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Bubble Banter: Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Ole Miss all lose key games

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There are 32 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before. 

You can see NBCSports.com’s latest bracket here.

Oklahoma State (RPI: 36, KenPom: 29) is going to be an interesting bubble case come Selection Sunday. In the first game of Marcus Smart’s suspension, they were beaten down by a Texas team missing one of their starting forwards. That means that the Pokes have now lost five straight and six of their last seven, and they still have to play Oklahoma at home and at Baylor before Smart returns to the lineup.

What that means is that when their star point guard returns to the fold, this could be a team that sitting on a seven-game losing streak with a 4-9 record in the Big 12. That doesn’t exactly look like a bubble team.

But remember, the committee looks at suspensions the same way that they do injuries. They’ll look past the three games he missed which, ironically enough, means that it may be better to lose all three games without Smart than it would be to win one.

Now, Travis Ford’s club is going to have work to do once Smart returns to action. They play Kansas, Kansas State and at Iowa State in their last three games, and at the very least they’ll need to win two of those. Just don’t be surprised if Oklahoma State is able to sneak into the dance with a losing record in league play.

THE REST OF TUESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

  • N.C. State (RPI: 51, KenPom: 76) is still alive after beating Wake Forest, but if Tennessee keeps losing, they’ll be without a top 50 RPI win. They’ll get chances against Syracuse and Pitt.
  • Clemson (RPI: 68, KenPom: 54) has a win over Duke, which is keeping them in the conversation here. But that won’t be enough if they keep losing to the likes of Notre Dame, as they did Tuesday.
  • Tennessee (RPI: 49, KenPom: 24) blew their last chance to pick up a marquee win before the SEC tournament when they lost to Florida. We wrote about it more extensively here.
  • Ole Miss (RPI: 61, KenPom: 72) did exactly what they couldn’t afford to do last night, losing to Alabama on the road. It’s their second loss in the SEC to a team with an RPI in the triple digits. They have home games against Florida and Kentucky coming up. They have to get at least one of those.
  • Marquette (RPI: 70, KenPom: 52) only has one really bad loss — at Butler — but with just one top 50 win now that Providence and Georgetown are both outside the top 50, the Golden Eagles, at 14-9, have a lot of work to do. They probably need to beat either Creighton or Villanova to have a real chance.

VIDEO: Monmouth hits a game-winner, Bench Mob member tries to disrobe

King Rice
AP
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Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.

The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.