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SATURDAY’S SNACKS: Kentucky claims the SEC title; bubble comes more into focus

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Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Seton Hall and damn near the entirety of the Big East seemed to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament on Saturday. It was a wild day on the bubble over all.

No. 5 North Carolina locked up their outright ACC regular season title, winning the conference by two full games after Saturday night’s win over No. 17 Duke.

Kentucky claimed the outright SEC regular-season title with a comeback win over Texas A&M. We’ve seen Wildcat comebacks fueled by freshman guards before, but this time it wasn’t Malik Monk. More on this one here.

The ACC saw two ranked teams go at it as No. 8 Louisville outlasted No. 19 Notre Dame to avenge a loss to the Irish earlier this season. Nobody seems to be talking about the Cardinals with regards to the national title picture — even though they might be a No. 2 seed — as I examine that a bit more here.

The bubble picture also became a bit clearer on Saturday as teams like IllinoisCalifornia and Georgia all suffered losses in must-win scenarios.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Vanderbilt scored a huge win over No. 12 Florida as the Commodores now own an impressive season sweep of the Gators. CBT’s Rob Dauster goes into more detail about Vandy’s fascinating bubble profile.

Seton Hall also did plenty to enhance its NCAA tournament cause with a road win at Butler in Big East play. Desi Rodriguez had 21 points to pace the Pirates while double-double machine Angel Delgado had 20 points and 16 rebounds. Dauster has more on Seton Hall punching their ticket here.

You can get all of the details about how the bubble currently looks in Saturday’s Bubble Banter.


Melo Trimble, Maryland: This wasn’t the best outing we’ll see from the junior this season, as he only finished with 16 points and six rebounds. But Trimble nailed the game-winning three-pointer to lift Maryland over Michigan State as it was the fifth time this season that Trimble has scored Maryland’s game-winning points in the final 30 seconds. He remains one of the nation’s premier clutch players.

Jawun Evans vs. Frank Mason III: No. 1 Kansas won at Oklahoma State in a battle of the PGs. Evans had 22 points and 15 assists, but Mason finished with 27 points, nine boards and nine assists in the win.

Keith Braxton, St. Francis (PA): The freshman scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but more importantly, Braxton kept St. Francis’ NCAA tournament hopes alive by hitting the buzzer-beater for the win in the NEC tournament semifinals. Braxton’s heavily-contested prayer was answered as the Red Flash beat Wagner on the road and advanced to the NEC tournament title game.

Cameron Morse, Youngstown State: Morse had 34 points, seven boards and five assists, which included setting up the game-winning bucket as the No. 9 seeded Penguins upset top seed Oakland in the Horizon League tournament.

Andrew White III, Syracuse: When you celebrate Senior Day with 40 points in a win, then you’re doing it right. That’s exactly what White did on Saturday as the Orange blew out Georgia Tech. White was 8-for-9 from three-point range and 12-for-16 from the field overall.

RELATED: Get caught up on all of today’s bubble action


  • Villanova closed out the regular season with an easy Big East road win at Georgetown. The No. 2 Wildcats had 21 points from Josh Hart and 19 points from Kris Jenkins in the win.
  • No. 6 Oregon won a share of the Pac-12 title on Saturday, as they beat the brakes off of Oregon State on the same day that …
  • … No. 7 Arizona won on the road against Arizona State. Allonzo Trier led the Wildcats with 19 points.
  • Picking up a Big 12 road win was No. 11 Baylor as the Bears outlasted Texas. Johnathan Motley added to his All-American case with 17 points and 17 rebounds.
  • Huge win for No. 14 SMU as the destroyed Memphis for an AAC home win. On Senior Day, Sterling Brown led the Mustangs with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Good home win in the ACC for No. 15 Florida State as they won despite a late push from No. 25 Miami. Dwayne Bacon led the Seminoles with 23 points.
  • Easy win for No. 23 Virginia as the Cavaliers cruised an ACC home win over Pitt. London Perrantes finished with 22 points while Ty Jerome added 13 points.


