Bubble Banter, BracketBusters edition

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Ahead of a busy weekend of hoops and some BracketBuster games, here’s the latest Bubble Banter at Bracketville.  We could see some teams move up after this weekend, and we’re likely to lose a few bubble teams, too.  Another update early next week, and a new bracket projection on Monday.

Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble. If a team isn’t listed, they aren’t a bubble team at the time of the update. RPI and SOS data is credited to CollegeRPI.com.

UPDATED: Friday, February 18

Automatic Bids (31): None decided | Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (10): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Some of these projected locks may become automatic qualifiers should they win their conference tournament.
  • Should Be In (18): While not yet locks, these are teams in good position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (37): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates, or those whose profiles are not yet complete enough to be considered as Should Be In as of the this update.
  • Spots available (15): Number of available openings for the bracket based on spots reserved for automatic qualifiers, projected locks, and teams projected as Should Be In at this update.
  • Leaving the Bubble: None
  • Joining the Bubble: None
  • Below is a conference breakdown of the bubble picture
Atlantic 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Temple, Xavier | Bubble: Duquesne, Richmond
  • Duquesne (16-7 | 9-2) | RPI: 75 | SOS: 122 | – Duquesne ended a two-game slide by winning at UMass on Wednesday, but back-to-back losses to Xavier and St. Bonventure are missed opportunities. It’s critical the Dukes stay at the top of the A-10 standings because there’s nothing to report in the non-conference season. Duquesne has a win over Temple at home, but little else is helping. Key losses include Penn State and a 2-OT affair with George Mason. The Dukes need a strong finish and a solid run in the A-10 tourney.
  • Richmond (20-7 | 9-3) | RPI: 69 | SOS: 144 | – The Spiders looked overmatched in a lopsided loss at Temple on Thursday. Just as important, it was a missed opportunity to put another quality win on their resume. Richmond is just 1-2 vs. Top 50 RPI teams, an early win over Purdue. With dwindling power numbers, the Spiders probably can’t afford another slip. At this point, it may also take a long A-10 tourney run. Remember, Richmond lost to Xavier at home by 23 – so they haven’t shown well against the league’s best.
ACC
Locks: Duke | Should Be In: North Carolina | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech
  • Boston College (16-9 | 6-5) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 21 | – Beating Maryland Saturday gave the Eagles a season sweep of the Terps, something that could come in handy if Maryland re-appears on the bubble. That said, the loss at Clemon keeps BC in a questionable spot – hovering around .500 in the mediocre ACC. Other than the early win over Texas AM, there’s nothing out of conference helping the Eagles, and BC is just 1-5 vs. Top 50 RPI teams. BC has also lost (at home) to two Ivy League schools and has dropped 4 of its past 6 games. A trip to Carolina is next followed by a must have at home vs. Miami-FL.
  • Clemson (17-9 | 6-6) | RPI: 79 | SOS: 90 | – Falling Thursday at NC State wasn’t a step in the right direction. Now, it’s critical that the Tigers pick up a victory at Miami this weekend. Without it, Clemson won’t be able to reach 10 league wins, and 9-7 won’t be enough without a long run in the ACC tournament. The game at Duke is the Tigers’ last chance to post a marquis win, but that doesn’t look promising. Other than a home win over Florida State, the resume is light. Clemson has non-league losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina.
  • Florida State (18-7 | 8-3) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 83 | – If the Seminoles sweep a week of winnable road games (@Wake Forest, @Maryland), they’ll be in good shape to move off the bubble. While the loss at Auburn was probably a fluke, it’s an example of inconsistent play. A weak non-conferense SOS (no. 230), could still spell trouble if FSU stumbles down the stretch. The Seminoles are just 2-4 vs. Top 50 teams, so there’s not a lot of high-level wins. Beating Duke was huge. Finishing third in the ACC standings would likely be enough.
  • Virginia Tech (17-7 | 7-4) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 89 | – The Hokies took care of business by beating Georgia Tech at home last week. Next up is Maryland at home followed by a trip to Virginia. In reality, VT needs to win its next three ahead of Duke’s arrival on Feb. 26. Credit VT with playing a better non-conference schedule, the Hokies just failed to win many of the games – the best is over fellow bubble-dweller Oklahoma State. Virginia Tech controls its destiny. Can the Hokies take advantage?
BIG EAST
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown | Should Be In: Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville,West Virginia, St. John’s | Bubble: Cincinnati, Marquette
  • Cincinnati (20-6 | 7-6) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 95 | – The home-court victory over Louisville Wednesday was a good way for UC to start a tough closing stretch. UC needs quality wins. Now, can the Bearcats keep momentum on upcoming road trips to pesky Providence and surging Georgetown? That’s the question at hand. The Bearcats are 3-6 vs. Top 50 teams (Xavier, St. John’s, Louisville) and it will still take a 9-9 finish in the Big East to feel good – especially given UC’s horrible non-conference SOS.
