Rob Dauster

Miami's Angel Rodriguez drives against Virginia Tech's Zach LeDay during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (AP Photo/Don Petersen)
(AP Photo/Don Petersen)

Virginia Tech lands second top ten win, mollywhopping No. 7 Miami

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Justin Bibbs had 19 points and Zach LeDay chipped in with 16 points as Virginia Tech picked off No. 7 Miami in Blacksburg on Saturday, 77-62.

The loss cost the Hurricanes a shot at winning the outright ACC regular season title. They entered the afternoon tied with North Carolina atop the conference standings. A UNC loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium would give Jim Larrañaga’s club a share of the regular season title.

Miami entered the game having won eight of their last nine and three in a row, but for the second time in the last three weeks, they took an embarrassing loss on the road. That doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t know about this group. They can be inconsistent, which is what tends to happen when you rely so heavily on a kid that is as inconsistent as Angel Rodriguez. That said, this is still a group to watch out for in March. They have quality guard play, they have athleticism on the wings and they have good, veteran bigs that can battle and know their role. They’re dangerous.

As long as they don’t have to play on the road.

The bigger story here, however, is Virginia Tech. The Hokies have been one of the nation’s biggest surprises this season, and that’s a very strong argument to make for Buzz Williams as the ACC Coach of the Year.

Tech entered the season without much expectation whatsoever and backed up the lack of hype by losing to Alcorn State in the first game of the season. But after today’s win, they’re now 18-13 on the year, 10-8 in the ACC and can claim wins over a pair of top ten teams, Miami and Virginia.

It was only going to be a matter of time before Buzz got things rolling in Blacksburg, and it is certainly going to be fascinating to see how he is able to build on what has unequivocally been a successful season for him.

BUBBLE BANTER: Wichita State is going to be Selection Sunday’s most interesting test

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This post will be updated throughout the day.

And now it gets really interesting for Wichita State (KenPom: 10, RPI: 41, CBT Bracketology Seed: 8).

The Shockers lost in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley tournament on Saturday afternoon to a Northern Iowa team that beat North Carolina, Iowa State and won at Wichita State earlier this season. That’s not a bad team that just picked off Gregg Marshall’s club, but it’s not a loss that the Shockers could afford.

Because they unequivocally do not have a profile that’s deserving of an at-large bid. Entering the day, they had just a single top 85 RPI win this season with three losses to sub-85 RPI teams. That’s never going to be enough to get a bid. Ever.

But there’s two factors at play here. For starters, Wichita State’s chances to land elite wins during non-conference play were lost when their star point guard Fred VanVleet went down with a hamstring injury in November. How does the Selection Committee account for that?

The other part of it is that Wichita State, prior to Saturday’s loss, sat at No. 10 in KenPom’s efficiency ratings. KenPom’s numbers, for those that are unaware, are widely regarded as the most accurate rating system when it comes to college basketball teams, and it’s also worth noting that there has never been a team ranked in KenPom’s top 15 that has missed out on the NCAA tournament.

There has been a pushback against the RPI in recent years, as new and better and more accurate metrics have begun to pop up all over the place, and the Selection Committee has said that they are going to be putting more of an emphasis on those metrics when bracketing. Wichita State will likely end up being the perfect test case.

Personally, I want the committee to let Wichita State in. I’ve loved watching VanVleet and Ron Baker turn Wichita State into a nationally-relevant program. The Gonzaga of the Plains, if you will. But winning and losing matters, and the Shockers just haven’t won enough.

