Fran McCaffery

Pregame Shootaround: Minnesota at Iowa highlights a slow day

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GAME OF THE DAY: Minnesota at No. 14 Iowa (1 p.m., BTN)

The Big Ten is going to churn out awesome matchups on a daily basis this season, and Minnesota at No. 14 Iowa falls into that category. The Gophers looked great beating Ohio State at home. Road trips are a different story.

After a week in which some of the Big Ten’s best like Wisconsin and Ohio State were knocked off, can the Hawkeyes avoid a trap in this rivalry game? The Gophers have taken Michigan State to overtime in East Lansing and beat Ohio State, so they’ll be prepared for this one.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss (1 p.m.)

How about this solid C-USA matchup of 15-3 teams? While Charlotte and UAB also are off to decent starts — and UTEP is 12-5 despite their recent troubles — Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are likely the two teams we’ll see competing at the end of the season for the conference title and they matchup on Sunday.

Southern Miss dropped a conference game to Tulsa last week and will look for the home victory to even it up with the 3-0 Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech has won all three conference games by at least 20 points, but they’ll be without leading scorer Raheem Appleby the next six-to-eight weeks as he recovers from a ligament injury in his ankle.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Wright State at Cleveland State (1 p.m.)

This should be an enticing battle in the Horizon League as a pair of 3-2 teams with league title aspirations collide. Wright State is coming off of a loss to Green Bay — the team both teams are trying to keep pace with — while the Vikings have ideas about playing for the title in the Horizon as well.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) There’s a good CAA Battle on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, as Towson heads to Charleston at 3:30 p.m.

2) After Oregon’s tremendous start to the season, they’re 1-3 in Pac-12 play and could desperately use a win as they face rival Oregon State on the road on Sunday night. Craig Robinson’s bunch could use the win themselves, as they also sit at 1-3 in Pac-12 play and could use a shot in the arm by beating the formerly-ranked in-state rival.

3) After Notre Dame’s impressive ACC win over Duke, the Fighting Irish sit at 1-3 in the ACC and they’ll face another 1-3 league team when Virginia Tech comes to visit on Sunday. Can Notre Dame bounce back?

4) Larry Brown comes from an extensive NBA background, so he can help prepare his SMU Mustangs for the tail end of the road-home, back-to-back the team is playing this weekend. The Mustangs won 58-46 at Central Florida on Saturday, in an American contest, and SMU will host Hofstra on Sunday at 6 p.m. These non-conference opponents were originally scheduled to play on December 7th, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather in the Dallas area.

5) If you really have no desire to watch Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, ESPN3 will have a 2 p.m. MAC battle between Bowling Green and Western Michigan. David Brown has missed a lot of time in his college career due to injury but the Western Michigan senior is playing great ball this year, averaging 18.1 points per game while increasing his field goal percentage and free throw percentage. Brown is a potential All-League performer.

Alabama upsets No. 15 Texas A&M as Aggies continue recent freefall

Alabama guard Retin Obasohan (32) scores against Texas A&M during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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Alabama played inspired ball on both ends of the floor and held on to upset No. 15 Texas A&M 63-62 in an SEC thriller on Wednesday night. Trailing by one point with less than three seconds left, Texas A&M had a chance to tie or take the lead with senior Anthony Collins at the line for two free throws. But Collins, one of the nation’s best free-throw shooters at 92 percent on the season, missed both free throws in a heartbreaking loss for the Aggies.

The Crimson Tide controlled the glass most of the game by outrebounding the Aggies 36-29 and also forced 13 Texas A&M turnovers. The loss for Texas A&M means they’ve lost four of their last five games and four straight games in the SEC.

Retin Obasahon led Alabama (14-9, 5-6) with 16 points as he made a lot of big plays in the second half to put the team on his back. The win means the Crimson Tide have won three consecutive games and defeated four ranked opponents during the season. Riley Norris added 11 points for the Crimson Tide while Shannon Hale was also in double-figures with 10 points.

Although Texas A&M (18-6, 7-4) did better with their recent shaky 3-point defense, holding Alabama to 8-for-25 (32 percent) from distance, they were outhustled on the glass for much of the game and couldn’t overcome a slow start. Senior Jalen Jones finished with 21 points and seven rebounds while Danuel House had 12 points and Collins finished with 11.

This loss is absolutely killer for Texas A&M, as they continue to slide down the SEC standings. The recent road woes for the Aggies also continued as they’ve lost three straight away from home. The schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Aggies the next few games, either, as they travel to LSU and then host Ole Miss and Kentucky. Texas A&M is in a potential freefall right now and they went from a major contender in the SEC to a team that just needs to get back on track.

As for Alabama, this is another solid win for head coach Avery Johnson in his first season. It’s hard to say if Johnson got some scouting advice from his son Avery Johnson Jr., a redshirt guard for the Crimson Tide who played for the Aggies last season, but they’ll certainly take this tight win. Alabama is now 5-1 in one-possession games this season and there’s something to be said for that mark.

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.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This is the win that Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) needed.

Entering Wednesday night, the Hawks were a paper tiger, a team with terrific computers numbers despite the fact that they hadn’t actually accomplished much of anything this season.

Well, that’s not exactly true. They are now 20-4 on the season and 10-2 in the Atlantic 10. They haven’t lost to anyone ranked outside the RPI top 50, and while that seems like it should be a simple thing to do, upsets happen all the time in college basketball. Not losing to anyone that stinks is one of the marks of a good team.

The problem, however, is that prior to their trip to Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, the best win that St. Joe’s had on the season … Princeton? At Temple? They were without an RPI top 50 win and, if you factor in Buffalo, the Hawks and three top 100 wins on their résumé.

That’s not exactly the stuff of at-large bids.

And then Wednesday happened, and the Hawks went into the Smith Center and hammered a good George Washington team by 18 points, the same GW team that went into Richmond on Saturday and handed VCU their first loss of the conference season.

It looks like nothing more than a top 50 road win on their profile, but for at least one person that was in attendance (Hi!), it was something of a statement win. I had my doubts about the group, and while the eye-test is totally subjective and probably the worst way to gauge whether or not a team is a tournament team, they certainly passed my eye-test today.

WINNERS

  • Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67): The Bulldogs landed a critical win on Wednesday night, as they went into Newark and knocked off a Seton Hall team that is probably better than you realize. That’s an RPI top 50 win on the road that’s getting added to a résumé that, entering the night, had just a single top 50 win. Period. The Bulldogs still have plenty of work to do, but with their only two bad losses coming on the road against league competition and five wins against the top 100 with four coming away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, Chris Holtmann’s club has positioned themselves nicely to not only get a bid but get a solid seed as well.

LOSERS

  • Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37): Losing to Butler certainly doesn’t help Seton Hall’s cause, but this isn’t a bad loss. The Pirates are still without a sub-100 loss, although this does drop them to 6-7 against the RPI top 100 with a pair top 50 wins. They’re still in the tournament as of today, and probably with some room to spare.
  • George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34): There are two positives to take out of GW’s loss to Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night: 1) The Hawks may end up being an RPI top 25 team once the numbers are crunched overnight, so this is anything but a bad loss, and 2) This 18-point drubbing will look exactly the same as a one-point loss at the buzzer in the eyes of the selection committee.

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.
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.