Bubblicious weekend for Hokies, Huskies, Wildcats and Spartans

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Ahead of a huge college hoops weekend, our bubble looks much the same, with a few exceptions.  Chances are we’ll be moving a few teams up and off the bubble by Sunday night.  Others may be leaving the at-large picture. 

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 25

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

  • Projected Locks (18): 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 (10): While not yet locks, these are teams in good position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (34): 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 (14): 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: Colorado
  • Below is a conference breakdown of the bubble picture
Atlantic 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Temple, Xavier | Bubble: Richmond
  • Richmond (21-7 | 10-3) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 130 | – Not much has changed for the Spiders. Their win over St. Bonaventure at home holds them steady. The win over Purdue continues to be a major helping point, and wins at Dayton and over VCU are okay, too. Richmond can’t afford a loss at Charlotte or St. Joseph’s before a final home date with Duquesne. It may still take a run to the A-10 tournament final depending on what happens around them.
ACC
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech
  • Boston College (16-11 | 6-7) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 16 | – BC has lost 6 of 8 to fall under .500 in ACC play – not an acceptable position given their 1-5 mark vs. Top 50 RPI teams. The Eagles aren’t dead, but the loss at home to Miami on Wednesday adds a lot of pressure to their last three games – at Virginia, at Virginia Tech, and home to Wake. Another loss would put BC in a deep hole entering the ACC Tournament. The early non-conference win over Texas AM is nice, but that’s the only notable moment outside the ACC.
  • Clemson (18-9 | 7-6) | RPI:65| SOS: 85 | – The win at Miami-FL keeps Clemson on the bubble ahead of a must-win vs. Wake Forest. Then it’s off to Duke before a home date with Virginia Tech. The Tigers have to beat both the Deacons and Hokies. The game at Duke is the Tigers’ last chance to post a marquis win, but winning that one doesn’t seem likely. Other than a home win over Florida State, the resume is very average. Clemson has non-league losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina.
  • Florida State (19-8 | 9-4) | RPI: 52 | SOS: 100 | – Overall, Florida State is in decent position, but with an injury to Chris Singleton, questions remain. A weak non-conferense SOS (no. 227), could still spell trouble if FSU stumbles down the stretch. The Seminoles are just 2-4 vs. Top 50 teams, but they do have a win over Duke. They also beat Baylor in Hawaii, but that hasn’t proven as beneficial thanks to Baylor’s struggles. Finishing third in the ACC standings will likely be enough. At this point, that still looks promising. Seeding on the other hand is taking a hit. FSU seems destined to be in the 8 to 10 range.
  • Virginia Tech (18-8 | 8-5) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 111 | – The win at Wake on Tuesday was window dressing for a closing three-game stretch that will make or break the Hokies. It starts with a visit from Duke this weekend. BC arrives after that ahead of a trip to Clemson. Both have their own spots on the bubble. Being swept by Virginia could still prove problematic for the Hokies – who are one of the last few teams “in” Friday’s bracket. Va. Tech is clinging to a wins over Florida State, Penn State, and a sweep of Maryland as its best assets. If that seems concerning, it is.
BIG EAST
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville, St. John’s | Should Be In: West Virginia | Bubble: Cincinnati, Marquette
  • Cincinnati (22-6 | 9-6) | RPI: 35 | SOS: 87 | – The win at Georgetown gave UC’s profile a huge boost. It also guarantees the Bearcats at least a 9-9 finish in the Big East. It was also UC’s fourth Top 50 RPI win (Xavier, St. John’s, Louisville, G’town). While the albatross of a horrible non-conference schedule (No. 281) still lingers, the Bearcats have done enough within the Big East to lessen its impact. One more win may be enough for UC to secure a spot. The only real danger at this point is a free fall that would include a first-round exit in New York.