  • Keeping its bubble hopes alive was Kansas State as they picked up a Big 12 home win over Texas Tech. D.J. Johnson scored 19 points to pace the Wildcats.
  • Providence is also keeping its bubble hopes alive as the Friars took down St. John’s for a Big East road win. Isaiah Jackson led Providence with 18 points.
  • Surviving on the road with a Big East win was Xavier as the Musketeers held off DePaul. Trevon Bluiett paced Xavier with 24 points. This was also the final home game for DePaul at Allstate Arena after 37 years of playing there.
  • Staying in the Big East, Marquette added another good win to its cause with a home win over Creighton as JaJuan Johnson had 20 points. Big man Luke Fischer also proposed to his girlfriend as part of Senior Day.
  • Syracuse should feel decent about its NCAA tournament prospects after taking care of Georgia Tech at home. The Orange had 40 points from senior Andrew White in the win.
  • Another win for Clemson as they took care of Boston College for an ACC home win. Jaron Blossomgame and Avry Holmes each had 17 points to pace the Tigers.
  • A solid week continues for Wake Forest as they bested Virginia Tech for an ACC road win. The Demon Deacons had 26 points and five assists from Bryant Crawford in the win.
  • Decent win for Arkansas as the Razorbacks trounced Georgia for an SEC home win. Moses Kingsley, Dusty Hannahs and Jaylon Barford all had 15 points each for Arkansas.
  • Indiana put up 54 points in the first half and held on to beat Ohio State for a Big Ten road win. The Hooisers had five players in double-figures led by Robert Johnson’s 26 points.

The end was disappointing, but Kentucky’s season outpaced all expectation

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In yet another example of what makes March Madness the greatest and most unpredictable sporting spectacle on the planet, Kentucky’s run to the Sweet 16 this season is going to be looked at as a disappointment.

Who saw that coming back in January?

Who thought that this team had second weekend potential when they were in the midst of the first four-game losing streak of John Calipari’s tenure in Lexington?

And please, show me who, at that point in time, predicted that Kentucky media would be calling a loss in the Sweet 16 “the worst loss” in the Calipari era back when there were actual discussions being had over whether or not the Wildcats were going to get into the NCAA tournament?

It’s amazing how quickly the tide turns in college basketball

Kentucky lost on Thursday night. The fifth-seeded Wildcats fell to the ninth-seeded Wildcats of Kansas State in a game that turned into drama-filled slugfest down the stretch. The final score was 61-58. Kentucky had two shots at the end of regulation to force a tie or take the lead. They also gave up an offensive rebound to a 6-foot-3 no-name with 40 seconds left that led to the game-winning bucket.

The narrative is going to be that Kentucky choked this game away, that their inability to run offense — and P.J. Washington’s free throw yips — cost them the Final Four that seemed a given Thursday morning and a pipe dream on Selection Sunday.

The truth is that Kentucky was a flawed basketball team that got hot at the right time before running into a team that executed a game-plan to perfection while getting the benefit of a couple of bounces and whistles going their way.

And let me be perfectly clear: In no way, shape or form am I saying that Kentucky or Big Blue Nation should be happy with this loss. It should be disappointing. It should hurt — more so for the players than the fans, but whatever. The bracket broke perfectly for them. Everyone in their region was a cinderella. We weren’t wrong in thinking that Coach Cal’s kids were the heavy favorites to get to San Antonio out of Catlanta.

But we need to say that while also acknowledging this: There is a reason that Kentucky was a No. 5-seed this season.

This was a flawed basketball team.

They were young. They didn’t have enough shooting. Their offense was entirely too predictable, even when they were winning. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox weren’t carrying the load for them on that end, they didn’t really have anywhere to turn. And on Thursday night, they ran into a team that had the personnel and a game-plan to take away Kentucky’s two go-to guys.

Kansas State is not overly talented, but what they have in abundance are tough, athletic and older guards that are going to put in a shift on the defensive end of the floor. Kentucky fans may not know who Barry Brown is, but I guarantee you that fans of every Big 12 team can tell you just how good he can be. I guarantee that coaches in the Big 12 can tell you just how annoying their guards are, and those little guards played that role to perfection.

To put it another way, it wasn’t a fluke that Gilgeous-Alexander struggled to make plays off the dribble the way he has for the last two months of the season. It wasn’t an accident that Kevin Knox struggled to find a way to get the looks he had become accustomed to getting coming off of Kentucky’s circle sets.

And in a 40 minute basketball game, when one team matches up well with another, something as simple as Xavier Sneed catching fire and Washington going 8-for-20 from the foul line will get you beat.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Because the real point that I am trying to make here is that this particular Kentucky team just wasn’t all that good. They were young. They were injured. They had their flaws masked by the improvement of a couple of kids who played out of their minds for long stretches of the season, and I just don’t think that’s something that should be overlooked.

Maybe this is just my mindset as a fan. I enjoy the ride more than I need to celebrate the ending. Give me a reason to tune in every game. Make me excited to have the monotony of a week broken up when the ball tips. I’m good.

And I think this Kentucky team accomplished just that.

But two weeks ago, no one thought this team had a shot of getting to the Elite 8. Two months ago, every Kentucky fan would have taken a trip to the second weekend in a heartbeat.

The ending sucked.

No doubt about it.

But this team kept fighting and kept improving and, in the end, lost because someone took makeup remover to the cosmetics that Calipari applied.

Be disappointed, but don’t lost sight of the big picture.

VIDEO: Townes’ late 3 seals Loyola’s win over Nevada

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Nevada was faced with a dilemma. The Wolf Pack were down just one possession – just one point – and were on defense with with a five-second differential between the game and shot clocks.

Foul and extend the game or play it out and hope for a stop?

Nevada opted to play it straight-up, and Loyola hit them with the worst-case scenario – a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock.

The 3-pointer from Marques Townes made it a two-possession game and the clock all but ruled out the possibility for two possession.

And that’s why Loyola is now in the Elite Eight.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s tip times, TV channels, announcer pairings

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Half the spots in the Final Four are up for grabs Saturday. Be sure you know where your TV needs to be before the nets are cut down.

Atlanta: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington

  • 6:09 p.m. – No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 11 Loyola, TBS

Los Angeles: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 8:49 – No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 9 Florida State, TBS

VIDEO: This is the shot that ended Kentucky’s season

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Barry Brown has spent all season being underrated.

And Kentucky found that out the hard way on Thursday night.

This bucket with 18 seconds left gave Kansas State a lead they would never relinquish in a win over Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

Florida State advances past Gonzaga to Elite Eight

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Florida State was an afterthought heading into the season in an ACC that was as loaded as it was top-heavy.

They were a No. 9-seed in the NCAA tournament in part because they were able to pick off North Carolina and Clemson at home by a combined three points.

They needed three overtimes to hold off Miami and Syracuse at home. They needed a win over Boston College on Senior Night to avoid heading into the ACC tournament with a losing record, and they ended up going and losing in the first round of the ACC tournament to a Louisville that never really sniffed the bubble and parted ways with their interim head coach as soon as their NIT run ended.

They were almost universally picked to lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Missouri because everyone knew Michael Porter Jr. was back and secretly hoped that the potential top five pick might actually make some noise as a collegian before his run came to an end.

The Seminoles have been written off and ignored for the entire college basketball season.

And now they are a win away from the Final Four.

Terance Mann scored 18 points and Florida State held fourth-seeded Gonzaga to 35 percent shooting as the Seminoles advanced to their first Elite 8 since 1993 with a 75-60 win on Thursday night. The Seminoles will advance to take on No. 3-seed Michigan with a trip to the Final Four on the line. They have not been to a Final Four since 1972, which was the last Elite 8 before their last Elite 8.

Put another way, the program that has been ignored all season long has been to precisely one Elite 8 since 1972.

That’s a long time to be irrelevant.

So I guess it’s time that we all started to pay attention.

And here’s the interesting part of this: The Seminoles are actually a fun team to watch this year. This is not the kind of grind-it-out Florida State teams that we have become accustomed to with Leonard Hamilton at the helm of this program. They don’t try to play as many enormous human beings at one time as they can. Florida State plays a lot of small-ball. They have a lot of physical, athletic and switchable defenders. They press. They try to force turnovers. They get out and run in transition. They have a couple dudes; Mann and Braian Angola and M.J. Carter. They’re not exactly VCU and they’re not exactly West Virginia and they’re not exactly last season’s South Carolina, but there’s a little bit of all of them there.

And that’s what did Gonzaga in.

The Zags entered this game short-handed, as their starting five-man Killian Tillie was unable to go due to a hip injury that he aggravated during warmups, but that would not have made all that much of a difference in the Staples Center.

The issue was guard play.

Florida State’s pressure simply overwhelmed Gonzaga’s guards. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Zach Norvell were a combined 10-for-36 from the floor and had a nightmare-of-a-time trying to get the ball into the lane. The Zags committed 13 turnovers, trailed by 12 within the first ten minutes of the game and never really made a run keeping this thing within striking distance.

If there was an issue with Tillie being out, it came when Gonzaga tried to space the floor.

The Zags were playing without enough shooters, particularly in the front court. That clogged the paint and made it difficult for the likes of Johnathan Williams III and Rui Hachimura to get some space down there to operate. Perhaps the most telling stat on Thursday — more than Gonzaga’s 34 percent shooting or the 5-for-20 that they shot from three — was that the Zags were 8-for-27 on layups on the night.


For 27.


And it makes me wonder just how Michigan is going to be able to handle this group, but that’s neither here nor there.

We’ll get to it in time.

For now, it is time for the Seminoles and their fans to basket in this moment.

They were right, we were wrong.