In ending their three-game losing streak with a win at Purdue on Saturday afternoon No. 14 Wisconsin seemed to have turned things around, and in theory a home game against Northwestern represented the opportunity to go on a run. Unfortunately for Bo Ryan’s Badgers things didn’t work out that way, as they struggled on both ends of the floor in a 65-56 loss to the Wildcats in Madison.
The most glaring problem would be Wisconsin’s shooting, as they made just 26.3% of their attempts from the field. Ben Brust scored 21 points on 7-for-18 shooting but the other four starters combined to make just seven of their thirty-five shot attempts, resulting in the Badgers putting forth their worst offensive performance of the entire season.
Northwestern does deserve some credit for this, as they didn’t give Wisconsin anything easy nearly four weeks after getting blown out in Evanston. However with that 76-49 result from January 2nd in mind one can only wonder what happened to Wisconsin’s ability to make shots, something that wasn’t even an issue during the aforementioned three-game losing streak.
What was a problem in those three games was the way in which Wisconsin defended, and while Northwestern’s point total didn’t reach the 70-point plateau the task of guarding Drew Crawford proved to be too much for the Badgers to handle Wednesday night. Crawford scored 30 points, making ten of his fifteen shots from the field while also grabbing eight rebounds.
As a team the Wildcats shot 47.9% from the field and 7-for-16 from three, with their proficiency making up for the fact that they turned the ball over 14 times (Crawford and Sanjay Lumpkin were responsible for ten). Wisconsin didn’t defend as poorly as they did in their three prior Big Ten losses, with each of those teams shooting at least 51% from the field, but down the stretch they simply did not have an answer for the Wildcats.
The big question to ask in the aftermath of this defeat is whether or not tonight’s offensive showing will fester into something far worse. And the answer, based upon what Wisconsin has done throughout the season, is no. Players such as Brust, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky have all proven to be highly capable scorers, and Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser can hit shots as well.
Wisconsin simply endured its worst offensive night of the season. And with Drew Crawford knocking down shots for Northwestern, the Badgers paid dearly for it.
A Drexel basket brought the score to an innocuous 5-3 in the first two minutes of its game against Delaware. The next 38 minutes were a lot more interesting.
The Blue Hens went on a 48-16 run to take a 34-point first-half lead on the Blue Hens, only to cough it up as Dragons outscored them 66-30 the rest of the way to complete the largest comeback in Division I history in an 85-83 victory.
The 34-point comeback tops the previous record of 32 by Duke on Dec. 30, 1950. That’s more than 67 years ago, for those keep score at home.
Delaware had a win probability of at least 99 percent for about 11 minutes in the middle of the game, but still lost.
Drexel shot 56.8 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point range after halftime and got 29 points from Tramaine Isabell.
After shooting 61 percent from the floor in the first half, Delaware connected at just a 37.9 percent clip after the break.
The great thing about college basketball is you can get a historic performance out of Drexel and Delaware on a random Thursday night. And it’s not even March.
Arizona junior guard Allonzo Trier has been declared ineligible by the NCAA due to a second positive test for a banned substance, it was announced Thursday. The school is appealing the decision, claiming the positive test was leftover from of a substance that was found in Trier’s system in 2016.
Trier was tested in late January and the test “revealed the reappearance of a trace amount of a banned substance,” Arizona said in a statement. “The amount detected was miniscule by scientific standards and appears to be a remnant of a substance, which the NCAA agreed, Allonzo had unknowingly taken in 2016.
“The University is appealing the decision and is hopefully that Allonzo will regain his eligibility soon.”
This is a potential massive blow for a Wildcats team that began the season as one of the top national championship contenders, but has spent much of this season dealing with disappointment and distraction, from their part in the FBI corruption investigation to inconsistency on the floor and now this regarding one of its top players.
Trier is averaging 19.6 points and shooting 54.1 percent from the floor, including 43 percent from the 3-point range.
The Wildcats play at Oregon State tonight and at Oregon Saturday before finishing the regular season at home against Stanford and Cal.
Attention will now turn to the NCAA appeals process – how quickly can it move and what determination will it make? Trier’s status will impact one of the most talented teams in the country, which by extension means it will impact the national championship race next month.
For a team that’s been in the center of controversy all season, and somehow has added another layer to a wild season.
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 Thursday.
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.
YET TO PLAY
Duke sophomore Marques Bolden underwent surgery Thursday to repair a fractured nasal bone, the school announced.
Bolden is not expected to miss any time for the Blue Devils, who host Syracuse on Saturday.
The 6-foot-11 forward is averaging 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per night. Bolden has already missed time this season with a knee injury and has recently been playing through the pain of his fractured nose.
A five-star prospect coming out of Texas in the Class of 2016, Bolden hasn’t been a major presence for the Blue Devils the last two years, but has given Blue Devils good minutes since returning from that knee injury over the last month.
After hosting Syracuse this weekend, Duke, which is 23-5 overall and 11-4 in the ACC, plays at Virginia Tech and then welcomes North Carolina to Durham to finish off the regular season.
Missouri may be adding a lottery pick to its roster for the stretch run.
Michael Porter, Jr., who began the year projected as a potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, has been medically cleared to return to basketball activities after missing the entire season with a back injury, a source confirmed to NBC Sports.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein was the first to report the news.
The 6-foot-11 freshman played the opening minutes of the Tigers’ opening game against Iowa State to start the year, but has been sidelined ever since. It is currently unclear if he’ll move from being cleared to play to actually hitting the floor for the Tigers.
It seemed unlikely that Porter would ever play college basketball because of the injury, but throughout the season he has never ruled out the possibility. Now that he has reportedly been cleared to play, the question undoubtedly will become should he?
Even without playing another second of college hoops, Porter will be a top pick in June’s draft. Some teams may even consider him for the top pick, if his health screenings check out, just based on workouts and the track record of his dominating play on the AAU circuit for years.
Still, if he’s healthy enough to play and wants to play, it’s unquestionable that it is a decision that is completely his. And it would make Missouri one heck of an interesting team.
The Tigers are 18-10 overall and 8-7 and appeared poised to make the NCAA tournament in coach Cuonzo Martin’s first year in Columbia. For their next game, they play – of course they do – Kentucky on Saturday. Talk about added intrigue for that game.