This time of year tends to bring out all of the knee-jerk reactions, especially when it comes to teams on the NCAA tournament bubble. Win and you’re a “lock” to dance; lose and you’re headed to the NIT. But the fact of the matter is that the selection committee doesn’t go through the process of filling out the bracket with that attitude, and they have to find 36 at-large teams somehow.
That being said, Arkansas didn’t help its case to be included with their 71-69 loss to South Carolina in the second round of the SEC tournament. Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 17 points and Laimonas Chatkevicius added 16 to go along with seven rebounds off the bench. Frank Martin’s team shot just 38.3% from the field and committed 15 turnovers, but they were able to control the boards (40-24 rebounding edge) and score ten more points from the foul line (30-20).
Coty Clarke led four Razorbacks in double figures with 13 points, but they were unable to take advantage of their 19 points off of 15 South Carolina turnovers due to the rebounding and free throw issues. As a result, all that Mike Anderson’s team can do is wait and hope that there’s enough on their resume to earn an at-large bid.
Within SEC play Arkansas’ two best wins came at the expense of Kentucky, and their best non-conference wins came against fellow bubble teams SMU and Minnesota. With an RPI of 58 entering Thursday’s action and a resume away from Fayetteville that isn’t all that impressive, the Razorbacks and their fans won’t rest easy in the days leading up to Selection Sunday.
But even with that being the case the fact that the committee has to find 36 teams means that there’s still some hope for Arkansas, regardless of how slim that may be.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.
And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.
The rest of the top 10?
They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: