AP Photo

Bubble Banter: Monster day for teams on the cutline

1 Comment
source:
AP Photo

There are three days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before.

Our latest bracket projection can be found here.

(This post will update throughout the day)

WINNERS

Pitt: Pitt got the big win that they needed, knocking off North Carolina in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. That is easily the Panthers’ best win on the season and just their second top 50 win. With a 7-8 record against the top 100 and just two losses to teams outside the top 25, Jamie Dixon’s club should feel pretty good regardless of what happens on Saturday.

VIDEO: Watch the Atlantic 10’s top seed fall at the buzzer.

St. Joseph’s: In what probably amounted to a play-in game in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, Langston Galloway hit a step-back three with ten seconds left and the Hawks knocked off Dayton 71-67. It’s the Haws’ fifth top 50 win, moving them to 8-8 against the top 100 with a low-40s RPI and just a single sub-100 loss. Phil Martelli’s club should be safe right now.

Tennessee: The Vols did what Arkansas couldn’t: avoid a resume-killing loss by beating South Carolina. Tennessee will advance to take on Florida in the SEC semifinals. A win there would lock up a bid. A loss, however, and things get dicey. Tennessee is 7-7 against the top 100 with a 35-point win over Virginia, but they also now have four sub-100 losses thanks to UTEP’s slide. I think they’ll be OK with a loss to Florida, but a win would certainly makes things easier.

Providence: The Friars entered the day as one of a handful of teams sitting on the bubble’s cutline, which means that they simply could not afford losing to Seton Hall in the Big East semifinals. They beat the Pirates, but since Seton Hall has had a massively disappointing season, it’s a win that does nothing for the Providence resume. If they don’t win the automatic bid on Saturday night in the Big East title game, they are going to be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

N.C. State: It’s been a while since N.C. State was actually in the bubble conversation, but after they beat Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals, we have to put them there. The Wolfpack still have some work to do, and it starts with hoping that Duke beats Clemson and then taking out the Blue Devils on Saturday night. If that happens, than we can take a closer look at where Mark Gottfried’s boys stand.

LOSERS

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers blew an 18-point lead and lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday, putting themselves in a position where Selection Sunday is going to be a stressful affair. They have four top 50 wins — including Wisconsin and Michigan State on the road — and an 8-9 record against the top 100, but with three sub-100 losses and 3-10 record on the road, Nebraska is anything but safe. They may end up being a First Four team.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers were on the outside looking in entering Friday, according to our Dave Ommen, and they got run off the floor by Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Minnesota will still have an outside chance of getting some good news on Selection Sunday, but as of right now things don’t look promising.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles resume was largely built around the fact that they have a great RPI. But with just one top 50 win and only a 3-4 record against the top 100 after a loss to Louisiana Tech on Friday, USM is out of the conversation.

Dayton: The Flyers were on the wrong end of a close call in a loss to St. Joe’s in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, but that’s not the kind of loss that will hurt their resume all that much. Dayton was a No. 10 seed entering the day in our latest bracket. The Flyers have four top 30 wins, a 10-7 record against the top 100 and an RPI of 39. Even with three sub-100 losses, the Flyers should be OK on Sunday, but they may be headed for a home game in Dayton in the First Four.

Xavier: The Musketeers had a chance to lock up a bid to the tournament on Friday when they squared off with Creighton in the Big East semifinals, but the Musketeers couldn’t come through. The good news? The Musketeers put themselves in a good enough spot that they should be able to survive the loss thanks to the fact that so many of the other teams below them lost on Friday as well. Xavier is 9-9 against the top 100 with a pair of elite wins over Cincinnati and Creighton, which should be enough to survive losses to three sub-100 teams.

Florida State: The Seminoles lost to Virginia in the first ACC quarterfinal of the day, putting them in a precarious situation when it comes to earning an at-large bid. The loss certainly doesn’t hurt their resume, but the issue is that they may not have done enough to get into the dance in the first place. As of this morning, our Dave Ommen had Florida State as the last team in the dance, and most other bubble projections place the Seminoles squarely on the bubble’s cutline. The problem? A number of other teams on the cutline are still playing in their league tournaments. Providence, Minnesota, Tennessee, Dayton, Saint Joseph’s. Florida State has an RPI in the low-50s, a 3-9 record against the top 50 and six top 100 wins. Will that be enough?

Missouri: The Tigers got smoked in the second half by Florida, as the Gators closed out a 72-49 win with a 34-13 surge. The Tigers are now in the same spot as Florida State. A loss to Florida doesn’t destroy their resume, but it doesn’t improve it, either. And as of this morning, the Tigers were on the wrong side of the cutline, according to Dave Ommen. They have just two top 50 wins and a 7-9 record against the top 100 with a pair of sub-100 losses on their resume as well. Will that be enough? I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that.

