Bubblicious weekend for Hokies, Huskies, Wildcats and Spartans


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Texas blows out Xavier 83-71 for spot in NCAA Elite Eight

texas xavier
Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyrese Hunter scored 19 points, Marcus Carr and Christian Bishop added 18 apiece, and second-seeded Texas rolled to an 83-71 victory over No. 3 seed Xavier on Friday night to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Playing most of the way without ailing star Dylan Disu, the Longhorns – the highest seed left after No. 1s Alabama and Houston lost earlier in the night – built a 42-25 lead by halftime. They quickly pushed it past 20 before cruising the rest of the way into a matchup with fifth-seeded Miami on Sunday night for a spot in the Final Four in Houston.

Sir’Jabari Rice had 16 points and Timmy Allen added 11 for the Longhorns (29-8), who kept Souley Boum and the rest of Xavier’s perimeter threats in check while making life miserable for Jack Nunge down low.

Adam Kunkel hit five 3-pointers and led the Musketeers (27-10) with 21 points. Nunge scored 15 but needed 19 shots to get there, while Colby Jones also had 15 points. Boum didn’t hit a field goal until early in the second half and finished with 12 points.

The job the Longhorns did in shutting down Xavier was merely the latest example of some masterful work by interim coach Rodney Terry. The longtime assistant took over in December, when Chris Beard was suspended and later fired over a since-dropped domestic violence charge, and Terry has not only kept the season from falling apart but sent his team soaring.

Things won’t get any easier against Miami, which romped to an 89-75 win over the Cougars.

And especially without Disu, who led the Longhorns to a Big 12 tourney title and earned MVP honors on the same floor just over two weeks ago, and who’d been dominant through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Disu tried to play through a left foot injury that the Longhorns had successfully kept secret Friday night, but he lasted only a couple of minutes before limping off the floor and straight to the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he was wearing a big walking boot, a black hoodie and a grim expression.

Relegated to a 6-foot-9 cheerleader, Disu at least had plenty to celebrate.

Carr got the Longhorns off to a fast start, spinning through the lane like a Tilt-A-Whirl for tough buckets at the rim, and even knocking down a spinning, desperation 3 as the shot clock expired. And when Musketeers coach Sean Miller traded out a man-to-man defense for a zone, the Longhorns began to pound the ball to Bishop in the paint.

With dozens of family and friends on hand, the Creighton transfer from the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, went to work. Bishop threw down one dunk on Carr’s alley-oop lob, then slammed down another a few minutes later.

By the time Allen banked in a half-court heave, the Longhorns had established a 42-25 halftime advantage – and had to be redirected from the Xavier tunnel, where they were busy celebrating, toward their own locker room.

Xavier tried to creep back a couple of times, but the Longhorns never allowed their lead to sniff single digits. And that gave Terry, who returned to Texas after head coaching jobs at Fresno State and UTEP, a chance to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

The 54-year-old from the small Texas town of Angleton was on Rick Barnes’ staff the last time the Longhorns reached the Elite Eight, back in 2008. He was on the 2003 staff that guided them all the way to the Final Four, too.

Now, he’s one step away from taking Texas on another improbable trip to college basketball’s biggest stage.

Creighton ends Princeton’s March Madness run with 86-75 win

creighton princeton
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Creighton used its size, 3-point shooting and a swarming second-half defense to end the March Madness run of Princeton, beating the 15th-seeded Tigers 86-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16.

The sixth-seeded Bluejays (24-12) advanced to their first regional final since they were part of an eight-team NCAA Tournament in 1941. Creighton will play No. 5 seed San Diego State in Sunday’s South Region final, with each team seeking its first Final Four.

Ryan Kalkbenner, the two-time Big East defensive player of the year, scored 22 points to lead the Bluejays to their sixth win in seven games. Baylor Scheierman made five 3s and finished with 21 points.

“Kalk, he impacts us at the rim on both ends of the floor and defensively provides so much for us,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought he really got going late in the first half and carried it over to the second half. Baylor just plays at every level. He can make the mid-range. He shoots the 3. He sees the floor incredibly well, and believe it or not, he’s become a pretty good defender.”

The Tigers (23-9) were led by Ryan Langborg with 26 points and Ivy League player of the year Tosan Evbuomwan with 24 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

Princeton shook up brackets everywhere by beating No. 2 seed Arizona in the first round, then blew out seventh-seeded Missouri last weekend in Sacramento, California.

Playing in its first Sweet 16 since 1967, Princeton was hoping to become the first Ivy League champion to make the Elite Eight since Penn’s Final Four run in 1979, the first Tigers squad to reach the Final Four since Bill Bradley led them there in 1965, and the second straight No. 15 seed to play in a regional final. Saint Peter’s last year became the first 15 seed to achieve that feat.

Princeton’s offense bore no resemblance to the back-cutting, deliberate style that defined the late Pete Carril’s coaching tenure. Instead, the Tigers went toe to toe against Creighton’s fast-paced offense until they stalled out at the start of the second half.

Creighton used a 9-2 run to take 56-45 lead, a four-minute stretch during which Princeton coach Mitch Henderson called two timeouts and Evbuomwan drew his third foul.

The Bluejays just wouldn’t stop. When Princeton cut the deficit to 61-52, Creighton answered with seven more points and the Tigers couldn’t get closer than seven points after that.

“Princeton’s really good at establishing their pace, so you’ve just got to take them out of it,” Kalkbrenner said. “Their whole goal is to take us out of our pace.”

After beating North Carolina State and third-seeded Baylor in Denver last weekend, drawing confidence from not needing oxygen masks like their opponents, Creighton eliminated the suddenly popular Ivy Leaguers. Now, the Bluejays are one win away from the national semifinals.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been a dream come true. This is why I came to Creighton in the first place, to make a run with this group of guys,” Scheierman said. “It’s just been an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to continuing that on Sunday.”

Miami beats No. 1 seed Houston; all four top NCAA seeds out

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Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nijel Pack and Miami hit shots from near and far against the stingiest defense in the country to beat Houston 89-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16, leaving the NCAA Tournament without a single No. 1 seed among its final eight teams for the first time since seeding began in 1979.

Miami (28-7), only the fifth team this season to score at least 70 points against Houston (33-4), will play second-seeded Texas or No. 3 seed Xavier in the Midwest Region final for the chance to go to the Final Four.

About 30 minutes before Houston’s loss, top overall seed Alabama fell to San Diego State in Louisville, Kentucky. Fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas lost during the tournament’s first weekend.

The fifth-seeded Hurricanes reached a regional final for the second straight year just a few hours after Miami’s ninth-seeded women’s team hung on to beat Villanova and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time. Miami and UConn are the only schools with teams remaining in both tournaments.

This is the first time in three years Houston didn’t make it to the Elite Eight.

The Cougars simply couldn’t stop a multifaceted Miami offense led by Pack’s 3-point shooting. He had season highs of seven 3-pointers on 10 attempts and 26 points.

Isaiah Wong’s mid-range game helped get the ‘Canes out to a fast start, and he finished with 20 points. Jordan Miller hurt the Cougars with his penetration and had 13 points, and Norchad Omier was his usual rugged self under the basket while recording his 16th double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

It resulted in a heartbreaking end for a Cougars team that was in the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight time, had won 15 of its last 16 games and had the season-long goal of playing in next week’s Final Four in its home city.

Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, much to his players’ delight, busted out dance moves in the locker room befitting a 73-year-old man harkening to the disco era. Then Wooga Poplar and Joseph Bensley joined him up front for an impromptu line dance.

Larrañaga will seek his first Final Four with Miami and second overall – he took George Mason there as an 11 seed in 2006.

Miami used a 16-5 run spanning the halves to go up by double digits, with Omier’s three-point play and Jordan Miller’s short bank-in with the left hand making it 47-36 and forcing Houston coach Kelvin Sampson to call timeout less than two minutes into the second half.

Houston battled back to make it a two-point game, but then Pack made three 3s and Miller and Wooga Poplar hit one each to fuel a 16-2 run that put the Canes ahead 70-53. The lead grew to as much as 17 points, and Houston never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

There was no denying it was Miami’s night after Houston made a mini run with under five minutes to play. With the shot clock running down, Omier was forced to put up a jumper just inside the free-throw line. It bounced off the front of the rim, then the backboard, then the front of the rim again before dropping through. A minute later, Houston’s Jarace Walker missed from point-blank range.

Walker led the Cougars with 16 points. Jamal Shead added 15 and All-American Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark had 14 apiece for the Cougars, who shot just 37% overall and 29% from distance.

Houston – which came into the game as a 7.5-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook – found itself behind at half for the second straight game after the Hurricanes played their sharpest half of the tournament.

Miami turned the ball over just once the first 20 minutes, converted Miami’s six turnovers into 15 points and shot 6 of 14 from distance against the second-best 3-point defense in the country.

Pack made four of them, and all were timely. His first three gave Miami leads and his fourth broke a 31-all tie.

San Diego State ousts No. 1 overall seed Alabama from NCAAs

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Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominant defensive performance to knock top overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, bottling up All-America freshman Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16.

Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose outstanding season was marred by off-the-court complications, was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.