WINNERS

  • Providence (KP: 35, RPI: 38, CBT: 8): The Friars avoided losing at St. John’s today, which means that they’re going to the NCAA tournament. More importantly, a team that was struggling now has won three straight to close the regular season. Will that right the ship as we head into March?
  • Butler (KP: 56, RPI: 47, CBT: 10): The Bulldogs beat the breaks off of Marquette on Saturday, putting them in a position where they can probably feel pretty comfortable about getting into the NCAA tournament. I still think they want to beat Providence in their Big East tournament opener, but that wouldn’t be a bad loss. My guess is they can survive it.
  • St. Bonaventure (KP: 74, RPI: 29, CBT: Play-in Game): The Bonnies avoided a loss to Saint Louis on Saturday, which was not a loss they would have been able to overcome. I think they’ll be fine as long as they avoid losing to one of the landmines that they’ll run into in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
  • Oregon State (KP: 61, RPI: 31, CBT: 10): The Beavers did themselves a favor by winning at UCLA on a night where so many other bubble teams lost. One win in the Pac-12 tournament should lock them into the field.
  • Tulsa (KP: 42, RPI: 45, CBT: Play-in Game): The Golden Hurricane are super-bubbly right now, meaning that they certainly could not afford a loss to South Florida on Saturday. They did not lose to South Florida on Saturday, and they got an added bonus of seemingly every bubble team losing. Tulsa needs to win a game or two in the AAC tournament to really feel comfortable.
  • South Carolina (KP: 57, RPI: 52, CBT: 10): South Carolina won at Arkansas on Saturday, putting them in a position where they should probably feel pretty comfortable about their tournament standing. I think they can probably withstand a loss early in the SEC tournament, but as always, I’d strongly recommend not doing that.
  • Florida (KP: 46, RPI: 54, CBT: First Four Out): Florida beat Missouri on Saturday, which is not going to help their profile but certainly means that the Gators won’t have another landmine to their name. Florida, unfortunately, does not currently have enough good wins on the résumé. They need to win one or two games in the SEC tournament to have a real chance at this thing.
  • Saint Mary’s (KP: 34, RPI: 39, CBT: 10): I’m going to go ahead and assume that they only reason I’m seeing Saint Mary’s in brackets is because they are the top seed in the WCC tournament. I have no idea how they can be a projected at-large team. They beat LMU tonight.

LOSERS

  • Vanderbilt (KenPom: 24, RPI: 46, CBT Bracketology Seed: 9): The Commodores had a chance to win a share of the SEC regular season title and all-but lock up a tournament bid with a win at No. 20 Texas A&M today. They lost, and while that is not the kind of loss that is going to drop them to the wrong side of the cut-line, it does affect their margin for error in the SEC tournament. They need to win at least one to feel comfortable, I believe.
  • Pitt (KP: 41, RPI: 44, CBT: 9): After knocking off Duke last Saturday, all the Panthers had to do to avoid becoming bubble fodder again was win one of their last two games. They couldn’t manage that, and as a result, here we are. On Saturday, Pitt lost at Georgia Tech, just a couple of days after they lost at Virginia Tech. Wins over Duke and at Notre Dame are nice, but the Panthers are not quite as safe as that No. 9 seed might indicate. I’d recommend winning a game or two in the ACC tournament.
  • VCU (KP: 38, RPI: 42, CBT: 11): VCU had a great chance to win at Dayton on Saturday night, a win that would have locked up their at-large status and given them the outright Atlantic 10 regular season title. The Rams lost, however, and while that’s not going to be a killer for their profile, it’s a step in the wrong direction. They’re on the right side of the bubble as of today, but it would be nice to see them add a win or two in the A-10 tournament to avoid the stress.
  • USC (KP: 51, RPI: 35, CBT: 10): The Trojans are probably still safe after losing to Oregon at home on Saturday, but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors from a seeding standpoint by losing six of their last eight games. Four top 50 wins, an 11-11 record against the top 100 and no sub-100 losses should allow them to avoid the play-in game at minimum.
  • Michigan (KP: 49, RPI: 59, CBT: Play-in Game): Michigan lost to No. 16 Iowa at home on Saturday, which is the loss that I think relegates them to the NIT. Without Caris LeVert, this Michigan team just hasn’t been that good.
  • George Washington (KP: 69, RPI: 60, CBT: Next Four Out): The Colonials lost at Davidson on Saturday, putting them in a position where they probably need to earn the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid to go dancing.
  • Alabama (KP: 88, RPI: 63, CBT: First Four Out): The Crimson Tide lost at Georgia on Saturday, meaning they’ve now dropped four of their last five games. I think they need to get to at least the SEC finals to really have a chance at an at-large.
  • Ohio State (KP: 64, RPI: 76, CBT: Next Four Out): The Buckeyes needed to win at Michigan State today to really have a chance at an at-large. They lost.
  • LSU (KP: 77, RPI: 85, CBT: Next Four Out): The Tigers lost at Kentucky. They’re going to need to get that automatic bid if they want to dance.

Illinois athletic director gives Groce vote of confidence

John Groce
(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) The University of Illinois’ new athletic director has issued a vote of confidence in basketball coach John Groce.

Groce has been under pressure from fans unhappy about missing the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. It is Illinois’ biggest NCAA drought since 1978-80.

Illinois is also facing its first losing season since the 2007-08 team went 16-19.