  • Marquette (15-11 | 6-7) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 29 | – Another loss to a good team Tuesday as the Golden Eagles dropped a home game to St. John’s. With a 3-8 mark away from home, losing home games could yet prove disasterous. If there’s good news, it’s that Marquette’s schedule is favorable down the stretch – other than a road trip to UConn. Posting wins is critical as Marquette is 3-10 vs. Top 50 teams and just 5-11 vs. Top 100 teams. If Marquette wins the games it should down the stretch, the Golden Eagles may still Dance. But their margin for error is now very thin.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State | Should Be In: Purdue, Wisconsin | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan
  • Illinois (17-9 | 7-6) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 20 | – Ugly or not, Illinois’ win over Michigan Wednesday kept the Illini from a potential downward spiral. After splitting last week – winning at Minnesota and losing at home to Purdue – the Illini failed to gain ground. At least now they have head-to-head wins over Minnesota and Michigan – two teams the Illini play only once. Next up: trips to Michigan State and Ohio State. Finishing 9-9 in the Big 10 could make Selection Sunday somewhat tenuous without a run in the league tournament. Good wins include N. Carolina, at Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. The losses at Indiana and UIC are sore points.
  • Michigan State (13-11 | 6-7) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 5 | After a debacle at Iowa, the Spartans pounded Penn State in East Lansing ahead of a good showing in Columbus on Tuesday. That said, MSU has just two wins since the dismissal of Korie Lucious – Indiana and Penn State at home. Can’t imagine those wins will carry a lot of weight. If there’s any magic left in Tom Izzo’s hat, now’s the time to pull out the rabbit. MSU is 3-8 vs. Top 50 teams and is 9-11 vs. the Top 200 – stat lines that often suggest NIT. Can MSU get to 10 league wins? That might be what it takes. Up next is home visit from Illinois.
  • Michigan (15-11 | 6-8) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 19 | While there’s not a lot to love about the Wolverine’s profile (2-7 vs. Top 50 teams), they have won 5 of 7 to creep into the at-large conversation. The loss Wednesday at Illinois won’t help, as the Wolverines and Illini only play once in the regular-season rotation. The win at Michigan State is helping, and the Wolverines also have a sweep of Penn State. It’ll take a strong finish to warrant serious consideration. Michigan has remaining games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Minnesota. Win those, and the Wolverines could have the league’s fourth-best in-conference profile. Would that be enough?
  • Minnesota (17-9 | 6-8) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 28 | The Gophers’ struggles continued Thursday at Penn State as Minnesota dropped further down the Big 10 pecking order. Overall, Minnesota has lost 5 of 6 – with the lone win at Iowa. This isn’t the same team that posted quality wins early in the season – a result of injuries and other issues. The Selection Committee has to evaluate the current squad, and the results aren’t favorable. Much like Michigan State, it could take 10 league wins for the Gophers to feel good heading into the Big 10 tourney. If there’s good news, it’s that three of the Gophers’ final four games are at home.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas | Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM | Bubble: Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado, Oklahoma State
  • Baylor (16-8 | 6-5) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 64 | – While the win at Texas AM helps, the Bears can’t rely on one quality victory as a ticket to the Dance. Their overall profile remains very weak with a 1-4 mark vs. Top 50 teams and only 4 Top 100 victories. Out of conference, the Bears failed to win a Top 100 RPI game and their non-league SOS ranks No. 236. Up next is a must-win at home over Texas Tech followed by a trip to Missouri. The closing three won’t be easy, so time if of the essence. Baylor may need four more Big 12 wins.
  • Colorado (15-10 | 5-6) | RPI: 90 | SOS: 85 | – Thanks to a replay that saved Colorado from Jacob Pullen’s last-second trey in Boulder, the Buffaloes remain on the bubble. The victory also gave CU a season sweep of the Wildcats – something that could be useful. Three of the Buffs’ closing games are away from home – including a trip to Kansas – and one of the remaining home games is Texas. Tough spot, but the Buffaloes need big wins, so opportunity awaits. A non-league win over Colorado State is notable, but Colorado’s overall non-conference SOS ranks No. 307. Ouch. It’ll be tough to overcome weak power numbers, but CU remains alive.
  • Kansas State (16-9 | 5-6) | RPI: 31 | SOS: 8 | – Beating arch-rival Kansas in Manhattan gave K-State it first Top 50 RPI win (1-6 overall). But … one big win won’t push the Wildcats into the Field of 68. Other than a trip to Texas, the closing stretch is favorable for a nice run. K-State was swept by Colorado – we’ll see if that comes into play. So far, the Wildcats have avoided a bad RPI losss, something other bubble teams can’t necessarily say. A resurgence by Baylor, Washington State and Gonzaga would also help. Next up is a home date with Oklahoma followed by a trip to Nebraska.
  • Oklahoma State (16-9 | 4-7) | RPI: 52 | SOS: 46 | – The Cowboys’ loss at Nebraska last week put OSU in a difficult spot because the upcoming stretch was brutal. That was apparent Wednesday as the Cowboys were blown out at Texas. Without a win over Texas AM this weekend, OSU will leave the bubble. After that, it’s a trip to Kansas. OSU is 2-7 in road games so time is urgent. Oklahoma State has head-to-head losses against several other bubble teams (Gonzaga, Colorado, Baylor), too. It’s best non-conference win is Alabama in December.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: BYU, San Diego State | Should Be In: UNLV | Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico
  • Colorado State (17-7 | 8-3) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 48 | – Beating New Mexico last weekend set up a tough closing stretch with 4 of 6 away from home – including trips to league frontrunners BYU and San Diego State. After taking care of TCU on the road Wednesday, CSU hosts UNLV this weekend – a win would give them a season sweep of the Rebels. CSU may need to beat San Diego State and/or BYU to feel confident, but they are in the mix. CSU is 2-3 vs. the Top 50 and 5-5 vs. the Top 100. Winning at UNLV is a high point, but the losses to Sam Houston and Hampton are not.
  • New Mexico (16-9 | 5-6) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 87 | – After falling at Colorado State to split the season series, the Lobos put up a fight before losing Wednesday at San Diego State. Now it’s two must-win games at home (Utah and UNLV). Losing either will make it hard for the Lobos to stay in contact with the league leaders. The power number are okay, but not ideal. Out of conference, there’s not much helping the Lobos and the number of quality wins remain light (2-4 vs. Top 50 / 4-7 vs the Top 100). Plus, there’s troubling road losses to Utah and Wyoming. It might come down to UNM upsetting BYU in Provo – that would give the Lobos a sweep.
PAC 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Arizona | Bubble: Washington, Washington State, UCLA
  • Washington (18-7 | 10-4) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 69 | – The Hukies took care of their home games with Stanford and Cal last week in preparation for a swing through Arizona this weekend. It started well at Arizona State on Thursday. With a win at Arizona this weekend, Washington will put itself in good position for a closing slate of home games. UW’s top wins are Arizona and at UCLA – and overall Washington remains just 2-3 vs. Top 50 RPI teams. At this point, Washington still looks pretty good, and a sweep over Arizona could push the Huskies off the bubble.
  • Washington State (17-9 | 7-7) | RPI: 72 | SOS: 88 | – WSU saved a potentially disasterous homestand by beating Cal on Saturday, but fell at Arizona Thursday and are probably on the wrong side of the bubble for now. Overall, WSU is just 1-5 vs. Top 50 teams and 5-7 vs. Top 100 teams – so work remains. An early win over Gonzaga is not helping as much as expected, although the Baylor win could hold more weight if the Bears rebound. The next two (@Arizona State, and @Washington) may decide in which direction the Cougars head. WSU can’t afford to fall below .500 in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA (19-7 | 10-3) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 40 | – Having won 6 straight, the Bruins are good position with a second-place standing in the Pac-10. Victories over St. John’s and BYU are solid, although UCLA is still light on quality wins (2-4 vs. Top 50 teams). RPI and SOS numbers are good, but not outstanding. The Bruins only real blemish is an early defeat to Montana. So what’s ahead? … trips to Cal and Stanford this weekend. Getting both would be ideal, as the Arizona schools come to Pauley next week.
SEC
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt | Bubble: Georgia, Alabama
  • Georgia (17-8 | 6-5) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 35 | – The Bulldogs are talented enough to make the NCAAs, but can they win enough SEC games? A tough trio of games didn’t start well as the Bulldogs lost a home game to Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Next up are road trips to Tennessee and Florida. Losing both would really put a lot of pressure on the ‘Dawgs. UGA has an early victory over Kentucky, and a win over UAB could also help. All of the Bulldogs losses have been to teams ranked in the Top 40 of the RPI, so that’s a plus. Sounds a lot like Marquette. Time to start a winning streak.
  • Alabama (17-8 | 9-2) | RPI: 83 | SOS: 127 | – Assuming Alabama continues to beat its SEC West opponents, the Tide’s biggest closing games are at Florida and vs. Georgia. Thanks to a rough November and early December, Alabama’s overall resume remains questionable. Whether the Committee will overlook the Tide’s poor start (losses to St. Peter’s, Iowa, Seton Hall) largely depends on how the Tide finish. If they win the SEC West by multiple games, and notch another win or two over East Division contenders, there could be enough to warrant at-large consideration in March.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: NONE | Bubble: Butler, Cleveland State, Missouri State, Wichita State, Old Dominion, George Mason, VCU, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB, UTEP, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State
  • Butler (18-9 | 11-5) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 51 | – Butler has won 5 straight to re-enter the Bubble picture. Still some work ahead for the Bulldogs who probably need to reach the Horizon League tournament final. Wins over Washington State and Florida State in Hawaii could still help, but BU has a few too many in-league losses – being swept by Milwaukee and losing at Youngstrown State. A sweep of Cleveland State could be helpful.
  • Cleveland State (21-5 | 12-4) | RPI: 34 | SOS: 118 | – Assuming the Vikings avoids any further upsets, the BracketBuster game at Old Dominion is huge. A loss would likely eliminate CSU from at-large consideration; a win would keep hopes alive. After being swept by Butler in head-to-head games, the best thing CSU can do is try to pass Valparaiso in the Horizon League standings. Then, make a long run in the Horizon League tournament.
  • Missouri State (21-6 | 13-3) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 132 | – Missouri State has won four straight MVC games and remains tied with Wichita State atop the standings. The good news is the Bears have league wins at Wichita State and Northern Iowa. MSU hosts Wichita State on Feb. 26 with a chance to sweep the series. A non-conference SOS of No. 225 hurts as does a 2-4 mark vs. Top 100 RPI teams. The Bears’ best non-conference win is Pacific, so an MVC title might be necessary.
