Previewing your college hoops weekend

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UPSET ALERT

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 4 Pitt @ St. John’s: The Big East is a heaping pile of similarity this season. Pitt has a two-game lead on Notre Dame, who holds a two-game cushion in second place. After that? There are eight — yes, eight! — teams with five or six losses, all fighting to earn the three and four seeds in the Big East Tournament and the subsequent double bye.

One of those eight teams is St. John’s, which is slowly creeping up seed lines in the mock brackets that are coming out. The biggest reason for the Johnnies’ ascent to hoops relevancy has been their ability to defend their home court. Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke and UConn have fallen at the Garden. On Saturday, the Panthers try their hand at winning in the basketball Mecca.

Now, Pitt isn’t exactly a great matchup for St. John’s. The Panthers are a terrific offensive rebounding team, and their ability to clean up their own misses with second-chance points is why they are such an efficient offensive team. The Johnnies are tough and physical, but they haven’t proven to be a great team on the defensive glass. St. John’s also doesn’t match up that well on the offensive end of the floor. Pitt is not an elite team defensively in terms of efficiency, but a big reason is that the Panthers don’t gamble for a lot of steals. They don’t force turnovers. Instead, they play tough, quarter-court defense, force a tough shot and get the rebound. Offensive execution is key against the Panthers, and St. John’s is not exactly Notre Dame.

That said, the reason that I can see the Johnnies pulling another upset is their press. Steve Lavin has athletes at every position on the floor, and when they are active and aggressive that press can be lethal. Pitt is susceptible to being pressed. Neither Brad Wanamaker or Ashton Gibbs is a great ball handler, and Travon Woodall has the highest turnover percentage on the team.

If the press is effective, it negates Pitt’s advantages — offensive rebounding and a stalwart half court defense. Playing in front of a home crowd that is sure to be fired up, the Johnnies surely will be flying all over the court.

UPSET SPECIAL

Sat. 1:00 pm: No. 7 Notre Dame @ West Virginia: I am not yet convinced that the Irish are a great road team. And I know that Notre Dame beat Pitt on the road. But Notre Dame happens to match up incredibly well with the Panthers, and with their ‘burn’ offense, they continually give the Panthers trouble. West Virginia hasn’t been great this season, but when Denis Kilicli and Casey Mitchell are both playing well and guys like Kevin Jones and John Flowers are getting to the offensive glass, this is a good basketball team.

Sat. 1:45 pm: No. 2 Texas @ Nebraska: Nebraska has been a pesky team this season. They slow the game down, they defend, and they get to the defensive glass. The Huskers have knocked off Texas A&M this season and given Kansas and Missouri all they could handle on the road. No one in the country is playing better than Texas right now — especially on the defensive end of the floor — but I think that the Huskers matchup fairly well with the Longhorns.

Sat. 4:00 pm: Boston College @ No. 19 North Carolina: Two years ago, BC went into Chapel Hill and handed a North Carolina team we all thought had a chance to go undefeated their first loss of the season. This year the situation is quite different, as the 2011 Tar Heels are a far cry from the 2009 team. But Boston College is rated as the seventh best offensive team in the country, headlined by the ACC’s best guard that doesn’t play for Duke in Reggie Jackson. They are also the 256th best defense, which means that North Carolina will probably be able to score at will. The Eagles are fighting for their tournament lives, however, and a win like this on the road would do wonders for their profile. Will they play enough defense to win?

Sat. 6:00 pm: Washington @ No. 13 Arizona: Both Washington and Arizona handled their business of Thursday night, meaning that the Huskies, who are two games behind the Wildcats in the Pac-10 standings, will be playing to keep themselves in the Pac-10 regular season race. Washington’s struggles on the road are not a secret, but this team also has a lot of the same parts as last year’s team, which really came together down the stretch of the season. If they can find that magic again, Washington will be right back in the mix for a Pac-10 title.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 17 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State: I am not a fan of Texas A&M. Don’t get me wrong, they are a solid basketball team, but they are not the 17th best team in the country. Oklahoma State is a team fighting for their tournament life, and they have also beaten everyone on their home court that is not a Longhorn.

