Marquette’s record far better than you think

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Marquette’s usually saddled as the ultimate bubble team, mostly because of their 15-10 overall record and lack of impressive road wins.

Shall we debunk those misconceptions?

Sure, the Golden Eagles – currently an 11 seed in our bracket projections, but not one of the last five teams in – have 10 losses, but that comes from playing the likes of Duke, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Vandy, Pitt, Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn, Villanova and Georgetown. Five of those are Top 10 teams. Four are in the top 17. Only Gonzaga’s unranked.

The average margin of defeat in those 10 games? Five points. Bemoan Marquette’s losses if you like, but don’t say they can’t play, or aren’t among the nation’s 68 best teams. They are.

For added emphasis: They’ve beaten West Virginia, Notre Dame and Syracuse and will probably end up with 10 Big East wins as they close against the likes of St. John’s (tonight), Seton Hall (twice) and Providence.

As for those marquee road wins, the guys at Cracked Sidewalks offer some much-needed context:

Several MU cynics agreed with the appraisal of former basketball great Len Elmore toward the end of today’s loss to Georgetown that MUs inability to knock off a quality opponent on the road could hurt their chances Selection Sunday.

The problem with that logic is that all of MUs road losses have been to teams in the RPI Top 25, and if you eliminate every team that has yet to win at an RPI Top 25 this year, then you are only left with a 24 team tournament. Here are the only teams to accomplish what MU failed to do today:

3 wins at RPI top 25 – Pitt
2 wins at RPI top 25 – Florida, Syracuse, Gtown
1 win at RPI top 25 – No. 1 Ohio State and 19 other teams
0 wins at RPI top 25 – Marquette and 320 other teams

The point? Everyone loses on the road except for the truly elite teams. And even they sometimes struggle.

Marquette’s going dancing. The only question is which team they’ll upset as a lower seed

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

K-State’s defense stifles No. 14 Texas Tech in 58-45 win

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MANHATTAN, Kansas — Barry Brown Jr. had 15 points, Dean Wade had 13 and Kansas State’s defense shut down No. 14 Texas Tech in a 58-45 win Tuesday night.

The Big 12’s top-ranked defenses combined to force 30 turnovers. The Wildcats (15-4, 5-2) held Texas Tech to 33-percent shooting and never led the Red Raiders get their offense rolling.

Jarrett Culver led Texas Tech (15-4, 4-3) with 17 points. Tariq Owens had 12.

The Red Raiders struggled to contain Brown in the first half. He had two step-back 3-pointers and 11 points. Wade was a mismatch as well, with Red Raider big man Norense Odiase called for three fouls in the first half. He only played five minutes.

Owens scored seven points off the bench in Odiase’s absence, keeping Texas Tech in it. Kansas State led 32-24 at the half.

The Wildcats led 46-38 midway through the second half before Wade made two free throws and Xavier Sneed hit a 3. The Red Raiders got back within eight but couldn’t get any closer.

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech has lost three straight games after starting 4-0 in conference play. They will need to get the ship going back in the right direction soon.

Kansas State has won five straight and looks to be one of the best teams in the Big 12.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech will be home Saturday against Arkansas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

K-State plays at Texas A&M on Saturday

No. 18 Villanova pulls away at Butler for 7th straight win

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INDIANAPOLIS — Eric Paschall scored 23 points, Phil Booth added 17 and No. 18 Villanova made 12 3-pointers to pull away from Butler 80-72 on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (15-4, 6-0 Big East) have won seven straight since losing to Kansas on Dec. 15.

Aaron Thompson had 15 points for Butler (12-8, 3-4), which had won its previous two games. Sean McDermott had 14 points and seven rebounds while Kamar Baldwin and Jordan Tucker each finished with 11 points.

While the Big East’s two best defensive teams lived up to the billing, each team’s shooters were even better — especially during a first half when the teams combined to shoot 55 percent from the field and made 13 3s.

It kept the tight game interesting and entertaining. But all Villanova really needed was three quick flurries.

Booth fueled the first by scoring half of his team’s points in a 12-2 spurt to give the Wildcats a 33-25 advantage late in the first half.

Butler answered with a 12-5 burst before halftime then opened the second half on a 7-2 run to take a 44-43 lead on Nate Fowler’s 3-foot jumper with 17:32 left.

Villanova responded with four consecutive 3s — with Saddiq Bey making the first and Collin Gillespie knocking down the next three to give Villanova a 55-44 lead with 14:05 remaining.

The Bulldogs made one more charge, getting as close as 61-56, before Paschall’s fifth 3 capped a 7-0 spurt that gave Villanova a 68-56 lead with 6:23 to go. Butler didn’t get closer than seven the rest of the night.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: The defending champions are rolling. Their 3s are falling, their defense is terrific and they managed to pull off a solid road win against the one conference team that has given them trouble the last two seasons. It doesn’t get much better.

Butler: After losing four of five, the Bulldogs have showed some fight. They won back-to-back games and though they lost their second home game this season, Butler challenged Villanova most of the night. The Bulldogs seem to be gaining momentum as it heads into the heart of the conference schedule.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Looks to extend its winning streak when Seton Hall comes to town Saturday.

Butler: Can earn a season sweep Friday at Creighton.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 8 Kentucky closes out No. 22 Mississippi State 76-55

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — PJ Washington scored 21 points, Tyler Herro added 18 and made big 3-pointers down the stretch as No. 8 Kentucky pulled away from No. 22 Mississippi State 76-55 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.

The Wildcats (15-3, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) led for all but the early minutes, but had to survive some rough stretches that allowed the Bulldogs (14-4, 2-3) to get within 41-39 with 13:39 remaining. Kentucky answered with scoring 18 of the next 25 points over the next 6:50, helped by consecutive 3s by Immanuel Quickley and Washington, for a double-digit advantage it maintained.

Washington was 9 of 15 from the field with three 3s and grabbed six rebounds. Herro made all three from long range and all five free throws to follow his 20-point performance at Auburn. Reid Travis grabbed 12 rebounds as the Wildcats won the glass 43-36 and won the second of three consecutive Top-25 matchups. No. 9 Kansas is next on Saturday.

Kentucky also succeeded in holding MSU’s potent perimeter game to just 3 of 20 from behind the arc after entering the contest second in the SEC at 38 percent.

Quinndary Weatherspoon had 19 points and Tyson Carter 11 for the Bulldogs, who made just 19 of 61 from the field (31 percent) in their first game against a ranked foe this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wildcats should remain in the Top 10 after clearing the first of two ranked opponents this week. The Bulldogs will need to beat Auburn on Saturday to remain ranked.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs brought in balanced offense but struggled despite a bunch of opportunities, especially from long range. Forward and Kentucky native Aric Holman missed his only two attempts in 20 minutes. MSU also committed 15 turnovers leading to 17 Kentucky points.

Kentucky: The Wildcats offset strong stretches with sloppy moments that allowed MSU to get close. But they slowly regrouped to close with a flourish and remain a game within the unbeaten leaders in the SEC.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State hosts No. 16 Auburn in SEC play on Saturday.

Kentucky hosts No. 9 Kansas on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/ Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Silva’s 32 lead Gamecocks to 80-77 win over No. 16 Auburn

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Chris Silva had a career-high 32 points, and Felipe Haase’s 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left put South Carolina ahead for good in an 80-77 victory over No. 16 Auburn on Tuesday night.

The Gamecocks (10-8, 5-1) continued their improbable SEC run. They entered league play with a 5-7 preconference mark, but have won five of their first six, beating a pair of ranked opponents in Mississippi State and the Tigers.

The Tigers (13-5, 2/3 Southeastern Conference) used a late 12-0 run to wipe out South Carolina’s 71-61 lead. They were still ahead 77-75 after Jared Harper’s two foul shots with 56.3 to go. That’s when Haase nailed his long-range, go-ahead basket from the right corner.

Chuma Okeke missed a 3-pointer and Danjel Purifoy couldn’t connect on a driving basket on Auburn’s next possession before Silva came down with his 14th rebound and got fouled with 2.5 seconds to play.

Silva made both, and Auburn threw away the pass on its final possession to lose its second straight heartbreaker following an 82-80 loss to Kentucky last Saturday.

Auburn appeared to be finished after Hassani Gravett’s floater went in just as the shot clock expired for a 71-61 lead with 6:33 to go. But the explosive Tigers shot their way back in it, making five of their next six attempts in a two-minute span.

Okeke’s 3 from the left front put Auburn ahead 73-71 with 4:01 remaining, capping a 12-0 surge.

Silva bettered his previous high of 27 points, accomplished twice against Kentucky. He made 11 of 12 shots and 10 of 11 free throws, and had four of South Carolina’s eight blocks.

Brown and Harper scored 17 points each for Auburn.

Silva got the Gamecocks going early on both ends of the court. He scored the first four points and had two early blocks. When Hassani Gravett hit two straight 3-pointers and Haase made an open jumper, South Carolina was ahead 25-14 with 9:20 left in the half and Auburn hurting from cold shooting and foul trouble.

Auburn rallied when Brown heated up. After missing his first three shots, Brown scored 10 points as the Tigers closed the half on a 24-12 run.

THE BIG PICTURE

Auburn: The Tigers showed spurts of stellar play amid several long stretches of offensive struggles. They started the game going 4 of 14 from the field before their closing run. They fell behind 62-53, and then scored six points in four seconds to tighten things up.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have found their stride at the perfect time with Silva, the 6-foot-9 senior, in charge. He has become the team’s most accomplished and capable scorer.

UP NEXT

Auburn plays at No. 22 Mississippi State on Saturday night.

South Carolina visits Oklahoma State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

VIDEO: Charles Matthews buzzer-beater lifts No. 5 Michigan over Minnesota

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Charles Matthews corralled a loose ball on the baseline and made the game-winning tear-drop as time expired to give No. 5 Michigan the 59-57 Big Ten home win over Minnesota on Tuesday night.

The Golden Gophers used a late 10-0 run in the second half to claw back and tie a crazy back-and-forth contest that saw Minnesota winning at halftime. Michigan rallied with a big run to start the second half as it looked like they were in control.

But after the game became tied with under 30 seconds left, Michigan had a final possession to make a play before a potential overtime. After a miss from Iggy Brazdeikis near the rim, the backtap found its way to Matthews as he swished the game-winner.

After losing to Wisconsin for their first loss of the season on Saturday, this was a sluggish win for the Wolverines. But they’ll definitely take it on an off-night in which they were 3-for-22 from three-point territory and won with defense.