Speaking on WDWS-AM radio Saturday, Athletic Director Josh Whitman said, “It’s important today that folks understand that John Groce is going to continue to be our basketball coach.”

Whitman said he’s comfortable with Groce’s leadership of the team, calling him a “student of basketball and leadership.”

Information from: WDWS-AM.

Hield, No. 6 Sooners beat TCU 75-67 in regular-season finale

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) dribbles the basketball up court in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Harvard at the Diamond Head Classic, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
(AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Buddy Hield scored 21 points in his final regular-season game for Oklahoma, and the sixth-ranked Sooners beat TCU 75-67 on Saturday.

The nation’s second-leading scorer was 7 of 12 from the field with a team-high six rebounds as the Sooners (24-6, 12-6 Big 12) clinched at least the No. 3 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament. They would be the second seed behind Kansas with a West Virginia loss at Baylor.

Jordan Woodard scored 13 points and Ryan Spangler had 11 points and five rebounds to help Oklahoma improve to 18-2 all-time against TCU.

Brandon Parrish scored 20 points for the Horned Frogs (11-20, 2-16), who have three 20-loss seasons and an 8-64 regular-season record in the Big 12 in four years under coach Trent Johnson.

TCU had a chance to tie with Chris Washburn at the line with 7:28 remaining, but Washburn’s air ball led to a 3-pointer by Dinjiyl Walker at the other end. Hield then hit a runner across the lane and a 3-pointer for a 60-52 lead.

The Sooners were lethargic early, committing seven turnovers in the first eight minutes, falling behind 16-8 and never pulling away from a last-place team coming off a 25-point loss at Kansas State.

Hield’s first points of the game on a 3 started Oklahoma’s recovery, followed by another from long range by Woodard. The teams traded the lead for the rest of the first half, capped by two free throws from Dante Buford with 1:37 left to give Oklahoma 31-30 halftime advantage.

The Sooners didn’t trail in the second half but were only up five when Isaiah Cousins hit a 3 with a little more than three minutes left and made two free throws to push the lead back to 10.

Spangler made all three of his 3-pointers and Hield was 3 of 8 as the nation’s No. 3 team in shooting from behind the arc made 11 of 22. The Horned Frogs, the worst-shooting team in the Big 12, were at 43 percent overall and went 6 for 21 from long range.

Chauncey Collins had 12 points for TCU, but was 2 of 8 from 3-point range.

TIP-INS

Oklahoma: Hield, Woodard, Spangler and Cousins started their 98th straight game together, covering every game the past three seasons. … Cousins had 10 points and a game-high six assists. He was 7 of 8 on free throws.

TCU: The pregame senior day ceremony was quick. Devonta Abron is the only senior on a roster that includes two freshmen and four sophomores … The scoreboard went about a minute and a half with the wrong score early in the second half after missing a basket by TCU’s Vladimir Brodziansky, who scored 10 points.

UP NEXT:

Oklahoma: Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday.

TCU: Texas Tech in first round of Big 12 tournament Wednesday.

No. 10 West Virginia clinches the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament with win at Baylor

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter drives past Baylor forward Taurean Prince and forward Johnathan Motley, right,  in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte)
(AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte)
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The No. 10 Mountaineers locked up the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament, which gives them a big leg up in Kansas City next week with a 69-58 win at No. 19 Baylor.

West Virginia used a balanced offensive effort as its defense forced 16 Baylor turnovers that led to a lot of easy baskets. Jaysean Paige led West Virginia with 14 points while Tarick Phillip scored 11 points. Freshman Esa Ahmad had some positive moments off the bench for eight points, including a big dunk.

With four straight wins entering the postseason, West Virginia has put itself in great position for a good NCAA tournament seed and a potentially deep run in both the Big 12 and NCAA tournament.

Baylor potentially drops to a No. 6 seed with the loss, which makes for a tough first-round game in the Big 12 tournament. Dropping two straight games, we’re back in that phase with Baylor where we’re asking ourselves which team we’re going to see.

Some nights, Baylor looks awesome and they get great play from their inconsistent backcourt and Jonathan Motley is scoring at a good clip. Then other games, the Bears just look out of it like they did on Saturday. Here’s the thing about this Baylor team: they beat who they’re supposed to beat, but they’ve been incredibly inconsistent against elite competition. All of Baylor’s 10 losses this season have come against teams ranked inside the top 26 of the RPI; they’re 4-10 against top 26 foes. (I say top 26 because the Bears split with Texas Tech, who is 26th in the RPI.)

