Checking up on the bubble

1 Comment

West Virginia 72, No. 8 Notre Dame 58: West Virginia was on the right side of the bubble coming into today, but knocking off the Irish helps solidify their standing and gives the ‘Eers some room for error down the stretch. West Virginia is now 8-6 in the Big East, but three of their last four games come against ranked teams. As long as WVU avoids a slip-up against suddenly scrappy Rutgers, they will get to .500 in the league, which should be enough to earn a bid.

As for Notre Dame, their road struggles continue. They are now 3-5 in true road games, with all five of their losses coming by at least double digits. The wins came at South Florida, DePaul, and Pitt, a team that Mike Brey has discovered the secret to beating. The Irish have done enough that they should still end up being a top four seed, but this won’t help quiet the doubters saying the Irish are going to be overseeded.

Michigan State 61, Illinois 57: This was a huge win for Michigan State. They came in losers of six of their last eight games, but they looked like a different team in their last two games. Illinois has been struggling as well, so the magnitude of this win isn’t what you would normally expect from a matchup of these two programs in February, but it is important nonetheless. The Spartans simply need wins at this point. The real test will come next week at Minnesota and against Purdue.

For Illinois, the loss is just as important. Like Michigan State, Illinois simply needs to start stockpiling wins. They have lost seven of their last 11 now, and are now 17-10 on the season and 7-7 in the Big Ten. Making matters worse, they have now lost five of their last six on the road. The struggles of both the Illini and the Spartans have been will publicized. Michigan State looks like they are on the right track in terms of turning it around. Illinois? They better show up ready to play when they travel to Ohio State and Purdue.

No. 25 Utah State 75, St. Mary’s 65: This game was essentially dubbed the play-out game. With the win, Utah State finally has beaten a top 90 team, but one win over a WCC opponent is not generally enough to earn an at-large bid. The Aggies are probably in precarious enough position that it would behoove them to win the WAC Tournament. As far as St. Mary’s is concerned, the Gaels have now lost two straight games, including at San Diego, who is a sub-300 team in the RPI. The Gaels have a bit of a stronger resume than Utah State does, so they can better absorb the loss, but this is still a dangerous spot for them to be in. The game against Gonzaga next week is now the most important game of their entire season. It also doubles as a chance for the Gaels to win the WCC outright.

No. 19 UNC 48, BC 46: It was an ugly game, but BC’s defense sparked a late run that got them the ball with a chance to win. Unfortunately, Reggie Jackson’s three rimmed out, and while this loss won’t be a knock on BC’s resume, it certainly is a missed opportunity. The Eagles are firmly on the bubble, as there is that much on their resume beyond wins over Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. A road win against a top 25 team could have pushed them over the hump.

Georgia 69, Tennessee 63: The Bulldogs picked up a huge win on Saturday, going into Thompson-Boling Arena and knocking off the Vols. Georgia was in a dangerous spot if they lost this game. They had blown a couple of chances late in games earlier in the season, and with road trips left against Florida and Alabama, there was a distinct possibility that the Bulldogs could finish the season at .500 in SEC play. Georgia still has work to do, but they can feel much better about their chances for dancing with this win.

UNLV 68, Colorado State 61: This might have been the biggest bubble game of the day. UNLV desperately needed this win. Coming in they had five losses in the MWC, with all five coming to BYU, SDSU, and Colorado State. There was no chance that they could get swept by the top three teams in the conference and still earn an NCAA bid. They still have plenty of work left to do even with this win, however. A win over SDSU or BYU in the MWC Tournament would be a good way to start. For Colorado State, this loss all but guarantees that the Rams will miss the NCAA Tournament if they cannot knock off SDSU or BYU. The good news? The Rams get another shot at both during the regular season.

Virginia 61, Virginia Tech 54: Big loss for the Hokies, who have now been swept by the ‘Hoos. Tech has had a couple of bad road losses this year, losing to Georgia Tech and BC in addition to UVa, but they are also 17-8 on the year and, including this loss, have won 13 of their last 17 games. VT is also undefeated at home in ACC play, and if they can pull off an upset of Duke in Blacksburg next week, the Hokies will be fine.

Alabama 69, Arkansas 56: The Crimson Tide has plenty of wins like this. If ‘Bama truly wants to be considered a serious at-large candidate, they need to beat a couple of teams from the SEC East while cleaning up against their divisional opponents. Their early losses have put them in a huge hole in terms of their RPI, but a strong finish can erase those memories.

Texas Tech 78, Baylor 69: Baylor is in big time trouble. They’ve now lost to Texas Tech at home and Oklahoma in league play, they have no quality wins outside Texas A&M, and they are at .500 in league play. The good news? They play Missouri, Texas A&M, and Texas down the stretch, so there are opportunities to play their way in.

Nebraska 70, No. 3 Texas 67: We’ve already discussed what this loss means for the ‘Horns, but it was also significant for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is now the Cincinnati of the Big 12. They have a nice record, they have no bad losses, but they didn’t have a marquee win until today. Expect Nebraska to break into some bubble watches this week.

Gonzaga 70, San Francisco 53: The Zags are probably still on the wrong side of the bubble, but this was still an important win. They move a game in front of the Dons for second place in the WCC, and with a game next week against St. Mary’s, there is still a chance for them to win a share of the WCC regular season title.

No. 17 Texas A&M 67, Oklahoma State 66: The Cowboys have their backs against the wall, to the point that they can barely be considered on the bubble after this loss. That changes if they can win at Kansas on Monday, then win out in the Big 12. That only gets them to .500 in league play, however.

Rice 67, Memphis 52: The Tigers are all but out of the at-large conversation at this point, even if they can win the C-USA regular season title.

George Mason 77, Northern Iowa 71: This is another nice win for the hottest team in the country. They still cannot afford another conference loss simply because the rest of their opponents are not very good, but this team is getting very close to being an at-large lock.

Cincinnati 93, Providence 81 OT: The Bearcats are not winning pretty — they blew a 16 point second half lead today — but a win is a win. Cincy gets Georgetown twice, UConn, and Marquette in their last four games. They would be smart to win two of those games.

Marquette 73, Seton Hall 64: The Golden Eagles are now back to .500 in league play, but they are still in big trouble. With the number of close losses to good teams that Marquette has racked up, they are still alive. But they probably need to win three of their last four games, including getting a win at UConn.

Butler 79, Illinois-Chicago 52: Believe it or not, the Bulldogs are still on the bubble. This is a long way from what you would call a resume win, but its a win that Butler had to have.

Florida State 84, Wake Forest 66: The Seminoles should win this game without Chris Singleton, but the impressive offensive numbers? Much of that was the result of garbage time.

Kansas State 77, Oklahoma 62: The Wildcats weren’t as impressive as they were in their win over Kansas, but this is a game they absolutely couldn’t afford to lose.

Missouri Valley: Missouri State was crushed by Valpo. Wichita State lost at home to VCU. Indiana State lost at home to Morehead State. Northern Iowa blew an early lead to George Mason at home. This is a one bid league, folks.

Dayton 64, Duquesne 63: The Dukes were a long shot to get an at-large bid as it is, and losing this game — which knocks them two games off the A-10 pace — ends that hope.

UAB 63, UCF 58: UAB actually has a top 40 RPI. They don’t have — and won’t get — any great wins this season, but if they win out they will have a chance at earning a bid.

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

Indiana’s late-run beats No. 11 Michigan State 67-63

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Joey Brunk scored 14 points, including a key layup with 1 minute left to play, and Jerome Hunter made two late free throws Thursday night to close out Indiana’s 67-63 victory over No. 11 Michigan State.

The Hoosiers (15-4, 5-3 Big Ten) have won two straight and four of their last five. It was coach Archie Miller’s 50th win since taking the job three seasons ago.

Cassius Winston had 13 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Spartans (14-5, 6-2), who lost their third straight in the series.

Michigan State had a chance to force overtime after forcing a turnover, calling timeout and sending Winston through the lane. He flipped the ball to Xavier Tillman for a layup, but the ball rolled off the rim and Hunter grabbed the rebound.

His free throws sealed the win.

The Hoosiers needed everything they had to earn this one after blowing a seven-point halftime lead.

Michigan State rallied by making its first six 3-point attempts in the second half and finally took a 51-48 lead on Rocket Watts’ 3 with 11:05 to go.

It remained a one-possession game the rest of the way.

But Aljami Durham finally gave Indiana what it needed – a 3 with 1:52 left – to break a 60-60 tie. Brunk’s layup made it 65-62.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Trips to Indiana just haven’t been kind to the Spartans lately. On Jan. 12, they were routed at Purdue. This time, they got beat in the closing minutes. Clearly, Michigan State performed closer to expectations than it did at Purdue. But another slow start cost them another game. They will return to Indiana for the conference tournament in March.

Indiana: It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Hoosiers struggled to make shots. But they’ve figured out how to limit the 3s and take advantage of their size and athleticism inside, and it’s made a huge difference. If Indiana’s offense stays in sync this weekend, they just might crack the Top 25 for the first time.