  • Wichita State (21-5 | 13-3) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 113 | – The Shockers are just 2-4 vs. Top 100 teams, so an outright Missouri Valley title might be necessary for serious at-large consideration. The good news is Wichita State travels to Missouri State on Feb. 26 – so avoiding any league losses between now and then is critcal. The winner would claim the MVC’s top seed in the league tournament. Missed chances in Maui continue to haunt WSU. An 8-1 record in road games is a plus, but losing to Missouri State at home could hurt if the Shockers are swept in the season series. The BracketBuster matchup with VCU is big as well.
  • Memphis (20-6 | 8-3) | RPI: 26 | SOS: 38 | – With a season sweep of Southern Miss and and UAB in hand, the Tigers are in the best at-large position of any Conference USA team. Memphis also has nice road win at fellow bubble-dweller Gonzaga. The main prize, however, remains winning the C-USA title. The big date with co-leader UTEP is Feb. 26 – assuming the Miners don’t fall off the pace. It doesn’t help that Memphis was largely non-competitive in losses to Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgetown – and an ugly loss at SMU still lingers – but the Tigers’ outlook is better than some.
  • UAB (18-7 | 8-4) | RPI: 35 | SOS: 60 | – The Blazers are a pretty solid team that lacks a marquee win. They didn’t get it Wednesday by losing at Memphis – falling in both games to the Tigers this season. Now, the pressure is on. UAB is 0-4 vs. Top 50 teams (Duke, Memphis, Georgia, So. Miss), and their best non-conference win is VCU at home. Within the league, UAB’s best win is a 3-OT affair with UTEP. There’s also losses at Tulsa and Arizona State. Overall, the Blazers close with 2 of 4 on the road. Another loss could be one too many without a run to the C-USA title game.
  • Southern Mississippi (17-6 | 8-4) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 97 | – The Eagles picked up a critical win over UTEP on Wednesday to stay with the conference leaders, but USM is still just 1-3 vs. Top 50 teams. They’ve also been swept by Memphis. Losses to Colorado State and Mississippi won’t help; neither will a non-conference SOS ranked No. 256. A regular-season title would be a huge plus. Without it, the Eagles probably need a run to the C-USA final for serious consideration.
  • UTEP (18-6 | 7-3) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 117 | – The Miners at-large chances took a hit with the loss at Southern Miss Wednesday. UTEP is on the bubble by virtue of its status atop the C-USA standings. If that disappears, so will the Miners. Of UTEP’s 18 D-I wins, 15 are to teams ranked outside the Top 100 of the RPI. The best is an early victory over Michigan. Add in three sub-100 losses and the Miners have big concerns. UTEP needs every win it can get down the stretch, and must avoid an early exit in the C-USA tournament.
  • Old Dominion (21-6 | 12-4) | RPI: 30 | SOS: 67 | – Winning at VCU was a big get for the Monarchs, who look to be in decent shape at this point. Solid non-conference wins include Xavier, Richmond, and Clemson. ODU also played Georgetown to within three points. An 8-5 mark vs. Top 100 teams will help as will a non-league SOS ranked No. 25. Next is the BracketBuster with Cleveland State. Closing the regular season on a three-game winning streak would put ODU in a good spot heading into the CAA tournament.
  • VCU (20-8 | 12-4) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 130 | – Losing back-to-back home games to George Mason and Old Dominion could put VCU in a tough spot. VCU is 5-5 vs. Top 100 teams but would fall behind George Mason and Old Dominion in the CAA at-large pecking order. Not a great place to be. The Rams BracketBuster game at Wichita State might be a must-get ahead of the CAA Tournament. A game at Drexel to close won’t be easy, either.
  • George Mason (22-5 | 14-2) | RPI: 21 | SOS: 66 | – After a dominant road win at VCU on Tuesday, the Patriots lead the CAA by two full games. Winning the league by that margin could be enough to give GMU an at-large bid, if needed. The Patriots are 8-4 vs. Top 100 teams. The lone miscue is Wofford in November. The BracketBuster game at Northern Iowa isn’t critical, but another Top 100 victory would certainly make the Patriots’ case even stronger. GMU’s final two CAA games are very winnable (N’Eastern, Ga. State).
  • Gonzaga (16-9 | 7-3) | RPI: 71 | SOS: 69 | – The Zags’ home loss to Memphis could still hamper the Bulldogs’ at-large chances. There are some good wins – Baylor, Xavier, Marquette – but only Xavier is a solid NCAA team at this point. A good SOS always helps. At the same time, Gonzaga is 1-6 vs. Top 50 RPI teams and 7-9 vs. the Top 200 – generally a big no-no for at-large consideration. Winning at St. Mary’s (Feb. 24) is important, too.
  • St. Mary’s (20-4 | 10-1) | RPI: 31 | SOS: 116 | – Winning an outright WCC title would likely be enough as long as St. Mary’s doesn’t slide to the finish. An early win over St. John’s helps, but the Gaels were blown out at Vanderbilt and have only the one Top 50 win. At 3-4 vs. Top 100 teams, St. Mary’s can’t breathe too easy. A BracketBuster matchup with Utah State holds some weight, too.
  • Utah State (23-3 | 12-1) | RPI: 26 | SOS: 144 | – The Aggies have a lot of wins but only one (Long Beach No. 99) to a team ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI. That could still be a major hurdle – especially if the Aggies lose their BracketBuster game at St. Mary’s. USU missed against BYU and Georgetown. Would the Committee leave USU out if they lose in the WAC tournament? We’ve seen it happen before.

Ten Things You Need To Know: Catch up on all of Saturday’s college hoops action

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College basketball went insane on Saturday.

Well, it was insane all week.

But Saturday was really nuts.

Here’s everything you need to know.

1. NO. 3 DUKE LOST THEIR SECOND GAME THIS WEEK

David Johnson exploded on to the scene with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks.

Louisville exorcised some demons.

Duke looked like a team that is banged up, can’t guard the four and lacks a go-to scorer.

A full breakdown of this game can be found here.

2. NO. 4 AUBURN LOST THEIR SECOND GAME THIS WEEK, TOO

Auburn entered this seek as one of just two undefeated teams left in college basketball, but there were question marks.

The Tigers don’t have a single win over a team ranked in the top 40 on KenPom. They have only played three Quad 1 games this season. Their only Quad 1 win is barely a Quad 1 win: It came at Mississippi State, who currently ranks 70th in the NET; the cutoff for Quad 1 road wins is top 75.

The other two Quad 1 games that Auburn has played this season?

They were both this week.

And they were both ugly losses.

On Tuesday, it was Alabama that ran over Auburn in the basketball version of the Iron Bowl, 83-64. On Saturday, it was Florida doing the damage, as they held Auburn to 25.5 percent shooting from the field, 4-for-23 shooting from three (17.4%) and to just a single point during an eight-minute stretch late in the second half that saw the Gators push their lead from 47-43 to 69-44. They won 69-47.

Suddenly, those concerns look prescient.

The truth is this: Auburn is dangerous. They are a team that can make a lot of threes, that can force turnovers and play in transition and has the ability to play big (with Austin Wiley) or small (without Austin Wiley). They have a lottery pick in Isaac Okoro and they have a couple of guards on their roster capable of taking games over in J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty.

But they haven’t consistently played up to the level of a top five team, and their 15-0 record was inflated by feasting on teams that are just good enough to make us believe.

Auburn is still good.

They’re just not a top five team.

3. OH, AND NO. 5 BUTLER LOST THEIR SECOND GAME THIS WEEK AS WELL!

But this game said a whole lot more about DePaul than it did about Butler.

I explained why right here.

4. PAYTON PRITCHARD REALLY WANTS TO BE NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

The reason Payton Pritchard is one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year is the fact that he is putting up terrific numbers this season for a top ten team and doing so while putting together some incredibly impressive performances in crunchtime.

Saturday might have been his statement game.

Oregon erased a 13-point second half deficit thanks in large part to Pritchard, who hit a huge three with a minute left to tie the game. In overtime, he hit a floater to give the Ducks the lead before burying this insane three to win the game with 3.2 seconds left:

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Payton Pritchard called game!!!!!!

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No. 8 Oregon avoided going 0-2 on the Washington road trip with a 64-61 win. Pritchard finished with 22 points. The Ducks are now 3-0 in overtime games this season largely due to the fact that Pritchard is arguably the most clutch player in college basketball.

Is there anyone that you would want taking a big shot in a big game more than him?

5. BUT SO DOES MYLES POWELL

Seton Hall capped off an absolutely stellar week by going into Madison Square Garden and knocking off their biggest regional rival, St. John’s, on the road despite trailing by 13 points at the half.

That’s a big time win.

And Powell was, as you might expect, once again a big time player.

He scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half and made big shot after big shot down the stretch. This came just three days after he went for 29 points as Seton Hall erased a 10 point halftime deficit on the road against No. 5 Butler.

In fact, the Pirates are currently sitting at 6-0 in the Big East after a slow start to their season, and they already have won at DePaul, at Xavier, at Butler and at St. John’s.

And now they get three straight home games.

Kevin Willard’s club has put themselves in a great position to make a run at the 2020 Big East regular season title.

6. KENTUCKY RALLIES AFTER COACH CAL GETS TOSSED

This was awesome.

Coach Cal was ejected on Saturday in the most mild-mannered way I’ve ever seen.

He was arguing with the refs about the way they were implementing the flop rule against his team, and — I think — he was given two technicals for being out of the coach’s box and staying out of the coach’s box to curse at the refs. Look at this:

The best part?

Kentucky was up 11 early in the first half, but they blew that lead. After going 3-for-4 on technical free throws, Arkansas held a 47-44 lead on a coach-less Kentucky team.

And how did the Cats respond?

A cool 17-2 run to put the game to bed in a 73-66 win.

7. HOUSTON BLEW OUT WICHITA STATE TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE AMERICAN

The Houston we expected to see all season long showed up in Wichita on Saturday night.

The Cougars beat the No. 16 Shockers in their own building, 65-54, and it wasn’t really that close. Wichita State was down 49-27 at one point, allowing just one player to crack double-figures.

The Shockers lost two games this week and now sit a game off the pace in the American, behind Houston and Tulsa, who are tied for first.

8. WEST VIRGINIA SOMEHOW GAVE UP 84 POINTS TO KANSAS FREAKIN’ STATE

Kansas State entered Saturday ranked 198th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric. James Madison, the 275th-best team in college basketball, and VMI, the 291st-best team in college basketball, ranked directly behind them. The only “high-major” players worse than Kansas State offensively this season?

Temple, South Florida, Virginia, East Carolina and Boston College.

West Virginia, on the other hand, entered Saturday ranked as the single-best defensive team in the entire sport. They were playing defense at a level that would rank among the very-best defensive teams that we have ever seen. Their four Big 12 opponents were averaging 51 points against them.

Kansas State had 42 points at halftime. They scored 84 points on the night. They won 84-68 to drop the Mountaineers two games out of first place in the Big 12 title race, because …

9. … BAYLOR ERASED A 12 POINT DEFICIT ON THE ROAD

The Bears looked like they were going to be the top five team to blow a win they should not be blowing on Saturday.

