Late Night Snacks: Recapping the second FULL day of college hoops

1 Comment

TEAM OF THE DAY: Florida Gulf Coast

Is there even a conversation here?

Florida Gulf Coast didn’t just knock off No. 2 seed Georgetown. The 15th-seeded Eagles spanked them. They won by 10 in a game they were up by 19 points during the second half. There were alley-oops (plural) and tip-dunks. There were clutch threes and one epic choke-job. There was the defining moment of the NCAA tournament to date:

While Eddie Murray and Chase Fieler were dunking all over the Hoyas, Sherwood Brown was dancing on the court and shaking Reggie Miller’s hand and hugging cheerleaders. It was everything that makes the NCAA tournament great: the upset, the celebration by a team you’ve never heard of, the palpable anguish of the nationally relevant program losing in the opening round, the cursing you hear from next door as your neighbor screams about losing a Final Four team from their bracket.

MORE: Florida Gulf Coast coach’s wife will be a hot topic

Davidson-Marquette was fun. Harvard-New Mexico was an upset. But this was the first bit of Madness we’ve gotten in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Who else was impressive?:

  • Ole Miss: The Rebels picked up their most impressive win of the season by knocking off No. 5 seed Wisconsin on Friday. The best sign? They did it on a night where Marshall Henderson missed 12 of his first 13 shots from the field. Ole Miss will advance to take on No. 13 seed La Salle.
  • La Salle: Speaking of the Explorers, they picked up an upset win over No. 4 seed Kansas State, hanging on to beat the Wildcats despite completely blowing an 18 point halftime lead. La Salle is your clubhouse favorite to be the second weekend cinderella.
  • Minnesota: The Golden Gophers caught UCLA on the perfect day. Not only were they getting the Bruins without Jordan Adams, but Friday morning also happened to see a story published about how Shabazz Muhammad has been lying about his age. The result? UCLA didn’t show up, and the Gophers reaped the benefits.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Andre Hollins, Minnesota

Since we’re on the topic of the Gophers, Hollins finished with 28 points, nine boards and five assists on 8-16 shooting, hitting 5-8 from three. That’s what set the tone for Minnesota, who, with the exception of a single game in February when they knocked off Indiana, has been atrocious for more than three months. The Gophers landed a 20 point win over UCLA on Friday night. They advanced to the round of 32 for the first time in Tubby Smith’s Minnesota tenure. Will that be enough to save his job if Minnesota can’t get past Florida?

Who else was good?:

  • Khalif Wyatt, Temple: Wyatt had 31 points, five assists and three steals as Temple hung on to beat NC State on Friday. The Owls were up 38-22 at the break, but they needed some clutch free throws from Wyatt down the stretch to hang on.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott finished with 27 points and 11 boards for the Bluejays as they managed to stave off No. 10 seed Cincinnati in the opening round. Creighton will get a shot at Duke next.
  • Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin had 21 points, eight boards and five assists in a win over No. 10 seed Oklahoma.
  • Brett Comer, FGCU: Comer wasn’t the guy throwing down the dunks for the Eagles and he wasn’t the leading scorer that will top the box score. He’s the engine that makes Andy Enfield’s team run, finishing with 12 points, 10 assists and six boards in the win over Georgetown.
  • PJ Hairston, UNC: UNC needed a late run to avoid blowing a 17 point lead to Villanova, but the Tar Heels were able to pull out the win thanks in large part to 23 points, five boards, three assists and three steals.

GAME OF THE DAY: La Salle 63, Kansas State 61

The Explorers were dominant for the first 20 minutes on Friday night, as they opened up a 44-26 lead at the half on the Wildcats while slicing up the Kansas State defense with their talented perimeter attack. But once Jordan Henriquez and company finally woke up, Kansas State went on a run. They outscored La Salle 31-12 in the first 12 minutes of the second half, completely erased the deficit and setting up a thrilling finish. After Jerrell Wright hit two free throws with 30 seconds left, Kansas State missed on two shots that could have won the game.

PHOTOS: The best images from a wild Friday

Bruce Weber will not be happy about the loss. He was trying to call a timeout as Angel Rodriguez was dribbling out the clock.

FIVE THOUGHTS:

1) I guess the Atlantic 10 is pretty good: Four days into the tournament, and the Atlantic 10 has yet to lose a game. Butler, St. Louis and VCU all won on Monday, while La Salle — who also won the play-in game — and Temple won as lower seeds on Friday. The only other league that received multiple bids to the tournament to go undefeated thus far? The Missouri Valley.

2) Which is why San Diego State is so important: The Mountain West is now 2-3 in the tournament after San Diego State picked up a win over Oklahoma on Friday night. Combine that with Colorado State’s definitive win over Missouri on Thursday, and that’s all we get out of the league that everyone fell in love with this season. None of the three losses came to lower-ranked teams. That’s not exactly a rousing compliment for the conference.

3) Kansas should be happy Georgetown lost: And not just because they are in the same region. The Jayhawks looked absolutely atrocious in their matchup with No. 16 seed Western Kentucky today. The Hiltoppers could not score in the second half, and Kansas only managed to win by seven points. If everyone wasn’t obsessed and focused on how the Hoyas played, we may be talking about how bad the Jayhawks looked.