BEST MATCHUPS

Fri. 9:00 pm: No. 12 UConn @ No. 16 Louisville: As we mentioned in the discussion of the St. John’s-Pitt game, the second tier of the Big East is as muddled as a mojito. Both the Cardinals and the Huskies are right in the middle of that mess, and both have a very good shot at earning one of the top four seeds in the Big East tournament. Back in January, Peyton Siva torched UConn down the stretch as the Cardinals beat the Huskies in double overtime on the road. But Kemba Walker also struggled a bit in that game, especially down the stretch, when he became a relative non-factor. Expect another game just as exciting.

Sat. 2:00 pm: Georgia @ Tennessee: Georgia is on the tournament ropes right now. They are 6-5 in the SEC with a number of close losses, including one that came on a Brian Williams buzzer beater in Athens last month. With road trips to Florida and Alabama left, the Bulldogs are legitimately looking at a situation where they could end up at 8-8 in the SEC. Tennessee is in a similar boat. They’ve been unable to close out close games all season long, and it resulted in some ugly losses during the non-conference season. The Vols have less breathing room than Georgia as result. This may be the most important bubble matchup of the day.

Sat. 5:00 pm: Vermont @ Charleston: In one of the more intriguing games of the BracketBusters weekend, the Catamounts, who have already clinched the America East title, head down to South Carolina to take of the Cougars, who currently have a comfortable two game cushion in the SoCon. Andrew Goudelock and Evan Fjeld are going to get the publicity heading into this one, but keep an eye on statsheet stuffer Brian Voelkel. A poor man’s Draymond Green, the 6’6″ freshman is averaging 6.6 ppg and a team high 9.9 rpg and 4.8 apg.

Sat. 7:00 pm: UNLV @ Colorado State: Right now, the MWC looks like a league that is only going to get two bids to the NCAA Tournament barring an upset in the conference tourney. But if someone is going to steal an at-large bid, in all likelihood it will be the winner of this game. UNLV has been a bit of a disappointment this season, as they are a team with a number of talented players that have not been able to put the pieces together. Colorado State may actually be exceeding expectations right now. The Rams have an excellent front court duo in Travis Franklin and Andy Ogide, who will be a tough matchup for the Rebels.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 24 Utah State @ No. 23 St. Mary’s: This is, by far, the most important game of BracketBusters weekend. Its also the only BracketBusters game that may actually have an effect on the NCAA Tournament field. Both the Aggies and the Gaels have impressive records, but neither of them have done it against quality competition. Utah State has only played two teams rated higher than 123rd in the RPI, losing to both Georgetown and BYU, while also losing to Idaho in a game that seriously damaged their at-large hopes. St. Mary’s has beaten St. John’s and Gonzaga, but their loss to San Diego on Wednesday night made this a must-win. This is an eliminator game — the loser is going to have to win their conference tournament to get in.

Sat. 9:00 pm: Illinois @ Michigan State: I doubt that anyone would have believed you if you said in the preseason that the loser of this game would be in serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State has looked better in their last two games, smoking Penn State at home before putting up a good fight in a loss at Ohio State. Illinois, on the other hand, has struggled through Big Ten play. Demetri McCamey looks like he is mailing in this season, and no one else on the team has been able to pick up the slack. Is it too early to call this an eliminator game as well?

Sun. 1:00 pm: No. 3 Ohio State @ No. 11 Purdue: Ohio State embarrassed Purdue in Columbus earlier this season, beating the Boilermakers by 23 points. But as we all know, home court is everything in college hoops, and Mackey Arena is as tough a place to play as you will find in the Big Ten. Purdue already avenged one loss this week, as they took care of business against Wisconsin on Tuesday. If they are to do the same against the Buckeyes, its going to fall on JaJuan Johnson’s shoulders. Can he defend Jared Sullinger in the post? Can he take advantage of the mismatch he will have at the other end of the floor?

BEST STORYLINES

Friday

  • 7:00 pm: VCU @ Wichita State: Both these teams have probably cost themselves a real shot at an at-large bid, but both the Rams and the Shockers are more than quality basketball teams, they are quality programs.

Saturday

  • 11:00 am: Hofstra @ Wright State: Charles Jenkins isn’t really a storyline, but he may be the best player in the country you’ve never watched. This game is on ESPN U. Change that.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 14 Villanova @ DePaul: The Wildcats will once again be without Corey Stokes, who is battling a turf toe injury.
  • 12:00 pm: Duquesne @ Dayton: The Flyers are talented enough to be a spoiler for Duquesne, who is second in the Atlantic 10 right now. But the Flyers are talented enough to win the league, and that hasn’t worked out.
  • 1:00 pm: Florida State @ Wake Forest: The Seminoles will be playing their first game without Chris Singleton. At least they get a chance to ease into it against Wake Forest.
  • 1:00 pm: Virginia Tech @ Virginia: The Hokies have won 13 of their last 16 games and Malcolm Delaney has started playing like last year’s Malcolm Delaney. If the Hokies don’t choke (which isn’t a guarantee) they should be dancing.
  • 1:45 pm: No. 21 Missouri @ Iowa State: Iowa State has a star in Diante Garrett and Missouri struggles on the road, but it will take some luck and hot shooting for the Cyclones to pull off this upset.
  • 2:00 pm: Colorado @ No. 1 Kansas: Kansas is coming off of an embarrassing, 84-68 loss to Kansas State where the red flags — maturity, leadership — of this team were exposed. It will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks bounce back.
  • 2:00 pm: No. 6 San Diego State @ Air Force: The Falcons have already outperformed expectations coming into the season. A win against SDSU would be an exclamation point.
  • 3:00 pm: Iona @ Liberty: Mike Glover vs. Eric Gordon’s brother?
  • 3:00 pm: Tulsa @ SMU: Who would have thought that in late February, these two teams would be one game out of the lead in Conference USA?
  • 4:00 pm: No. 18 Vanderbilt @ Auburn: Vandy might be the hottest team in the SEC, and I don’t think that the Tigers are going to be able to change that.
  • 4:00 pm: Rutgers @ No. 20 Syracuse: The Scarlet Knights are one of the toughest teams in the Big East. Unfortunately, they are lacking in the talent department. I’m not sure they have enough perimeter shooting to pull off this upset.
  • 4:00 pm: South Carolina @ No. 22 Kentucky: The Wildcats are as talented as any team in the country, and they play like it when they play at Rupp.
  • 4:00 pm: Oklahoma @ Kansas State: The Wildcat’s performance against Kansas on Monday was great, but they need to build on it going forward. It will be interesting to see what they can do against the Sooners.
  • 4:30 pm: No. 8 BYU @ TCU: TCU is reeling and playing without Ronnie Moss. Can the Horned Frogs contain The Jimmer?
  • 4:30 pm: Northwestern State @ McNeese State: First place in the Eastern division of the Southland Conference is on the line in this one.
  • 5:00 pm: Missouri State @ Valpo: Missouri State is currently tied for first in the MVC while Valpo is a half game behind Cleveland State in the Horizon. Neither will be getting an at-large bid, but both are capable of winning a game in the tournament.
  • 6:00 pm: UCF @ UAB: The Blazers are just a game behind Memphis in the C-USA standing, but they are without Cameron Moore the rest of the season. UCF snapped an eight game losing streak by winning two in a row. Can they stay hot?
  • 6:30 pm: Bethune-Cookman @ Hampton: First place in the MEAC is on the line.
  • 7:00 pm: No. 9 Georgetown @ South Florida: Last year, the Bulls went into the Verizon Center and knocked off the Hoyas. This year, there is no Dominique Jones.
  • 7:00 pm: George Mason @ Northern Iowa: The Panther haven’t been the same team since Lucas O’Rear got injured, but this game is worth the watch (ESPN2) simply because GMU is a legitimate contender to win a game in the tournament.
  • 8:00 pm: Texas Tech @ Baylor: The Bears are still trying to work their way into the NCAA Tournament field despite the fact that freshman Perry Jones may have played his way into the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
  • 9:00 pm: San Francisco @ Gonzaga: Thanks to St. Mary’s loss at San Diego, this game has all kinds of importance to the WCC race, as it will be for sole possession of second place in the league.
  • 9:00 pm: Seton Hall @ Marquette: The Golden Eagles have damn near played their way out of the NCAA Tournament. There is still time to turn it around, however.
  • 11:00 pm: Montana @ Long Beach State: Its cliche to say this, but since both of these teams are currently leading their conference, this could be a chance to watch two tournament teams. What else would you be doing this late on a Saturday night?