Oklahoma State threw a 2-3 zone on the Bears, doing the exact same thing that Washington did to Baylor late in the only game that they lost thus far this season, and Baylor was lost for the first half. They trailed 36-24 at one point late in the half before slotting MAtthew Mayer at the high post and thwarting all of Oklahoma State’s plans.

In the end, however, the Cowboys still had a shot to win late, but that was until Devonte Bandoo banged home three threes in the final eight minutes, including two in a one minute span after the final TV timeout, to secure a 75-68 win.

Bandoo scored 14 points off the bench. He is the fourth-best guard on this Baylor roster.

Put another way, this team is deep, they are loaded, and the guys all the way down their bench can make the shots that beat you.

That’s scary.

10. SAN DIEGO STATE IS STILL UNDEFEATED

The Aztecs trailed at the half but ran Nevada off the court after halftime, taking home a 68-55 win.

David Johnson shines as No. 11 Louisville beats No. 3 Duke, 79-73

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David Johnson scored all 19 of his points in the first half and added seven assists, four boards, three steals and a pair of blocks off the bench as No. 11 Louisville went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off No. 3 Duke, 79-73.

The Cards jumped out to a 25-10 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game as Duke struggled to protect the ball. The Blue Devils slowly chipped away at the lead and got within one point with three minutes left before Louisville put the game away.

Jordan Nwora finished with just six points on 3-for-12 shooting as he dealt with Duke’s best defender in Stanley, while Dwayne Sutton took advantage of a mismatch at the four and chipped in with 13 points.

Stanley led the way for the Blue Devils with 24 points and 11 boards. Tre Jones was 5-for-16 from the floor and Vernon Carey struggled with fouls, finishing with just 12 points and six boards to go along with six turnovers.

Here are three things that we learned in Louisville’s win:

1. DAVID JOHNSON HAS ARRIVED, BUT IS HE HEALTHY?

First things first: Johnson says he’s OK. He told reporters after the game that the injury he suffered to his surgically-repaired left shoulder is nothing more than a bump or a bruise. Chris Mack was not worried about he while speaking at his postgame press conference. For those that missed it, Johnson took an awkward fall on his left shoulder with three minutes left in the game. He stayed on the ground behind the play, went to the bench with his left arm dangling by his side and headed back to the locker room before returning to Louisville’s bench for the final minutes. He did not return to the game.

So it sounds like he is going to be OK.

And that is incredibly important news for a Louisville team that has desperately been searching for a guy to do all of the things that Johnson did on Saturday night.

He finished with 19 points, but the way he scored those points is the most significant part of the equation. He broke down defenses. He dribbled right past Jordan Goldwire and drove the lane for a dunk. He created out of ball-screens. He handled Duke’s ball-pressure like he was playing against high school opponents.

This is what the Cardinals have been waiting for. It’s been a talking point all season long, and every time I have mentioned it, I have also mentioned that Louisville was just waiting to see if Johnson would ever get healthy. That staff believed he was a pro after getting him on campus, and anyone that watched him play on Saturday night would be inclined to agree.

If he can remain healthy and play somewhere close to this level for the rest of the season, then this Louisville team is much, much more dangerous.

2. THIS FELT LIKE A TURNING POINT FOR LOUISVILLE

I try to avoid the content in this space to be entirely narrative-based, but I’m not going to be able to avoid it here.

So indulge me for a minute, OK?

This game really felt like a turning point in Louisville’s season. It felt like they rid themselves of quite a few demons by going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and winning the way that they won, and the biggest reason that I say that is because of what happened last year. I’m sure every Duke and Louisville fan will remember this quite clearly: The Cardinals blew a 23 point lead at home in the final 10 minutes and lost to the Blue Devils.

This year, the game was starting to look like it might play out the same way. Louisville led by 15 points in the first half, by 10 at halftime and had a cushion of at least three possessions for what felt like the entire second half before Matthew Hurt capped off a 9-0 run by hitting three free throws to tie the game at 58. What happened? Fresh Kimble immediately answered with an and-one bucket to take the lead back. Duke tied things up against at 63, and on the next possession Kimble hit a three to, against, take the lead back. Duke made multiple runs in front of the Crazies, and Louisville had an answer every single time.

And on the road, no less.

Louisville has not been great playing away from the Yum! Center, and they have not played tough against elite competition all that often this season. It sometimes felt like they didn’t realize just how good they can be when they actually play with some heart.

That it happened in a game where they blew a lead and still won against Duke while getting elite play out of the point guard spot just feels like everything coming together.

The Cards head home to face Georgia Tech and Clemson next week.

We’ll see if that take ends up being true.

3. DUKE’S TWO MAJOR FLAWS WERE ON DISPLAY ON SATURDAY

The two biggest issues that there are on this Duke roster are that they lack someone that can truly lock up at the four, and they don’t have a go-to scorer in crunch-time if teams are going to collapse on Vernon Carey.

Hurt is who Louisville went after on Saturday night. It wasn’t Jordan Nwora, who was being guarded by Cassius Stanley for much of the night, but instead the likes of Dwayne Sutton, or Samuell Williamson, or whoever Hurt ended up guarding on a switch. The three that I mentioned Fresh Kimble hitting in that last section? That came against Matthew Hurt.

