Mark Lyons

Arizona advances to Sweet 16 after sending home upset-minded Harvard

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No. 14-seeded Harvard’s moment in the spotlight has ended, coming to its conclusion Saturday evening with a 74-51 loss to Arizona at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Arizona was led by the senior duo of Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill, who had 27 points and 13 points respectively. Those two carried the offensive attack while the defense used its length to disrupt anything that Harvard tried to get going on that end of the floor. It wasn’t a matter of forcing turnovers (the Wildcats turned the Crimson over just eight times) but more about making the Crimson uncomfortable and unable to hit shots.

But how much can we really know about Arizona after the Wildcats made the Sweet 16 by getting wins over Belmont and Harvard? Give credit to them for beating teams that they should have beaten and beating them in the way that they should have. At the same time, both Belmont and Harvard have no real size on the interior, an area where Arizona could wilt against a challenge.

Without experience in the post between Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, and Kaleb Tarczewski, a tough front line in the paint could spell trouble like it did at points in the Pac-12 season.

The other major question will be if the Wildcats can take care of the basketball against a team like Ohio State, who Arizona could meet if the Buckeyes get past Iowa State and advance to the Sweet 16. Mark Lyons is proving that he is the best ball handling option on the roster, but how will he fair against the defensive pressure that point guard Aaron Craft and Ohio State would bring?

Craft would be able to harass Lyons and force the ball elsewhere offensively. Considering that Lyons went 12-of-17 from the floor Saturday, Arizona would have to find a way to score without him if Craft locks him down. In back-to-back losses to UCLA and USC late in the conference season, Lyons shot a combined 6-of-24 from the floor. Effectively eliminating him changes the way Arizona plays.

Just as the 2013 tournament has been so far, it will come down to a matchup. Arizona now must await word of what that match up will be in the Sweet 16.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.