4) Since were’e talking about comebacks: How about the one by Colorado. The Buffs used a 23-2 run to take a 44-39 lead midway through the second half, and then couldn’t find a way to score the rest of the game. No. 7 seed Illinois eventually won, 57-49, to advance and take on Miami.

5) Have you seen tomorrow’s schedule yet?: Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Team Of The Week: Houston Cougars

AP Photo
Leave a comment

The Cougars have now won five straight games, but it was the two games they won this week that set the tone for what the rest of their season can be.

On Thursday night, Cincinnati came to down and Houston dropped them, 67-62, despite digging a double-digit hole in the first half. They followed that up by going into North Philadelphia and poleaxing Temple. They were up 34-11 midway through the first half. They won by 21 points. It was never a question.

And as a result, Houston’s bid to the NCAA tournament is no longer a question so long as they avoid losing to Memphis, East Carolina and UConn. And if they truly are an NCAA tournament team, they’ll get that done.

But perhaps the best piece of news is that the Cougars did all this while Rob Gray did not play well. He’s one of the best players in that conference, and the fact that they were able to right Devin Davis and Corey Davis to wins in two of their most important and toughest games of the league slate is significant.

What happens when Rob Gray gets right?

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • WICHITA STATE: Not only did Wichita State land a come-from-behind win over Temple on Thursday night, one where they trailed by 14 points at halftime, but they followed that up by going to Cincinnati and knocking off the then-No. 5 Bearcats.
  • MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten due in large part to the fact that they were able to erase a 27-point first half deficit at Northwestern.
  • BAYLOR: The Bears look like they are now heading for the NCAA tournament after landing wins at Texas and at home over Texas Tech on Saturday. Now that Scott Drew’s team is healthy, they look like they belong in the top 25.
  • ST. BONAVENTURE: The Bonnies might have solidified their bid for the NCAA tournament. As long as they don’t do anything dumb the rest of the season, beating Rhode Island at home on Friday night should be enough for them to get in.
  • DUKE: The Blue Devils have now won three straight games after losing Marvin Bagley III to a minor knee sprain, mainly because their defense is now playing at a level that we haven’t seen yet this season. Are the Blue Devils better without Marvin Bagley??? (Hint: No.)

Player Of The Week: Terry Maston, Baylor

John Weast/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Terry Maston is back from injury and playing the best basketball of his career.

The 6-foot-8 senior was utterly dominant in two critical, close wins this week. It started with 26 points and six boards in a double-overtime win at Texas on Monday night that was something of a play-out game for NCAA tournament purposes.

Then on Saturday, that win was overshadowed. Maston had 24 points and five boards in regular as the Bears knocked off No. 7 Texas Tech for their fifth straight win, and suddenly it looks like Scott Drew’s club will be in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday.

All told, in what will arguably be the most important week of the season for Baylor, Maston scored 50 points, or a total of 38 percent of Baylor’s total scoring output in those two games.

Not bad for a guy that came off the bench in both of those wins.

THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • GRAYSON ALLEN, Duke: In three games without Marvin Bagley III, Duke is now 3-0 thanks to Grayson Allen averaging 22.3 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 42 percent from three. Last week, Duke beating Virginia Tech by 22 points and won at Clemson.
  • CALEB and CODY MARTIN, Nevada: The Wolf Pack picked up two road wins this week, including a win at Boise State that gave them the inside track at the Mountain West regular season title. The twins combined to average 42.5 points, 12.5 boards and 4.0 assists in those two wins.
  • AARON HOLIDAY, UCLA: The Bruins stayed on track to earn a berth into the NCAA tournament with wins over Oregon and Oregon State. Holiday was the star both nights, going for 17 and 10 assists against OSU and following that up with 29 points, six assists and five boards in an overtime win over Oregon.
  • MATT MOBLEY, St. Bonaventure: Mobley averaged 28 points and nine boards as the Bonnies beat La Salle and No. 16 Rhode Island to put themselves in a spot where they can realistically feel good about their chances of getting into the NCAA tournament.
  • DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: Ayton had one of his best games of the season on Thursday night, going for 25 points, 16 boards, four assists and three blocks as the Wildcats picked off Arizona State on the road.

Bracketology: Kansas returns to top line

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The roller-coaster ride along the No. 1 seed line continues.  This morning, we welcome back Kansas.  The Jayhawks’ rally against West Virginia, combined with Auburn’s loss at South Carolina, inched KU back to the top line.  With three weeks to go, Virginia and Villanova look like good bets to hold their top-seed positions.  The next two spots – occupied today by Xavier and Kansas – are a little more in question.

Various seed line groupings are closely bunched, meaning fluidity remains in the middle and lower ends of the bracket.  A lot of bubble teams won over the weekend, picking up notable wins along the way.  The proverbial stretch run is upon us.

Here’s the latest ..