Sunday

  • 1:00 pm: Cleveland State @ Old Dominion: Old Dominion probably won’t gain that much by beating Cleveland State, but a loss at home to the Horizon leaders would end any chance of getting an at-large bid. As far as the Vikings are concerned, they have Norris Cole, who is worth watching for his play as much as his hi-top fade.
  • 2:00 pm: St. Joe’s @ No. 25 Temple: The A-10 was more fun when this rivalry game actually mattered.
  • 3:00 pm: St. Bonaventure @ Richmond: The Spiders have to win the A-10 tournament if they want to be dancing come Selection Sunday.
  • 3:30 pm: Clemson @ Miami FL: I don’t think that Clemson is going to be able to climb back into the bubble picture after losing to NC State on Thursday night.
  • 5:30 pm: NC State @ Maryland: The Terps may have also played their way out of the NCAA Tournament picture.
  • 6:00 pm: Penn State @ No. 10 Wisconsin: Penn State has a chance to play their way onto the bubble in the weak middle of the Big Ten, but doing so at Wisconsin is a tough task.

Three Things To Know: Shaka’s seat heats up, Baylor survives, Virginia doesn’t

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It was a slow night for college hoops on Monday, but there is still plenty to talk about after some weird results.

Here are the three things you need to know:

1. SHAKA’S SEAT IS HEATING UP

The Shaka Smart era at Texas feels like it has hit an inflection point.

On Monday night, the Longhorns went into Morgantown, W.V., and found themselves wishing Country Roads would take them home before the first half came to a close. No. 14 West Virginia, coming off of blowout loss at Kansas State on Saturday, used a 28-2 run over a 10 minute stretch in the first half to turn a 15-13 lead into a 43-15 blowout. They would go on to win 97-59.

The loss dropped Texas to 12-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Big 12. The Longhorns certainly are not out of it just yet — three of their four Big 12 losses came against teams that currently rank in the top six at KenPom — but it’s getting harder and harder to defend the situation that’s brewing in Austin. Texas has now lost four of their last six and five of their last eight. They are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

But perhaps the biggest concern is that the Longhorns just don’t seem to be growing as a program. Last year, while Texas ended up missing the tournament, they finished as a top 25 team on KenPom and made a run all the way to the NIT title. It’s worth noting that before the tournament started, they were already a top 30 team on KenPom; their ranking wasn’t skewed by getting hot for three weeks in a tournament no one cares about.

The problem this season is that there has been no progression. Texas has been a program under Shaka that has hung their hat on defense, but this is the worst defensive team he has had in his tenure. That becomes even more of an issue when you factor in that they cannot score. They’re 111th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is what happens when your offense is, essentially, a spread ball-screen into a contested three.

KenPom has Texas favored to win just three more games the rest of the season. They’re projected to finish 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12.

That’s not good.

2. NO. 1 BAYLOR SURVIVES

It looked like Baylor was going to cruise to a pretty easy win at home against Oklahoma, but the Sooners had other ideas. They hung around long enough in the second half to make things interesting late. Oklahoma hit back-to-back threes in a 40 second span to cut a 59-51 lead to 59-57 with 41 seconds left, and after Baylor couldn’t find a way to score on their next possession, Austin Reaves cut off a 3-on-1 break to flare to the corner and fire up a wide-open, go-ahead three with less than five seconds left.

He missed.

Baylor won.

And No. 1 lived to fight another day.

3. VIRGINIA LOSES AGAIN

The reigning national champions lost for the fourth time in their last five games on Monday night, this time falling at home against N.C. State, 53-51.

Like Oklahoma, Virginia had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, as N.C. State fouled up three and then missed free throws of their own at the other end. But Virginia is the 346th-best three-point shooting team in the country for a reason, and Casey Morsell missed the game-winner as time expired.

At this point, it’s getting harder to see how Virginia is going to find a way to play their way into the NCAA tournament.

