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LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Valparaiso’s huge win; Wisconsin rolls by Syracuse

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Valparaiso 65, No. 21 Rhode Island 62

The Crusaders had a rare opportunity to host a top-25 team from the Horizon League and took advantage with a huge win. All-American candidate Alec Peters might have put together a signature performance with 27 points and nine rebounds. NBC’s Rob Dauster has more on why this is Valpo’s most important win of the season.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 5 Duke 78, Michigan State 69: Grayson Allen got going again as the Blue Devils were able to win at home. Allen finished with 24 points.

No. 17 Wisconsin 77, No. 22 Syracuse 60 — Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ powered the Badgers to a home win over the Orange. All three had monster games but Hayes had the most important one of all. Find out why with my take on this game here.

Pitt 73, Maryland 59 — The Panthers jumped out to a big, early lead on the Terps on the road and never looked back. Kevin Stallings’ bunch was up 21 by halftime. Huge outings from Michael Young (25 points, nine rebounds) and Jamel Artis (22 points, six rebounds) as they’re going to be tough to handle in ACC play. Maryland struggled to 10-for-26 shooting from three as Melo Trimble was limited to 13 points on 4-for-13 shooting.

UT-Arlington 72, Texas 61 — The Longhorns have dropped three straight games as the Mavericks win by double-digits on the road. Kevin Hervey had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead UT-Arlington. The Texas guards struggled to play consistently as a unit in this one.

Illinois 88, N.C. State 74: Illinois desperately need a win after dropping three straight and this one was important for the Illini. Malcolm Hill finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists as Illinois had 56 points in the second half.

STARRED

Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The Wildcats picked up an easy win over Mercer as Gibbs poured in 33 points, including 8-for-14 three-point shooting. Also adding four assists, three rebounds and no turnovers, Gibbs had a good overall game besides getting hot from the perimeter.

Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: The junior forward went for 24 points and 17 rebounds as the Fighting Irish rolled past Iowa at home. Colson was only 6-for-14 from the floor but he was 12-for-12 from the free-throw line as he helped Notre Dame go 30-for-33 from the line.

TOP 25

  • Six players finished in double-figures as No. 2 Villanova rolled past Penn. Kris Jenkins led the way with 22 points. The Wildcats were 12-for-26 from three-point range.
  • LeGerald Vick went 9-for-9 and finished with 23 points as No. 4 Kansas ran past Long Beach State.
  • No. 7 Xavier cruised to a home win over North Dakota State as junior Trevon Bluiett had an outstanding game. Scoring a team-high 23 points, Bluiett also added seven assists and five rebounds.
  • It looked like a tight game at halftime but No. 10 Creighton had a big second half to run past Buffalo for a home win. Marcus Foster led the way with 22 points while Justin Patton had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Unsung sophomore guard Kyhri Thomas finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

NOTABLE

  • Other winners in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge included Notre Dame rolling past Iowa and Penn State over Georgia Tech.
  • The rebuild is going to take some time for St. John’s as they dropped one to Delaware State. Guard Devin Morgan poured in 26 points to lead the Hornets.

Andy Kennedy resigns from Ole Miss effective immediately

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Andy Kennedy announced that, effective immediately, he will be stepping down as the head coach at Ole Miss. Tony Madlock will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

The reason is simple: Kennedy wanted to “relieve any external pressure being felt by our current players” and he did not believe that last week’s announcement that this would be his final season in Oxford accomplished that.

“It has become readily apparent to me that my continued presence as the head coach is proving detrimental to these players finishing the season in a fashion that is representative of The Standard for this program that has been clearly established and maintained for over a decade,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Yherefore, I believe that it is in everyone’s best interest that I exit my role as head coach effective immediately. We all know that “clean breaks” are always best, and I should have realized this last Monday. My apologies.”

On Saturday, Ole Miss lost by 17 points at Mississippi State. That came two days after Kennedy went viral for a brutally honest criticism of what his team was going through.

“I can’t get to them,” he said. “I can’t reach them.”

It’s sad that this is the way that it had to end for the best basketball coach that Ole Miss has ever had. But it had to be done.

No. 12 Duke beats No. 11 Clemson as defensive resurgence continues

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Grayson Allen finished with 19 points, four assists and four steals, scoring 17 of his points in the first half, and Wendell Carter added 15 points, 10 boards and three blocks as No. 12 Duke won their fourth straight game without Marvin Bagley III, 66-57.

No. 11 Clemson was short-handed as well, and that’s something that needs to be noted. Not only are they playing without Donte Grantham, who tore his ACL earlier this year, but Shelton Mitchell was not in the lineup after suffering a nasty concussion at Florida State on Wednesday.

The Tigers were a No. 3 seed when the bracket reveal occurred last Sunday, but like Ohio State and Oklahoma, they have now lost back-to-back games; 11 of the top 16 teams have lost a game in the last week.

But the story here more than anything is Duke.

Yes, Allen finished with 19 points and continues to play well without Bagley on the floor. Getting him into a rhythm is critically important for this team. He was averaging 14.7 points in 24 games with Bagley. He is averaging 22.3 points in the last three games that Bagley has missed, and that does not include the 37-point outburst he had when Bagley went down with an injury against Michigan State.

Coach K also has had a chance to develop some confidence in his bench. Javin DeLaurier had 10 boards on Sunday. Marques Bolden didn’t play a done of minutes, but he still finished with five points, three boards and a pair of blocks. He was, generally speaking, a positive influence on the game.

But here is the most important and perplexing nugget: Duke, for the third straight game, was excellent defensively. They’ve now allowed fewer than 1.0 points-per-possession in each of the last three games. They are clearly not the same time offensively without Bagley’s presence on the floor, but it is impossible to ignore what they have been defensively in the last 10 days without him.

The question we need to ask is whether or not that will continue once Bagley makes his return.

Because the only thing standing between Duke and a Final Four is their inability to defend.

No. 8 Ohio State falls at No. 22 Michigan, Michigan State moves into first in Big Ten

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After all of the drama and the speculation about whether or not Ohio State or Purdue was the best team in the Big Ten, water has seemingly found its level.

On Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, No. 8 Ohio State lost their second straight game, falling 74-62 at No. 22 Michigan and allowing No. 2 Michigan State — who had one of college basketball’s greatest comebacks on Saturday at Northwestern — to slide into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with just one week left of the regular season.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 17 points while Jordan Poole added 15 off the bench in the win.

The Wolverines did a good job of slowing down Ohio State’s all-american forward, Keita Bates-Diop. KBD finished with 17 points and seven boards, but he shot just 5-for-17 from the floor. Jae-Sean Tate led the way with 20 points and 15 boards for the Buckeyes.

There was a special moment before this game even started as Austin Hatch, a two-time survivor of plane crashes that killed his entire immediate family, took part in the team’s Senior Day.

VIDEO: Michigan celebrates plane crash survivor Austin Hatch’s Senior Day

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If you don’t know the story of Michigan senior Austin Hatch, you should.

He’s survived two plane crashes in his life. The first, in 2003, robbed him of his mother, 11-year old sister and five-year old brother. In 2011, to celebrate his commitment to the Wolverines, Hatch’s father flew them up to the family’s vacation home, but the plane crashed into a garage killing Hatch’s dad and his stepmom and leaving Austin critically injured.

He had a severe brain trauma, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and in order to manage the swelling in his brain, he was put into a medically-induced coma for eight months.

He managed to return and even played for the Wolverines during the 2014-15 season, but he eventually made the decision to retire from basketball at the end of the year. He did, however, remain a part of the program and on Sunday, during Michigan’s Senior Day, he warmed up with the team and was introduced to the crowd as a starter and no, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying:

Bubble Banter: All of Sunday’s bubble action in one place

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

SETON HALL
NEBRASKA
HOUSTON
TEMPLE
PENN STATE