And Hurt was really good on the offensive end tonight. He finished with 16 points. He hit three threes. He had a tip-dunk. He also didn’t get a single defensive rebound, steal or block. If he added 16 points, how many was he responsible for giving up?

The other issue is one that we knew Duke was going to face this season. Tre Jones has definitely gotten better this season, and he definitely is still not a guy that you want being the player you’re calling up a play for in crunch time. Neither is Cassius Stanley, who is elite in transition and has proven himself a capable floor-spacer that can make things happen with his athleticism, but you’re not drawing up a play to get him the ball when you need a bucket against a set defense.

Carey is the answer, but between the foul trouble and the size that Louisville had inside, he was never able to get it going. And that could be a problem considering how many good teams around the country have plenty of size inside.

In a vacuum, I don’t think a road loss to Clemson and a home loss to Louisville is the kind of thing that should scare you off of thinking that the Blue Devils are the best team in the country. But a vacuum doesn’t take into account the matchup issues that those teams — who play two different styles — both exposed in Duke.

I’m worried.

If you’re a Duke fan, getting Wendell Moore healthy and Tre Jones back to 100 percent should be your biggest priority.

Diarra, Gordon lift Kansas State over No. 12 West Virginia

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Cartier Diarra tied a career high with 25 points, Xavier Sneed added 16, Dujuan Gordon had a career high 15, and Kansas State held off No. 12 West Virginia 84-68 for their first win in Big 12 play this season on Saturday.

Kansas State (8-9, 1-4 Big 12) went up by as many as 23, but a 15-0 run by the Mountaineers cut the lead to eight in the second half, thanks in part to seven turnovers in four minutes by the Wildcats.

West Virginia (14-3, 3-2) would get as close as six, but the Wildcats held on and won by 16.

Miles McBride and Chase Harler paced the Mountaineers with 11 points each, Gabe Osabuohein had 10 as West Virginia lost their first game when the trailed at halftime.

Turnovers proved costly for West Virginia as they committed 18 and Kansas State scored 28 off those mistakes.

Kansas State shot 59% from the field and held the Mountaineers to 45%. The Wildcats hit nine 3’s while West Virginia had 41 bench points.

With two minutes left in the first half, it was a fastbreak dunk by Antonio Gordon assisted by Dujuan Gordon that got the crowd on their feet pushing the Wildcat lead to 11.

Kansas State held a 17-point lead at halftime and shot 58% in the first 20 minutes of play.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State: This was the best game played by the Wildcats all season. They needed a win like this one before taking on their in-state rival up next.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had way too many turnovers and didn’t shoot the ball very well.

UP NEXT

Kansas State travels to Kansas on Tuesday.

West Virginia hosts Texas on Monday.

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

Payton Pritchard three caps come-from-behind win for No. 8 Oregon at Washington (VIDEO)

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Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard hit one of the shots of the year on Saturday, as he buried this ridiculous, step-back three with the game tied in overtime to deliver a 64-61 win over Washington:

“They can put the blame on me. I can take all the criticism, but I will be right there to take that last shot, take that pass, make that play whether it goes good or bad,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard hit his sixth 3-pointer of the game with 3.4 seconds left in overtime and Oregon rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to stun Washington 64-61 on Saturday.

The Ducks (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) avoided being swept on their trip north by overcoming a 48-32 deficit with 10:22 remaining in the second half and handed Washington (12-7, 2-4) its third loss in four games.

Pritchard was the extent of Oregon’s offense, finishing with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He hit a floater with 1:08 left to give Oregon the lead and provided the winning 3-pointer despite tough defense from Washington’s Jamal Bey. Pritchard was able to get just enough space to get the shot clear before the shot clock expired.

The Ducks rallied from 19 down to beat Seton Hall earlier this season. But this one felt a bit sweeter getting the better of one of their rivals.

“I don’t think the length really bothers me. If you don’t have a hand up I’m going to let it fly,” Pritchard said.

Chandler Lawson added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Ducks, who rebounded from an ugly loss to Washington State on Thursday. Lawson had not scored more than eight points in a game this season and played just seven minutes in the loss to Washington State.

“If you don’t get started right, you’ve got to keep battling,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I was really disappointed Thursday night. We didn’t compete. We got outworked. … I thought we played a lot harder. We didn’t play well, but we did play a lot harder.”

Isaiah Stewart led Washington with 25 points and 19 rebounds. The freshman was dominant on the interior but didn’t get the help he needed from others. Marcus Tsohonis had 12 of his 14 points in the first half, but the Huskies were 0 of 11 on 3-pointers in the second half and overtime, and 14 of 23 at the foul line.

Washington scored just 24 points in the second half and overtime combined.

“It was like he was going to will us to the game,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said of Stewart. “He’s just special. … I wish we could have got that one for him today.”

Stewart opened overtime with a baseline reverse, but it turned out to be Washington’s only basket of the extra period.

Lawson scored in the lane with 2:10 left and Pritchard followed with a runner to give Oregon a 61-59 lead, its first since it was 9-7 in the opening minutes. Stewart hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 49 seconds left. Pritchard forced another deep 3-pointer and missed, but Chris Duarte got the offensive rebound and Pritchard didn’t miss given a second opportunity.

