Rob Dauster

St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg celebrates after they defeated St. Joseph's after an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Philadelphia.  (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

BUBBLE BANTER: Saturday is a huge day for bubble teams

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This post will be updated throughout the day as the games get played.

For a look at the most recent CBT Bracket, head over here.

Whatever happens the rest of the weekend, I’ not sure there will be a bubble team that lands a bigger win that St. Bonaventure (KenPom: 80, RPI: 48, CBT Seeding: Next Four Out). Entering the day, the Bonnies were sitting on the wrong side of the bubble and by a fairly significant margin. That’s what happens when you’re coming off of a loss to a team like La Salle, whose RPI is outside the top 200.

That loss, at the time, looked like a killer.

Until Mark Schmidt’s club when into Dayton Arena and picked off the Flyers.

Now keep in mind, this loss came without Kendall Pollard, but that’s a totally irrelevant fact when it comes to Bonaveture’s bubble profile. All the selection committee is going to see is a road win over a top ten team, which, in NCAA tournament terms, will be one of the best wins that any team in the country will get this season.

It’s not enough to make the Bonnies feel comfortable about their bubble standing given the number of landmines they have left on their schedule. But with another road win over Saint Joseph’s and a 5-5 record against the top 100, this may be enough to send them dancing as long as they avoid doing anything stupid the rest of the season. I think they need at least four, maybe five more wins to avoid sweating out Selection Sunday, and that’s very doable.

WINNERS

  • South Carolina (KP: 55, RPI: 34, CBT: 8): The Gamecocks bounced back from an ugly stretch — blown out by Kentucky, loss at Missouri — by beating a good Florida team at home. It’s not enough to get them off the bubble totally thanks to that Missouri loss, but it is enough that they can probably feel comfortable as long as they don’t do anything dumb the rest of the way; USC does have three sub-100 opponents left.
  • Cincinnati (KP: 26, RPI: 61, CBT: First Four Out): The Bearcats badly needed Saturday’s win over UConn, as it is just their fourth top 50 win. They still don’t have any great wins, and a loss to Memphis looks worse and worse as the Tigers continue to struggle. Cincy’s bid is going to come down to whether or not they beat SMU in the regular season finale.
  • Pitt (KP: 57, RPI: 40, CBT: 8): The Panthers are inching closer to locking up an at-large bid. On Saturday, they landed their third top 50 win, although they’ve only beaten two top 50 opponents — Jamie Dixon’s club swept Syracuse. Here is their remaining schedule: Louisville, Duke, at Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech. Go 3-1 and they’re in. Go 2-2 and they’re probably in.
  • Texas Tech (KP: 28, RPI: 40, CBT: Play-In Game): The Red Raiders won at Oklahoma State on Saturday. I’m not sure people realize just how good Tech’s profile is. They have five top 50 wins, including Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor on the road.
  • Washington (KP: 73, RPI: 73, CBT: Next Four Out): The Huskies added a top 100 win over Stanford on Saturday night, which helps bolster their profile but doesn’t really do much to make up the gap between them and the right side of the cut line. Next weekend, Washington plays at the Oregon schools. They might want to win them both.
  • Vanderbilt (KP: 28, RPI: 63, CBT: N/A): The Commodores kept the dream of an at-large bid alive by beating Georgia at home, their fifth top 100 win of the season. With games remaining against Florida, at Kentucky and over Texas A&M at home, the ‘Dores will have the opportunity to build on their current profile. They probably need to win two, if not all three of those games.

