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Saturday Recap: No. 2 Virginia gets upset, carnage in the Big 12, Gonzaga’s back

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

The easiest pick in the college basketball this weekend was to beat against No. 21 North Carolina.

The Tar Heels had just knocked off No. 9 Duke in Chapel Hill on Thursday night in a come-from-behind win, and 42 hours later, they had to tip-off on the road against a good N.C. State team that Joel Berry II had said was not an actual rival of the Tar Heels.

Classic trap game.

Luke Maye made that null and void. He scored 27 of his 33 points in the second half and added 17 rebounds in a thrilling, 96-89 win over the Wolfpack. He is now one of two ACC players to have two 30-15 games in one ACC season. The other is Marvin Bagley III.

RELATED: All of Saturday’s Bubble Banter in one place

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s: Nobody in college basketball is hot the way that Shamorie Ponds is hot. Since scoring two points in a loss at Butler, Ponds is averaging 33.5 points, including a 44-point outburst in a win over Marquette on Saturday.
  • DONTE DIVINCENZO, Villanova: The Wildcats bounced back from their loss to St. John’s on Wednesday by beating Butler on Saturday behind a career-high 30 points from the Big Ragu. He outdueled Kelan Martin, who finished with 30 points and eight threes for the Bulldogs.
  • RUI HACHIMURA, Gonzaga: Hachimura came off the best to score 21 points as No. 12 Gonzaga jumped out to a huge early lead as they beat the No. 11 Gaels, 78-65, in Moraga. The WCC title race is back on.
  • LINDELL WIGGINTON, Iowa State: The best freshman point guard on the floor on Saturday wasn’t Trae Young, it was Wigginton, who had 26 points, five boards and five assists in a win over No. 17 Oklahoma.
  • JEROME ROBINSON and KY BOWMAN, Boston College: The pair combined for 53 points in a win over No. 25 Miami.

TEAM OF THE DAY

How about Virginia Tech?

Not only did they go into No. 2 Virginia’s building and knock off the ACC favorite during College Gameday, but they did it despite the fact that they had all-but given the game to the Wahoos. Check this out: With less than a minute left in the game, Virginia Tech was up 49-45 on UVA. But they turned the ball over, gave up an easy layup, missed the front end of a one-and-one, allowed Virginia to tie it and then turned the ball over again with 4.2 seconds left.

Luckily, Virginia missed the game-winning shot, but they did go up 59-54 on the Hokies with less than a minute left, but Virginia Tech rallied, scoring seven points in the final minute to earn a shocking, 61-60 overtime win.

Oh, and that might end up being the win that keeps them on the right side of the bubble.

GAME OF THE DAY

It was a chess match (we wrote all about that here) between two great coaches that ended with the Preseason National Player of the Year hitting a game-winning shot with 2.7 seconds left.

And, it’s probably worth noting here, that this win moved No. 14 Ohio State into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Who had that in November?

WTF???? OF THE DAY

What a weird finish to a wild game.

First, Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett fouled Ronnie Harrell’s non-shooting elbow on a three with six seconds left and a two-point lead. Harrell hit all three free throws for the lead. Then at the other end, there was this foul call that allowed Xavier to get the two free throws they needed to win the game:

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

We are as close as we’ve ever been to No. 10 Kansas having their Big 12 title streak snapped. On the same day that the Jayhawks lost at Baylor, 80-64, to snap an 11-game winning streak over the Bears, No. 7 Texas Tech went into Kansas State and smothered the Wildcats, 66-47, to take a one-game lead on Kansas with six games left. Oh, and the Red Raiders get to host the Jayhawks later this month. Buckle up.

Sticking in the Big 12, Oklahoma State kept themselves in the bubble picture by going into Morgantown and knocking off No. 19 West Virginia. OSU has lost four of their last six games. The two wins were at Kansas and at West Virginia. Explain that one.

No Bryce Brown, no problem. No. 8 Auburn bounced back from a loss to Texas A&M by smacking around Georgia. Speaking of Texas A&M, they absolutely embarrassed No. 24 Kentucky in College Station. It was the first time this season that Kentucky looked like they had their spirit broken.

While we’re in the SEC, Alabama beat No. 15 Tennessee by 28 points. Seriously.

The Pac-12 did themselves no favors in the race to earn NCAA tournament bids. No. 13 Arizona knocked off bubble team USC while Oregon State earned a thrilling, two-overtime win at the buzzer to beat Washington, another bubble team:

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?