THE COMEBACK

Washington led by 12 at halftime after perhaps its best first half of the season. The Huskies led 48-32 with 10:22 remaining in regulation after a pair of free throws by Stewart. Oregon then went on a 15-2 run to get back into the game, triggered by a change in its defense. The Ducks went to a full-court press and it flustered the Huskies. Washington scored just eight points the rest of regulation.

Meanwhile, Pritchard was the catalyst at the offensive end. He hit Oregon’s first 3-pointer of the second half to get the Ducks within 50-45 and then left a perfect pass for Lawson’s dunk to pull them within 50-47 with 4:26 left.

Pritchard later hit a 3 from about 35 feet with 1:08 left to pull Oregon even at 54. Stewart hit a pair of free throws, but Shakur Juiston scored underneath for the Ducks with 17.8 left to tie the game at 56.

Washington’s final possession was rushed and Jamal Bey’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back rim.

“The press changed the tempo of the game. … Got them on their heels a little bit,” Altman said.

STEWART’S DAY

Stewart is the third player this season to have at least 25 points and at least 19 rebounds in a game, joining Purdue’s Trevion Williams (36 points, 20 rebounds) and Rider’s Tyere Marshall (28 points, 20 rebounds). All three performances ended up coming in losses.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks changed the starting lineup with Will Richardson getting his first start of the season and Anthony Mathis coming off the bench for the first time. The switch didn’t work and Oregon lacked the scoring punch Richardson had provided coming off the bench. Richardson had one point. Mathis scored just two.

Washington: The Huskies got Jaden McDaniels back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s win over Oregon State with an ankle injury. McDaniels struggled with his shot, hitting 1 of 9 from the field, and finished with five points.

UP NEXT

Oregon: The Ducks return home to host USC next Thursday.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Utah next Thursday.

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

Dotson and Azubuike lead No. 6 Kansas over Texas 66-57

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Devon Dotson’s left hip looks fine. And that’s good news for No. 6 Kansas.

Dotson returned to the lineup after sitting out a game with a hip pointer injury and gave the Jayhawks a big late 3-pointer and free throws down the stretch to lead Kansas over Texas 66-57 on Saturday.

Dotson scored 21 points, including the final seven of the game for the Jayhawks. His long 3-pointer with 2:49 put Kansas ahead by eight and four straight free throws in the final 39 seconds closed out the win.

“If we played without him today, we would not have won,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Dotson played nearly 39 minutes and afterward said he felt good.

“It felt great,” Dotson said. “Coming in, there were no restrictions. When I’m out there playing, I have no excuses. I’m getting treatment. It’s gonna be fine.”

Udoka Azubuike scored 17 points and a burst from him early in the second half allowed Kansas (14-3, 4-1 Big 12) to take the lead.

Kansas closed the game with a 12-3 run that started with consecutive baskets from Marcus Garrett. The Jayhawks got a big break when Garrett was initially called for a charge, but the foul was quickly reversed. The layup counted, Garrett made the free throw and Jayhawks led 59-54 before Dotson closed it out.

Garrett had a scary moment earlier when he landed hard after an off-balance shot attempt. He stayed on the floor for several minutes and then briefly went to the Kansas locker room. He returned a few minutes later and made the big plays.

“That was a remarkable recovery,” Self said. “I think (the fall) scared him more than anything else.”

Dotson’s 3-pointer was just the second of the game for Kansas, the best-shooting team in the Big 12 from long range. Kansas attempted only 10, opting instead for Dotson and Garrett to drive or to push the ball inside to Azubuike, who was locked in a battle under the basket with Texas’ Jericho Sims.

Sims scored a career-high 20 points for the Longhorns (12-5, 2-3) and tied the game at 54-all. Texas gave him little help from the outside. After averaging 12.5 3-pointers in their previous two games, the Longhorns were just 6 of 20 on Saturday.

“Those two (Sims and Azubuike) canceled each other out,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “”Their guards were the biggest difference in the game.”

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: Saturday was the eighth time the Jayhawks made four or fewer 3-pointers and the third time in Big 12 play. Isaiah Moss, who started in Dotson’s place against Oklahoma and made six, took and made only one in 32 minutes against the Longhorns.

“Its going to catch up to us,” Self said. “We were fortunate today. We’ve got to be a team that knock (them) down. We’re not going to shoot as many at most.”

Texas: The Longhorns let what would’ve been a big upset get away. A win could have changed a lot for the Longhorns going forward, but instead Texas now has two home losses in its first five Big 12 games. The inconsistency of the 3-point shooting continues to be baffling. In all three Big 12 losses, Texas has made six or fewer from long range.

“This a game you’ve got to seize, that you’ve got to grab,” Smart said.

DEFENSIVE CLAMPDOWN

Texas guard Andrew Jones scored eight consecutive points for Texas in the first half in a 13-1 run that opened an eight-point lead. Jones didn’t score again and missed all four of his shots in the second half.

Smart lamented that Texas didn’t build a bigger lead. The Jayhawks pulled the game back within six by halftime.

“For it to be six at halftime, that’s a good half, but the way that we defended,” Smart said. “But if that lead is 10 or 12, that’s a big difference.”

FAN SCARE

The game had an extended break in the second half when a fan collapsed behind the Texas bench during a timeout. Emergency officials had to move several chairs off the Texas bench to take her out of the arena across the court on a stretcher.

Texas officials didn’t release any further information on the incident or the women’s condition.

UP NEXT

Kansas hosts Kansas State on Tuesday.

Texas plays at No. 12 West Virginia on Monday.

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