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Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Bubble battles, good games out west

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 11 Creighton at Marquette, 8:00 p.m.

Marquette paid a visit to Omaha in Creighton’s first game as a member of the Big East, and they got smacked about by the Bluejays. The Golden Eagles have gone on to have a fairly-disappointing 2013-2014 campaign, but a recent hot streak has gotten them back into the NCAA tournament conversation. A win over Creighton would go a long way to ensuring that Buzz Williams’ guys aren’t doomed to the NIT.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 23 UCLA at Cal, 10:30 p.m.

UCLA now looks like they’ve inherited the title of the second best team in the Pac-12, but every time a team takes over that title, they end up struggling. Kyle Anderson is quietly having one of the best seasons of anyone in the country, averaging 15.4 points 8.7 boards and 6.8 assists. How come no one is talking about this guy?

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 4 Arizona at Utah, 10:00 p.m.

Arizona is, quite simply, not the same team without Brandon Ashley. That much is obvious. Utah is a tough out this season, and playing at the altitude is never an easy thing to do. Also worth noting: Delon Wright might be the best player in the country that no one is talking about. He could end up being a first round NBA Draft pick before his career is over.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 10 Saint Louis will visit George Mason tonight. The Patriots almost beat the Billikens in Saint Louis earlier this season. The game will be on the NBC Sports Network at 7:00 p.m.

2) Arizona State will be at Colorado tonight in a game that features two of the Pac-12’s hopeful tournament teams.

3) New Mexico and UNLV will square off tonight in a battle to determine who the second-best team in the Mountain West is. After a sluggish start, the Rebels have a glimmer of NCAA tournament hope. They can’t afford another loss, however.

4) No. 3 Wichita State will put their undefeated record on the line tonight at Loyola (IL).

5) No. 1 Syracuse will do the same as they host BC

NOTABLES:

  • Auburn at No. 2 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 7 Cincinnat at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
  • Northwestern at No. 24 Ohio State, 7:00 p.m.
  • American at Boston U., 7:00 p.m.
  • Houston at SMU, 8:00 p.m.
  • Mississippi State at LSU, 8:00 p.m.
  • Vanderbilt at Missouri, 8:00 p.m.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: