaggeration to say that a foul could probably be called on every possession. Part of the strategy of playing the way that Press Virginia does is that they are betting that officials are not going to call a foul on every possession, because they won’t. West Virginia is also a jump-shooting team this season, as nearly 40 percent of their field goal attempts come from beyond the arc. Their free throw rate both offensively and defensively is dead last in the Big 12.

Put another way, the Mountaineers are always going to be outshot from the free throw line.

Then you have to combine that with the Kansas stats. The Jayhawks are second in the Big 12 on offensive free throw rate and third in defensive free throw rate. Throw in the home court advantage that comes with playing in the Phog, and the safest bet in the world would have been Kansas outshooting West Virginia from the charity stripe.

It also needs to be noted that the 35-2 advantage was 27-2 before West Virginia started fouling intentionally and before Kansas went to the line for those two late Huggins’ technical fouls.

But that didn’t stop Huggins from going off in the press conference after the game:

“We blew the game last year,” Huggins said. “We should have won the game. We had the game. They did a great job, they made shots, we threw it around, we missed free throws, we did everything humanly possible to lose the game. That was us.”

“I’ve been doing this 40 years. I don’t I’ve ever been in a game where we shot two free throws. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where the disparity 35-2. I’ve never been in a game like that.”

But perhaps his most telling line was this, when asked what his message to his team was:

“It wasn’t their fault.”

It’s pretty clear that Huggins believed his team was hosed on the road.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

West Virginia is normally going to shoot fewer free throws than their opponents. Kansas is normally going to shoot more free throws that their opponents. Studies have proven that home environments in college basketball have an impact referee decisions as much as any sport in the world, including English soccer. That’s part of having a home court advantage, and it’s part of the advantage of having a rowdy, raucous and loud crowd. It’s why places like Phog Allen, and Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Koch Arena, and the McKale Center, and anywhere else with a big and loud fan base.

But 35-2 is 35-2, and it will take quite a bit of video evidence to proof to me that Kansas did not get a significant benefit from playing in front of their home crowd on Saturday night.

So did the referees cost West Virginia the game?

Debatable. I’d argue that Jevon Carter missing some shots and Daxter Miles’ insistence on passing up open threes to try and pass the ball to players going for a rebound played a pretty big role, as did the fact that Kansas is a really good team that made some big shots down the stretch.

But the whistles played some kind of a role.

Just like they always do in the Phog.

College Basketball AP Poll: Virginia, Michigan State, Villanova top the Top 25

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Virginia remained in the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll while Michigan State and Villanova still sit at No. 2 and No. 3 with Xavier once again in fourth.

The biggest change in the poll was that Duke rose to No. 5 after three straight wins; they were No. 12 last week.

Kentucky is still not a part of the top 25.

Here is the full AP Poll:

1. Virginia (42 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
t-6. Texas Tech
t-6. Gonzaga
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Auburn
13. Wichita State
14. Arizona
15. Clemson
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Nevada
21. West Virginia
22. Saint Mary’s
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee
25. Florida State

VIDEO: Wichita State celebrates in locker room after win over Cincinnati

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Wichita State went into Cincinnati — well, Northern Kentucky — on Sunday evening and landed their biggest win of the season.

They were fired up about it, as you might imagine.

And their locker room celebrating after the win was, as the kids say, litty:

Here’s the funny part to me: This game wasn’t played at Cincinnati. It wasn’t played at Wichita State. It was played at Northern Kentucky, where the Bearcats are playing their home games while they wait for the renovations on their arena to be completed.

Which means that some poor NKU employee that had nothing to do with either of these two programs had to spend the time cleaning up this mess.

CBT Podcast: Monday Overreactions: Villanova-Xavier, the Big 12 is drunk, the best in the Big Ten is … ?

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Rob Dauster was joined by Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic on today’s show to overreact to everything that happened this weekend, from Villanova pasting Xavier to the insanity that is the Big 12 to what happened in the Big Ten in the last ten days. We also spend a good 30 minutes talking about bubble teams, tournament resumes and some misconceptions with both. The rundown.

OPEN: Bubble Banter. We talk about weird bubble teams and whether or not we like the new Quadrant system.

36:08: Villanova’s win over Xavier and the Big East title race.

45:15: The Big 12 makes no sense and I love it.

58:30: Michigan State deserves the Big Ten title.