Taurean Waller-Prince had a solid game for Baylor with 19 points and 10 rebounds but Rico Gathers (five points, five rebounds) once again struggled before fouling out and Lester Medford and Jonathan Mötley were mostly non-factors.

If Baylor is to make a run with either multiple wins in Kansas City or the NCAA tournament then multiple pieces have to step up around Prince.

No. 3 Villanova romps past Georgetown 84-71 in finale

Villanova's Daniel Ochefu (23), Ryan Arcidiacono (15), Jalen Brunson (1) and Henry Lowe (0) celebrate after an NCAA college basketball game against Georgetown, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Philadelphia. Villanova won 84-71. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Villanova turned its season finale into a championship bash.

The Wildcats pulled Big East title T-shirts over their jerseys, watched a season highlight video on the big screen, and then mobbed each other at midcourt and took turns hoisting the championship trophy.

It could all be a prelude to some net cutting ahead.

Josh Hart scored 18 points, Kris Jenkins had 17 and No. 3 Villanova closed out the regular season with an 84-71 win over Georgetown on Saturday.

The Big East champion Wildcats (27-4, 16-2) dominated from the opening tip and looked every bit the favorite to win the conference tournament in New York. Win a second straight Big East tourney, and the Wildcats are all but guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

But Villanova will savor this one against its longtime Big East rival.

The Wildcats raced to a 21-point lead midway through the first half and had a packed house at the Wells Fargo Center going wild. The NBA arena is the site of an NCAA regional final and the Wildcats would love to return and clinch a Final Four berth just a few miles from campus.

Coach Jay Wright refused to look weeks ahead at a potential Final Four coronation.

“No, it’s not easy to envision,” he said. “We have to win games. We have to win a lot of games.”

Without a true star player, the Wildcats relied on their usual mix of team ball and game-changing 3-point shooting. The Wildcats had 14 assists on 16 baskets in the first half and buried six 3s.

Ryan Arcidiacono had the most fun; the senior point guard scored on a reverse layup and then made a no-look dish to Hart down the lane for a 27-6 lead. Arcidiacono’s highlight reel flip was his 500th career assist. He scored 16 points and received a huge standing ovation in his final home game.

Wright greeted “Arch” at the bench and told him, “How cool was that?”

“I don’t think I even said anything,” Arcidiacono said. “I was in shock.”

Jenkins, who scored a career-high 31 points Thursday against Marquette, continued his recent surge. He hit a 3 at the first-half buzzer that sent Nova into the break with a 46-27 lead.

Jenkins averaged 23 points on 56 percent shooting and was 18 of 35 from 3-point range over the last four games.

L.J. Peak led Georgetown (14-17, 7-11) with 31 points.

Georgetown was a mess in its sixth straight loss and ninth in 10 games overall. Peak fired an air ball and Isaac Copeland’s jumper grazed the rim on the same possession late in the first half, bringing out the Hoya hecklers. The Hoyas are on their longest losing streak since they lost the final nine games of the 2003-04 season.

The Wildcats not only thumped Georgetown on the scoreboard, but also on the recruiting trail: Jenkins, Hart, Daniel Ochefu and Phil Booth are all from Maryland. Georgetown coach John Thompson III, trying to stay off the hot seat headed into the Big East Tournament, called it his most challenging season.

“By far. By far,” he said. “Not close.”

Villanova, which reached No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in program history, is dominating like it usually does this time of the year. But now comes the tricky part. The Wildcats haven’t advanced out of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2009 when they reached the Final Four and they were eliminated three times over that span as a No. 1 or 2 NCAA seed.

This season could break that ignominious streak.

“I think they’re poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament,” Thompson said.

TIP-INS

Georgetown: The Hoyas are 45-52 against Top 25 teams under Thompson. … Georgetown still leads the series, 44-33. … Hoyas made only 4 of 26 3-pointers.

Villanova: The game was sold out with 20,173 fans at the Wells Fargo Center. The NBA-worst Philadelphia 76ers average 14,721 in the same building. … Villanova is the No. 1 seed in the Big East tourney for the third straight season and fifth time in program history.

HOME COOKING

The Wildcats are 46-34 at the Wells Fargo Center and sold out the building for the 12th time. Villanova went 4-0 in NCAA Tournament games at the building in 2006 and 2009.

UP NEXT

Georgetown and Villanova will play in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.