  • Marquette (17-11 | 8-7) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 27 | – Just like Cincy, Marquette got its marquis road victory by winning at Connecticut on Thursday. The victory ended a season full of close road losses. The Golden Eagles are 4-10 vs. Top 25 RPI teams – an amazing number of high-level games. Now, it’s important that Marquette doesn’t lose ground. Up next is a home date with Providence, followed by Cincinnati. MU closes at Seton Hall. The Eagles may still need to win two of those games to feel confident heading to the Big East Tournament in New York. At the same time, an overall weak bubble is helping the Golden Eagles’ cause.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan, Penn State
  • Illinois (17-11 | 7-8) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 11 | – Not that Illinois should have won at Michigan State or Ohio State, but getting one would have really helped. With a trip to Purdue still on the docket, it’ll be critical for the Illini to win remaining home games against Iowa and Indiana. Losing either of those would be problematic. Finishing 9-9 in the Big 10 might be enough without a bad loss in the Big 10 tournament, but the Illini won’t be comfortable on Selection Sunday. Adding a win over Purdue would make it a lot easier down the stretch. Good wins include N. Carolina, at Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. The losses at Indiana and UIC are sore points.
  • Michigan State (15-11 | 8-7) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 5 | The Spartans have won 3 of 4 and seem to be regaining a bit of momentum. The win at Minnesota was especially important for a team that’s seeking a new identity since the dismissal of Korie Lucious. Michigan State is 5-8 vs. Top 50 teams, which is helping. Can MSU get to 10 league wins? That might be what it takes to feel safe. Up next is a visit from Purdue, followed by Iowa. MSU closes at Michigan.
  • Michigan (16-12 | 7-9) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 21 | While there’s not a lot to love about the Wolverine’s profile (2-9 vs. Top 50 teams), they have won 6 of 9 and were a last-second banked-in three pointer at the buzzer from beating Wisconsin. Of course, close only counts so much, and Michigan needs another quality win or two. That starts with a trip to Minnesota on Saturday before a home date with Michigan State. The Wolverines probably need both. A really week bubble continues to help. Much like Marquette, Michigan has several close losses and a solid strength of schedule.
  • Minnesota (17-10 | 6-9) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 32 | The Gophers’ have lost 6 of 7 since the injury to Al Nolan and without his return Minnesota is on the verge of elimination. The Selection Committee has to evaluate the current squad, and the results aren’t favorable. Up next is home date with Michigan, followed by a trip to Northwestern. Then it’s back home to Penn State. The Gophers probably need to win all three unless they play to make a long run at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
  • Penn State (15-12 | 8-8) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 6 | Surprisingly, Penn State gained a lot of bubble ground with its win at Northwestern. For one, it was the Lions’ second road win. It also moved them back to .500 in league play. Penn State has four solid victories at home (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota). That’s a lot more than several other teams at the cutline. The flip side is that PSU was swept by Michigan and is still just 2-8 in road games. Up next is a visit from Ohio State, followed by a trip to Minnesota. A split would keep PSU in the conversation heading to the Big 10 Tournament.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas | Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM | Bubble: Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado
  • Baylor (16-10 | 6-7) | RPI: 83 | SOS: 65 | – The Bears fell back on the wrong side of the bubble after losing at home to Texas Tech. They followed it up with a lopsided loss at Missouri. With a 1-4 mark vs. Top 50 teams and just 4 Top 100 victories, Baylor has some serious issues with its resume. Out of conference, the Bears failed to win a Top 100 RPI game and their non-league SOS ranks No. 209. This team is talented enough to make a run, and that’s what it’s going to take. It starts with a home game vs. Texas Am. Then it’s off to Oklahoma State and home to Texas. It might take all three, plus a win in the Big 12 Tournament to make and stay in the Field of 68.
  • Kansas State (18-9 | 7-6) | RPI: 28 | SOS: 7 | – Winning three straight has actually put the Wildcats in decent shape. Obviously, the win over Kansas was a life-saver, but the win at Nebraska was important, too. Next up is a home game with Missouri followed by a trip to Texas. K-State is still just 1-6 vs. Top 10 teams, but has 8 Top 100 wins. A good strength of schedule also helps. A potential downside is that K-State was swept by Colorado – we’ll see if that comes into play – should the Buffaloes make a late charge. Winning 2 of 3 to close would put the Wildcats in good shape heading to post-season play.
  • Colorado (16-11 | 6-7) | RPI: 85 | SOS: 81 | – Sure, the power numbers – particularly the Buffaloes RPI – are weak. But we have to consider Colorado because they have four quality wins – including a sweep of Kansas State. Outside the Big 12, a non-conference SOS ranked No. 323 is major stumbling block. It’ll take a strong finish to overcome such a meaningless pre-conference slate. It starts with a home game against Texas on Saturday, followed by a trip to Iowa State. The season-ender is at home vs. Nebraska. Getting to 9-7 would keep the Buffaloes in the at-large discussion.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: BYU, San Diego State | Should Be In: UNLV | Bubble: Colorado State
  • Colorado State (17-9 | 8-5) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 36 | – The Rams are running out of chances after falling at BYU on Wednesday. CSU’s best wins are UNLV and Southern Miss. It’ll probably take a win at San Diego State on March 5 to stay in the at-large picture – assuming the Rams avoid an upset at the hands of Air Force or Utah. CSU is 2-5 vs. the Top 50 and 4-7 vs. the Top 100. Early losses to Sam Houston and Hampton wont’ help.
PAC 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Arizona | Bubble: Washington, Washington State, UCLA
  • Washington (18-8 | 10-5) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 64 | – The Huskies would feel alot more secure had they swept Arizona, but a one-point loss in Tucson is nothing to worry about. What’s important is winning out. Washington closes with three at home (Wash St. UCLA, USC). Win all three and the Huskies should be plenty safe on Selection Sunday. Drop more than one and it could be a very nervous week during the Pac-10 Tournament if they lose early.
  • Washington State (17-10 | 7-8) | RPI: 87 | SOS: 102 | – Being swept by Arizona and Arizona State knockes WSU to the very edge of bubble consideration. Overall, WSU is just 1-5 vs. Top 50 teams and 5-7 vs. Top 100 teams. Next up is a trip to Washington – now a must-win for the Cougars if they want to remain in the at-large picture. In reality, the Cougars need to win their remaining three Pac-10 games. Odds are not looking good.
  • UCLA (20-8 | 11-4) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 50 | – Having won 7 of 8, the Bruins are good position with a second-place standing in the Pac-10. They can tie Arizona with a win Saturday at Pauley Pavillion. 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. After Arizona, the Washington schools come to LA. Winning 2 of 3 down the stretch should be enough.
SEC
Locks: Florida | Should Be In: Kentucky,Vanderbilt, Tennessee | Bubble: Georgia, Alabama
  • Georgia (18-9 | 7-6) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 30 | – The Bulldogs’ win at Tennessee was huge because it moved them up the SEC East standings and added another Top 50 win to a resume in need of quality wins. After leading at halftime, Georgia couldn’t close the deal at Florida. Not a big deal, although the Bulldogs would feel better with a few more wins. South Carolina and LSU visit next. It would be best if the Bulldogs avoided an upset. The finale is at Alabama. Winning out would be Georgia in good position before the SEC Tournament.
  • Alabama (19-8 | 11-2) | RPI: 78 | SOS: 139 | – How much wiggle room Alabama has depends largely on how the Committee views a dominant performance in the SEC West. The Tide’s closing games are at Ole Miss, at Florida and home to Georgia. Winning two of those would be a a good idea. 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 close out the SEC West by multiple games and win a couple of games in the SEC tournament, odds of an at-large bid should be pretty good.
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, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State
  • Butler (19-9 | 12-5) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 80 | – Butler has won 6 straight and could still earn the Horizon League’s top seed if Milwaukee loses this weekend and the Bulldogs handle Loyola. Not that a title would bump the Bulldogs into the bracket, but it would mean home games in the conference tournament. A win over Florida State in Hawaii could still help, but the victory over Washington State is fading some. It’s the five league losses – including a sweep by Milwaukee – that’s holding Butler back. Getting to the Horizon League final would probably put BU right on the cutline.
  • Cleveland State (21-7 | 12-5) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 107 | – With a home loss to Milwaukee Thursday it’s down to this. Win their last game and reach the Horizon League Tournament final. Anything less ends the Vikings’ hopes.
  • Missouri State (22-7 | 14-3) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 138 | – The game with Wichita State on Saturday is huge. Beating the Shockers a second time would give Missouri State an outright MVC title and keep the chance for at-large bid alive. The Bears’ best non-conference win is Pacific. With only 1 Top 100 RPI victory (Wichita St), there just isn’t enough heft on the Bears’ resume to compete with other bubble teams.
  • Wichita State (22-6 | 14-3) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 108 | – The Shockers have to win at Missouri State this weekend and try to capture the MVC title. That’s all that’s keeping the Shockers on the bubble. After that, it’ll take a visit to the MVC conference tourney final to stick around. WSU is only 1-4 vs. the Top 100 and their best win is Tulsa.
  • Memphis (21-7 | 9-4) | RPI: 32 | SOS: 40 | – Having swept Southern Miss and UAB, the Tigers have the inside track to a No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Tournament. Memphis also has a road win at Gonzaga that’s starting to look better again. A recent loss to Rice is cause for concern, however, as The Tigers’ were blown out in their prime-time matchups with Kansas, Georgetown and Tennessee. Memphis needs to win out and capture the regular-season C-USA title. Hard to see all three Memphis, UAB, and Southern Miss staying the bracket. The conference tournament might decide who goes and who stays.
  • UAB (19-7 | 9-4) | RPI: 34 | SOS: 52 | – Despite being tied atop Conference USA, the Blazers would fall behind Memphis in the at-large pecking order (swept by Memphis this season). The only solution to that is winning an outright C-USA title. The process includes road trips to Houston and Southern Miss. As the Blazers have lost to So. Miss once, another loss would eliminate them from any realistic at-large consideration. UAB is 0-5 vs. Top 50 teams but 7-6 vs. the Top 100. Their only bad loss is at Arizona State in November – so that’s somewhat a plus. UAB is right on the cutline.
  • Southern Mississippi (18-6 | 9-4) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 99 | – The Eagles have won 6 of 7 to climb into a three-way tie atop Conference USA. Finding a way to win the outright C-USA title would be USM’s best hope. The Eagles have a win at California and did win at UAB. After a trip to Central Florida, the Eagles host UAB in what could be a C-USA elimination game. USM is still just 1-3 vs. Top 50 teams – although 6-5 vs. the Top 100. Losses to Colorado State and Mississippi won’t help; neither will a non-conference SOS ranked No. 240. So. Miss, a lot like UAB and Memphis, sits right on the cutline. All three won’t be staying. Time to see who survives.
  • Old Dominion (23-6 | 13-4) | RPI: 26 | SOS: 57 | – ODU finishes with a home game vs. William and Mary. Avoid a major upset and the Monarchs will be moving off the bubble. Things are looking good.
  • VCU (21-9 | 12-5) | RPI: 58 | SOS: 115 | – The Rams need to beat James Madison at home on Saturday in preparation for the Colonial Tournament. Good wins over Old Dominion, UCLA, and Wichita State are helping. There is an ugly loss at Georgia State, plus losses to Northeastern and South Florida. Overall, VCU is 3-4 vs. the Top 50 and 6-6 vs. the Top 100. Making the CAA semifinals might bring the Rams close. Beating ODU or George Mason in the tourney would be ideal.
  • George Mason (23-5 | 14-2) | RPI: 21 | SOS: 65 | – Avoiding a horrible loss at Georgia State on Saturday locks up a two-game margin in the CAA. Given the Patriots’ overall profile, that should be enough to move them into the Field.
  • Gonzaga (19-9 | 10-3) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 79 | – Gonzaga has won 7 of 8 and moved above the immediate cutline after winning at St. Mary’s in OT on Thursday. The ‘Zags also have wins over Xavier, Marquette, and Baylor. The Zags’ home loss to Memphis could still hamper the Bulldogs’ at-large chances, but a strong non-conference strength of schedule bodes well. A 1-5 mark vs. Top 50 RPI teams is still troubling but a 7-7 mark vs. the Top 100 helps.
  • St. Mary’s (20-7 | 10-3) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 121 | – The Gaels are a perfect examply of why we don’t rush to move teams off the bubble. St. Mary’s has lost three straight and could lose the WCC title chase if they don’t rebound vs. Portland on Saturday. An early win over St. John’s helps, and St. Mary’s split with Gonzaga. But the rest of the resume is light (1-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 3-6 vs. the Top 100). In the at-large discussion, the Gaels would currently fall behind Gonzaga.
  • Utah State (24-3 | 12-1) | RPI: 18 | SOS: 109 | – Huge win for the Aggies at St. Mary’s. It gave USU a legitimate Top 100 RPI win and would likely push the Aggies ahead of St. Mary’s in the at-large pecking order. Even so, we can’t say USU has locked up an at-large yet. They need to win their last three WAC games and complete a dominant league run. Then, avoid an early flameout in the league tournament.

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.