Previewing the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon

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For the third straight season, ESPN will be airing their 24 Hour Tip-Off Marathon, which starts at midnight tonight. Twenty games
in total, over the course of 25 hours. Its what every college
basketball fan dreams about.

Here is the full schedule:

Midnight: Miami at Memphis, ESPN
2:00 am: St. John’s at Saint Mary’s, ESPN
4:00 am: Central Michigan at Hawaii, ESPN
6:00 am: Stony Brook at Monmouth, ESPN
8:00 am: Robert Morris at Kent State, ESPN
10:00 am: Northeastern at Southern Illinois, ESPN
Noon: Oral Roberts at Tulsa, ESPN
2:00 pm: La Salle at Baylor, ESPN
4:00 pm: Virginia Tech at Kansas State, ESPN
5:30 pm: Marist at Villanova, ESPNU
6:00 pm: Ohio State at Florida, ESPN
6:00 pm: Baylor at Connecticut, ESPN2
7:00 pm: Detroit at Syracuse, ESPN3.com
7:30 pm: Miami (Ohio) at Duke, ESPNU
7:30 pm: St. Joseph’s at Penn State, ESPN3.com
8:00 pm: Butler at Louisville, ESPN
8:00 pm: North Dakota at Wisconsin, ESPN3.com
9:30 pm: Belmont at Tennessee, ESPNU
10:00 pm: South Carolina at Michigan State, ESPN
11:00 pm: San Diego State vs. Gonzaga (in Spokane, WA), ESPN2
11:30 pm: Nevada or Pacific at UCLA, ESPNU (Note:
Nevada and Pacific play today at 5:30 pm PST while UCLA will play Cal
State Northridge. The winners will advance and play each other.)

Here is the rank and preview each of the twenty games:

1. 6:00 pm: Ohio State at Florida:
A rematch of the 2007 NCAA title game, the Buckeyes will once again
have a uber-talented freshman manning the paint in 6’8″ Jared
Sullinger, who had 19 points and 14 boards in the Buckeye’s opener.
There is plenty of other talent on the OSU roster, however. Another
freshman — DeShaun Thomas — had 24 points in the opener, while David
Lighty, William Buford, and Jon Diebler all return on the perimeter.
Perhaps the most important piece for this team will end up being Aaron
Craft, a freshman point guard that went for 8 points, 9 assists, and 0
turnovers in his debut.

With
Enes Kanter done for the season, the Gators look to be the favorite to
win the SEC East. They have a super back court with Kenny Boynton and
Erving Walker, and with guys like Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus up
front, Billy Donovan had plenty of length and athleticism. The biggest
issue for the Gators is how they will go about slowing down Sullinger,
who is much stronger than Gator’s front court. Freshman Patric Young
was brought in for situations like this, but he looked like a freshman
in the first game.

BIAH Prediction: Ohio State 70, Florida 67

2. 11:00 pm: San Diego State vs. Gonzaga
(in Spokane, WA): Believe it or not, this could very well be a matchup
of the two best teams on the west coast. This game will also provide us
with the best individual matchup as Elias Harris and Kawhi Leonard
(hopefully) spend the evening going at each other. Harris is the more
polished of the two right now, as he has the ability to attack from the
perimeter. Leonard is probably more aggressive and more athletic at
this point in their careers and does most of his damage in transition
and on the offensive glass.

SDSU
is known for their front court, but this season the Zags has a big and
talented front line. What this game could come down to is who gets the
most out of their back court. Steven Gray is playing some of the best
basketball of his career right now, averaging 21.0 ppg, 8.5 apg, and
7.5 rpg, but between DJ Gay had 20 in the opener for the Aztecs while
James Rohan knocked down three huge threes in the second half.

BIAH Prediction: Gonzaga 81, SDSU 72

3. 4:00 pm: Virginia Tech at Kansas State:
If Kawhi Leonard and Elias Harris isn’t the best individual matchup of
the marathon, Malcolm Delaney and Jacob Pullen is. Not only are these
two arguably the two best lead guards in the country, they may very
well be the two best scorers in the country.

Kansas State’s
advantage is obviously on the interior as Tech is missing JT Thompson
and Allan Chaney, but that advantage looks to be mitigated. Curtis
Kelly will sit out for the second game in a row, and his replacements
(Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge) finished with 2 points, 5 boards, 6
turnovers, and 7 fouls.

BIAH Prediction: Kansas State 69, Virginia Tech 59

4. 2:00 am: St. John’s at Saint Mary’s:
Steve Lavin is returning to the West Coast, where he has been
absolutely cleaning up on the recruiting trail. The Johnnies, under
their new head coach, look to make their first tournament trip in a
long, long time. St. Mary’s kicks off their post-Samhan era by hosting
a team from the Big East. There are enough storylines here to
overshadow the fact that this is an early season non-conference game
with a ton of significance. Both of these teams will be in or around
the bubble come March. Will this result play a part in who gets in and
who doesn’t?

And yes, I just referenced the bubble. Before Thanksgiving.

BIAH Prediction: St. Mary’s 76, St. John’s 75 OT

5. 8:00 pm: Butler at Louisville:
Butler gets their first real test of the season as the head to
Louisville to christen the brand new KFC Yum! Center. I find it very
difficult to believe that the Bulldogs will be nearly as good as they
were last season. I love Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored, but without a
future pro like Hayward, I think Butler simply regresses to “very good
mid-major” as opposed to “national power.” Having said that, if Howard
can play big inside, the Bulldogs are more than capable of knocking off
a Cardinals team that is depleted due to ineligible freshmen and
injuries.

BIAH Prediction: Butler 59, Louisville 50

6. Midnight: Miami FL at Memphis:
Memphis may not have Jelan Kendrick, but this is still going to be a
very good basketball team. Just how good remains to be seen. This is a
deep team with a lot of weapons offensively — Joe Jackson, Will
Barton, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia. They should be, at worst, a
top 25 team and win C-USA. But Miami isn’t terrible. They have some
pieces with Reggie Johnson inside and Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant, and
DeQuan Jones on the perimeter. At the very least, we should get a
number of highlight reel dunks.

BIAH Prediction: Memphis 78, Miami FL 64

7. 10:00 pm: South Carolina at Michigan State:
The Gamecocks lost a ton of talent in the offseason, led by the
graduation of Devan Downey. Michigan State has essentially the same
group of guys that have made back to back Final Fours. I’m intrigued,
however, to see how far along Kalin Lucas is in his recovery, as well
as the improvements made by Durrell Summers in the offseason.

BIAH Prediction: Michigan State 80, South Carolina 62

8. 7:00 pm: Detroit at Syracuse:
If there is going to be an upset of a major conference team by a
mid-major, this looks like the most likely candidate. Detroit has some
buzz during the offseason. They returned much of a roster — including
Eli Holman, who went for 15 points and 13 boards against New Mexico in
the opener — that went 9-9 in the Horizon last season and added one of
the best point guards in the country in Ray McCallum, Jr. (Sr. is the
head coach). Syracuse is talented, but they have not looked great in
their two wins this season. They’ve struggled from the perimeter, Fab
Melo has looked raw inside, and Kris Joseph hasn’t exactly turned into
the star everyone expected him to be. So do I think the Orange will get
upset?

BIAH Prediction: Syracuse 84, Detroit 61

9. 11:30 pm: Nevada or Pacific at UCLA:
I’m hoping this ends up being UCLA and Nevada, as the Wolfpack are a
sleeper team in the WAC. While Armon Johnson and Luke Babbitt both left
for the NBA, Nevada went out and reloaded with transfers and talented
freshmen. Watch out for Deonte Burton, a high-scoring, high-flying
point guard from LA. UCLA, on the other hand, looks like they just
might be back to being UCLA. The key may actually be JuCo transfer
Lazeric Jones at the point, who has seemingly taken over for Jerime
Anderson.

To be fair, if Pacific does win against Nevada, they have a chance to be a mid-major darling as they have already beaten UTEP.

(I’ll update this prediction once I find out who the Bruins are playing.)

10. 8:00 am: Robert Morris at Kent State:
Robert Morris may have lost their head coach, but they bring back Karon
Abraham, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago. Kent State, who,
like Bobby Mo, won 23 games last season, has gotten off to a bit of a
slow start, losing to Cleveland State, but this is still a group that
should compete in the MAC. The Golden Flashes are led by forward Justin
Greene. This may not be the highest level of basketball, but these are
two good teams with NCAA Tournament potential.

BIAH Prediction: Kent State 68, Robert Morris 61

11. Noon: Oral Roberts at Tulsa:
This game lost some of its luster when Tulsa lost over the weekend to
Appalachian State. That said, these are still two of the best
basketball programs outside of the Big Six, and both are coming off of
20 win seasons.

BIAH Prediction: Tulsa 74, Oral Roberts 70

12. 2:00 pm: La Salle at Baylor:
Baylor will play their second game without LaceDarius Dunn, who is
suspended for three games after hitting his girlfriend over the summer.
It will be interesting to see if AJ Walton played tomorrow; Walton was
expected to start for Baylor before being suspended for the first game.
The Explorers aren’t terrible this season, either. They bring back some
size — Aaric Murray inside — and some versatility on the perimeter.

BIAH Prediction: Baylor 77, La Salle 64

13. 9:30 pm: Belmont at Tennessee:
After Detroit-Syracuse, I think the second most-likely upset of a major
conference team is Tennessee. Belmont is a good program. They return a
lot of experience from a group that won 19 games and finished in a
four-way tie atop the Atlantic Sun. Tennessee is relatively
inexperienced, they are dealing with a ton of off-the-court issues, and
they have not looked anywhere near dominant this season.

BIAH Prediction: Tennessee 74, Belmont 67

14. 8:00 pm: North Dakota @ Wisconsin:
Wisconsin isn’t a team generally known for scoring a lot of points.
They put 99 up against Prarie View A&M. North Dakota won eight
games last season.

BIAH Prediction: Wisconsin 85, North Dakota 51

15. 7:30 pm: Miami (Ohio) at Duke:
Yes, Miami OH can play a little. And I fully expect them to make a run
at the Devils early in the game. But this Duke team is, simply put,
just too damn good this year.

BIAH Prediction: Duke 89, Miami OH 61

16. 5:30 pm: Marist at Villanova: Marist won one game last season. One. Villanova has a chance to win the Big East. This could get ugly quickly.

BIAH Prediction: Villanova 84, Marist 46

17. 10:00 am: Northeastern at Southern Illinois:
SIU has fallen on hard times as Chris Lowery has gotten away from his
grind-it-out defensive style. Northeastern lost so much from their team
last season that it is difficult to see them competing this quickly in
the CAA. Also, keep in mind neither of these teams score all that much.

BIAH Prediction: Northeastern 51, Southern Illinois 44

18. 7:30 pm: St. Joseph’s at Penn State:
The bottom of the A-10 versus the bottom of the Big Ten. Yay. If there
is any reason to watch this game, it is Talor Battle, who is one of the
best point guards in the country. But even then, its not worth missing
Ohio State-Florida or Louisville-Butler.

BIAH Prediction: Penn State 79, St. Joseph’s 58

19. 4:00 am: Central Michigan at Hawaii:
Yuck. Central Michigan and Hawaii are both rebuilding programs, and
this game is being played at 4:00 am EST. If your goal is to make it
for all 24 hours, and you think you’ll need a nap to pull it off,
schedule it for this game.

BIAH Prediction: Hawaii 63, Central Michigan 58

20. 6:00 am: Stony Brook at Monmouth:
Monmouth was picked 10th in the NEC preseason poll, and while Stony
Brook is a pretty good team, they aren’t good enough to draw your
attention to a game that tips when everyone should be sleeping. 6:00 am
basketball is not conducive to having your legs. If you are awake,
however, its worth it to watch this game if nothing else than to see
the dedicated fans that make it to the gym at 6:00 am on a Tuesday.

BIAH Prediction: Stony Brook 74, Monmouth 55

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Saturday’s Things To Know: Kentucky survives, Ayo Dosunmu’s on a tear, Roy and Huggs reach milestones

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It was actually a relatively slow day for a Saturday in late-January in college hoops, but there is still plenty to discuss. Here are the ten things that you need to know:

1. No. 15 KENTUCKY KNOCKED OFF No. 18 TEXAS TECH

Nick Richards went for 25 points, 14 boards and four blocks and Immanuel Quickley chipped in with 21 points of his own as Kentucky went into Lubbock and knocked off the Red Raiders in overtime. A full breakdown of that game can be found here.

2. TEXAS TECH IS IN REAL BUBBLE TROUBLE

I’m not sure people realize just how little their is on Texas Tech’s resume right now. They beat Louisville (11) on a neutral court. They beat Iowa State (70) at home. They beat Oklahoma State (83) at home. They won at Kansas State (89). Combined, that’s one Quad 1, two Quad 2 and a Quad 3 win. They have eight wins against sub-200 teams and have lost to seven Quad 1 opponents, including Kentucky (23) at home on Saturday. The Red Raiders will have plenty of chances to build on their profile — they get West Virginia (7) at home and play at Kansas (3) next week alone — but there is no doubt that this team has to start winning some games against teams that are not horrific.

3. AYO DOSUNMU CONTINUED HIS TEAR

In case you haven’t noticed, No. 21 Illinois is the hottest team in the Big Ten, sitting all alone in first-place in the conference standings and Ayo Dosunmu — who scored 27 points and hit the game-winner at Michigan today — has been the best player in the Big Ten this month. More on the Illini and their star here.

4. ROY WILLIAMS PASSED DEAN SMITH ON THE ALL-TIME WINS LIST

It’s ironic when you think about it: North Carolina was in the midst of their first five-game losing streak since 2003, and it just so happened to come after Williams had tied Smith on the all-time wins list. He finally broke the streak on Saturday, blowing out Miami, 94-71, to win his 880th game as a head coach. It is, quite literally, the first win for the Tar Heels in 2020.

5. BOB HUGGINS PASSED ADOLPH RUPP ON THE ALL-TIME WINS LIST

No. 14 West Virginia blew out Missouri in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge to give Huggy Bear is 876th career win, good for seventh on the all-time list, one better than Adolph Rupp, the legendary Kentucky head coach.

6. No. 1 BAYLOR UPSET UNRANKED FLORIDA

This might sound ridiculous, but if you subscribe to the theory that any underdog that wins a game is an upset happening, then No. 1 Baylor going into the O-Dome and knocking off Florida is, technically, an upset. The Gators entered the game as 2.5 point favorites, jumped out to a big league and then proceeded to watch as the nation’s best team proved that they are, in fact, the nation’s best team.

We have spent the majority of this season explaining away the reasons why there isn’t an elite team in college basketball, but I’m beginning to think that there’s a chance Baylor could be that team. They’re never going to be the darlings of the metrics and they don’t have much NBA talent, but they are so balanced, so effective in crunch time and elite on the defensive end of the floor.

7. MEMPHIS BLEW AN 11-POINT LEAD IN THE FINAL SIX MINUTES

This one was hard to do.

The Tigers were up 70-59 with less than six minutes remaining in the game and then never scored again. They would give up a 15-0 run in that stretch and go on to lose, 74-70, at home to an SMU team that is not very good. Penny Hardaway’s team has found themselves in a bad, bad spot this season.

8. ARIZONA BLEW A 22-POINT LEAD

The No. 22 Wildcats led Arizona State in Tempe by 22 points in the first half. With 1:40 left before the break, they were ahead 43-24. At halftime, they were up 43-30. With 16:30 left on the clock, the Sun Devils had cut that lead to 43-40, and after Alonzo Verge scored with 10 seconds remaining, the Sun Devils had a 66-65 lead and went on to win by that score.

The importance of this win for Bobby Hurley’s club cannot be overstated.

9. SAN FRANCISCO WORKED THEIR FOULING MAGIC AGAIN

Last weekend, San Francisco fouled a ball-handler at the end of the first half in order to get the ball back. It was a sneaky bit of math that gave the Dons an extra two points on their lead heading into the break.

On Saturday against BYU, Todd Golden drew up something similar. With 22 seconds left in the game and the Dons clinging to a 79-77 lead, he had his team intentionally foul Yoeli Childs, BYU’s star center who just so happens to be a 60 percent free throw shooter and coming off of a broken finger. The reasoning was simple: Since BYU was in the one-and-one, Childs shooting free throws meant that A) BYU’s xPPP for that possessions was 0.96, lower than the average possession for a team that had scored 77 points in 39 minutes and shot 15-for-27 from three on the night. If he made both, USF had a chance to win on the final possession. If he missed one, BYU’s best rebounder was shooting the free throws. Turns out, he missed the first, and USF hung on to win, 83-82.

10. SAMUELL WILLIAMSON MAY HAVE HAD HIS BREAKOUT GAME

Last weekend, it was freshman David Johnson that had his breakout game for No. 6 Louisville. He went for 19 points and seven boards as the Cardinals went into Cameron and beat Duke. This weekend, it was fellow freshman Williamson, who scored 14 points for the Cards as they blew out Clemson in the Yum! Center. Is this the start of his star turn?

No. 1 Baylor smothers Florida 72-61, 16th straight win

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — MaCio Teague and Devonte Bandoo scored 16 points apiece and No. 1 Baylor extended its winning steak to 16 with a 72-61 victory over Florida in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday night.

The Bears improved to 6-1 in the annual inter-conference series – the best record of any team in either conference – and themselves another week atop The Associated Press poll.

Baylor also gave the Big 12 an even split (5-5) in the daylong series.

The Bears (17-1) overcame an eight-point deficit early and led by 19 points in the second half before Florida mounted a minor rally. The Gators (12-7) had a chance to make it a single-digit game with a little more than 7 minutes to play, but they missed the front end of three consecutive one-and-ones. Kerry Blackshear Jr. misfired twice on back-to-back possessions and then Noah Locke did the same seconds later.

What could have been an eight-point game was still a comfortable lead for the Bears.

Florida eventually managed to whittle Baylor’s lead to 10 on Andrew Nembhard’s driving layup with 2:40 remaining. But the Bears answered on the other end thanks to their 13th offensive rebound, which led to two free throws for Bandoo.

Davion Mitchell finished with 11 points and six assists for Baylor, which was a slight underdog entering the game. Jared Butler chipped in 10 points.

Baylor’s length, athleticism and defensive prowess posed problems all night for Florida, which shot 44% from the field and 23.5% from 3-point range.

The Gators fell to 2-17 against the No. 1 team, including 10 consecutive losses.

Keyontae Johnson led Florida with 20 points. Nembhard added 16 points and eight assists, but he missed more shots (8) than he made (6), including all four 3-pointers. The Gators missed 13 of 17 from behind the arc.

Baylor took control of the game with a 13-2 run to close the first half, turning a tie game into a double-digit lead. The Bears hit six 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes – twice as many as Florida – and had seven offensive rebounds.

They got help from an unlikely source. Bandoo, who averages 7.5 points off the benched, scored 11 in the opening half on 4 of 6 shooting.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears matched their best 18-game start in school history. They also started 17-1 in 2011-12 and 2016-17. They landed No. 3 seeds in the NCAA Tournament after those regular seasons and were eliminated both times by SEC teams (Kentucky in ’12, South Carolina in `17).

Florida: The Gators appeared to be taking strides while beating then-No. 4 Auburn last Saturday and nearly stunning LSU on the road earlier this week. But the team’s offensive woes returned against Baylor – no surprise given the Bears are one of the best defenses in the nation.

STILL HOBBLING

Florida forward Dontay Bassett missed his second consecutive game with a calf injury. Bassett averages 1.3 points and 2.1 rebounds.

UP NEXT

Baylor: Returns to Big 12 action and plays at Iowa State on Wednesday night. The Bears have won three of the last four in the series, but lost to the Cyclones in the conference tournament last March.

Florida: Returns to SEC play and hosts Mississippi State on Tuesday night. The Gators lost to the Bulldogs last year to end an eight-game winning streak in the series.

Richards, Quickley lead No. 15 Kentucky to OT win at No. 18 Texas Tech

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Nick Richards hit two free throws with 10 seconds left on the clock and Ashton Hagans managed to strip Davide Moretti on the ensuing possession as No. 15 Kentucky went into Lubbock and knocked off No. 18 Texas Tech, 76-74, in a thrilling overtime battle.

Richards finished the night with 25 pints, 14 boards and four blocks while shooting 7-for-10 from the floor and 11-for-14 from three. Immanuel Quickley chipped in with 21 points for the Wildcats, who shot 7-for-15 from three and won despite 15 combined turnovers from their three starting guards.

Kyler Edwards led the way for Texas Tech with 18 points and seven boards, but the Red Raiders shot just 3-for-19 from beyond the arc and never could figure out an answer to Richards’ in the paint.

Here are the three things that we can take away from this game:

1. KENTUCKY WON WITHOUT TYRESE MAXEY AND ASHTON HAGANS

Maxey and Hagans did, technically, play on Saturday night, but neither of them were any good. Maxey finished 2-for-10 from the floor with five turnovers and four fouls. Hagans finished with seven assists and three steals, but he shot just 2-for-6 from the floor and had four turnovers of his own. Combined, they scored 13 points, which is 14 points below their season average.

The reason this is relevant is that Kentucky has been, for much of the season, a four-man show. We’ve spent the majority of the season trying to figure out who they can plug into a lineup with those four to get an optimal performance out of the Wildcats. When half of that group is struggling, it’s not exactly a recipe for success.

But that didn’t matter on Saturday.

Kentucky still found a way to get a win against a top 20 team on the road.

And the reason for it was the play of Richards. This is notable, because if you look at Kentucky’s biggest wins of the season to date, they all happened to be a result of one of Hagans or Maxey going absolutely nuts. Maxey had 27 in the win over Michigan State. He had 26  against Louisville. Hagans went for 21 points, seven boards and seven assists against Georgia Tech. He had 13 points, six boards and six assists at Arkansas and 15 points, nine boards and nine assists against Alabama.

Point being, this is the first time that Richards has definitively been the best player on the floor while carrying Kentucky to a win like this on the road.

I also get it: He completely overwhelmed Texas Tech’s frontline — which, frankly, is not a new occurrence, if you have seen the Red Raiders play this season. But we’ve seen Richards play against frontlines he should dominate and, well, not dominate.

And Kentucky got themselves a win as a result.

2. KENTUCKY ISN’T LONG FOR MARCH IF THEY CANNOT GET THEIR LATE-GAME EXECUTION FIGURED OUT

As impressive as this win was for the Wildcats, we cannot talk about it without mentioning that Kentucky did get a little bit lucky. Davide Moretti is a 92 percent free throw shooter and missed one with 18 seconds left that gave Kentucky one more possession with the game tied.

Truthfully, it never should have gotten to that point. For the third time in four games, Kentucky blew a double-digit second half lead. They were up 14 in the second half at South Carolina in a game that they lost, 81-78. They were up by 11 in the second half at Arkansas and, after allowing the Razorbacks to get up by three, rallied after John Calipari was ejected from the game. And on Saturday, they were leading the Red Raiders by as many as 10 points. Texas Tech never once held the lead in the second half.

To put this into context, Kentucky scored six points in the final 9:30 of regulation. They made one field goal, and that came with 6:31 left on the clock. They went to the foul line four times and shot 1-for-2 on every trip. Now, part of that is due to Tech’s defense — spoiler alert, they’re really good — but this is becoming something of a trend for the Wildcats.

3. KYLER EDWARDS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER ON TEXAS TECH

Jahmi’us Ramsey is Texas Tech’s leading scorer, their most talented player and probably the best NBA prospect on the roster. Chris Clarke is the x-factor that Chris Beard likes to use to take advantage of mismatches. T.J. Holyfield is the guy that the Red Raiders need to play out of his mind because of their lacking interior depth.

But for my money, the most important player on Texas Tech is Kyler Edwards.

More than anyone else on this roster, including Ramsey, Edwards is the guy that can fill the role that was played by Keenan Evans and Jarrett Culver the last two seasons. He’s the big combo-guard that can be more than just a shooter. He’s the guy that can create for himself while also being capable of finding assists or creating shots for his teammates.