UPDATED: February 19, 2018

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Washington vs. St. Bonaventure | East Region
  • Syracuse vs. Baylor Midwest Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. SAVANNAH ST | South Region
  • FL GULF COAST vs. NICHOLLS | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION

SOUTH Atlanta    EAST – Boston                               
Charlotte Pittsburgh
1) VIRGINIA 1) VILLANOVA
16) SOUTHERN / SAVANNAH ST 16) FL GULF CST / NICHOLLS
8) Providence 8) Florida State
9) Florida 9) NEVADA
Boise San Diego
5) Ohio State 5) West Virginia
12) LOUISIANA 12) St. Bonaventure / Washington
4) Tennessee 4) GONZAGA
13) E. TENNESSEE ST 13) BUFFALO
Dallas Wichita
6) Alabama 6) Kentucky
11) MID TENNESSEE 11) Kansas State
3) Texas Tech 3) CINCINNATI
14) CHARLESTON 14) VERMONT
Detroit Nashville
7) Texas AM 7) Creighton
10) NC State 10) TCU
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) WRIGHT STATE 15) WAGNER
WEST – Los Angeles MIDWEST – Omaha
Wichita Detroit
1) KANSAS 1) Xavier
16) PENNSYLVANIA 16) UNC-ASHEVILLE
8) Miami-FL 8) Oklahoma
9) Seton Hall 9) Virginia Tech
San Diego Boise
5) Michigan 5) RHODE ISLAND
12) NEW MEXICO ST 12) LOYOLA (CHI)
4) ARIZONA 4) Wichita State
13) SOUTH DAKOTA ST 13) BELMONT
Dallas Pittsburgh
6) Houston 6) Missouri
11) Texas 11) Baylor / Syracuse
3) Clemson 3) Purdue
14) BUCKNELL 14) RIDER
Nashville Charlotte
7) Arizona State 7) Arkansas
10) Saint Mary’s 10) Butler
2) AUBURN 2) Duke
15) UC-SANTA BARBARA 15) MONTANA

NOTES on the BRACKET: Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed – followed by Villanova, Xavier, and Kansas

Last Four Byes (at large): Butler, Saint Mary’s, Kansas State, Texas

Last Four IN (at large): Washington, Baylor, St. Bonaventure, Syracuse

First Four OUT (at large): UCLA, LSU, Louisville, Marquette

Next four teams OUT (at large): USC, Utah, Georgia, Notre Dame

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): VIRGINIA, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech, NC State, Syracuse

SEC (8): AUBURN, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas AM, Arkansas, Florida

BIG 12 (8): TEXAS TECH, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas State, Texas, Baylor

Big East (6): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler

Big 10 (4): MICHIGAN STATE, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan

Pac 12 (3): ARIZONA, Arizona State, Washington

American (3): CINCINNATI, Wichita State, Houston

Atlantic 10 (2): RHODE ISLAND, St. Bonaventure

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Louisiana (SBELT), Pennsylvania (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Wright State (HORIZON), Nicholls (SLND), East Tennessee State (STHN), UC-Santa Barbara (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Charleston (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), Savannah State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

Bracketing principles: read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com.

College Basketball Power Rankings: Villanova remains in the top spot

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

I’ve said it for about a month now: When healthy, I think that Villanova is the best team in college basketball.

When healthy.

Over the course of the last seven games, they played without Phil Booth, one of the program’s better perimeter defenders and a double-digit scorer that averages better than three assists per night. His presence also means that the Wildcats have someone coming off the bench that isn’t a freshman that’s in over their head after missing a month with a broken hand.

Booth took his cast off on Saturday, a day when the Wildcats went into Cincinnati and mollywhopped No. 4 Xavier. There is hope that he will be able to suit up on Wednesday, when Villanova hosts DePaul, meaning that Villanova is back to full strength. They are 24-3 on the season and two of those three losses came without Booth.

Virginia probably has the best résumé in college basketball. I’m not sure Villanova will be able to earn the No. 1 overall seed unless the Wahoos slip-up; I’m also not sure it matters, Villanova is heading to the East Regional almost regardless of what happens.

But I do think that Villanova is college basketball’s best when they are at their best.

And now, with Booth back, they are at their best.

So they’re my No. 1 team.

Here is my full top 25:

1. Villanova, 24-3 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Virginia, 24-2 (2)
3. Michigan State, (3)
4. Xavier, 24-4 (5)
5. Purdue, 24-5 (4)
6. Duke, 22-5 (10)
7. Texas Tech, 22-5 (7)
8. Cincinnati, 23-4 (6)
9. Gonzaga, 25-4 (11)
10. North Carolina, 21-7 (17)
11. Auburn, 23-4 (8)
12. Ohio State, 22-7 (9)
13. Kansas, 21-6 (13)
14. Wichita State, 21-5 (25)
15. Clemson, 20-6 (12)
16. West Virginia, 19-8 (15)
17. Rhode Island, 21-4 (16)
18. Tennessee, 19-7 (14)
19. Arizona, 21-6 (21)
20. Nevada, 23-5 (20)
21. Michigan, 22-7 (23)
22. Butler, 18-10 (22)
23. Texas A&M, 17-10 (18)
24. Baylor, 17-10 (NR)
25. Saint Mary’s, 25-4 (19)

DROPPED OUT: No. 24 Oklahoma

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 24 Baylor