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Nik Stauskas leads Michigan to win at No. 3 Wisconsin, seventh straight victory


You know this win felt good for Michigan.

The last time they were in this building, the then-No. 3 Wolverines thought that they had landed their first win over Wisconsin in the Kohl Center since 1999 as they watched Ben Brust’s halfcourt heave soar in and force overtime.

The Wolverines would lose in the extra frame, so you can imagine their panic as they once again saw a lead evaporating in Madison.

A 14-2 Badger run cut what was once a 15-point Michigan lead to 68-67 with just under a minute left when Nik Stauskas buried a nasty, step-back jumper to put the Wolverines back up four, and after he hit six free throws down the stretch to ice the win, the Wolverines escaped Kohl with a 77-70 win over the No. 3 team in the country.

It’s the second straight loss for Bo Ryan’s ballclub, the second straight game in which they were carved up by penetration from the perimeter. For a team that started the season 17-0, that’s a bit of a concern. The Badgers have given up more than 70 points in four straight games as well.

But whether or not it’s time to be concerned about Wisconsin is a different discussion for a different day, because this is all about Michigan.

The Wolverines were written off as a Big Ten contender when Mitch McGary’s season came to an end a month ago. There were even folks who questioned whether or not Michigan could make the NCAA tournament without McGary. I guess the Wolverines didn’t like that kind of speculation, because they’ve been dominant since then.

Michigan’s record since McGary went out is 7-0. They’ve won their first five Big Ten games, and while it’s fair to question just how impressive it is to beat Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern, there is no questioning a win at Wisconsin.

So what’s changed? Well, Derrick Walton has been better protecting the ball. Glenn Robinson III is being more aggressive offensively. Caris LeVert is continuing to do Caris LeVert things as one of the nation’s most improved players. And Nik Stauskas is developing into an offensive centerpiece, a guy that Beilein can structure an offense around.

Michigan misses Trey Burke, who was an uber-efficient playmaker at the point guard spot. In the last seven games, Stauskas is averaging 4.6 assists and has committed just 10 turnovers. Burke had the ball in his hands in a big moment last season. Stauskas scored the last 11 points on Saturday, including a pair of huge jumpers in the final two minutes. He made the big plays down the stretch against Minnesota and Nebraska.

The Wolverines needed a supporting cast for Stauskas, but the reason they’re thriving is that Beilein is allowing Stauskas to be “the man”.

And he’s delivering.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.