Malik Smith, Alex Olah

Bubble Banter: Can Minnesota avoid playing their way out of the tourney?

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There are 30 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’s latest bracket here.

Minnesota (RPI: 39, KenPom: 39) lost to No. 21 Wisconsin on Thursday night.

The game was played at Wisconsin, and anyone that knows anything about the Kohl Center can tell you that it’s one of the toughest arenas to win in, regardless of what the Badgers’ record is in the building this season.

So losing to Wisconsin at Wisconsin is hardly the kind of loss that is going to hurt Minnesota’s at-large profile.

But all of a sudden, we’re looking at a team that could very well end up below .500 in conference play. They’ve lost four of their last five and five of their last seven games, including a three-game losing streak to Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue. The Gophers do have a couple of good wins — Wisconsin, Ohio State, at Richmond — and their strength of schedule is top five nationally, so they are in pretty good shape.

But here’s the catch: three of their six games remaining are against some of the best teams in the league. They’re at Ohio State, they’ve got Iowa at home and they visit Michigan. With the Florida State and Indiana wins looking less impressive by the day, the Gophers are in a spot where they could end up needing to finish the regular season 4-2 to feel good about their standing heading into the Big Ten tournament.


  • BYU (RPI: 45, KenPom: 53) lost at Pacific on Thursday, their fifth loss to a team with an RPI outside the top 100. That’s … not good. At all. The win at Stanford and over Texas on a neutral court will keep them in the conversation, but losses to Iowa State and at Oregon by a combined six points hurt.
  • Arkansas (RPI: 69, KenPom: 56) is all but out of the at-large picture at this point after they lost to Missouri on Thursday night. They have just six top 150 wins and can’t beat anyone away from Fayetteville. The win over Kentucky is the only thing keeping them relevant.
  • Missouri (RPI: 48, KenPom: 45) got the win that they needed. Rather, they avoided a loss they couldn’t afford. They might not be in the tournament if it started today, and they won’t play Kentucky or Florida unless they meet up in the SEC tournament. That’s a tough spot to be in.
  • Southern Miss (RPI: 36, KenPom: 43) The Golden Eagles have three top 100 wins with their best win coming at North Dakota State. That would have been tough to overcome before losing at UAB by 24 on Thursday.
  • St. John’s (RPI: 61, KenPom: 40) avoided what would have been a costly loss at Seton Hall thanks to a free throw from Chris Obekpa with 2.1 seconds left. The Johnnies have won seven of their last eight games. The win over Creighton looks great, but they might need to win at Villanova if they really want to make a case on Selection Sunday.

Carter leads No. 2 Maryland past Cleveland State, 80-63

Melo Trimble
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Robert Carter had 17 points and eight rebounds to help No. 2 Maryland beat Cleveland State 80-63 on Saturday night.

Jared Nickens added 16 points, and freshman Diamond Stone had a season-high 15 points for Maryland (6-0), set for a showdown with No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

Demonte Flannigan scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half, and Rob Edwards added 14 points for Cleveland State (2-4), which was 3 of 12 (25 percent) from 3-point range. Vinny Zollo went 5 of 7 from the field and had 11 points for the Vikings.

Maryland led by just four at the break and took control by increasing the pressure to open the second half. A dunk by Stone capped an 8-0 run and the Terrapins led 45-33 with 17:06 left.

From there, the Terps used their size and depth to wear down the Vikings, who could not get closer than nine points the rest of the way. Nickens and Jake Layman hit 3-pointers and Maryland opened a 64-49 lead with 7:43 remaining.

The 6-foot-7 Flannagan picked up his fourth foul with just under 10 minutes left, hampering the Vikings at both ends of the court. A putback by Nickens and a pair of free throws boosted Terrapins’ margin to 70-53 with 5:18 left and they were never threatened the rest of the way.

Maryland was 15 of 18 from the free-throw line and had a 27-22 rebounding edge.

Maryland could not shake Cleveland State in the opening half and a jumper by Kenny Carpenter gave the Vikings their first lead, 25-24, with 8:03 left. Nickens responded with three straight 3-pointers that helped the Terps take a 37-33 lead at halftime

Maryland shot 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) in the opening half.


Cleveland State: The Vikings also lost their only other matchup against the Terrapins, 95-84, on Dec. 5 1984. … Maryland was Cleveland State highest-ranked opponent since Nov. 26, 1999, when it lost to No. 1 Cincinnati, 90-56.

Maryland: The Terrapins won their 29th consecutive game at home against an unranked team. … Maryland extended its winning streak in November to 16 games, having not lost since Nov. 17, 2013, against Oregon State (90-83).


Cleveland State is at Toledo on Wednesday night.

Maryland plays at No. 9 North Carolina on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Kris Dunn vs. Denzel Valentine; Two 6-0 teams from Ohio battle in Orlando

Kris Dunn
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Michigan State vs. Providence, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Two Player of the Year candidates lock horns on Sunday night as Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine battles Providence’s Kris Dunn. Both players are strong threats to record a triple-double each time they take the floor and both are key reasons why their teams are 6-0. The Friars could probably use this game a bit more than Michigan State since they enter this game unranked and could use another confidence-boosting win for a team filled with newer players. As for the Spartans, winning the Wooden Legacy would mean another great accomplishment before December even started for a team that has national title aspirations.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 23 Xavier vs. Dayton, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

These two 6-0 teams from Ohio will meet in Orlando in the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational. The Musketeers have six different players averaging at least 9.7 points per game this season as they’ve received great balance on the offensive end. As for Dayton, Charles Cooke as emerged as a go-to player early this season while guard Scoochie Smith has also been outstanding. This will be the first time these two schools have played since Feb. 16, 2013.


  • One of the fun teams to watch this week has been Monmouth and their amusing end-of-bench antics. On the floor, the Hawks knocked off Notre Dame and gave Dayton a scare and they’ll face USC for the second time this season to close out the AdvoCare Invitational. The Trojans won the first one 101-90, but this is a 12:30 p.m. EST tip, so that could benefit Monmouth the second time around.
  • Wisconsin visiting No. 7 Oklahoma is an intriguing Sunday matchup. The Badgers could certainly use a true road win here as they’re off to a 4-2 start. The Sooners get more of a real test after only playing Memphis as a notable opponent their first three games.
  • Also going on in the AdvoCare Invitational is No. 20 Wichita State facing Iowa and No. 17 Notre Dame battling Alabama. The Shockers are going without senior starters Fred Van Vleet and Anton Grady as they try to escape Orlando with a win. Notre Dame is hoping to close out the event strong after its surprising upset to Monmouth.
  • Action also continues in Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy as No. 11 Arizona will take on Boise State, while Boston College plays Santa Clara and UC Irvine faces Evansville. Arizona will look to get back on the right track after the close loss to Providence in the semifinals.
  • No. 6 Duke gets an afternoon tilt with Utah State at home before they face Indiana during the week. It’ll be interesting to see if Blue Devil freshman wing Brandon Ingram keeps his strong play going from earlier in the week.
  • UCLA returns home and could badly use a win against Cal State Northridge. The Bruins went a disappointing 1-2 in the Maui Invitational and need to get back on the right track before the face No. 1 Kentucky next week.


  • Brown vs. No. 25 SMU, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)


  • Jackson State at Marquette, 12:30 p.m.
  • Rider at Rhode Island, 1:00 p.m.
  • Savannah State at South Florida, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • South Carolina State at Kansas State, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Colorado at Colorado, 2:00 p.m. (PAC12)
  • UC Santa Barbara at Arizona State, 4:00 p.m. (PAC12)