STAT PACK

Michigan State: Aaron Henry had 12 points, while Gabe Brown had 10 points and four 3s. Xavier Tillman finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. … The Spartans had 13 turnovers, but only gave up six points off those turnovers. … Michigan State started the game by missing its first nine 3s. It wound up 9 of 21 from beyond the arc.

Indiana: Trayce Jackson-Davis had 12 points and four rebounds, while Durham finished with 11 points and four 3s. … Race Thompson had four points, two blocks and two steals before leaving the game late in the first half after a hard foul. He sat on the bench the entire second half. … Nine of the 10 Hoosiers who appeared in the first half scored. Only Jerome Hunter, who logged four minutes, was shut out. … NBA star Victor Oladipo attended the game. The two-time All-Star is expected to make his season debut with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: plays two of its next three on the road, including Sunday’s stop at Minnesota.

Indiana: hosts another ranked opponent, No. 17 Maryland, on Sunday.

Three Things To Know: Marcus Carr beats Ohio State, Indiana wins, Yoeli’s back

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There were no brawls, but there is still plenty to talk about after a full slate of games on Thursday night.

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. THE BIG TEN STAYS WILD

It was another bonkers night in the toughest conference in the country on Thursday.

Let’s start with the early game.

Ohio State lost for the sixth time in the last seven games, blowing an 11-point second half lead after Marcus Carr, who finished with 21 points, his a three with 3.3 seconds left on the clock to give the Gophers a 62-59 win.

Daniel Oturu added 11 points and six boards, all of which came in the second half, as he shut down Kaleb Wesson to give Minnesota the season-sweep of the Buckeyes.

Minnesota is now 5-4 in the Big Ten and 11-8 on the season, and while this loss drops Ohio State into 12th place in the Big Ten standings, the work that they did in the early part of the season combined with the depth and strength of the conference they play in means that, as of now, this is still a Quad 1 win for Minnesota.

The late game was just as crazy.

No. 11 Michigan State trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half before storming back to take a lead in the final four minutes. But Indiana responded, and caught a lucky break as Xavier Tillman missed a wide-open tip-in with less than a second left on the clock that would have forced overtime.

The Spartans are now 6-2 in the Big Ten, putting them in a tie for first place with Illinois, while Indiana an absolutely enormous win for Archie Miller and this program. With No. 17 Maryland coming to town on Saturday, this was critical for Archie Miller, whose lack of success has gotten the locals riled up.

This should give him some breathing room.

2. YOELI CHILDS IS BACK

It hasn’t really been discussed much nationally to this point, but BYU is a really good, really dangerous team this season when they are at full strength.

The problem has been that they’ve barely been at full strength.

Their best player is Yoeli Childs, a 6-foot-9 center with all the tools that make him an intriguing NBA prospect and, in turn, an absolute monster in the WCC. But he missed the first nine games of the season because of a paperwork issue withdrawing from last year’s NBA draft, and then had to sit out the last four after injuring his finger.

But he’s back now.

And he put everyone on notice with a 26 point, nine rebound outburst in a 74-60 win at Pacific.The Cougars are a very real at-large candidate with the size and shot-making to threaten Gonzaga. Keep an eye on them.

3. HOUSTON SURVIVES UCONN

In one of the weirdest end-of-game sequences I can remember seeing, No. 25 Houston managed to find a way to survive UConn’s upset bid.

Here’s what happened: The Cougars, who trailed for the entire game, finally took the lead late in the second half. They had pushed the lead out to six points, when UConn’s Jalen Gaffney scored with 7.3 seconds left to cut it to four. But after he scored, Houston’s DeJon Jarreau said something to Danny Hurley and was given a technical foul. After Gaffney made both free throws, Jarreau then committed a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds.

UConn ball.

But this is the strangest part: Since UConn was in foul trouble, they brought in a walk-on — Temi Aiyegbusy — to commit a foul. But no time went of the clock on the turnover, so he had to remain on the court for the UConn possession. The ball ended up in his hands in the corner, and he passed up on a three took a pull-up that missed.

Houston grabbed the rebound, made their free throws, and that was that.

Three Things To Know: Memphis embarrassed; Luka Garza shows out again

AP Photo/Joey Johnson
Leave a comment

The story of the night in hoops was Zion Williamson’s return to the basketball court.

But there was plenty of action in the college ranks that is worthy of talking about.

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. No. 20 MEMPHIS LOST BY 40 TO TULSA

That is not a typo.

The 20th-ranked team in the country went into Tulsa, Okla., and lost to the Golden Hurricane, 80-40. Tulsa was up 40-17 at halftime. This was a butt-whooping that was so bad that all Tulsa needed to do was score a single point in the second half and they would have been able to get the win.