No. 22 Xavier pulls away to 86-75 win over Georgetown

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 20:  Edmond Sumner #4 of the Xavier Musketeers reacts after a play in the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 20, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CINCINNATI — Edmond Sumner overcame a painful left shoulder and led a second-half surge that swept No. 22 Xavier to an 86-75 victory over Georgetown on Sunday, ending the Musketeers’ longest losing streak in three years.

Xavier (14-5, 4-3) had dropped three straight — all against ranked Big East teams. The Musketeers allowed a 12-point lead to slip away in the second half on Sunday before their injured point guard frustrated the Hoyas (10-10, 1-6) again. Sumner had a career-high 28 points in an 81-76 win at Georgetown on Dec. 31.

Sumner wore a support on his injured left shoulder and sat on the bench grimacing late in the first half. He had a jumper, a three-point play and a pair of free throws during a 12-3 run that put Xavier in control 70-61. He finished with 14 points.

Trevon Bluiett led Xavier with 24 points. J.P. Macura added 20.

Rodney Pryor scored 23 for Georgetown, which lost for the sixth time in seven games.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Xavier dropped from 15th to 22nd last week after road losses to Villanova and Butler. A home loss to Creighton on Monday put Xavier in danger of dropping out of the Top 25.

BIG PICTURE

GEORGETOWN: Junior guard L.J. Peak scored 21 points and had six rebounds in the loss to Xavier on Dec. 31, keeping the Hoyas in the game with clutch shots down the stretch. The Musketeers clamped down in the rematch — he was only 3 of 12 for 12 points.

XAVIER: Free throws again were an issue early. Missed free throws were a major factor in the Musketeers’ 72-67 loss to Creighton on Monday, when they went only 16 of 29 from the line. They drove to the basket and drew fouls on Sunday but were only 12 of 19 from the line in the first half, which ended with Xavier up 34-33. The Musketeers finished 36 of 49 from the line overall.

UP NEXT

The Hoyas host No. 7 Creighton on Wednesday. They split their series last season, with each winning at home.

The Musketeers play at crosstown rival Cincinnati, which is ranked No. 20. Xavier has won three in a row and seven of the last nine in the annual game.

VIDEO: Watch Marcus Keene score all 50 of his points

Leave a comment

Marcus Keene, the nation’s leading scorer at 29.8 points, went for 50 yesterday, the first time in four years a college player has done that.

WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 basketball Sunday on NBCSN

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A detailed view of a Spalding basketball during a quarterfinal game between the Davidson Wildcats and La Salle Explorers in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The Atlantic 10 invades NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Sunday.

It begins at 2:00 p.m. with La Salle at VCU. Both of these teams are fighting for first place in the Atlantic 10 standings as the Explorers sit at 5-1 in league play and the Rams are at 4-2.

CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN

No. 6 Baylor uses late spurt for 62-53 victory at TCU

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) reacts to a play against Texas in first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 74-64. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)
Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP
Leave a comment

FORT WORTH, Texas — Sixth-ranked Baylor and TCU kept trading the lead in the second half, with a 9 1/2-minute gap when neither team could muster consecutive scores.

Then the Bears finally closed out their 10th straight Big 12 victory over TCU since their instate rival joined the league four years ago.

Ishmail Wainright swished a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:16 left, and there was then a TCU miss and more than a minute before Johnathan Motley’s layup for the Bears. Manu Lecomte added a layup to cap the 7-0 spurt that finally put Baylor (18-1, 6-1 Big 12) ahead to stay.

“This was typical of the Big 12. Hard-fought game, both teams playing extremely hard. The day after the game, it’s amazing how drained everybody is,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “I hope fans enjoy it, because we’re worn out.”

There were five ties and 13 lead changes after halftime.

The partisan sellout crowd of 7,276 might not have enjoyed it as much, but the Horned Frogs (14-5, 3-4) have shown great progress in their first season under coach Jamie Dixon, the former TCU point guard.

While the Frogs have already won two more games than all of last season, Dixon feels like they have let their last two game slip away late.

“Obviously got some disappointed guys in that locker room, me included,” Dixon said. “Really thought we were here to win this game. … My feeling we were ready to win them, and we were prepared, and we did things right, did things necessary.”

Lecomte scored 17 points while Motley had 15 points and eight rebounds, along with a punctuating dunk in the final minute. That came soon after Lecomte’s alley-oop pass for a dunk by Jo Lual-Acuil, who finished with 11 points.

Vlad Brodziansky had 19 points and 10 rebounds for TCU, while Kenrich Williams had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: This is the first time the Bears have ever been 18-1 overall or 6-1 in the Big 12. They have won their last three games since losing in their first game after reaching No. 1 for the first time in school history.

TCU: Brodziansky and Williams didn’t get much help from the rest of their teammates. TCU shot 29 percent from the field (17 of 58) — Brodziansky and Williams were a combined 12-of-26 shooting; the rest of the team was 5-of-32. “We outrebounded them (38-37), we had lower turnovers (8-10), things we want to do,” Dixon said. “But simply put, the shooting percentages always stand out.”

COMING FROM BEHIND

Baylor is 6-1 this season when trailing at halftime, and has outscored its opponents by more than 10 points in those second halves. “Blessed to have great leadership from the upperclassmen. They don’t panic, they don’t rattle, they stay together,” Drew said. “And they believe in each other.”

TCU led only 24 seconds in the first half, but grabbed a 28-26 halftime lead on Williams’ 3-pointer with 7 seconds left. Baylor opened the second half with four straight layups.

CATCHING AIR

When asked about Wainright’s go-ahead 3, Motley called it a “big shot. I air-balled one, Al (Freeman) too. The fans made sure they let us know. It didn’t matter, we just stayed aggressive, and my teammates trusted me to shoot again.”

UP NEXT

Baylor is home against Texas Tech on Wednesday before consecutive road games, including the SEC-Big 12 Challenge next Saturday at Ole Miss.

TCU plays its next two Big 12 games on the road, starting Monday at Oklahoma State. The Frogs then host Auburn before going to Kansas State.

No. 18 Duke’s insane second half propels them to win

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 21:  Matt Jones #13 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after making a three-point basket against the Miami Hurricanes during the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 21, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 70-58.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Matt Jones scored all 13 of his points in the second half as No. 18 Duke used a 31-4 run to start the second half, turning a 36-25 deficit into a 56-40 lead as they beat Miami on Saturday night, 70-58.

The Blue Devils were listless defensively and, frankly, bad on the offensive end of the floor throughout the first half, but Jones sparked the second half run with a pair of early threes.

Jayson Tatum added 14 points for the Blue Devils while Marques Bolden played by far his best game as a collegian, finishing with eight points and four boards in 23 minutes, numbers that don’t necessarily reflect his impact.

Miami was led by 19 points from Davon Reed, but looked like a totally different team after halftime.

Here are three things we learned from Duke’s win:

1. The benchings worked: Duke was awful in the first half on Saturday. All of those issues that have popped up this season? They were, once again, at the forefront, and the Blue Devils went into the break down 11 while everyone in my profession tried to figure out what witty lede they were going to use to put an end to Duke’s season.

Saturday also happened to be just the third time in 19 games this season that Duke started their ideal starting lineup – Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Harry Giles III, Amile Jefferson and Tatum. But interim head coach Jeff Capel benched three of those starters in the second half, sending Allen, Kennard and Giles to the bench to watch. And it worked. Frank Jackson, Bolden and Jones provided a spark that made the Blue Devils looked like they were Mario Bros and had received star power.

Giles managed just eight minutes on the night. Kennard and Allen combined for 18 points on 5-for-17 shooting.

And it didn’t matter. Duke played their best defensive half of the season – I’d argue it was the best defense they’ve played since the 2015 NCAA tournament – and ended up cruising to a double-digit win.

2. A Matt Jones three may have changed Duke’s season: I’m well aware that the statement that I’m about to make is hyperbolic and as full of #narrative as possible, but I’m going to say it anyway: The first of Jones’ three second half threes – the one that came after he stole an outlet pass, the one that rattled in-and-out before bouncing off the backboard and back in again – may just be the turning point for Duke’s tumultuous season.

Duke has had more issues this season than I care to recount here for the umpteenth time, but one of the biggest issues they’ve faced this season has had to do with the effort level they have played with and the confidence level of the players on the floor. But when that three went in, the Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd went nuts. Even before Miami called a timeout, Capel was nearly to half court, as fired up as anyone on the floor. There was a very distinct, very noticeable change in energy, both in the building and coming off of the bench, and the results can be seen in the way Miami struggled to score.

I know this idea is a reach. I know. I swear I do.

But I just can’t ignore the fact that, after that Jones three, the Duke players looked like they were having fun, like they truly enjoyed playing on this basketball team, for the first time in more than a month.

3. Amile Jefferson returned: Jefferson is the leader of this team on the floor, the captain and the guy that holds their defense together. Part of the reason Duke looked atrocious defending ball-screens against Florida State and Louisville is that they were playing without their best defensive big man.

He was back on the floor on Saturday, recovered from a bone bruise in the same foot he broke last year. This is big because of the fact that Duke hasn’t been the most forthcoming broken when it comes to the injury status of their players.