Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Bubble Banter: Georgetown’s big chance, bubble showdowns in Big 12, Big Ten, ACC

Leave a comment

The latest NBC Sports bracketology can be found here. This is where the seeds listed below are from. 

WINNERS

Syracuse (RPI: 69, KenPom: 47, No. 11 seed): The Orange got a buzzer-beater from Tyus Battle to give them a win over Clemson on the road, the second thrilling road win they’ve picked up in the last week. Once a tournament afterthought, Syracuse is probably in the tournament with some room to spare as of today. They have some terrific wins (Virginia, Florida State) but no bubble team has the trio of horrid losses that Syracuse has.

Rhode Island (RPI: 39, KenPom: 45, first four out): The Rams dodged a landmine on their schedule by knocking off UMass on the road. URI’s only sub-100 loss came on the road to a Richmond team that is barely outside the top 100. As long as they don’t suffer a dumb loss to one of the four sub-100 teams left on their schedule and pick up a win at home against either VCU or Dayton, Danny Hurley should feel pretty good about his NCAA tournament chances.

Michigan (RPI: 79, KenPom: 40, first four out): The Wolverines inched closer to the bubble with a demolition of in-state rival Michigan State. This was a win that the Wolverines absolutely needed. It’s against a fellow bubble team, for one, but the 15-9 Wolverines play five of their last seven games on the road with their two home games coming against Wisconsin and Purdue. That’s a nightmare stretch, but it’s one that can do wonders for Michigan’s résumé if they get hot.

TCU (RPI: 43, KenPom: 32, No. 10 seed): The Horned Frogs landed a nice win over Texas Tech at home, keeping themselves on the right side of the bubble and adding another top 100 win to their profile. If TCU can hold serve at home – Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas State – and avoid a loss at Oklahoma, they’ll be in the tournament.

Dayton (RPI: 33, KenPom: 31, No. 8 seed): I’m not ready to put Dayton as a lock yet for three reasons: 1. Their best win is Rhode Island, and it’s the only top 50 win that they have; 2. They have a loss at UMass, who is 150th in the RPI; 3. There are some potentially disastrous losses left on their schedule. As long as Dayton doesn’t do anything dumb the rest of the year, they should be in a good spot.

Illinois State (RPI: 34, KenPom: 48, No. 12 seed): The Redbirds pasted Drake on the road on Tuesday, but I still think this is a team that is going to be autobid or bust. The Valley, in my eyes, is a one-bid league.

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 23: Rodney Pryor #23 of the Georgetown Hoyas glides to the basket and shoots during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 23, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images). Oklahoma State won the game 97-70.
Rodney Pryor (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

LOSERS

Northwestern (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, No. 7 seed): Here comes Northwestern, inching ever closer back to the bubble. The Wildcats moved to 18-4 on the season and 7-2 in the Big Ten with a win over Indiana last week, and it looked like the Wildcats were ready to slide on into “lock” status in the NCAA tournament. Since then, they’ve been torn apart by Purdue on the road and, on Tuesday, lost to Illinois at home, and suddenly, that profile doesn’t look so strong. They have a win over Wake Forest at home, and Wake Forest is somehow a top 30 RPI win. I don’t know if that will last. A neutral court win over Dayton seems like it has some staying power, and Northwestern still doesn’t have a bad loss to their name. But with a trip to Wisconsin this weekend and a visit from Maryland next Wednesday, we’re going to have a really good sense of what this team is in the next week.

Clemson (RPI: 45, KenPom: 38, first four out): The Tigers lost on a buzzer-beater from Tyus Battle on Tuesday night, a killer blow to a team that is already on the outside looking in. The Tigers do have some quality wins – at South Carolina, at Wake Forest – but with three of their next four games on the road, they need to turn things around quickly. The Tigers are just 13-10 on the season and 3-8 in the ACC.

Georgetown (RPI: 62, KenPom: 59, next four out): The Hoyas fought back from down 17 points at Villanova to get within two points at the under-four timeout. Villanova is one of the best teams in the country. The only negative for Georgetown is the missed opportunity. They have some ground to make up and this would’ve done the trick.

Texas Tech (RPI: 80, KenPom: 42, next four out): The Red Raiders are slowly playing themselves out of tournament contention after losing at TCU on Tuesday, but it’s not over yet. Their next two games come at home against Kansas and Baylor. Win one or both of those and they’re back in the thick of it.

Marquette (RPI: 64, KenPom: 34, No. 9 seed): Marquette missed on a great chance to bolster their tournament profile on Tuesday night, losing a close game at home to a reeling Butler team. They’re still probably on the right side of the bubble with a little bit of room to spare thanks to a pair of road wins at Creighton and Georgia.

Michigan State (RPI: 47, KenPom: 49, No. 8 seed): The Spartans got blasted on the road by Michigan. All things considered, this is not the worst loss in the world – road games never are – but it does chip away at Sparty’s margin for error down the stretch.

Wake Forest (RPI: 28, KenPom: 33, next four out): The Demon Deacons had a chance to add to their profile with a win over a good-but-struggling Notre Dame team on the road, and they whiffed. Wake is still without a top 50 win on the season, and that’s not something that they’ll be able to overcome despite their good computer numbers.

VIDEO: West Virginia honored Andrew Jones before game vs. Texas

Screengrab via CBS
Leave a comment

The West Virginia basketball team donned burnt orange ‘Big 12 Strong’ warmup shirts with the No. 1 on the back in honor of Texas point guard Andrew Jones.

Jones was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month.

Texas Tech also honored Jones before a game this week, and Texas has raised more than $100,000 for his medical expenses.

Saturday College Basketball Recap: No. 7 Wichita State, No. 8 Texas Tech lose

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1 Comment

PLAYER OF THE DAY

It’s hard to argue with the performance that J.P. Macura had on Saturday. No. 11 Xavier went into Newark and knocked off No. 19 Seton Hall, 73-64, behind 27 points, five boards and three assists from Macura.

This win was particularly important for Xavier, who remain just a game out of first place in the Big East and in great position to make a run at getting a top three seed, which would mean they likely won’t have to play Villanova until the Big East title game. The loss is the second in a row for Seton Hall and the their third loss in four games.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue: Edwards finished with 22 points, eight assists, two steals and no turnovers as the No. 3 Boilermakers blew out Iowa on the road.
  • MALIK NEWMAN, Kansas: Newman finished with 24 points and seven boards, including a personal 7-0 run with three minutes left to help No. 10 Kansas remain in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a 70-67 win over Baylor.
  • BRYCE BROWN, Auburn: Brown finished with 28 points as Auburn erased a 14-point halftime deficit to knock off Georgia 79-65 and remain within a game of first-place in the SEC.
  • DEAN WADE, Kansas State: In a win over No. 24 Kansas State, TCU’s second-straight win over a ranked team, Wade went for 20 pints, six boards, six assists, two blocks and two steals.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Houston landed themselves their first marquee win of the season as they pounded No. 7 Wichita State in Houston, 73-59. Rob Gray led the way with 24 points and four assists, putting the Cougars in a position where earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is feasible. There is still plenty of work left to do, but this is the start they needed.

The bigger question mark, however, is Wichita State, who also lost at home to SMU this week. The Shockers are nowhere near as good as many expected them to be. Their offense isn’t good enough to make up for the fact that they aren’t guarding anyone.

GAME OF THE DAY

Trae Young went for 48 points, 34 of which came after halftime as the Sooners erased a 19-point deficit, but thanks to a Kendall Smith three at the end of regulation, this game went into overtime. Young had shots at the buzzer in regulation and in overtime to win the game and missed both, as the Pokes escaped with an 83-81 win.

Young needed 39 shots to get those 48 points. We went through whether or not that is too many shots for him here.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Iowa State, who can’t guard anyone and is probably the worst team in the Big 12 this season, knocked off No. 8 Texas Tech, 70-52. The Red Raiders have now lost three of their last four games – all of which came on the road – after winning at Kansas. Texas Tech is also now just 1-3 in the four games since Zach Smith broke his foot, but they also beat Baylor by 24 points and won at Kansas when Smith played 10 total minutes.

So you explain Texas Tech to me. Because I don’t get it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

The Florida Gators moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC thanks to a 66-64 win at No. 18 Kentucky on Saturday. It was hardly a pretty game – Florida shot 33 percent from the floor and 6-for-30 from three – but the Gators were able to hang on thanks to a questionable no-call in the final seconds.

No. 20 Clemson held on to beat Notre Dame at home on Saturday, 67-58, but missing out on a commitment from Zion Williamson wasn’t the only bad news of the day. Star forward Donte Grantham went down with a knee injury midway through the second half. He averages 14.3 points and 7.1 boards. Losing him would be disastrous for the Tigers.

No. 14 Arizona had to rally down the stretch, but the Wildcats did. Trailing by as many as 11 points late in the second half at Stanford, the Wildcats survived as Dorian Pickens missed a three at the buzzer. The win puts Arizona all alone in first place in the Pac-12.

Jalen Brunson scored 23 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 17 points off the bench as No. 1 Villanova blew out UConn in Hartford, 81-61.

No. 13 Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s both won, meaning that the Gaels still hold a one game lead over the Zags in the WCC. Nevada knocked off Boise State, giving the Wolf Pack a two-game lead in the Mountain West.

At this point, Pitt barely counts as ACC competition. But they are and No. 5 Duke beat them 81-54 tonight.

Jevon Carter went for 22 points and eight assists as No. 6 West Virginia knocked off Texas, 86-51. The game was closer than the final score indicates, as the Mountaineers pulled away late.

The star of the day for No. 12 Cincinnati was Gary Clark, who finished with 14 points, 14 boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks, in an 86-60 win over East Carolina.

Luke Maye went for 17 points and 11 boards to lead four players in double figures as No. 15 North Carolina held on to beat Josh Pastner and Georgia Tech, 80-66.

It ended up not being much of a game when the Big Ten invaded Madison Square Garden as No. 22 Ohio State put a beating on Minnesota, 67-49. Minnesota lost Jordan Murphy to an ankle injury in the game as well.

You Make The Call: Did Kentucky’s P.J. Washington get fouled?

Screengrab via ESPN
1 Comment

There was a controversial finish to Florida’s 66-64 win over No. 18 Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Saturday night.

Florida had taken a 45-37 lead on the Wildcats before Kentucky fought back, eventually pulling ahead before the Gators surged back in front. A pair of threes and a missed front-end set up a situation where the Wildcats had the ball, down 66-64, on the final possession of the game, leading to this play:

P.J. Washington drives to the rim and appears to get hit in the head by Jalen Hudson. Hudson initially gets his hand on top of the ball, but as Washington’s momentum carries him, Hudson rakes Washington across the face and pushes his head back with his elbow.

It’s not intentional, but the contact is clearly there.

Did the referees blow this call?

If they did, the call could end up determining the SEC regular season champion. Entering Saturday, both Kentucky and Florida were tied for the league lead at 5-1 in the conference. They play again on the season’s final weekend in Gainesville.

Norvell helps No. 13 Gonzaga bounce back to beat Santa Clara

Kent C. Horner/Getty Images
Leave a comment

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, and No. 13 Gonzaga bounced back from its first conference loss of the season to beat Santa Clara 75-60 on Saturday night.

Josh Perkins added 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Rui Hachimura scored 16 points and Killian Tillie had 12. Johnathan Williams had nine points and eight boards for Gonzaga (17-4, 7-1 West Coast Conference), including his 400th career rebound.

Two days after a 74-71 home loss to Saint Mary’s that ended Gonzaga’s six-game winning streak, the Bulldogs had trouble shaking the pesky Broncos (7-13, 4-4) until Norvell found his stroke after halftime.

Norvell made pair of 3s, a short jumper and a layup in the first 7 ½ minutes of the second half, scored on an offensive rebound as part of a 12-0 run, and then made a fast-break one-handed dunk to put the Bulldogs up 75-41.

It was Gonzaga’s 17th consecutive win over the Broncos and improved coach Mark Few’s record to 40-4 against Santa Clara.

KJ Feagin scored 21 points for the Broncos.

Unlike the first game between the teams this season, when Gonzaga built 27-point lead by halftime on the way to a win in Spokane, Santa Clara kept it close early despite struggling from beyond the arc.

The Broncos missed eight of their first nine 3-point attempts but were tied with 8 ½ minutes left in the first half following Josip Vrankic’s driving layup that had the crowd at Leavey Center roaring.

Part of the problem for Gonzaga was the Bulldogs’ inability to keep Feagin from getting to the basket. He had 12 points in the first 20 minutes, made three layups and tipped in his own miss to help Santa Clara close within seven at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have not lost back-to-back games this season and looked good after a somewhat slow start. Norvell provided a huge boost but the Zags also got another big game from Hachimura, who has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.

Santa Clara: Coming off a win at San Francisco, the Broncos made a splash in the first half at home to keep things interesting. They never had the Bulldogs on their heels, but it was a much better effort than their first meeting.

No. 10 Kansas rallies late to beat Baylor, 70-67

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self has relied on a four-guard lineup all season, one that is designed to attack the basket aggressively, draw fouls and get to the free throw line.

He was fortunate one of those four guards stepped up Saturday night.

Malik Newman scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the final minutes, bailing out the rest of his sluggish teammates, and Baylor turned the ball over on the last inbounds play as the No. 10 Jayhawks escaped with a 70-67 victory that kept them atop the Big 12.

“We were lucky,” Self said, “to have one guy out there putting defense on its heels.”

The Jayhawks (16-3, 6-1 Big 12) trailed 67-61 with 2:05 to go before Newman went on his scoring binge, giving them the slimmest of leads again. The Bears (12-7, 2-5) had a couple of chances after that, but Manu Lecomte missed a 3-pointer and a layup attempt high off the glass with three seconds left.

Devonte Graham added a pair of free throws before Baylor squandered a chance at the final shot.

“(Newman) put us on his back and all we needed was to get those stops,” Graham said, “and we did.”

It was the Jayhawks’ 11th consecutive win over the Bears, who have never won in 16 tries in Lawrence. It was also the closest Baylor has come during any of those games.

Graham finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Udoka Azubuike had 14 points and seven boards, but he was just 4 of 11 from the foul line and missed two crucial ones late.

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 14 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out for Baylor. Nuni Omot added 14 points and Lecomte had 10, though he was 3 of 12 from the floor and 1 of 8 from the 3-point arc.

“Very frustrating. We’re as good a team as them. We know we can beat them,” Lecomte said. “They’re a really good team. They never give up. Next time we have to make sure we keep that lead.”

Allen Fieldhouse has been Baylor coach Scott Drew’s personal house of horrors — the closest he had come to winning had been the Bears’ 73-68 loss last season. And when the Jayhawks opened the game by making their first seven shots and taking an 18-5 lead, it looked as if this one would be no different.

It took Drew burning through nearly all his timeouts to settle Baylor down.

Shots eventually stopped falling for Kansas as the Bears picked up their defensive pressure, and their deficit dwindled to 32-26 before a late flurry left them in a 38-27 halftime hole.

Kansas began the second half determined to get Azubuike the ball in the paint, and he made good on his first couple of chances. But when he failed to execute a few times in a row, Self greeted him during a timeout with, “Are you kidding me?” — spiced up with an extra word.

The Jayhawks still led 52-47 midway through the second half when Baylor went on a 16-4 run.

Omot started it with a bucket in the paint, but it was seven free throws by the senior forward that did the real damage. Lual-Acuil’s basket with 4:39 left gave Baylor a 61-56 advantage.

The Bears scored on nine consecutive possessions down the stretch.

Newman finally turned the momentum, though. He converted a three-point play and a nifty drive on a run-out, then knocked down another basket to give Kansas a 68-67 lead with a minute left.

“When the game is on the line, Coach always says that players make plays,” he said. “I was just trying to be aggressive and we came out with a win.”

HONORING JO JO

Kansas honored two-time All-American Jo Jo White with a video tribute before tipoff. The seven-time NBA All-Star, whose jersey hangs from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, died Tuesday at the age of 71.

BYE, BYE BILLY

Kansas freshman Billy Preston signed with a pro team in Bosnia on Friday, ending any chance the five-star prospect will play for the Jayhawks. Preston had been held out all season while the school looked into the finances of the car he was driving during a November accident.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor has lost its last five games to the Jayhawks by a combined 20 points, no doubt adding to Drew’s frustration. Six of the Bears’ seven losses this season have come against ranked teams.

Kansas has won five straight to grab ahold of the Big 12 race, though none of them have been very comfortable. The Jayhawks’ winning streak has been by a combined 18 points.