Memphis shot 28 percent from the floor. They were 2-for-21 from three. They finished the night with more turnovers (20) and fouls (22) than field goals (16). This was the worst loss that a top 25 team has suffered against a ranked team in 27 years, since UConn beat then-No. 12 Virginia by 41 points.

For Tulsa, this is a massive, massive win. They are currently sitting all alone in first place in the American standings, a half-game up on Houston.

So good for Frank Haith.

But the story here is Memphis, because the Tigers, considered title contenders before the season began, look anything-but right now.

“We let our defense dictate our offense,” head coach Penny Hardaway told reporters after the game. “We didn’t play any defense today. I think today was the first day we’ve done that ll year. I don’t know if guys overlooked Tulsa because of the name. We did our due diligence as a coaching staff to let them know what was going to happen with the matchup zone and how hard they play.

“It’s pretty embarrassing.”

2. LUKA GARZA WENT NUTS AGAIN

If it seems like Garza is putting up monster numbers every games, it’s because he is.

On Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes welcomed newly-ranked Rutgers to campus and sent them home with an entertaining, hard-fought, 85-80 win. And Garza was the star of the show. He finished with 28 points, 13 boards, four blocks and two steals in the win, anchoring the paint as Iowa out-scored Rutgers 47-37 in the second half.

The big fella is now averaging 23 points and 10.5 boards.

Iowa has now won four straight games to move into a tie for third in the Big Ten standings — with Rutgers, among others — and they have won eight straight games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They are a third of the way through a three-game homestand as well.

3. VIRGINIA TECH TAKES DOWN NORTH CAROLINA

Virginia Tech kept up their push to finish as the fourth-best team in the ACC with a 79-77 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

The Hokies are now 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, but the more interesting story might actually be the Tar Heels.

They are 8-10 on the season and 1-6 in the ACC. They have been a disaster for the last month, but there may be some reinforcements on the way in the shape of Cole Anthony. If he returns and the Tar Heels, who are 2-7 in his absence but have wins over Alabama and Oregon with him, get things back on the right track, they are likely going to find themselves in an incredibly awkward situation on Selection Sunday.

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
8 Comments

The Big 12 handed down suspensions to four Kansas and Kansas State players for their role in the fight that occurred in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.

Silvio De Sousa, who tried to fight three different Kansas State players and picked up a stool during the melee, received a 12 game suspension from the conference. David McCormack, who went into the stands to confront James Love III, received a two game suspension. Love was given eight games for part in the fight, while Antonio Gordon, the freshman that turned a messy situation into a fight, was hit with a three game suspension.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “I am appreciative of the cooperation of both institutions in resolving this matter.”

In the final seconds on Tuesday night, after DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from him at halfcourt, De Sousa blocked Gordon’s shot and towered over him. That sparked an incident that turned into a full-fledged brawl, as De Sousa threw punches at three different players on Kansas State before picking up a stool as the fight spilled into the handicapped section of Kansas seating.

Self called the fight “an embarrassment” after the game, adding on Wednesday that “we are disappointed in [De Sousa’s] actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior.”

McCormack will be eligible to return for Kansas on Feb. 1st when they play Texas Tech at home. De Sousa will be available to play in the final game of the regular season at Texas Tech. Gordon can return on Feb. 3rd, when the Wildcats host Baylor, while Love will be out until late February. But he has played just one game and two minutes on the season, so there is no clear indication of when he will actually put on a Kansas State jersey again.

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

Screengrab via ESPN
2 Comments

Very other sport can treat brawls like comedy, and I think it’s about time that we did the same for basketball.

So let’s take a look at the four funniest moments from last night’s Kansas-Kansas State fight. Shouts to Jomboy:

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

Throughout the entire fight, the mascot is just in utter disbelief. He cannot believe what he just saw, and he certainly cannot be consoled:

2. CAN JEREMY CASE START AT LINEBACKER FOR KU’S FOOTBALL TEAM?

Case is the video coordinator for Kansas. He’s also a former Kansas point guard. He knows what this rivalry is all about, and he also is not going to be afraid to get in the middle of it.

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

But when he sees De Sousa and Love squaring up and throwing punches, he intervenes by throwing himself into a player six inches taller than him:

3. WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMES LOVE III’S SHOE?

James Love the third has played in exactly one game this season. He has spent more time on the court fighting that he has actually playing, but he still found a way to get into the middle of this fight and, in the process, lost his shoe:

He’s not dressed for the game.

Did he bring an extra pair of shoes? Did he have to head back onto the bus without a shoe on this right foot? So many questions, so few answers.

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure: