1/24 – College Hoops Week in Review: Buzzer Beaters galore

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Game of the Week: UConn 61, Villanova 59

This week was rife with buzzer beaters, but perhaps the most significant one came from UConn’s all-everything point guard Kemba Walker. Villanova’s Corey Fisher had tied the game at 59 with 22 seconds left on the clock, and after a UConn timeout, Walker sent the Wildcats back to Philly with a loss thanks to this shot:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stnWE0nAeHc]

Villanova looked like they were pulling away when an Antonio Pena jumper pushed the Wildcat lead to 45-48 at the nine minute mark, but UConn came back. It was a 14-3 run, sparked on the defensive end and capped by a Jeremy Lamb layup with just over three minutes left, that got the Huskies back in the lead. They were up 59-54 with 48 seconds left after two Walker free throws, but Corey Fisher scored five straight points to tie the game and set up the final possession.

Memphis and Indiana State’s exciting weeks: Like I said, there were numerous significant buzzer beaters this week — JaJuan Johnson and Brian Williams can attest to that — but the games that Indiana State and Memphis played probably resulted in the most chewed finger nails per fan of any program in the country this week.

Indiana State: For the Sycamores, it started with a Tuesday night visit from conference-leading Missouri State. It was a back and forth contest for 40 minutes, but with 4.9 seconds left on the clock, Indiana State had the ball down 69-67. It was inbounded to Jake Kelly, who has battled injuries the past two seasons, and he drove and scored with 0.6 seconds left. Kelly also drew a foul and calmly knocked down the free throw for the 70-69 win:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5HHSfHuzYo]

And that might not have been their wildest game of the week. On Saturday, the Sycamores went into Charles Koch Arena to take on Wichita State, who was a game behind both Missouri State and Indiana State for first in the MVC standings. ISU over came a 10 point second half deficit to take a two point left, but JT Durley tied the game with seven seconds left to force OT. In the first OT, ISU was down eight points, but managed to force a second overtime on a Kelly layup with 24.5 seconds left. Toure’ Murry forced the third overtime with a free throw with 8.8 seconds left. In the final OT, a Ben Smith three game WSU a 84-83 lead, and the Shockers would score the next nine points to win 93-83 in triple OT.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K7MEh]

Memphis: The Tigers had their own wild week. Still playing without Wesley Witherspoon (one game he was suspended, the other he was injured), the Tigers went 2-0 this week with a couple of fantastic finishes. On Wednesday night, Memphis dug themselves an 18 point hole against Southern Miss. The Tigers fought their way back into the game, and even took a 71-66 lead at one point. The Golden Eagles responded with an 8-2 run, setting up this ending:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnwVai-Y5SM]

Against UAB on Saturday, the Tigers pulled out an exciting overtime game that had a wild last two minutes of regulation. UAB took a 64-62 lead with 1:55 left, but a Tarik Black three point play gave Memphis the lead back. Jamarr Sanders answered with a strong drive and finish, but Will Barton buried a three with 55 seconds left as the Tigers went ahead 68-66. After UAB tied the game up, Barton banked in an off-balance thirty-footer, but he was called for a travel before he got the shot off. In the OT, Memphis didn’t allow UAB to score until there were 37 seconds left, but some horrific free throw shooting down the stretch allowed the Blazers two shots to tie on their final possession:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXZ-lycvJbo]

Four OT Madness — Utah Valley outlasts North Dakota: This one was wild.

Players of the Week: Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington

The Huskies have long been considered the favorite to win the Pac-10, but this week they erased any doubt that their slip-up at Stanford created. U-Dub took care of Arizona and Arizona State at home this week, largely due to the play of these two young men. Thomas has been the best point guard in the country in the month of January. He’s averaging 20.2 ppg, 9.2 apg, and 4.2 rpg while gathering 11 steals and posting an assist-to-turnovers ratio of 3:1. That time frame also happens to coincide with the loss of Abdul Gaddy to an acl injury. Thomas has always been a streaky player, but his talent has never really been questioned. Maybe the move to the point and more time with the ball in his hands is what he needed to jump start his season. For the week, he averaged 20.5 ppg, 9.0 apg, and 6.0 rpg.

MBA has developed into a monster in the paint, and showed why this week. Against Arizona and Derrick Williams, he had 18 points, seven boards, and three blocks, and while Williams outplayed him on the stat sheet — 22 points, 11 boards — the fact that MBA was able to get Arizona’s all-american into foul trouble down the stretch was a big reason Washington pulled away late. On Saturday against Arizona State, MBA had a career-high 30 points and was, again, instrumental in the Huskie’s late surge to hold on for the win.

Both MBA and Thomas are not only both playing as well as they have all season, but they seem to have developed a nice connection on the court. Thomas is looking for MBA when he drives, and MBA is getting open and finishing the passes he receives. The more I watch Washington, the more I believe this is a team capable of making a deep tournament run. With Thomas, MBA, and the bevy of wing players on this Washington roster, Lorenzo Romar has plenty of weapons on this team.

The All-they-were-good-too team:

  • G: Kevin Foster, Santa Clara: The Broncs had a terrific week, beating both Gonzaga and Portland, but Foster was the star. He had 36 points and six assists against the Zags, following that up with 19 points in the win over Portland.
  • G: Jordan Hamilton/J’Covan Brown, Texas: The two Longhorn guards combined to averaged 37.5 ppg as Texas knocked off two top ten teams this week. Brown sparked the comeback against Kansas, while Hamilton’s second half put away Texas A&M.
  • G: Cam Long, George Mason: Long led Mason to a important 2-0 week as the Patriots knocked off both Drexel and James Madison to create some space at the top of the CAA standings. Long had 14 points and seven rebounds in the win against Drexel, but it was the 30 points, five assists, and four boards he had against JMU that got him on this team. He did it on 8-9 shooting from the floor, including 4-4 from three.
  • F: Justin Harper, Richmond: Its about time you start paying attention to this kid. An athletic, 6’10” power forward that shoots 50% from three? He’s averaging 18.2 ppg and 6.7 rpg on the season, 25.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg with 11 blocks over the last five, and went had 51 points and 18 boards in two wins this week against George Washington and UMass, who entered the week a combined 6-1 in the A-10.
  • C: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Sullinger was an absolute monster against Illinois on Saturday. He had 27 points, 16 boards, and three blocks, and almost single-handedly got the Illini’s entire front line in foul trouble.
  • Bench: Jimmer Fredette, BYU (42 points at Colorado State); Josh Gasser, Wisconsin (1o points, 12 boards, 10 assists vs. Northwestern); Ben Hansbrough (averaged 20.5 ppg and 5.5 apg in wins over Cincy and Marquette); Kore White, Florida Atlantic (22 points and 11 boards as FAU moved to 7-0 in the Sun Belt); Lazeric Jones, UCLA (205 ppg in 2-0 week); Tu Holloway, Xavier (21.5 ppg, 5.0 apg, four steals in wins over St. Bonaventure and Temple)

Team of the Week: Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns firmly entrenched themselves in the debate for the best team in the Big XII, and as a Final Four favorite, with their two wins over top ten opponents this week. On Wednesday, the ‘Horns hosted Texas A&M and blew them out of the water, opening up an early 20-5 lead and never seriously getting challenged after that. Then on Saturday, Texas went into Phog Allen Fieldhouse, a place that Kansas had not lost in 69 games, and came back from 15 down in the first half to beat the Jayhawks.

What makes Texas so good this season is their defense. Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown are not exactly elite defenders just yet, but they are much improved over last season. Cory Joseph is long for a point guard and not afraid to get out and pressure on the perimeter, while Dogus Balbay is one of the best on the ball defenders in the country. Combine that with big guys like Tristan Thomspon and Alexis Wangmene to protect the rim and Gary Johnson to clean up the misses, and Rick Barnes crew has settled into a nice defensive rhythm. More important, however, is that this season, in stark contrast to last year, everyone on this Texas team has a clearly defined role. The fact that their best offensive lineup is able to lock up defensively is another big change from last season. Believe it. These ‘Horns are for real.

Who had a good week:

  • UConn Huskies: The Huskies beat both Villanova and Tennessee this week at home in close games. The wins were nice, but more importantly the Huskies role players are playing great basketball right now. Alex Oriakhi seems to have worked through his midseason slump. Jeremy Lamb sparked the comeback against Villanova and had a career high 16 points against Tennessee. Roscoe Smith and Shabazz Napier can make plays on both ends of the floor. Kemba Walker did not play great this week, but with defenses focusing on slowing him down, UConn’s role players have been what is keeping the Huskies in the top 10.
  • Washington: I’ve already talked plenty about these Huskies in this post, so I’ll only add this — the past few seasons Washington has struggled on the road. Six of their next eight games are roadies, including trips to Pullman for Wazzu and Tucson for Arizona. Win those, and maybe the pollsters will start agreeing with Kenpom.
  • George Mason, Hofstra, and VCU: There doesn’t appear to be one great team in the CAA this season, but the top of this league is tough and balanced. These three teams look like they are starting to separate themselves from the pack. Hofstra, who rode Charles Jenkins to wins over UNC-Wilmington and William & Mary, and VCU, who knocked off Georgia State before going into Richmond to beat Old Dominion, are tied atop the league at 7-1 while GMU picked up wins against Drexel and James Madison to find themselves alone just one game back.
  • Xavier Musketeers: Once again, Xavier seems like they are primed to prove the doubters wrong. After a ho-hum non-conference schedule, the Muskies have won their first five games in A-10 play, capped by an 88-77 victory over Temple on Saturday. Don’t write off their win at St. Bonaventure, either. The Bonnies are improved this season, and Xavier fought back from an early double digit deficit.
  • Memphis Tigers: As we mentioned earlier, the Tigers picked up two huge wins this week, beating C-USA contenders Southern Miss and UAB in exciting fashion on the road without Wesley Witherspoon. Memphis has now won three games in a row, and they are finally starting to look like the team we all expected in the preseason. Memphis is young, but they now appear to be playing not only with effort and intensity, but with more smarts. There have been fewer bad shots and much more defense the last three games.

Who struggled this week:

  • Seton Hall Pirates: It would have been one of the great storylines of the season if Seton Hall was able to turn things around with Jeremy Hazell’s return, but an 0-2 week — including a loss to Rutgers — means SHU has now lost eight of ten overall and six of seven in Big East play.
  • Colorado Buffaloes: So much for this team being a sleeper in the Big XII. After impressive wins over Kansas State and Missouri, Colorado proceeded to lose to Nebraska and Oklahoma this week.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs: The Zags lost to both Santa Clara and San Francisco this week, dropping them to 3-2 in the conference and setting up an enormous game against St. Mary’s on Thursday. If they lose that one, the Zag’s stranglehold on the WCC may officially be over.
  • Northwestern Wildcats: Northwestern desperately needed to pick up a win against Wisconsin at home on Sunday if they truly wanted to be considered a threat for an at-large bid. Instead, they lost by 32 points.
  • The MWC: The talk of the MWC in the preseason was that the league had the potential to earn four — maybe even five — bids to the NCAA Tournament this season. They may be lucky to get three this year. UNLV got blitzed by Colorado State. The Rams proceeded to lose to BYU at home — a win they needed if they wanted a real shot at an at-large bid — while UNLV picked up an ugly win against New Mexico. The Lobos are in real trouble, as they are now just 1-4 in conference play and have lost six of nine. Is Drew Gordon a chemistry killer? The Lobos are just 5-6 since he got eligible.
  • St. John’s Red Storm: Like Seton Hall, the Johnnies had a chance at being one of the great stories of college hoops this season, but after starting off 3-0 in Big East play, they have now lost four of five. Getting smacked by 25 at Louisville was bad, but losing at home to fellow bubble-dweller Cincinnati at home might have been worse.
  • Morehead State: With Austin Peay and Murray State losing a couple of games this week, Morehead had a chance to swoop in an climb their way up the OVC’s standings. Instead, they lost their second straight game, this time to Eartern Kentucky, to fall to 5-4 in league play.

Matchups of the Week:

  • 1/24 – 7:00 pm: Notre Dame @ Pitt
  • 1/25 – 9:00 pm: Purdue @ Ohio State
  • 1/26 – 10:00 pm: SDSU @ BYU
  • 1/27 – 7:00 pm: Hofstra @ VCU
  • 1/27 – 11:00 pm: St. Mary’s @ Gonzaga
  • 1/29 – 12:00 pm: Georgetown @ Villanova
  • 1/29 – 12:00 pm: Louisville @ UConn
  • 1/29 – 12:00 pm: Xavier @ Richmond
  • 1/29 – 1:00 pm: Minnesota @ Purdue
  • 1/29 – 7:00 pm: Kansas State @ Kansas
  • 1/29 – 9:00 pm: Missouri @ Texas

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.