The fifth-seeded Aztecs (30-6) will face either Creighton or Princeton on Sunday in the West Region final as they seek their first Final Four in program history. With fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas losing during the tournament’s first weekend, Houston – which played Miami on Friday night – was the only top-seeded team remaining.

San Diego State trailed 48-39 midway through the second half before going on a 12-0 run and controlling the game from there. The Aztecs finished with eight blocked shots – five by Nathan Mensah – and forced 14 turnovers.

The March Madness run of Alabama (31-6) was clouded by its response to the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman in Tuscaloosa, which led to capital murder charges against a then-Crimson Tide player, Darius Miles.

Miller was at the scene of the shooting and has not been charged, but police have said in court documents that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Authorities have said Miller is a cooperating witness, and he did not miss any playing time. Miller has received armed security protection during the tournament.

Mark Sears had 16 points and Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako scored 10 each for Alabama, which shot 32% overall and a miserable 3 of 27 (11.1%) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide fell short of the second Elite Eight berth in school history.

“Alabama’s a great team. They have a lot of talented players and individuals,” Trammell said. “We knew it was going to be hard. It was a dogfight. Very physical.”

Sears’ layup got Alabama within 66-64 with 46 seconds remaining, but Matt Bradley made two free throws and Micah Parrish followed by making three of four attempts, including two with 17 seconds left.

Jaedon LeDee finished with 12 points for the Aztecs.

Houston-Miami matchup a battle for respect

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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Top-seeded Houston is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, but the Cougars don’t feel they receive the proper respect.

Heading into the second weekend of the tournament, that feeling lingers despite the Cougars being just one victory away from their third straight Elite Eight appearance.

“A lot of people were pushing for us to lose,” Houston guard Tramon Mark said. “They didn’t believe we were a real 1 seed because of the conference (American Athletic) we play in. But I think we’re one of the best teams in the country still, and we proved it.”

The Cougars (33-3) look to take the next step when they battle fifth-seeded Miami (27-7) on Friday night in Midwest Region play in Kansas City, Mo.

Houston spent the entire season near the top of the national rankings and surely isn’t a surprise Sweet 16 participant.

“I put ourselves in a whole different category,” forward J’Wan Roberts said. “I don’t compare us to other teams. We just stick to what we do, and it shows. Other No. 1 teams got beat, but we didn’t.”

The Cougars and Alabama are the No. 1 seeds still playing. Purdue lost in the opening round and Kansas fell in the second.

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson tries to simplify the approach during March Madness.

“We’ve been here many times in the final 16,” Sampson said. “The next 40 minutes are going to be big. We’ve got to find a way to get the next 40 minutes, and then we’ll move on from there. If not, it’s over.”

Star guard Marcus Sasser (groin) is still gimpy despite scoring 22 points in Saturday’s 81-64 win over Auburn. On Thursday, Sasser proclaimed he will be “around 90 percent” for the game. Teammate Jamal Shead (knee) said he is 100 percent recovered.

Mark scored a career-high 26 points against Auburn.

The Hurricanes are in the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. Last season, they reached the Elite Eight before being routed 76-50 by eventual national champion Kansas.

Star guard Isaiah Wong said it is a great era for the Hurricanes, who are just two victories away from matching the school record.

“It’s just an honor being part of this program, with the history we have,” Wong said. “We have a great team this year and last year too, and I feel like it’s great to see how we came up.

“My first year we wasn’t as good, but for the last two years, we’re going to the Sweet 16, and last year the Elite Eight.”

Still, guard Jordan Miller said that Miami also doesn’t receive the level of respect it should.

“I wouldn’t say underappreciated, but at the end of the day, all we can do is just come out and win basketball games,” Miller said. “I feel like winning a game in itself is a way to get recognition. We’re going to the Sweet 16. That’s a lot of recognition. We don’t necessarily care about what the media says.”

Wong averages a team-best 16.1 points and Miller is right behind at 15.1 Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier both average 13.4 points with the latter collecting a team-leading 10.1 rebounds per game.

Omier grabbed 17 rebounds in Sunday’s 85-69 victory over Indiana. That was a program record for boards in an NCAA Tournament game, surpassing the 14 he collected two nights earlier in a 63-56 victory over Drake.

“If I’m being honest, I really don’t know,” Omier said of his success. “I just like playing with my teammates. They always motivate me to go do what I love to do, and I love rebounding.”

Wong scored 27 points against Indiana.

Miami guard Wooga Poplar, who injured his back against Indiana, has yet to be cleared but will be in the starting lineup if he can play.

Houston holds a 9-5 series edge over Miami but the schools haven’t met in 52 years.

The winner faces either second-seeded Texas or third-seeded Xavier in Sunday’s regional final.