Late Night Snacks: Devonte Brown, Indiana State lead exciting night of conference tournaments

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Games of the Day

Indiana State 51, Evansville 50

Devonte Brown blocked Ned Cox’s layup attempt as time expired as the Sycamores held on to top the Aces 51-50 in the quarterfinal of the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal. Brown’s block was a great counter to a long in bounds pass that landed in the hand of Cox. Brown led Indiana State with 11 points. Justin Gant knocked down a free throw to give the Sycamores the one-point lead.

Loyola Marymount 60, Santa Clara 58

What is Loyola Marymount doing? The team that lost 14 straight, now has won three straight. The team that won one conference game has now won three straight … all in the West Coast Conference Tournament. Anthony Ireland hit a shot to put the Lions up one, but LMU fouled on the ensuing possession. Brandon Clark missed the front-end of the one-and-one and LMU hit a free throw to sneak out a 60-58 win. Loyola Marymount will attempt to keep the magic going against (ahem) Gonzaga, (ahem) the No. 1 team in the nation.

UW-Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 63

Rare we go three games of the day, but it’s March and Sultan Muhammad forced his way in when he hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining, pushing Green Bay past ICU in the Horizon League quarterfinals.

Important Outcomes

Kent State 68, Akron 64

This could be the downfall of the Zips. Alex Abreu is suspended indefinitely after being arrested and Akron is without an experienced point guard and knockdown 3-point shooter. The Golden Flashes are the second team to top the Zips in three games, after Akron rallied off 19 consecutive wins.

Harvard 56, Columbia 51

The Crimson had regained the lead of the Ivy League following a win over Columbia and Yale upsetting Princeton. Harvard had lost two straight, including one to Princeton, which lost them the top spot in the smartest league in the nation. The Crimson wrap up the season Saturday at home against Cornell. If the Crimson win and Princeton losses one of its last two games, Harvard will be dancing for the second straight season.

San Diego 72, BYU 69

BYU’s comeback fell short when Matt Carlino’s last-second three didn’t fall. The Cougars needed to make a run in the WCC Tournament and after the upset loss to San Diego, BYU will dread Selection Sunday.

Starred

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

The senior point guard has his Racers in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game following his 29-point, six-assist performance in an 81-73 win over Eastern Kentucky.

Doug McDermott, Creighton

The national player of the year candidate dropped 23 points and grabbed seven boards in a win over Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals.

Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount

Ireland has his Lions alive, as LMU reached the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, thanks in large part to his 23 points and seven steals. The Waterbury, Conn. native also hit a shot to put the Lions up for good with 5.2 seconds remaining. He’ll need to be just as good in the semifinals when the Lions take on top-ranked Gonzaga.

Struggled

Daniel Barnes, Illinois-Chicago

The Flames second leading scorer (12.1 points per game) was held to 1-of-10 shooting, en route to a five-point performance in a heartbreaking loss to UW-Green Bay in the Horizon League quarterfinals.

Akron 3-point shooting

The Zips struggled from behind the arc, shooting a dismal 22 percent of 6-of-27 3-point shooting. Alex Abreu was not in action after being suspended indefinitely. Abreu is shooting 39 percent from behind the arc on the season.

Colton Ryan, Evansville

The Aces’ leading scorer was held to more than half his season average of 20 points per game. In a one-point loss to Indiana State, Ryan shot 4-for-18 from the field for eight points. He dropped 31 points on Indiana State six days earlier.

Conference Tournament Recap

Atlantic Sun

Mercer 72, USC Upstate 64
Florida Gulf Coast 72, Stetson 58

Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast advance to conference finals

Horizon League

Wright State 66, Youngstown State 59
UW-Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 63

Winners advance to semifinals

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Siena 70, Marist 64
Fairfield 54, St. Peter’s 47

Winners advance to quarterfinals

Missouri Valley Conference

Creighton 65, Drake 53
Indiana State 51, Evansville 50
Witchita State 69, Missouri State 59
Illinois State 73, Northern Iowa 65

Winners advance to the semifinals

Ohio Valley Conference 

Belmont 82, Tennessee State 73
Murray State 81, Eastern Kentucky 73

Belmont and Murray State advance to conference finals

Southern Conference

Georgia Southern 60, Wofford 44
Furman 55, Sanford 51
UNC Greensboro 87, Chattanooga 81
Western Carolina 76, Citadel 61