LOSERS

  • LSU (KP: 59, RPI: 81, CBT: Last Four In): The idea of LSU being one of the most interesting at-large cases took another hit as the Tigers lost on Saturday to Tennessee, their fifth sub-100 loss of the season. We went long on our LSU analysis here.
  • Saint Joseph’s (KP: 35, RPI: 24, CBT: 8): The Hawks lost at Davidson on Saturday, which isn’t a résumé killer, especially when you consider that they just landed a win over Dayton this week. St. Joe’s should be in as long as they beat the three sub-100 opponents left on their schedule; they can probably afford a loss at St. Bonaventure.
  • Alabama (KP: 61, RPI: 30, CBT: 9): The Crimson Tide suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday, losing to a bad Mississippi State team in Tuscaloosa on a day where Malik Newman didn’t even suit up. So while the Bulldogs are a sub-150 team in the RPI, the loss itself is worse in real life than it is for their bubble profile. Avery Johnson’s club has done enough that they’re probably still on the right side of the cut line, but their margin for error just went away.
  • Syracuse (KP: 36, RPI: 39, CBT: 7): Losing to Pitt on Saturday isn’t a killer for the Orange, but it certainly doesn’t help them. With five top 50 wins and just three of their ten losses coming outside the top 50, the Orange are still in a pretty good spot. The key is going to be figuring out exactly how the selection committee values the losses the Syracuse took while Jim Boeheim was suspended.
  • Oregon State (KP: 66, RPI: 32, CBT: Last Four In): Losing at Oregon on Saturday isn’t going to hurt OSU’s profile. The Beavers will host the Washington schools next weekend. They need to pick up a sweep, and I’d recommend a split at the LA schools in the last weekend of the regular seas as well.
  • UConn (KP: 24, RPI: 36, CBT: 7): The Huskies lost at Cincinnati on Saturday, which is something that they can survive. The Huskies still don’t have a loss outside the top 75, which, when combined with their 7-8 record against the top 100 and wins over SMU and at Texas, is enough to get them a bid as long as they avoid something dumb.
  • Florida (KP: 34, RPI: 31, CBT: 9): The Gators took South Carolina to overtime in Columbia, meaning that they missed out on a chance to land a very nice road win. But losing on the road to a top 35 team isn’t going to hurt them.
  • Butler (KP: 43, RPI: 58, CBT: Play-In Game): The Bulldogs lost on the road to No. 1 Villanova on Saturday. That’s not going to hurt them, and it may actually help their RPI simply playing that game. Where it hurts, however, is that this was the kind of win that would be the difference maker if they do end the season on the bubble.
  • Florida State (KP: 48, RPI: 62, CBT: Next Four Out) and Clemson (KP: 51, RPI: 90, CBT: Next Four Out) may have just played themselves off the bubble with losses to Virginia Tech and N.C. State, respectively. FSU’s saving grace is that they have three games left against top 40 opponents. They may need all three.

 

No. 22 Indiana survives late-comeback by No. 17 Purdue

Indiana forward Troy Williams (5) goes up for a dunk over Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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No. 22 Indiana put together their best performance of the season on Saturday, knocking off No. 17 Purdue, 77-73, in Assembly Hall.

The final score is somewhat misleading. The Boilermakers hit a flurry of threes in the final four minutes, cutting what was at one point a 19-point lead all the way down to two with 45 seconds left. But after a Yogi Ferrell layup was goaltended by A.J. Hammons, Purdue was unable to get another shot off, and the Hoosiers moved into sole possession of first place in the conference.

So credit Purdue for not giving up when this one seemed over.

But don’t let that blind you to just how impressive Indiana’s performance was.

Because the Hoosiers did something that I never thought I would see out of this group: They out-toughed a bigger, stronger and more physical Purdue team.

They were the ones that made the plays defensively. They were the ones that seemed to come up with every loose ball. They were the ones that got the big stops, that hit the big shots, that took the Boilermakers out of everything they wanted to do on the offensive end of the floor.

And in the end, that was really what the difference was.

You don’t need me to tell you that the question mark surrounding this Indiana team was their strength on the interior and their ability to defend in the half court. Playing against the biggest and most physical front line in the country, the Hoosiers gave up just four offensive rebounds and five second chances points. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas did combine for 39 points on 15-for-20 shooting from the floor, but the Hoosiers not only made it tough for Purdue to run offense. The Boilermakers thus struggled to get them the ball where they could be effective, and Indiana was able to take advantage of their mismatches at the other end of the court.

Max Biefeldt and Thomas Bryant combined for 20 points and knocked down three threes, the threat of their shooting ability pulling Purdue’s bigs away from the rim and opening up driving lanes for Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams. Those two finished with 39 points combined.

The Hoosiers are never going to be a great defensive team. But they were very, very good for the first 35 minutes on Saturday night.

When they play like that — that tough, that physical, that disciplined — they’re dangerous simply because their offense is so potent.

The question we’ll be looking to get answered in Indiana’s final three regular season games: Was this effort level simply the result of a heated in-state rivalry finally being relevant again, or is this who the Hoosiers are going to be for the rest of the season?