FRIDAY

Wisconsin at PURDUE, 7:00 p.m.
YALE at Brown, 7:00 p.m.

SATURDAY

VCU at La Salle, 12:00 p.m.
PITT at SYRACUSE, 12:00 p.m.
ST. JOHN’S at DEPAUL, 2:00 p.m.
VIRGINIA TECH at Boston College, 2:00 p.m.
LSU at TEXAS, 2:00 p.m.
OKLAHOMA at MISSISSIPPI STATE, 2:00 p.m.
RHODE ISLAND at St. Bonaventure, 3:00 p.m.
UNCG at Samford, 3:00 p.m.
AKRON at Ohio, 3:30 p.m.
LIBERTY at Stetson, 4:00 p.m.
Chattanooga at EAST TENNESSEE STATE, 4:00 p.m.
N.C. STATE at Georgia Tech, 4:00 p.m.
SMU at MEMPHIS, 4:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE at No. 3 Kansas, 4:00 p.m.
BYU at San Francisco, 5:00 p.m.
No. 7 Dayton at RICHMOND, 6:00 p.m.
No. 15 Kentucky at No. 18 TEXAS TECH, 6:00 p.m.
Kansas State at ALABAMA, 6:00 p.m.
Washington State at UTAH, 7:00 p.m.
NOTRE DAME at No. 5 Florida State, 8:00 p.m.
SAINT MARY’S at LMU, 9:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON at No. 23 Colorado, 9:00 p.m.
No. 22 Arizona at ARIZONA STATE, 9:30 p.m.
Colorado State at UTAH STATE, 10:00 p.m.

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.

Best Bets: Previewing Baylor-Florida, Texas Tech-Kentucky

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As always, the Vegas lines are not out for the weekend games, so we will be breaking them down using KenPom, Torvik and Haslametric projections.

FRIDAY

MARQUETTE at No. 13 BUTLER, 9:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Butler 72, Marquette 66
  • TORVIK: Butler 72, Marquette 66
  • HASLAM: Butler 71, Marquette 64
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: Butler 70, Marquette 64

In theory, this is an ideal buy-low spot for Butler. They are coming off of three straight losses, the last two of which came on the road. The loss at DePaul was a bad matchup, and the loss at Villanova was a result of Sean McDermott and Jordan Tucker shooting a combined 1-for-12 from three until the final minute of a 15-point loss.

Marquette, on the other hand, is in a prime sell-high spot. The Golden Eagles have won three in a row. Two of them came at home and the third was at Georgetown, a team that is down to just seven scholarship players. Trying to predict the nights that Markus Howard doesn’t score 30-plus is more or less impossible, but I do think that it is worth noting Butler is 12th nationally in defensive three-point field goal percentage and has a couple of quality perimeter defenders they can throw at him.

BEST BET: The logic says to bet Butler here. The problem is that, at Butler (-6) or (-6.5), I don’t think we’re buying Butler low or selling Marquette high. KenPom and Torvik both have the line at (-6) while Haslam has it at (-7). I was hoping to get it at (-5) or lower, which is unfortunate. Either way, if I’m going to be betting this game — which, let’s be honest, is probably going to happen — it will be with Butler.

Oh, and Butler is unveiling Butler IV, their new puppy, tonight. Never fade the puppy play.

SATURDAY

No. 15 KENTUCKY at No. 18 TEXAS TECH, 6:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Texas Tech 67, Kentucky 64
  • TORVIK: Texas Tech 67, Kentucky 64
  • HASLAM: Texas Tech 69, Kentucky 63
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

The more I think about this, the more I like the Texas Tech side here. I do think that the Red Raiders have one of the best coaching staffs when it comes to developing and instituting a game-plan. That’s a problem for a Kentucky team that tends to be fairly limited in what they run offensively. Put another way, Kentucky tends to figure out what works for them and run it over and over and over again. Their playbook shrinks as the season progresses, and that’s the kind of thing that Chris Beard and Mark Adams can take advantage of.

This is also a good buy-low spot for Texas Tech, considering that they are coming home off of a loss at TCU.

