Nick Johnson, Tyrone Wallace

Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Pac-12 action heats up

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Cal at No. 3 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.

The last time these two got together, Cal ended Arizona’s undefeated regular season on the same night that Brandon Ashley broke his foot. I think that the Wildcats have some vengeance that they will be looking to exact. Cal, on the other hand, is playing for an NCAA tournament bid. They are in good shape as of now, but a sweep of Arizona would give them quite a bit of breathing room.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Baylor at No. 24 Texas, 9:00 p.m.

Texas is coming off of a beat down at the hands of Kansas over the weekend. They lost by 31. Baylor, on the other hand, has won four straight games and, at this point, may have played their way out of the First Four. They still have some wins they need to get to ensure that they don’t end up back on the wrong side of the bubble, and a road win at Texas would help to make that happen.

 WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 19 North Carolina at N.C. State, 8:00 p.m.

This will be the last chance for the Wolfpack to get a truly good win this season. N.C. State isn’t completely out of the bubble picture yet, not if they can win out and make a run in the ACC tournament.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) West Virginia still has a chance to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, but they are going to have to win a couple games to do so. Beating No. 15 Iowa State tonight would be a good start.

2) Pitt has been in a bit of a free fall of late. They’ll pay a visit to BC tonight. The Eagles picked off Syracuse last week.

3) Perhaps the most important game of the night will be between Stanford and Arizona State. The Sun Devils host the Cardinal in a matchup that suddenly has all kinds of bubble implications for Arizona State.

4) No. 16 Michigan will pay a visit to Purdue as they try to move closer to a Big Ten regular season title.

5) LSU (vs. Texas A&M), Ole Miss (vs. Alabama), and Tennessee (at Mississippi State) are all in action tonight. Losses would push the SEC just that much closer to being a two-bid conference.

NOTABLES:

  • Butler at No. 8 Villanova, 8:00 p.m.
  • Miami (FL) at No. 12 Virginia, 7:00 p.m.
  • UConn at South Florida, 7:00 p.m.
  • Richmond at George Mason, 7:00 p.m.
  • Rhode Island at UMass, 7:00 p.m.
  • VMI at High Point, 7:00 p.m.
  • Boston U. at Army, 7:00 p.m.
  • Delaware at UNC-Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.
  • Nebraska at Illinois, 9:00 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: