Iowa State’s Georges Niang looks at his phone as he sits in the locker room before an NCAA college basketball tournament practice Saturday, March 22, 2014, in San Antonio. Niang, who broke his foot during Friday’s game against North Carolina Central, with not play when Iowa State plays North Carolina Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Rob Dauster was joined by Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic on today’s show to overreact to everything that happened this weekend, from Villanova pasting Xavier to the insanity that is the Big 12 to what happened in the Big Ten in the last ten days. We also spend a good 30 minutes talking about bubble teams, tournament resumes and some misconceptions with both. The rundown.
OPEN: Bubble Banter. We talk about weird bubble teams and whether or not we like the new Quadrant system.
36:08: Villanova’s win over Xavier and the Big East title race.
45:15: The Big 12 makes no sense and I love it.
58:30: Michigan State deserves the Big Ten title.
The Cougars have now won five straight games, but it was the two games they won this week that set the tone for what the rest of their season can be.
On Thursday night, Cincinnati came to down and Houston dropped them, 67-62, despite digging a double-digit hole in the first half. They followed that up by going into North Philadelphia and poleaxing Temple. They were up 34-11 midway through the first half. They won by 21 points. It was never a question.
And as a result, Houston’s bid to the NCAA tournament is no longer a question so long as they avoid losing to Memphis, East Carolina and UConn. And if they truly are an NCAA tournament team, they’ll get that done.
But perhaps the best piece of news is that the Cougars did all this while Rob Gray did not play well. He’s one of the best players in that conference, and the fact that they were able to right Devin Davis and Corey Davis to wins in two of their most important and toughest games of the league slate is significant.
What happens when Rob Gray gets right?
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- WICHITA STATE: Not only did Wichita State land a come-from-behind win over Temple on Thursday night, one where they trailed by 14 points at halftime, but they followed that up by going to Cincinnati and knocking off the then-No. 5 Bearcats.
- MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten due in large part to the fact that they were able to erase a 27-point first half deficit at Northwestern.
- BAYLOR: The Bears look like they are now heading for the NCAA tournament after landing wins at Texas and at home over Texas Tech on Saturday. Now that Scott Drew’s team is healthy, they look like they belong in the top 25.
- ST. BONAVENTURE: The Bonnies might have solidified their bid for the NCAA tournament. As long as they don’t do anything dumb the rest of the season, beating Rhode Island at home on Friday night should be enough for them to get in.
- DUKE: The Blue Devils have now won three straight games after losing Marvin Bagley III to a minor knee sprain, mainly because their defense is now playing at a level that we haven’t seen yet this season. Are the Blue Devils better without Marvin Bagley??? (Hint: No.)
Terry Maston is back from injury and playing the best basketball of his career.
The 6-foot-8 senior was utterly dominant in two critical, close wins this week. It started with 26 points and six boards in a double-overtime win at Texas on Monday night that was something of a play-out game for NCAA tournament purposes.
Then on Saturday, that win was overshadowed. Maston had 24 points and five boards in regular as the Bears knocked off No. 7 Texas Tech for their fifth straight win, and suddenly it looks like Scott Drew’s club will be in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday.
All told, in what will arguably be the most important week of the season for Baylor, Maston scored 50 points, or a total of 38 percent of Baylor’s total scoring output in those two games.
Not bad for a guy that came off the bench in both of those wins.
THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- GRAYSON ALLEN, Duke: In three games without Marvin Bagley III, Duke is now 3-0 thanks to Grayson Allen averaging 22.3 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 42 percent from three. Last week, Duke beating Virginia Tech by 22 points and won at Clemson.
- CALEB and CODY MARTIN, Nevada: The Wolf Pack picked up two road wins this week, including a win at Boise State that gave them the inside track at the Mountain West regular season title. The twins combined to average 42.5 points, 12.5 boards and 4.0 assists in those two wins.
- AARON HOLIDAY, UCLA: The Bruins stayed on track to earn a berth into the NCAA tournament with wins over Oregon and Oregon State. Holiday was the star both nights, going for 17 and 10 assists against OSU and following that up with 29 points, six assists and five boards in an overtime win over Oregon.
- MATT MOBLEY, St. Bonaventure: Mobley averaged 28 points and nine boards as the Bonnies beat La Salle and No. 16 Rhode Island to put themselves in a spot where they can realistically feel good about their chances of getting into the NCAA tournament.
- DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: Ayton had one of his best games of the season on Thursday night, going for 25 points, 16 boards, four assists and three blocks as the Wildcats picked off Arizona State on the road.
The roller-coaster ride along the No. 1 seed line continues. This morning, we welcome back Kansas. The Jayhawks’ rally against West Virginia, combined with Auburn’s loss at South Carolina, inched KU back to the top line. With three weeks to go, Virginia and Villanova look like good bets to hold their top-seed positions. The next two spots – occupied today by Xavier and Kansas – are a little more in question.
Various seed line groupings are closely bunched, meaning fluidity remains in the middle and lower ends of the bracket. A lot of bubble teams won over the weekend, picking up notable wins along the way. The proverbial stretch run is upon us.
Here’s the latest ..
UPDATED: February 19, 2018
FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)
- Washington vs. St. Bonaventure | East Region
- Syracuse vs. Baylor | Midwest Region
- SOUTHERN vs. SAVANNAH ST | South Region
- FL GULF COAST vs. NICHOLLS | East Region
|SOUTH – Atlanta||EAST – Boston|
|1) VIRGINIA||1) VILLANOVA|
|16) SOUTHERN / SAVANNAH ST||16) FL GULF CST / NICHOLLS|
|8) Providence||8) Florida State|
|9) Florida||9) NEVADA|
|5) Ohio State||5) West Virginia|
|12) LOUISIANA||12) St. Bonaventure / Washington|
|4) Tennessee||4) GONZAGA|
|13) E. TENNESSEE ST||13) BUFFALO|
|6) Alabama||6) Kentucky|
|11) MID TENNESSEE||11) Kansas State|
|3) Texas Tech||3) CINCINNATI|
|14) CHARLESTON||14) VERMONT|
|7) Texas AM||7) Creighton|
|10) NC State||10) TCU|
|2) MICHIGAN STATE||2) North Carolina|
|15) WRIGHT STATE||15) WAGNER|
|WEST – Los Angeles||MIDWEST – Omaha|
|1) KANSAS||1) Xavier|
|16) PENNSYLVANIA||16) UNC-ASHEVILLE|
|8) Miami-FL||8) Oklahoma|
|9) Seton Hall||9) Virginia Tech|
|5) Michigan||5) RHODE ISLAND|
|12) NEW MEXICO ST||12) LOYOLA (CHI)|
|4) ARIZONA||4) Wichita State|
|13) SOUTH DAKOTA ST||13) BELMONT|
|6) Houston||6) Missouri|
|11) Texas||11) Baylor / Syracuse|
|3) Clemson||3) Purdue|
|14) BUCKNELL||14) RIDER|
|7) Arizona State||7) Arkansas|
|10) Saint Mary’s||10) Butler|
|2) AUBURN||2) Duke|
|15) UC-SANTA BARBARA||15) MONTANA|
NOTES on the BRACKET: Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed – followed by Villanova, Xavier, and Kansas
Last Four Byes (at large): Butler, Saint Mary’s, Kansas State, Texas
Last Four IN (at large): Washington, Baylor, St. Bonaventure, Syracuse
First Four OUT (at large): UCLA, LSU, Louisville, Marquette
Next four teams OUT (at large): USC, Utah, Georgia, Notre Dame
Breakdown by Conference …
ACC (9): VIRGINIA, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech, NC State, Syracuse
SEC (8): AUBURN, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas AM, Arkansas, Florida
BIG 12 (8): TEXAS TECH, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas State, Texas, Baylor
Big East (6): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler
Big 10 (4): MICHIGAN STATE, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan
Pac 12 (3): ARIZONA, Arizona State, Washington
American (3): CINCINNATI, Wichita State, Houston
Atlantic 10 (2): RHODE ISLAND, St. Bonaventure
West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s
Mountain West (1): NEVADA
ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Louisiana (SBELT), Pennsylvania (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Wright State (HORIZON), Nicholls (SLND), East Tennessee State (STHN), UC-Santa Barbara (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Charleston (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), Savannah State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Southern (SWAC)
Bracketing principles: read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com.
I’ve said it for about a month now: When healthy, I think that Villanova is the best team in college basketball.
Over the course of the last seven games, they played without Phil Booth, one of the program’s better perimeter defenders and a double-digit scorer that averages better than three assists per night. His presence also means that the Wildcats have someone coming off the bench that isn’t a freshman that’s in over their head after missing a month with a broken hand.
Booth took his cast off on Saturday, a day when the Wildcats went into Cincinnati and mollywhopped No. 4 Xavier. There is hope that he will be able to suit up on Wednesday, when Villanova hosts DePaul, meaning that Villanova is back to full strength. They are 24-3 on the season and two of those three losses came without Booth.
Virginia probably has the best résumé in college basketball. I’m not sure Villanova will be able to earn the No. 1 overall seed unless the Wahoos slip-up; I’m also not sure it matters, Villanova is heading to the East Regional almost regardless of what happens.
But I do think that Villanova is college basketball’s best when they are at their best.
And now, with Booth back, they are at their best.
So they’re my No. 1 team.
Here is my full top 25:
1. Villanova, 24-3 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Virginia, 24-2 (2)
3. Michigan State, (3)
4. Xavier, 24-4 (5)
5. Purdue, 24-5 (4)
6. Duke, 22-5 (10)
7. Texas Tech, 22-5 (7)
8. Cincinnati, 23-4 (6)
9. Gonzaga, 25-4 (11)
10. North Carolina, 21-7 (17)
11. Auburn, 23-4 (8)
12. Ohio State, 22-7 (9)
13. Kansas, 21-6 (13)
14. Wichita State, 21-5 (25)
15. Clemson, 20-6 (12)
16. West Virginia, 19-8 (15)
17. Rhode Island, 21-4 (16)
18. Tennessee, 19-7 (14)
19. Arizona, 21-6 (21)
20. Nevada, 23-5 (20)
21. Michigan, 22-7 (23)
22. Butler, 18-10 (22)
23. Texas A&M, 17-10 (18)
24. Baylor, 17-10 (NR)
25. Saint Mary’s, 25-4 (19)
DROPPED OUT: No. 24 Oklahoma
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 24 Baylor