On the other side of the ball, I do worry about Texas Tech’s ability to create offense. They have struggled on that end, and I don’t think they actually have the front court pieces to be able to pull Nick Richards out of the paint.

BEST BETS: I’ll be curious to see where the line opens up here. I lean Texas Tech at anything (-4) and below, and I hope that the Kentucky effect can push that line much lower. I also will be on the under. If I think Texas Tech will have trouble to score, and Kentucky will have trouble to score, it only makes sense.

No. 1 BAYLOR at FLORIDA, 6:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Baylor 65, Florida 64
  • TORVIK: Baylor 65, Florida 63
  • HASLAM: Baylor 65, Florida 64
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

Baylor feels like they’re due for a loss, right?

They needed to erase a 12-point second half deficit at Oklahoma State last weekend. On Monday night, they nearly had Austin Reaves hitting a three in the final seconds to give Oklahoma a win in Waco. And now they are heading back out on the road to take on a Florida team that has been better of late?

Here’s to hoping that this line gets inflated because of the number next to Baylor’s name.

I also believe that the under is in play here. Baylor is one of the nation’s best defensive teams. Florida has not been as good on that end of the floor of late, but they, too, have shown flashes of being able to guard. They also matchup well with the Bears. But more importantly, I don’t believe that either of these teams are going to try and push the tempo. Florida has shown a frustrating determination to play possession by possession this season, while the Bears rank 269th in average offensive possession length.

BEST BET: I’ll be targeting the Florida ML here, particularly if the Gators end up getting points, but taking the under seems like the best play in this game.

No. 8 VILLANOVA at PROVIDENCE, 12:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Villanova 70, Providence 68
  • TORVIK: Providence 70, Villanova 69
  • HASLAM: Villanova 68, Providence 66
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

It’s not going to feel comfortable, but this feels like a good spot to take Providence. Villanova has won five in a row and 11 of their last 12, but their last four games have been played at home. They’ve failed to cover in two of their last three games and are just 1-3 against the spread on the road this season.

Providence has lost back-to-back games on the road, covering the spread in both games, and have covered in six of their last eight games.

BEST BET: I’ll be on the Providence side, but whether I take the Providence ML or take the points will depend on what the line opens up at.

No. 21 ILLINOIS at MICHIGAN, 12:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Michigan 71, Illinois 68
  • TORVIK: Michigan 71, Illinois 68
  • HASLAM: Michigan 71, Illinois 69
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

The logic here is going to be exceedingly simple: Illinois is as hot as any team in the country right now. They’ve won five straight games, including wins at Wisconsin and at Purdue, the latter of which was by 17 points. Michigan, on the other hand, has not been the same team since they lost Isaiah Livers to a groin injury and, since January 1st, they’ve ranked 127th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Torvik.

BEST BET: I’ll be all over the Illinois ML, especially if this line opens up at Illinois (+3).

TENNESSEE at No. 3 KANSAS, 4:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Kansas 68, Tennessee 54
  • TORVIK: Kansas 68, Tennessee 54
  • HASLAM: Kansas 70, Tennessee 50
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

Kansas ranks No. 1 nationally in adusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They’re third in Torvik’s rating system. Since Lamonte Turner saw his season come to an end, Tennessee has ranked 251st nationally if adjusted offensive efficiency. The one point guard on their roster, freshman Santiago Vescovi, is averaging 5.0 turnovers per game despite playing just 24.5 minutes — to be fair, he had 21 turnovers in his first three games and has had just nine in the last three.

BEST BETS: I think Kansas rolls here after a week of hearing how bad they are because of Tuesday night’s fight.

SUNDAY

No. 17 MARYLAND at INDIANA, 1:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Maryland 67, Indiana 66
  • TORVIK: Indiana 67, Maryland 65
  • HASLAM: Maryland 66, Indiana 64
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

Maryland is 1-4 on the road this season. Their one win came at Northwestern in a game where they trailed by 14 points in the first half. The Terps might be the worst road team in the Big Ten, a league where road teams have been terrible this season.

BEST BET: If Indiana is getting points, take the ML. I also will be interested in betting the Indiana first half line. Fade Turgeon is in full effect this weekend.

No. 11 MICHIGAN STATE at MINNESOTA, 3:00 p.m.

