Rob Dauster

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. steals the ball from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, night at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. (Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images)
(Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TALK’S TOP 25: Kansas remains No. 1 after four of the top six lose

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1. Kansas (23-4, LW: No. 1): If you want to know what makes this season so weird, it’s Kansas being ranked No. 1 overall. I think they have the best overall profile. I think that the fact they are sitting two games ahead of the field is the uber-competitive Big 12 says all that you need to know. I think what Bill Self has done with a team where his only three projected first round picks barely may be the best coaching job of his career.

But if you had to pick four teams to make the Final Four right now, how many of you would have the Jayhawks on that list? Michigan State and Xavier will be the trendy picks. Oklahoma has the star everyone knows. North Carolina and Maryland are the talent-laden underperformers with the highest ceilings.

Kentucky. Duke. Cal. Arizona. Those teams have lottery picks and are peaking at the right time.

Kansas is a balanced, well-coached, veteran team. That doesn’t usually get a ton of hype. But it is a good formula for winning games.

2. Oklahoma (21-5, LW: No. 2): The Sooners are exactly who we thought they were. On the nights where they’re shooting well, they can do things like win by 14 at West Virginia. When they don’t shoot well, they lose three out of four, including road trips to Kansas State and Texas Tech.

3. Michigan State (22-5, LW: No. 5): I think Michigan State is back to being one of the nation’s best teams, particularly when Denzel Valentine is doing the kind of ridiculous stuff that he’s been doing over the course of the last three or four weeks. He makes everyone on that roster better, because that roster doesn’t have the kind of talent that would traditionally make them a favorite come Selection Sunday. But they will be.

4. Villanova (24-3, LW: No. 4): Blah blah blah. We get Villanova at Xavier on Wednesday. That will tell us what we need to know about both teams.

5. Virginia (21-5, LW: No. 7): The ‘Hoos are hitting their stride at the right now, and Malcolm Brogdon is playing like a first-team all-american. The improvements this team has made defensively since the start of the season have been drastic.

6. Xavier (24-3, LW: No. 10): See: Villanova.

7. Iowa (20-6, LW: No. 3): I’m really curious to see how Iowa bounces back from their loss at Penn State last week.

8. North Carolina (21-5, LW: No. 6): This is such a confusing basketball team. On Wednesday, when they lost at home to Duke, the Tar Heels showed us exactly why it’s so difficult to trust them. Then on Saturday, they showed us just how good they can be.

9. West Virginia (20-7, LW: No. 8): The Mountaineers have had better weeks. The good news? They’ll get a chance to bounce back immediately against Iowa State on Monday.

10. Kentucky (20-7, LW: No. 12): I know they lost on Saturday, but that was as fluky of a loss as you’re going to see. The Wildcats actually played pretty well considering the circumstances, and the emergence of Isaac Humphries is a huge deal for a team that needs interior depth.

11. Oregon (21-6, LW: No. 14)
12. Maryland (23-5, LW: No. 9)
13. Louisville (21-6, LW: No. 15)
14. Duke (20-7, LW: No. 19)
15. Arizona (22-5, LW: No. 21)
16. Miami (21-5, LW: No. 11)
17. Purdue (21-7, LW: No. 13)
18. Iowa State (19-8, LW: No. 16)
19. Utah (20-7, LW: No. 25)
20. Indiana (20-6, LW: No. 24)
21. Notre Dame (18-8, LW: No. 17)
22. Baylor (20-7, LW: UR)
23. Cal (18-8, LW: UR)
24. Texas (17-10, LW: No. 22)
25. USC (19-8, LW: No. 23)

DROPPED OUT: No. 18 Dayton, No. 20 SMU
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Baylor, No. 23 Cal

WATCH LIVE: Hofstra takes on Northeastern on NBCSN

Joe Mihalich
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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You like the NCAA tournament, right?

You want to know about potential cinderellas, right?

One will be playing on NBCSN this afternoon.

Hofstra is currently sitting in second place in the CAA, but the uber-talented Pride may be the most dangerous team in the conference. That’s what happens when you have that level on talent on your roster.

They’ll be squaring off on Saturday with a Northeastern team that won the CAA’s automatic bid last season.

CLICK HERE to start prepping for your office pool on NBC Sports Live Extra.

WATCH LIVE: George Mason takes on UMass on NBCSN

George Mason's head coach Dave Paulsen talks with Otis Livingston (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 in Richmond, Va.  (Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
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The NBCSN college hoops triple-header on Sunday ends with the Patriots taking on UMass.

CLICK HERE to watch the game on NBC Sports Live Extra.

WATCH LIVE: George Washington hosts La Salle on NBCSN

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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George Washington is in a tough spot on Sunday.

The Colonials have a couple of nice wins on their profile, but a handful of bad losses combined with a relatively poor non-conference strength of schedule has GW on the wrong side of the bubble at the moment.

And La Salle?

They have one of the Atlantic 10’s best scorers in Jordan Price, which makes them dangerous. That’s relevant because a home loss to a team that sits outside the top 200 of the RPI would be disastrous.

CLICK HERE to watch GW-La Salle on NBC Sports Live Extra.

BUBBLE BANTER: Saturday is a huge day for bubble teams

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)
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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?