Winners advance to quarterfinals

Sun Belt Conference

Western Kentucky 74, LA-Monroe 60
LA-Lafayette 74, North Texas 55
Troy 81, Florida Atlantic 79 OT

Winners advance to quarterfinals

West Coast Conference

Loyola Marymount 60, Santa Clara 58
San Diego 72, BYU 69

Winners advance to semifinals

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Bubble Banter: Kansas State, Virginia Tech add crucial wins to help overcome poor schedules

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Monday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 37, NBC seed: Play-in): The Wildcats went and added two — potentially three — Quadrant 1 wins in their last three games, beating Oklahoma and TCU at home last week before picking off Baylor (currently 76th in the RPI, but I’d guess they’re top 75 to end the year) on Monday night. A home loss to Tulsa (RPI 112) is going to stick out, as will a non-conference SOS that ranks 344th. Those two things means that the Wildcats have a very small margin for error, but with the way they are playing, I think that they’ll do enough to get in with a seed that seems too low for them.

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: , KenPom: 54, NBC seed: Out): The Hokies did quite a bit to change their NCAA tournament chances on Monday by knocking off North Carolina at home. It’s easily the best win on their résumé, and given that their only other Quadrant 1 win came on a neutral against a Washington team ranked 50th in the RPI, it is easily their most important win. A Nov. 16th loss to Saint Louis (RPI 147) looks really bad, but VT still has Miami twice, Duke twice, Virginia, Louisville and Clemson left on their schedule. Those are all potential top 20 wins. They’ll need them to overcome a non-conference schedule that ranked 319th.

TEXAS (RPI: 42, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 9): The Longhorns did what they needed to do against Iowa State at home, picking up a win to help shake off the whooping they took at West Virginia on Saturday. Believe it or not, but Texas currently has four Quadrant 1 wins to their name without anything worse than a high Quadrant 2 loss — at Baylor, at Oklahoma State, Gonzaga on a neutral, Michigan at home.

LOSERS

MARYLAND (RPI: 47, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: Next four out): The Terps picked up their worst loss of the season, falling at Indiana. In a year where Mark Turgeon’s club has already lost Justin Jackson and where it seems like they suffer a new injury just about every week, a tournament berth seems increasingly unlikely. Their next two games are at home against Michigan State and at Purdue. They might beed to win both.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 64, KenPom: 67, NBC seed: Out): The Cornhuskers missed out on a golden opportunity to add a marquee win to their résumé as they lost by five at Ohio State, a top 15 team in the RPI. The Cornhuskers currently do not have a Quadrant 1 win to their name — their best win comes at home against Michigan — and the only chance they’ll have to add one the rest of the regular season comes at Minnesota, who could very well drop off that level. There are only two teams left on Nebraska’s schedule that are in the top 100 of the RPI.

BAYLOR (RPI: 76, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: First four out): Baylor lost at home to Kansas State on Monday night. They’re now lost six of eight to start Big 12 play and their next two games are at Florida and at Oklahoma, both of which would be marquee wins the Bears currently lack.

VIDEO: Kenrich Williams posterizes West Virginia

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I am not sure what was more impressive tonight, Kenrich Williams going for 14 boards and six assists against No. 7 West Virginia, the fact that he played the point for them against that press … or this dunk:

It was the dunk.

Definitely.

Alex Robinson leads TCU past No. 7 West Virginia

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You’d be forgiven if you thought that TCU’s season was done and dusted when starting point guard Jaylen Fisher went down with a knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season.

Fisher was the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.3 points and ranked second in assists. He was shooting 43.9 percent from the floor. More importantly, he was backcourt defensive presence that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the TCU roster.

When the Horned Frogs lost Fisher, they were coming off of their second loss to Oklahoma in the span of two weeks and their fourth loss in the first five games of league play. With two games against both West Virginia and Texas Tech, and a trip to Allen Fieldhouse, left on their schedule, this had all the warning signs of a season in danger of sliding into oblivion.

On Monday night, in TCU’s third game without Fisher, Jame Dixon’s club put together their best performance of the season. They held No. 7 West Virginia to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and led by as many as 20 points in an 82-73 win in Fort Worth, a win that puts an entirely knew feel on where this season can and will go.

The biggest reason for that may be Alex Robinson.

A 6-foot-1 hometown kid and a redshirt junior that transferred into the program from Texas A&M, Robinson has seemingly always been overlooked in this TCU program. Part of that is because he’s not a great scorer or shooter. Part of that is because he isn’t really a defender. And part of is, frankly, is because he never quite got his chance.

And now, with Fisher out, Robinson is not only getting his chance, but he is making the most of it.

TCU is 2-1 in their three games without Fisher, and Robinson has been the star, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 boards and 10.7 assists. Against West Virginia, one of the nation’s most difficult defenses to deal with, Robinson finished with 17 points, nine assists and seven boards despite barely stepping foot off of the court. He got some help from Kenrich Williams, TCU’s best player, a 6-foot-7 forward that was a high school point guard and did the heavy-lifting when it came to breaking that press.

But that shouldn’t put a damper on how Robinson played on Monday.

And it shouldn’t take away from what he has been able to do with Fisher out.

Suddenly, TCU looks like a team that found themselves on the wrong side of lucky through the first seven games of Big 12 play. They lost five games during that stretch by an average of 3.3 points. Two of those losses came when the Horned Frogs missed game-winning shots at the buzzer.

They were and have been a top 25 team that found out the hard way how tough it is to win close games in this league.

And at this point it is probably fair to say that hasn’t changed despite having a new player running the point.

Monday’s Three Things to Know: TCU, Virginia Tech and Kansas State earn big wins

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1. VIRGINIA TECH EARNED ITS BIGGEST WIN OF THE SEASON

Virginia Tech has been considered by many to be a disappointment this season. The Hokies haven’t beaten anybody notable in the ACC and the non-conference schedule didn’t deliver any signature victories.

Which is why Virginia Tech’s win Monday night over No. 10 North Carolina is so critical.

The Hokies finally have a great win to hang their hat on for the committee. Where has this version of Virginia Tech been all season?

2. TCU ALSO EARNS A SIGNATURE WIN

Entering Monday night, TCU could have rolled over and called it quits on this season.

The Horned Frogs had dropped four of five games by a total of 15 points. Talented sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher was diagnosed with a season-ending injury for TCU.

But TCU stayed strong through some adversity as they pulled off a huge 82-73 Big 12 home win over No. 7 West Virginia. Leading for nearly the entire game, TCU did a great job of slowing down Mountaineer offense as West Virginia struggled to score in the half court.

3. KANSAS STATE PICKED UP THE NIGHT’S BIGGEST BUBBLE WIN

It’s time to start keeping track of the bubble.

With March Madness creeping closer, every night will feature games with big bubble implications. Besides for TCU and Virginia Tech beating top-1o teams, Kansas State beating Baylor for a Big 12 road win was the most important bubble win of the night.

The Wildcats have suddenly won four of their last five — including wins over Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor in their last three games. Not many people are talking about Kansas State in a loaded Big 12 but they’re playing as well as any team in the league right now.

A few more wins like this and the Wildcats could play their way into the Field of 68.

Bates-Diop scores 20 as No. 13 Buckeyes slip past Nebraska

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Keita Bates-Diop scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and No. 13 Ohio State beat Nebraska 64-59 on Monday night, the fourth victory for the surging Buckeyes in the last eight days.

The back-and-forth game had seven lead changes in the second half. A pair of foul shots by Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. cut Ohio State’s lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but the Cornhuskers couldn’t pull any closer.

Jae’Sean Tate put the Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) up by six with a layup with 1:02 left, and a pair of foul shots by Kaleb Wesson stretched it to eight. Palmer hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Nebraska ran out of time.

Palmer had a career-high 34 points. Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) was fresh off a 20-point upset of then-No. 23 Michigan on Thursday.

Ohio State surpassed its win total for all of last season. Earlier in the day, it moved from No. 22 to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, its highest position since 2014.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The surprising Cornhuskers knocked off a ranked team last week and are a better squad than last season with Palmer carrying the load, but couldn’t outlast the steady Buckeyes.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes may have been fatigued after a rugged traveling schedule and three straight games on the road. But they found a rhythm in the second half and picked up another critical Big Ten win over a good team.

NEXT UP

Nebraska: At Rutgers on Wednesday.

Ohio State: Hosts Penn State on Thursday.