  • KENPOM: Michigan State 72, Minnesota 71
  • TORVIK: Michigan State 72, Minnesota 71
  • HASLAM: Michigan State 72, Minnesota 70
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A

This is a tough spot for me. Michigan State has not been great away from East Lansing this season and they are coming off of a road loss at Indiana on Thursday night. That said, their loss came after erasing a 16-point first half deficit in a game where Xavier Tillman missed a wide-open layup that would have forced overtime.

BEST BET: I will be staying away from this game.

Kentucky’s Kahlil Whitney is leaving school

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Kentucky will be down a five-star recruit for the rest of the season.

Kahlil Whitney, who was the No. 11 prospect in the Class of 2019, according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking, announced on Friday that he will be leaving the Kentucky program.

“My time at Kentucky has not gone as I had hoped,” Whitney wrote in a statement released on his twitter page, “and I therefore need to make a difficult decision quickly to put myself back in to the best position possible as I continue to develop and work towards my ultimate goal.

“I’ve realized since high school that the business of basketball waits for no one, and sometimes tough choices need to be made in order to progress.”

Whitney was a starter early on in the season for the Wildcats, but he has been relegated to a limited role off the bench since league play started. He’s averaged 3.3 points in less than 13 minutes. In the last seven games he’s averaging just 6.1 minutes.

Whitney’s statement does not mention transferring, but if he did opt to head to a different school, he will not be eligible to play until 2021-22 without a waiver.

Bracketology: The top seeds remain in place

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

It’s been a while since we could say this:  All four No. 1 seeds remained in place between bracket updates: Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State.

Elsewhere, more than a handful of teams still have significant resume questions.  And several current bubble teams have important showdowns this weekend – including key matchups in the Big 12 / SEC Challenge.

On a closing note … remember that the Selection Committee evaluates a team’s entire profile, from beginning to end.  How a team performed in its last ten games is no longer an official criteria (although each Committee member may have his or her own perspective on its importance).  So while Ohio State and Michigan, as examples, have both struggled of late, each team’s early wins remain relevant considerations with regard to team sheet evaluation.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 24, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Oklahoma vs. VCU
MIDWEST REGION Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW AM vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. ROBERT MORRIS

SOUTH Houston                  WEST – Los Angeles 
Omaha Spokane
1) BAYLOR 1) GONZAGA
16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST 16) MONMOUTH / ROB MORRIS
8) USC 8) Wichita State
9) Michigan 9) Arkansas
St. Louis Sacramento
5) Butler 5) Arizona
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST 12) AKRON
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
13) S.F. AUSTIN 13) NEW MEXICO ST
Albany Greensboro
6) Wisconsin 6) Marquette
11) Virginia Tech 11) NC State
3) Villanova 3) West Virginia
14) COLGATE 14) LITTLE ROCK
Tampa Spokane
7) Rutgers 7) Indiana
10) Memphis 10) BYU
2) Florida State 2) Oregon
15) AUSTIN PEAY 15) UC-IRVINE
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
16) WINTHROP 16) MONTANA
8) STANFORD 8) HOUSTON
9) Florida 9) Ohio State
Tampa Cleveland
5) Penn State 5) Creighton
12) LIBERTY 12) YALE
4) Kentucky 4) DAYTON
13) VERMONT 13) NORTH TEXAS
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Auburn 6) Colorado
11) Oklahoma / VCU 11) Minnesota / Texas Tech
3) Duke 3) LOUISVILLE
14) WRIGHT STATE 14) LOYOLA-CHICAGO
Albany Cleveland
7) Illinois 7) LSU
10) Saint Mary’s 10) DePaul
2) SETON HALL 2) MICHIGAN STATE
15) WILLIAM & MARY 15) SOUTH DAKOTA ST

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Saint Mary’s Oklahoma Xavier Arizona State
DePaul Minnesota Richmond Alabama
Virginia Tech Texas Tech Georgetown Mississippi State
NC State VCU Rhode Island Tennessee

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (11)
Big East (6)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

Duarte’s 30 points leads No. 12 Oregon past USC 79-70 in double OT

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EUGENE, Ore. — Paying close attention paid off for Oregon’s Chris Duarte.

The junior guard had 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals, and the No. 12 Ducks outlasted Southern California 79-70 in double overtime Thursday night.

“I was watching the point guard’s eyes. I was watching everybody’s eyes. So I knew where they were going to pass the ball,” Duarte said. “So I took that as an advantage.”

