TCU v Iowa State

Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Plenty of important bubble matchups

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 16 Iowa State at Baylor, 7:00 p.m.

Baylor is coming on strong of late, having won five of their last six games after starting the Big 12 season by losing eight of their first ten games. They are probably on the right side of the bubble at this point, but a win over a top ten RPI team like Iowa State would come close to locking up a bid for Scott Drew’s team. The interesting matchup here is going to be on the front line. Baylor’s got a ton of size with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, but Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim are going to be difficult matchups given their perimeter ability.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Arizona State at Oregon, 11:00 p.m.

The Sun Devils and the Ducks are both on the verge of making the NCAA tournament this year. Both teams have made a late run which has gotten them into a positive position as we get towards the end of the Pac-12 regular season. Oregon has won five straight games and will be looking to avenge its road sweep in the state of Arizona as they close out with the Sun Devils and Wildcats at home. Arizona State, meanwhile, should feel alright, but at 2-5 on the road in the Pac-12, a road win against a good team never hurts the old resume.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 12 Michigan at Illinois, 7:00 p.m.

Illinois may not be in position to compete for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, but John Groce has the Illini playing tremendous defense in the later part of the season. Illinois has held four consecutive opponents under 50 points — including Saturday’s stunning road win at Michigan State — and the Illini will look to do the same against Michigan. If Michigan struggles to get perimeter production from Nik Stauskas they could be in trouble on the road here.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Georgia State at Arkansas State, 8:05 p.m.

Georgia State is 15-1 in the Sun Belt and they’ll look to pick up another road victory in league play against Arkansas State (17-10, 9-6). Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter make for a potent 1-2 punch and Georgia State is one of those mid-major programs that nobody wants to potentially face in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas State will look to avenge the one-point loss that they suffered at Georgia State on January 16th.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Florida will look to make it 22 consecutive wins as the Gators travel to South Carolina. The Gamecocks don’t have much to play for, but that won’t stop Frank Martin’s group from playing hard, as evidenced by Saturday’s home win over Kentucky. Billy Donovan’s team better come prepared.

2) Can No. 3 Syracuse bounce back from Saturday’s loss at Virginia? The Orange host Georgia Tech and they’ll look to get back on track as they continue to play for a potential No. 1 seed.

3) Also looking to bounce back from a road loss is No. 13 Creighton. The Bluejays fell at Xavier and will travel to D.C. to face Georgetown, who is desperate for wins to stay relevant in the at-large conversation. CBT’s own Rob Dauster will be at this one.

4) How will No. 25 Kentucky and John Calipari respond to Saturday’s horrible loss at South Carolina? The Wildcats host Alabama in a home game they should win.

5) Providence and Marquette battle on Tuesday in a matchup of Big East team. Providence is doing everything they can to stay in the bubble picture and a home win over Marquette before Saturday’s game at Creighton could be huge.

NOTABLES:

  • Florida State at Boston College, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU

Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State knock off No. 1 Oklahoma

Kansa State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) pulls down a rebound against Mississippi during an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP
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One of the big questions regarding No. 1 Oklahoma was how they’d handle an off shooting night. On multiple occasions this season the Sooners have managed to win in spite of a subpar effort from one of their guards, thanks in large part to national Player of the Year frontrunner Buddy Hield. But what would they do against a team that managed to limit Hield (by his standards)?

That’s what happened at Kansas State Saturday night, and the Sooners did not have the right answers for the Wildcats on either end of the floor. Wesley Iwundu scored 22 points, dished out seven assists and played excellent defense on Hield throughout the game to lead the way. And freshman forward Dean Wade chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Wildcats won by the final score of 80-69.

Hield scored 23 points but did so on 7-for-16 shooting, and a lot of that damage was done during the second half as he scored 17 points during the game’s final 20 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as the Sooners didn’t get much from anyone other than Ryan Spangler (nine points) as they looked to mount a comeback. Jordan Woodard, who’s been a consistent supplementary scoring option this season, went scoreless Saturday and that essentially left Oklahoma with three scorers (Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins).

It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to completely take away Hield; the key there is to make him work for everything he gets and the long, athletic Iwundu managed to do that. But if you can take away one (or more) of Oklahoma’s supplementary scorers you’ve got a shot at knocking them off.

Oklahoma also had issues defensively, as the Wildcats shot 52.9 percent from the field. Iwundu was very good at finding scoring opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and in the post players such as Wade and B.J. Johnson were effective against Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and Akolda Manyang. Kansas State outplayed Oklahoma in the post, and their execution offensively helped the Wildcats pull off the upset despite committing 15 turnovers.

If not for those turnovers the margin likely would have been worse for Oklahoma, which scored 26 points off of Kansas State turnovers and many of its 15 fast break points came via K-State mistakes. The Sooners are lethal in transition, something we’ve seen on many occasions this season. Kansas State, when they didn’t turn the ball over, kept Oklahoma from running out and finding the quality looks that have made them so successful.

As a result, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats made sure that Hield and his fellow Oklahoma seniors will graduate without a win in Manhattan.

Ryan Anderson, Gabe York pace No. 23 Arizona at Washington

Arizona's Ryan Anderson (12) dunks against Washington State's Conor Clifford (42) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. Arizona won 79-64. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
College basketball is better when the Arizona-Washington rivalry is relevant, and we got a perfect example of that on Saturday, as No. 23 Arizona landed an important, 77-72 win at Washington in a ugly-but-thrilling game. Washington has one of the nation's most high-octane, uptempo offenses, as Lorenzo Romar does what he can to maximize the pieces that he has on his roster. Andrew Andrews and DeJounte Murray make up one of the nation's most talented backcourts, and when combined with the myriad of athletes of populate the rest of the roster, what you get is a team that is top five in pace, according to KenPom.com. What they don't have is much strength in the paint, and Ryan Anderson took complete advantage of that. The fifth-year senior had arguably his best game as a Wildcats, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards -- eight offensive -- to pace Arizona. Gabe York added 18 points as well, which is a great sign for the Wildcats. The knock on this team has been that they don't have a star or a go-to guy, and two of them stepped up in a tough road game on Saturday. Perhaps more importantly, it was Kadeem Allen that his the biggest shot of the game, hitting a three to break a 70-all tie with a minute left in the game. And should we mention that Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona's leading scorer when he broke his hand a month ago, returned to the lineup? Yeah, we probably should, because Trier is the best one-on-one player that Sean Miller has on his roster. All-in-all, this was a promising road trip for Arizona, who got swept at home by the Oregon schools last weekend. I'm not sure that Arizona, who is still two games back of Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, has a real shot of winning the league's regular season title. But I am sure that, when they're at full-strength and playing well, the Wildcats are good enough to win the Pac-12 tournament and get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
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College basketball is better when the Arizona-Washington rivalry is relevant, and we got a perfect example of that on Saturday, as No. 23 Arizona landed an important, 77-72 win at Washington in a ugly-but-thrilling game.

Washington has one of the nation’s most high-octane, uptempo offenses, as Lorenzo Romar does what he can to maximize the pieces that he has on his roster. Andrew Andrews and DeJounte Murray make up one of the nation’s most talented backcourts, and when combined with the myriad of athletes of populate the rest of the roster, what you get is a team that is top five in pace, according to KenPom.com.

What they don’t have is much strength in the paint, and Ryan Anderson took complete advantage of that.

The fifth-year senior had arguably his best game as a Wildcats, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards — eight offensive — to pace Arizona. Gabe York added 18 points as well, which is a great sign for the Wildcats. The knock on this team has been that they don’t have a star or a go-to guy, and two of them stepped up in a tough road game on Saturday.

Perhaps more importantly, it was Kadeem Allen that his the biggest shot of the game, hitting a three to break a 70-all tie with a minute left in the game.

And should we mention that Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona’s leading scorer when he broke his hand a month ago, returned to the lineup? Yeah, we probably should, because Trier is the best one-on-one player that Sean Miller has on his roster.

All-in-all, this was a promising road trip for Arizona, who got swept at home by the Oregon schools last weekend.

I’m not sure that Arizona, who is still two games back of Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, has a real shot of winning the league’s regular season title.

But I am sure that, when they’re at full-strength and playing well, the Wildcats are good enough to win the Pac-12 tournament and get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.