Chris Mack: David Johnson’s shoulder ‘is fine’

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The biggest concern coming out of Louisville’s win at Duke on Saturday evening was the status of David Johnson’s shoulder.

Johnson was the best player on the floor for Louisville, finishing with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks as the Cardinals landed a much-needed win in Cameron. But with three minutes left in the game, he landed on his surgically-repaired left shoulder and had to leave the game. He returned to the bench, but he did not return to the game.

Head coach Chris Mack did not seem overly concerned about the injury after the game, and he confirmed as much in a conference call on Monday.

“The shoulder is fine,” Mack said. “He’s just a little sore, but he’ll practice the next couple of days and we fully expect him to play on Wednesday.”

Bracketology: Welcome to the top line, San Diego State

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Welcome to the top line, San Diego State.  The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update.  SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.

The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East.  As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them.  Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall.  And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed.  The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.

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

UPDATED: January 20, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown
WEST REGION NC State vs. VCU
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW-AM vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. ST. FRANCIS (PA)

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

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Virginia Tech Purdue Washington
DePaul NC State Minnesota Saint Louis
Saint Mary’s Georgetown Arizona State St. John’s
BYU VCU Xavier Richmond

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

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

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

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

AP Poll: Baylor leapfrogs Gonzaga, seventh No. 1 team this season

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Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor and Gonzaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too.

The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bulldogs and into the No. 1 spot in college basketball AP poll on Monday, using wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. That matches the record set in 1983 for the most No. 1s in the history of the poll, which dates to the 1948-49 season.

Gonzaga (20-1) was merely a victim of its conference schedule. The Bulldogs blew out Santa Clara and BYU, but just enough voters considered those wins to be less impressive than the Bears’ perfect Big 12 start. Baylor received 33 first-place votes and had 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel while Gonzaga received 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.

“It takes a team to win,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team also reached the top of the poll two years ago. “As a coach, you’re just really proud when different people step up, especially guys that have been working hard.”

The rest of the top five looks a whole lot different after Duke, Auburn and Butler all lost both of their games last week.

Kansas (14-3) rose three spots to No. 3 in the college basketball AP poll after victories over Oklahoma and Texas, the latter requiring a big comeback in Austin. San Diego State (19-0) remained perfect with wins over Fresno State and Nevada, and Florida State (16-2) barged into the fifth spot after it beat reigning national champion Virginia and survived overtime to best Miami.

The Seminoles haven’t lost since playing Indiana in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge the first week of December.

Louisville, which tasted the top spot earlier this season, jumped five spots to sixth after beating Pittsburgh in overtime and handling the Blue Devils. Dayton was next, followed by Duke, Villanova and Seton Hall to round out the top 10.

Duke also lost to Clemson earlier in the week, sending coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team tumbling five spots.

“We just have to get older,” he said after the Blue Devils’ 79-73 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I’m really up on my team. It’s a long journey. I’ve never told you that we’re great. It’s a process for us, playing these two teams. Getting beat, we have to learn from it and move on. It’s a long journey.”

Krzyzewski’s team wasn’t alone in getting a tough lesson last week. Fourth-ranked Auburn fell all the way to No. 16 after losing a pair of blowouts to Alabama and Florida, and fifth-ranked Butler was bounced all the way to 13th after the Bulldogs followed up a loss to Seton Hall by getting soundly beaten by DePaul.

“It’s the time of the year when we should be trying to elevate our play, and we’re not,” said Tigers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team had won its first 15 games. “Obviously, there’s a pretty big price on our head being ranked fourth in the country. And so I think we have to respond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

Here is the full college basketball AP poll:

1. Baylor (33 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (31)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Duke
9. Villanova
10. Seton Hall
11. Michigan State
12. Oregon
13. Butler
14. West Virginia
15. Kentucky
16. Auburn
17. Maryland
18. Texas Tech
19. Iowa
20. Memphis
21. Illinois
22. Arizona
23. Colorado
24. Rutgers
25. Houston

Others receiving votes: Wichita St. 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, N Iowa 42, Ohio St. 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn St. 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, ETSU 6, Indiana 6, Southern Cal 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1.

Here’s a closer look at the other big news in another fresh Top 25:

RUTGERS ON THE RISE

The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.

OTHER NEWCOMERS

Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.