VIDEO: Georgia Tech’s Marcus Georges-Hunt beats No. 19 Notre Dame at buzzer

Georgia Tech's Marcus Georges-Hunt, right, hits a three-point basket in front of Virginia Tech's Devin Wilson, left, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Atlanta. Virginia Tech won 78-77. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman)
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No. 19 Notre Dame’s hopes of winning at least a share of the ACC regular season title took a major hit on Saturday afternoon as the Irish fell at Georgia Tech, 63-62.

Marcus Georges-Hunt was the hero, hitting this shot in the paint over Notre Dame’s big front line to give the Yellow Jackets the win:

Georges-Hunt finished with 19 points and seven assists and helped hold Notre Dame’s talented back court of Demetrius Jackson and Steven Vasturia to just 8-for-23 shooting from the floor.

The loss drops the Irish to fifth-place in the conference, two games off of North Carolina’s pace.

No. 2 Kansas blows lead, escapes K-State with 72-63 win

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., right, wrestles the ball away from Kansas State forward D.J. Johnson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Kansas defeated Kansas State 72-63. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Second-ranked Kansas had to show plenty of fight to hold off Kansas State on Saturday.

Perry Ellis has the wounds to prove it.

The Jayhawks’ leading scorer missed a long stretch in the second half with a gouge behind his right ear that required 12 stitches. Then, Ellis got scratched in the eye by teammate Wayne Selden Jr. during a flurry with the game in the balance, sending the senior forward to the bench once again.

Kansas wound up getting just enough from everyone else down the stretch for a 72-63 victory.

“We knew once we lost Perry, we had to come together as a team, do some things differently,” point guard Frank Mason III said, “and the guys off the bench did a good job of coming in and making plays.”

Ellis still managed 14 points, and Mason had 15 as the Jayhawks (23-4, 11-3 Big 12) squandered most of a 17-point second-half lead before holding on for their first win at Kansas State in three years.

Stephen Hurt and Barry Brown scored 13 points apiece for the Wildcats (15-12, 4-10), who got within 65-62 with less than 2 minutes to go. But that’s when Devonte Graham hit his first field goal after five straight misses, and the Jayhawks pulled away from the foul line to secure the victory.

“They’re so unselfish and they play together,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “They have a lot of guys who can make plays, and when you have guys coming off the bench, that makes a big difference.”

After third-ranked Oklahoma beat No. 10 West Virginia earlier in the day, Kansas has a two-game lead over the Sooners, Mountaineers and No. 25 Baylor with four games left in the conference race.

The Jayhawks have won at least a share of 11 consecutive Big 12 championships.

“We’re in decent position,” Mason said, “but we’re not satisfied with the team we are right now.”

The Jayhawks trailed 25-21 before going on a 12-0 run to take control, and Ellis scored at the rim in the closing seconds of the first half to give the defending Big 12 champions a 39-29 lead.

The story of the first half wasn’t the score, though. It was the fouls.

The teams combined for 21 of them, resulting in a disjointed 20 minutes that lacked any sort of rhythm. Kansas State had a trio of players with two fouls apiece, and Austin Budke had three, while the Jayhawks paraded to the foul line 19 times – yep, nearly once per minute.

Weber was probably hoarse by the time he reached the locker room.

The Jayhawks stretched the lead to 52-35 early in the second half, and still led 55-41 when Ellis was banged under the rim and blood began pouring from a cut behind his right ear. The Jayhawks’ leading scorer spent the next 6 minutes getting treatment for it in the locker room.

“The serious deal is Wayne scratched him in the eye,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We’ll go back and have an eye doctor look at it. If it’s a scratch, he’ll be OK, but we just don’t know.”

Kansas State took advantage of Ellis’ absence, pounding the ball to Hurt and D.J. Johnson in the paint. The duo combined to score 16 consecutive points for the Wildcats, and the 6-foot-11 Hurt’s third 3-pointer got Bramlage Coliseum rocking and made it 62-58 with 4 minutes left.

But the Wildcats couldn’t make a stop when they needed it down the stretch.

“It was great to have the crowd behind us,” Hurt said. “I just wish we could have gotten the win.”

CLOSE CALLS

Kansas State has lost eight games by 10 points or fewer, including double-overtime defeats against West Virginia and Baylor. “When we spot teams a lot of points, it’s hard to come back,” senior guard Justin Edwards said.