And this season, he’s averaging just 11.8 points and shooting 30 percent from three.

Now, he’s been better of late. He averaged 23 points in wins over Iowa State and Kansas State last week. And, yes, he had 18 points against Kentucky on Saturday.

The reason he’s so important is simple: Texas Tech is really limited offensively, particularly when it comes to guys that can create on their own. It’s why Moretti’s efficiency is down this year. It’s why they are so reliant on Chris Clarke trying to take advantage of mismatches. It’s why Ramsey turning into something of a three-point shooter is a bad sign longterm.

Tech needs Edwards to be awesome if they can to be able to make a run in March.

Dotson, Azubuike lead No. 3 Kansas past Tennessee 74-68

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Devon Dotson scored 22 points, Udoka Azubuike added 18 and No. 3 Kansas beat Tennessee 74-68 Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Azubuike was the lone big man for the Jayhawks (16-3) after Silvio De Sousa was suspended 12 games and David McCormack banned five for their roles in a brawl Tuesday against Kansas State.

After Azubuike went to the bench with two fouls early, Yves Pons hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Volunteers (12-7) on a 14-2 run for a 20-13 lead. Kansas answered when Azubuike checked back in, stringing together a 12-0 run en route to a 37-30 lead at halftime.

Azubuike finished with 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Pons led the Volunteers with 24 points, and Jordan Bowden came alive early in the second half, knocking down three 3-pointers and finishing with 19 points after a scoreless first half.

Tennessee pulled within three late in the second half, but Azubuike had a block and hit four free throws late to keep the Volunteers in check.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The pressure will stay on Azubuike, whose early foul trouble stalled Kansas’ offense and allowed for a substantial Volunteer run.

Tennessee: Only three Volunteers – Pons, Santiago Vescovi and John Fulkerson – scored in the first half, and Tennessee turned the ball over 15 times. Despite the offensive struggles, the Volunteers were able to stay within arms’ length.

UP NEXT

Kansas: The Jayhawks head to Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Monday to take on Oklahoma State.

Tennessee: The Vols host Texas A&M on Tuesday.

Bubble Banter: It’s that time of year again!

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It’s getting to be that time of year.

Bubble Banter is back, baby!

Over the course of the next three days, we are going to be diving headlong into bubble chatter right here, breaking down every single team that is on or near the bubble for the NCAA tournament Field of 68. This, of course, is according to our Dave Ommen, who sent me a list of all the bubble teams. Our cut-off, at least for this conversation, is teams that currently sit as a No. 9 seed or better in the most recent bracket that we released.

Why?

Because — with the notable exception of Ohio State — it is difficult to see how any of those teams can end up out of the NCAA tournament before our next bracket projection gets published on Monday.

So, you know, they’re not currently on the bubble.

Anyway, come back throughout the weekend to see who the winners and the losers are and what it means for their standing in regards to the cut line.

WINNERS

PURDUE (NET: 37, NBC: Off the bubble): Purdue’s schizophrenic January continued on Friday with a blowout win over Wisconsin (30) at home. The Boilermakers have lost four of their last six, and the two wins were utterly dominant wins over the Badgers and Michigan State (10). Their 11-9 (4-5) record isn’t pretty, but three Quad 1 wins and just one Quad 3 loss — at Nebraska (165) — is enough to keep them in the mix.

NORTH CAROLINA (NET: 113, NBC: Off the bubble): The Tar Heels are still in the mix for the NCAA tournament for one, simple fact: All of their worst losses have come without Cole Anthony, and it appears that Anthony will be returning to the team at some point. After beating Miami, UNC is now 3-7 without him and 6-3 with him on the floor. They’ve beaten Alabama (38) on a neutral court, they’ve beaten Oregon (17) on a neutral court and all three of their losses with Anthony are Quad 1 losses. Remember, they still play four top ten teams during the regular season. They’ll have chances, and if they can get hot with Anthony back, they’ve got a shot.

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 62, NBC: Next four out): The Sun Devils landed just an enormous win on Saturday night, coming back from 22 points down to beat Arizona (9) at home in their last chance to take on the Wildcats during the regular season. Believe it or not, that is the first Quad 1 win for the Sun Devils, and given that they only have one Quad 2 loss — Virginia (64) on a neutral court — I think it’s pretty clear that this group is not all that far away from getting a bid. They just needed a couple big wins. Knocking off Arizona certainly qualifies.

OKLAHOMA (NET: 47, NBC: Play-in game): The Sooners have put themselves in a pretty good spot after knocking off Mississippi State (52) on Saturday. They’re 13-6 overall and all six of their losses are of the Quad 1 variety. Throw in a pair of Quad 1 wins — Minnesota (39) on a neutral and Texas (67) on the road — and five Quad 2 wins, and this is a good start. With six games left against Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia and Texas Tech, there are plenty of resume-boosting wins available.