ON THE WAY OUT

The Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.

BUCKEYES BUMMER

No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Monday’s Overreaction: Myles Powell, Payton Pritchard, David Johnson and the two worst chokes of the year

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Myles Powell, Seton Hall

Seton Hall improved to 6-0 in Big East play this season with wins over Butler and St. John’s, but that doesn’t come anywhere close to telling the whose story here.

The Pirates trailed by double-figures at halftime of both of those games. Both of those games were on the road. They were down 40-30 at the break at No. 5 Butler, but Myles Powell came to the rescue, scoring 19 of his 29 points after the break to lead the Pirates to a 78-70 win.

Then on Saturday, Seton Hall trailed St. John’s 43-30 at the Garden at halftime, but Powell — again — took over, scoring 23 of his 29 points in the second half as Seton Hall remained perfect in the Big East.

It took him a while to get fully healthy, but now that he is, Powell is showing everyone why he is a favorite to win National Player of the Year.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

What Steve Pikiell has done with this Rutgers program should never, ever be overlooked.

After a week in which the Scarlet Knights beat both Indiana and Minnesota at the RAC, They are now sitting at 14-4 over and 5-2 in the Big Ten, good for second in the toughest conference in college basketball. They are 24th in KenPom, which is the highest that this program has ever ranked in the metric we all use the most when evaluating teams. They are 18th in the NET with a 2-3 mark against Quad 1 opponents and five Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins combined.

Put another way, Rutgers is very much in a position where missing the NCAA tournament this season would be something of a disappointment.

Now, it should be noted that this is when their schedule gets tough. They play at Iowa on Wednesday and still face off with Michigan twice, Maryland twice, Purdue twice and play at Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. A home game against No. 24 Illinois is about their sixth-toughest game left on the schedule.

It won’t be easy.

But getting to 14-4 wasn’t easy in the first place.

MONDAY’S OVERREACTIONS

1. DAVID JOHNSON MAKES LOUISVILLE GREAT AGAIN

Louisville may have finally found an answer to their point guard problems.

David Johnson, a freshman from Louisville that has spent the season to date trying to get back up to speed after offseason shoulder surgery, had his coming out party in a big way on Saturday, going for 19 points and seven assists as Louisville went into Cameron and knocked off Duke.

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.

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.

And then there was the passing (see below):

 

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. PAYTON PRITCHARD IS A KILLER

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?

3. BAYLOR IS A KILLER, TOO

I talked about this in depth at the 19:00 mark of the podcast, but with the exception of an early season loss against Washington — I’ll get to that — the Bears have been arguably the best team in college basketball down the stretch of close games.

Whether it’s wins at Texas Tech, or Kansas, or Oklahoma State, Baylor has consistently been able to execute in situations where teams like Duke have not been able to execute. That is why they are sitting at No. 1 in the country right now and Duke has three losses to their name.

And as far as the Washington game is concerned, the Huskies play zone. Baylor was totally lost against that zone down the stretch. Oklahoma State played zone as well, and Baylor discovered the answer in the second half: Matthew Mayer. They plugged him in at the high post, and it launched a comeback.

So now they have an answer for that, too.

4. WE ALL SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS WEEK COMING FOR AUBURN

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.

5. STANFORD AND UTAH STATE, WHO CHOKED WORSE?

Stanford was up 46-25 in the second half of their loss at USC on Saturday evening. They led by 15 points with less than 10 minutes left. They were up by five points with 15 seconds left and the ball out of bounds underneath USC’s basket, and not only did they find a way to lose that game in overtime, but they got lucky to actually get to OT. USC missed a free throw that could have won the game in regulation.

According to KenPom, USC had a 3.8% chance to win this game at the half, a 3.6% chance to win the game with 10 minutes left and just a 0.7% chance to win with 15 seconds left.

But that’s not as bad as what happened to Utah State.

The Aggies led 66-48 with less than 4:10 remaining. Boise State had a 0.3% chance of winning this game with five minutes left. Turnovers, fouls, missed threes. Utah State did it all, but they still led 73-67 with 15 seconds left, 75-70 with eight seconds left and 75-73 with three seconds left and the ball.

And they lost.

That just does not seem possible.