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Strong profile aside, is No. 16 Wisconsin a national title contender?


Three weeks ago, on Saturday, February 1st, we were all ready to write off No. 16 Wisconsin.

The Badgers had lost to Ohio State in the Kohl Center, their fifth loss in six games and their third-straight defeat at home, something that simply never happens.

They were overrated. Their record was boosted by the fact that they had won a bunch of games early in the season against good-but-not-great teams, some of whom were dealing with injuries at the time.

Fast forward to today, Saturday the 22nd. After a 79-74 win over No. 15 Iowa, the Badgers have now won five straight games, which includes a two-point win over Michigan State and, in the past six days, road victories against both Michigan and Iowa.

Just like that, the Badgers are back.

And with one of the strongest overall profiles in the country, don’t be surprised to see Bo Ryan’s club with a a top three seed come Selection Sunday.

Is this Wisconsin team an actual national title contender? Well, I’m not sure. There have been a number of things that have factored into this recent resurgence, not the least of which is Frank Kaminsky rediscovering the Frank the Tank form that allowed him to put up 43 points on 19 shots earlier this season. He had 21 points and seven boards in the win over Iowa, following up a dominating, 25-point, 11-rebound effort against Michigan. In the last four games — wins over MSU, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa — Kaminsky is averaging 18.3 points and 7.5 boards while shooting 27-for-44 (61.4%) from the floor.

He’s been dominant.

But it’s not just Kaminsky. Sam Dekker is a stud. Nigel Hayes has made himself an obvious pick for every national media outlet’s Breakout Players list next fall. Even Bronson Koenig is making his presence known, finishing with 12 very important points for the Badgers on Saturday.

This team is balanced, they execute as well as anyone offensively, they shoot very well from three and they make big shots.

But their issue was never how well they can score. It’s whether or not they can get stops.

They’ve improved on the defensive end of the floor, there’s no doubt about that. But in three of their last four games entering Saturday, they allowed more than a point-per-possession. Iowa scored 74 points in 64 possession, or 1.156 PPP.

The reason Wisconsin won this game was Iowa’s inability to get stops when they went man-to-man, both in the first half and on the Wisconsin’s game-winning possession. And while they might be getting more stops now than a month ago, that doesn’t necessarily make the Badgers a good defensive team.

You have to win six games to win a national title, the last three or four of which are legitimate Final Four-caliber basketball teams. Can the Badgers do that while avoiding the kind of performance they had against Northwestern?

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Vanderbilt advances; N.C. State tops LSU

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No. 19 Vanderbilt 86, Wake Forest 64: In the first semifinal at the Maui Invitational, the Commodores had an impressive start-to-finish effort in completely outplaying Wake Forest. Damian Jones had 17 points and 10 rebounds while Wade Baldwin IV also added 17. Vanderbilt shot 49 percent from the floor while holding Wake Forest to 32 percent shooting.

N.C. State 83, No. 22 LSU 72, OT: LSU squandered a valuable opportunity for some good non-conference wins by losing again on Tuesday night and going 0-2 at the Barclays Center this week. The Wolfpack used 20 points from junior point guard Cat Barber to guide them to victory.

Ben Simmons had another solid stat-line, but the Tigers still lost. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one.

Louisiana Tech 82, Ohio State 74: Ohio State had won 61 consecutive non-conference home games against unranked teams before losing back-to-back games against UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs went 10-for-25 from 3-point range and Ohio State turned the ball over 14 times. Alex Hamilton led Louisiana Tech with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Marquette 78, Arizona State 73, OT: The Golden Eagles picked up another huge win on a neutral court as Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer finished with 18 points. Marquette’s defense held Arizona State to 38 percent shooting.


Derrick Jones Jr., UNLV: The high-flying freshman went for 26 points in a win over Chaminade and also threw down some ridiculous dunks.

Javion Ogunyemi, Siena: Scoring a career-high 24 points was strong enough, but Ogunyemi also made the game-winning bucket with 2.2 seconds left to give the Saints an 83-81 overtime win over Bucknell.


  • Maryland once again trailed in the final five minutes but rallied to beat Illinois State. Rasheed Sulaimon led the No. 3 Terps with 18 points.
  • No. 7 Oklahoma rolled past Incarnate Word as Buddy Hield had 22 points.
  • In the consolation bracket at Maui, No. 13 Indiana rebounded with a win over St. John’s as Yogi Ferrell went for 22 points.
  • No. 24 Cincinnati remained unbeaten with a 64-49 win over Southeastern Louisiana as Jacob Evans and Troy Caupain each had 15 points.


  • Duquesne held off Milwaukee in overtime as Derrick Colter had 27 points and Micah Mason had 26 points and nine assists.
  • George Washington rolled past Gardner-Webb as Tyler Cavanaugh had 20 points.
  • UMass Lowell cruised by Wheelhouse College as Dontavius Smith broke a backboard during the game and finished with 14 points.
  • Rhode Island knocked off TCU as Four McGlynn had 18 points.
  • Cameron Jones knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points as Radford upset Penn State on the road.
  • South Florida escaped with a home win over Albany as Chris Perry had the late go-ahead dunk and Angel Nunez led the Bulls with 16 points.
  • Northwestern topped Missouri in the consolation game of the CBE Classic as Tre Demps had 13 points.
  • Saint Louis beat North Florida as Ash Yacoubou had 20 points to lead the Billikens.
  • Nebraska cruised past Arkansas-Pine Bluff as Andrew White finished with 16 points.
  • Tennessee rolled past Army as Armani Moore had 29 points and Kevin Punter added 26 points.
  • Louisville picked up an easy win over St. Francis  (Brooklyn) as Damion Lee  had 21 points.
  • Virginia Tech earned a big win over North Carolina A&T as Zach LeDay had 30 points.


Ben Simmons: Another memorable stat-line, another loss

Ben Simmons
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Ben Simmons stays setting records.

One night after becoming the first high-major player to finish with at least 20 points, 20 boards and five assists in a game since Blake Griffin in 2008, Simmons became the first player to notch 10 boards, 10 assists, three steals and three blocks in a game since Luke Walton did it for Arizona back in 2002.

[MORE: Why scouts think Simmons is overrated]

To get an idea of how rare that is, Luke Walton is currently the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Here’s the issue: Simmons — who finished with 14 boards, 10 assists, three steals, three blocks and no turnovers — was just 1-for-6 from the floor with four points as the Tigers lost their second straight game at the Legends Classic, this time falling to N.C. State in overtime, 83-72.

[MORE: Simmons’ Enigma: Transcendent star? Overrated? Or irrelevant?]

Unfortunately, it looks like the predictions are coming to fruition, that this LSU team, loaded with talent, with spend the season on the periphery of the national consciousness.

There’s a reason to be hopeful.

Keith Hornsby, who averaged 13.4 points last season, is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery for an undisclosed injury. Craig Victor will be eligible for the second semester. Reserves are on the way, and having an athletic five-man and a shooter like Hornsby will certainly help a team that likes to spread the floor and play in transition.

After watching LSU play the last two days, they need all the help they can get. Marquette and N.C. State are name-brand programs, but there’s no guarantee that either of them are going to be NCAA tournament teams. In other words, those two losses aren’t going in the book as “good losses”.

Yesterday, I was worried about LSU not being able to make a run in the NCAA tournament. After today, I’m just hoping that they’ll be able to get into the tournament at all.