Oregon teammate Payton Pritchard added 24 points and seven assists, becoming the first Pac-12 player to reach 1,500 career points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds. When the achievement was noted on the video scoreboard at Matthew Knight Arena in the second half, the crowd gave the senior guard a standing ovation.

Pritchard is the sixth player in Pac-12 history with 1,500 points and 600 assists, joining Oregon State’s Gary Payton, Arizona’s Damon Stoudamire and Jason Gardner, USC’s Jordan McLaughlin and UCLA’s Tyus Edney.

Oregon (16-4, 5-2) led by 11 in the second half but USC rallied with a 17-2 run to take a 62-58 lead, capped by Jonah Mathews’ 3-pointer with 1:24 left.

C.J. Walker and Pritchard hit consecutive layups to tie it at 62 and send the game to overtime.

Pritchard’s 3-pointer in the first extra period gave the Ducks a 65-64 lead, but Ethan Anderson’s layup and free throw put the Trojans up by two. Duarte made free throws for the Ducks to tie it again, and Mathews and Pritchard both missed shots down the stretch.

Duarte and Pritchard each hit a pair of free throws that gave Oregon a four-point advantage to open the second overtime. Duarte’s 3-pointer put the Ducks up 74-68, and USC couldn’t catch up.

Duarte’s eight steals were one shy of the school record.

“He was the difference in the game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “No doubt about it.”

Onyeka Okongwu had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Trojans (15-4, 4-2).

“You’ve got to take care of the ball. Some ill-timed passes that went to the other guys. We just have to make the right basketball play,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Give them credit, they’re a good defensive team.”

It was Oregon’s third overtime game in league play.

Oregon was coming off a 64-61 overtime win at Washington last weekend. The Ducks overcame a 16-point deficit and won it on Pritchard’s 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left. But Oregon lost to Washington State 72-61 last Thursday, resulting in a fall from No. 8 to No. 12 in the AP Top 25.

USC had won nine of its last 10 games and three straight, including last Saturday’s 82-78 overtime victory against Stanford. The Trojans came back from a 21-point deficit in the second half to beat the Cardinal.

The Ducks built an early 15-7 lead after Duarte’s fast-break layup and 3-pointer. Oregon stayed in front, but USC closed to 24-23 on Daniel Utomi’s jumper.

The teams went to the break with Oregon ahead 32-30. Utomi led all scorers with 10 points.

Okongwu’s layup for USC tied it at 32 to start the second half but the Ducks responded with a 10-0 run, capped by Duarte’s jumper off a dish from Pritchard. Okongwu’s dunk ended the Trojans’ scoring drought.

Okongwu made consecutive baskets to pull USC to 56-53, and Matthews tied it with a 3-pointer to top off an 11-0 Trojans run. Pritchard answered with a layup for Oregon.

Freshman forward Chandler Lawson’s layup stretched the Ducks’ lead to 49-38 midway through the second half.

“A lot of things we’ve got to work on. But we got some defensive stops when we needed it, we got some big rebounds when we needed it, and just found a way to win the game,” Altman said. “We’ve been doing that too much, though. We’ve got to find a way to get our offense cranked a little bit.”

Lawson made his first start for the Ducks after he had 16 points and 12 rebounds against Washington. Oregon was without center N’Faly Dante, who was questionable for the game after hurting his knee against the Huskies.

Pritchard was one of just two Division I players averaging at least 19 points, five assists and four rebounds per game, joining Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross.

BIG PICTURE

USC: The Trojans started 4-1 in conference play for the first time since 2016. USC went 5-0 to open conference play in 2002. … Enfield said afterward that this loss stung. “We’ve played a few close games this year. We won three or four close ones,” he said. “We were right there and we lost. It hurts when you lose a game and have a chance.”

Oregon: Pritchard is closing in on Oregon’s career record of 614 assists held by Kenya Wilkins. … Pritchard has won 96 games as a Ducks player, one shy of Oregon’s career leader, Johnathan Lloyd. … Sabrina Ionescu, star guard for the No. 4 Oregon women, was at the game and was interviewed by the Pac-12 broadcast team during the first half.

UP NEXT

USC visits Oregon State on Saturday.

Oregon hosts UCLA on Sunday.