TIP-INS

Kansas: Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor fouled out in the final minutes. … Mason reached the 1,000-point mark for his career. … The Jayhawks wound up shooting 30 free throws.

Kansas State: Johnson and Edwards scored 11 points apiece. … Johnson was 9 of 10 from the foul line. … Kansas State has not won three straight over Kansas at home since 1981-83.

UP NEXT

Kansas visits No. 25 Baylor on Tuesday night.

Kansas State plays No. 24 Texas on Monday night.

YOU MAKE THE CALL: Should Isaac Humphries have gotten a technical for this? (VIDEO)

The White Squad's Skal Labissiere, bottom, avoids the defense of the Blue Squad's Isaac Humphries during a Kentucky NCAA college basketball scrimmage, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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The best moment of Isaac Humphries’ basketball career turned into the worst moment in the span of about five seconds.

In his first truly meaningful minutes for the Wildcats, Humphries was having an unbelievable game. He had six points, 12 boards and two blocks for Kentucky, the majority of which came in the second half and helped solved the issue of Texas A&M’s offensive rebounding.

In overtime, with less than 15 seconds left and Kentucky up by one, Humphries blocked a shot and secured the rebound, a play that would give Kentucky a pair of free throws with a chance to push the UK lead to three.

The problem?

His celebration included this awkward spike, which earned him a technical foul from Pat Adams:

Should he have been called for the T here?

Personally, I don’t think so. I understand that spiking the ball is an automatic technical foul, but I think there’s room for nuance in that interpretation. Humphries wasn’t trying to show up the referee or any of Texas A&M’s players. He was a freshman that was far too exuberant about making the biggest play of his life and did something that he immediately regretted.

The worst part about this?

Humphries fouled out. The T was his fifth foul. And after Texas A&M made two free throws to take a 77-76 lead and Skal Labissiere, Humphries’ replacement, hit one to tie it at 77, the Aggies did this:

That offensive rebound came after Labissiere was tossed around like a rag doll by Tyler Davis. Humphries? He had 10 defensive boards on the night.

Lethargic LSU is playing their way out of the NCAA tournament

Ben Simmons
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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Ben Simmons did not start for LSU against Tennessee — head coach Johnny Jones termed it an “academic matter” — instead entering the game with 15:30 left in the first half.

But based on Simmons’ effort on Saturday night, he may as well have spent the entire game on the bench. The potential No. 1 pick sulked throughout much of the game, putting in as much effort on the defensive end of the floor as you would playing the day’s last game of pickup at the YMCA.

Despite Simmons putting up 21 points and nine boards — to go along with his eight turnovers — Jonathan Givony of Draft Express described Simmons’ Saturday as disgraceful, and that’s probably being kind. Because his effort permeated the rest of the roster, as the Tigers were run out of Thompson-Boling Arena by a Tennessee team that had lost two in a row and five of their last games.

[   BUBBLE BANTER: Analysis of all of today’s bubble action   ]

Oh, and they were playing without their leading scorer and best player, Kevin Punter.

Tennessee’s season is more or less over. They’re playing for SEC tournament seeding.

LSU?

They have an at-large bid on the line.

The Tigers have been one of the most discussed bubble teams in the country for a couple of reasons, the most obvious being they have the nation’s most talented player on their roster. But early in the season, when they were waiting for Craig Victor to get eligible and Keith Hornsby to get healthy, LSU took three bad losses. It was easy to write those losses off as the Tigers simply not being at full strength.

When their starting five is intact, they can do things like beat Kentucky and beat Texas A&M and win at Alabama, which is a tougher thing to do than you probably realize (Mississippi State not withstanding).

That was the argument.

But now they’ve lost to Tennessee by 16 points on a day where Tennessee didn’t have their best player. And they lost to Wake Forest when they had their entire team available. They now have five sub-100 losses — and that doesn’t include their loss to Houston — compared to just three top 50 and six total top 100 wins. Their RPI was 81 entering the day, and getting an at-large bid with an RPI of 81 would already have been a record.

In other words, this was a must-win game for LSU because this was a game that they absolutely could not lose.

And they came out with that effort.

Which makes me believe they don’t care about playing in the NCAA tournament.

So why should we continue to argue for them to get in?