SYRACUSE (NET: 66, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange are starting to play like a top five team in the ACC this season. On Saturday, they knocked off Pitt in the Carrier Dome, pushing them to 6-3 in the league and 13-7 overall. They do have a questionable home loss to Notre Dame (79, Quad 3) but they’ve won four true road games in league play, two of which are Quad 1 wins. A 5-6 record in Quad 1 and 2 games is enough to keep them in and around the bubble for now.

ST. JOHN’S (NET: 81, NBC: Off the bubble): Since beating Arizona in California on Dec. 21st, St. John’s has now lost six of their last eight games. The only team that they have beaten in that stretch is DePaul, who they swept on Saturday with a road win. That’s the third Quad 1 win for this group, but with eight losses on the season — including a loss at home against Vermont (101) — the Red Storm have work to do.

ALABAMA (NET: 38, NBC: Next four out): The biggest problem that Alabama has right now is their losses. They dropped a home game to Penn (181) on the opening night of the season. They lost a game to North Carolina (113) in the Bahamas. They also lost to Iowa State (70) in the Bahamas. Those do not look good right now. The Tide have turned their season around — beating Kansas State (89) on Saturday was their fourth straight win and their seventh win in the last nine games — but they have just one win over a top 50 team. They get LSU (24) on the road on Wednesday and, in February, play at Auburn (18) and LSU again. I think winning two of those three games will be critical.

SAINT MARY’S (NET: 40, NBC: Last four byes): The Gaels hung on against Loyola Marymount on the road on Saturday, meaning that they avoided one of the landmines left on their schedule. They Gaels own wins over BYU (27) and Wisconsin (30) and while they have lost to Santa Clara (103) and Winthrop (137) at home, the Gaels are 6-2 against the top two Quads and still get BYU on the road and two shots at Gonzaga (4).

VCU (NET: 41, NBC: Play-in game): The Rams avoided one of the landmines on their schedule as they went into Philly and knocked off La Salle. VCU is now 15-5 overall with a Quad 1 (LSU, 24) and Quad 2 (at Charleston, 124) win. The Rams have a ton of work left to do, but the fact that their worst loss is against Tennessee (59) on a neutral court and that there are a number of potential Quad 1 wins left on their league schedule will help quite a bit.

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 53, NBC: First four out): The Rams avoided one of the landmines left on their schedule, winning at St. Bonaventure on Saturday, but they are not in a great spot at the moment. URI is on the wrong side of the bubble right now, and while every team in the power conferences are playing one or two Quad 1 games a week, URI has just two left on their schedule — their two games against Dayton (5).

UTAH (NET: 77, NBC: Off the bubble): The Utes are in the mix because they have a pair of Quad 1 wins on their resume — Kentucky (23) and BYU (27) on neutral courts. And if you ignore their trip to Myrtle Beach, where they lost to Coastal Carolina (185) and Tulane (126). On Saturday, they avoided another such loss by knocking off Washington State (102).

EAST TENNESSEE STATE (NET: 49, NBC: 12): The Buccaneers are in a pretty good spot right now thanks to a win at LSU (24) in December. They’re 17-3 overall with a pair of Quad 1 wins, but they do have one bad loss — at North Dakota State (159) — which means that they cannot take step on another landmine during league play. Winning out in the regular season is the only option here.

YALE (NET: 60, NBC: 12): The Elis are in this conversation because they don’t really have a bad loss to speak of. Their “worst” loss was a road game at San Francisco (!00), and if North Carolina gets Cole Anthony back, then that loss is not going to look nearly as bad by Selection Sunday. Their problem is a lack of quality wins. They won at Clemson (75), which is barely a Quad 1 win. That’s their only win that didn’t come against Quad 3 or 4 opponents. That’s not going to change in the Ivy. I think they need to win out and lose to Harvard in the Ivy title game to have a real at-large chance.

LOSERS

MEMPHIS (NET: 42, NBC: 10): Oh, Memphis. Two days after losing by 40 at Tulsa (65), the Tigers turn around and blow an 11-point lead in the final five minutes at home against SMU (68). They aren’t in real trouble yet, but it is worth noting that they have not beaten a single team in the top 45 in the NET and that their three best wins — N.C. State (45), Tennessee (59) and Cincinnati (56) — are teams that may not make the NCAA tournament.

TEXAS TECH (NET: 32, NBC: Play-in game): I’m not sure people realize just how little their is on Texas Tech’s resume right now. They beat Louisville (11) on a neutral court. They beat Iowa State (70) at home. They beat Oklahoma State (83) at home. They won at Kansas State (89). Combined, that’s one Quad 1, two Quad 2 and a Quad 3 win. They have eight wins against sub-200 teams and have lost to seven Quad 1 opponents, including Kentucky (23) at home on Saturday. The Red Raiders will have plenty of chances to build on their profile — they get West Virginia (7) at home and play at Kansas (3) next week alone — but there is no doubt that this team has to start winning some games against teams that are not horrific.

PITT (NET: 74, NBC: Off the bubble): On the one hand, the Panthers have a couple of really nice home wins — Florida State (12) and Rutgers (19). On the other hand, they have a couple of really ugly losses — Wake Forest (104) and Nicholls (180), both at home. If Cole Anthony returns and North Carolina wakes up it could end up being a game-changer for the Panthers, who have swept the Tar Heels.

TEXAS (NET: 67, NBC: Off the bubble): Texas rallied, and ultimately lost, at home against LSU (24) on Saturday, which is a tough blow for the Longhorns. LSU is a Quad 1 opponent, and the Longhorns have some ground they need to make up. They’ve now lost three in a row and five of their last seven games, and a November win at Purdue (37) does not look quite as good now as it did at the time.

VIRGINIA TECH (NET: 44, NBC: Last four byes): The Hokies may go down as the biggest loser of the weekend. Playing at Boston College (164), Virginia Tech suffered their first Quad 3 loss of the season despite the fact that the Eagles shot just 11-for-27 from the free throw line. That’s just brutal. Bubble teams need to avoid these landmines, and Mike Young’s team couldn’t. The good news? They have three Quad 1 wins — including Michigan State (10) on a neutral — and they all came away from home. It’s not all bad.

LIBERTY (NET: 50, NBC: 12): The Flames just killed their hope of getting an at-large. The Flames are 0-1 in Quad 1 games, 1-0 in Quad 2 games (Akron on a neutral) and 2-1 in Quad 3 games. They have 14 wins over Quad 4 opponents and just lost to Stetson (309). They’re frauds.

TENNESSEE (NET: 59, NBC: Next four out): Tennessee missed on a great chance to add a marquee win to their resume when they lost at Kansas (3) on Saturday. The Vols had won four of their last five prior to that game, and it looks like they’ve gotten their season turned around. They are 12-7 overall but just 3-7 against the top two quadrants and they have yet to beat a top 40 team. They still play seven Quad 1 games, and that doesn’t include Arkansas or Florida at home. The Vols are in a good spot if they can get hot.

BYU (NET: 27, NBC: 10): The Cougars have really good computer numbers, and they do have some quality wins to their name — at Houston (36), Virginia Tech (44) and Utah State (73) on neutrals — but after losing at San Francisco on Saturday, BYU now has three Quad 2 losses and a 4-7 record against the top two Quads. With games remaining against Saint Mary’s (40) and Gonzaga (4) at home, BYU should be OK if they can get one of those and avoid the landmines.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 52, NBC: Next four out): There’s not a lot to like about Mississippi State’s resume right now. They have one win over a top 75 team this season — Arkansas (34) at home — and their only road win came at Coastal Carolina. They’s lost to Louisiana Tech (91) at home and New Mexico State (109) on a neutral floor. What am I supposed to be impressed with?

N.C. STATE (NET: 45, NBC: Last four byes): The Wolfpack have a 14-6 record to go along with solid computer numbers and three Quad 1 wins, two of which came on the road. The issue with their resume, outside of a lack of elite wins, is a pair of losses to Georgia Tech (93). Today’s came on the road. N.C. State has four games left against top ten teams, including three at home. They’ll have their chances to add to this profile.

WASHINGTON (NET: 48, NBC: Off the bubble): Washington lost at Colorado (20) on Saturday, meaning they have now lost three in a row, five of their last six and seven of their last nine games. They’re 12-9 overall with a pair of Quad 3 losses, a 1-5 mark against Quad 1 and a 2-7 record against the top two Quads. But here’s the thing: They beat Baylor (2) on a neutral, and that will go down as arguably the best win in college basketball this season. With two more games against Arizona (9) and another shot against Stanford (16) at home, the Huskies are far from dead.

DEPAUL (NET: 57, NBC: Last four byes): Saturday’s home loss to St. John’s (81) is not going to do any favorites for DePaul, who now has as many Quad 3 losses (three) as they have Quad 1 wins. It doesn’t help matters that four of their next five are on the road, starting with a visit to Seton Hall (13) on Wednesday. The Blue Demons have lost six of their last seven games. The next two weeks will determine where they play in March.

RICHMOND (NET: 54, NBC: First four out): The Spiders lost to Dayton (5) on Saturday at home, a critical loss because it’s really the only game-changing opponent that they had left on their schedule. They do play VCU (41) twice, and picking them off in Richmond will be a Quad 1 win, but that’s not going to be enough to get them to leapfrog any high-major teams that play a dozen Quad 1 games in league play. Richmond is in a bad spot.

LEFT TO PLAY

SUNDAY

VIRGINIA at Wake Forest, 12:00 p.m.
No. 11 Michigan State at MINNESOTA, 3:00 p.m.
Fordham at SAINT LOUIS, 3:00 p.m.
XAVIER at Creighton, 4:00 p.m.
Loyola-Chicago at NORTHERN IOWA, 4:00 p.m.
OHIO STATE at Northwestern, 6:30 p.m.