Previewing College Hoops Weekend


With the conference tournaments starting this week and the regular season winding down on Sunday, this will be the last installment of our weekend previews. We won’t be addressing the conference tournaments in this post (all of that can be found here and here).


Sat. 8:00 pm: No. 5 Duke @ No. 13 North Carolina: First things first: yes, I know, North Carolina beating Duke at home is probably not an upset. But look at the numbers to the left of their names. Technically, I can call this an upset. And I am going to, because it is the most important game of the weekend and deserves the most words written about it.

Calling this the most important game of the weekend might even be an understatement. This is one of the most important regular season games of the season. Thanks to the Blue Devils loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday, the ACC’s two premier programs will square off in the final game of ACC play with the conference title on the line. Back in December, how many people thought that was even possible?

There’s more.

Duke still has a very good shot at earning a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday. But can you give one of the top four seeds to a team that didn’t win its conference’s regular season title? And all of this is on the line in our sport’s greatest rivalry.

The first game between this two teams was interesting. UNC asserted their will on the Blue Devils in the first half, opening up a lead as big as 16 points thanks to excellent defense and transition offense. But Duke responded in the second half, as Nolan Smith and Seth Curry took the game over.

I think the two most important aspects of this game are how UNC handles Smith and what Duke does against the Tar Heel’s front line. Smith, is this man’s opinion, is the player of the year in college basketball, and never was that more evident than in his second half performance against the Heels. Stopping Smith is a pipe dream, but to slow him down you need to make sure he cannot get penetration off of high ball screens situations. On the other hand, the part of UNC;s resurgence that does not get talked about nearly enough is the emergence of John Henson and Tyler Zeller on the inside. They both may be a bit weak, but they can rebound the ball, they can score the ball, and they can blocks shots. UNC’s defense, not their offense, has been the biggest catalyst in their return to the top of the ACC. And Henson and Zeller are the root cause.


Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 11 Louisville @ West Virginia: There are two things that West Virginia does very, very well. The first is rebounding the ball on the offensive end of the floor. They have aggressive, athletic forwards in John Flowers and Kevin Jones, a bruiser in Deniz Kilicli, and some tough guards that aren’t afraid to mix it up with the big boys. Louisville, on the other hand, is not a great defensive rebounding team. They force the offense to take bad shots and they force turnovers, which is why they are the sixth best defensive team in the country despite struggling to finish a possession. West Virginia is also very good at defending the three, which is something that the Cardinals rely on heavily.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 8 Texas @ Baylor: Texas has lost their last two games on the road and three of their last four overall. Jordan Hamilton is struggling mightily on both ends of the floor, playing lackadaisical defense and falling back into his role as a gunner instead of a scorer. Baylor has some athletes inside. They have a big-time scorer in LaceDarius Dunn on the perimeter. And they will be playing with a possible NCAA Tournament on the line. At home. On Gameday. Expect the Bears to be fired up.


Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 2 Kansas @ No. 24 Missouri: The last time these two teams met up, the Jayhawks pounded the Tigers, who were completely incapable of stopping Kansas. This time, however, the game will be in Columbia instead of Lawrence, where Mizzou is a different team. The Tigers struggle against teams that can break their press and run half court offense, and with the number of experienced players and capable ball handlers that Kansas puts on the court at one time, I have trouble seeing the Tigers capable of making this a full court game.

Sat. 12:00 pm: Virginia Tech @ Clemson: For all intents and purposes, this is an elimination game from the at-large field. Both teams are right on the edge of the cut line, and neither can afford the loss to like their chances heading into the ACC Tournament.

Sat. 1:30 pm: Georgia @ Alabama: This is a huge game for Alabama. Enormous. For starters, they still have to play their way into the NCAA Tournament. The pretty SEC record that the Crimson Tide have posted? Its largely come against bottom feeders. Its also not enough to make the committee forget about the brutal non-conference portion of the schedule. Secondly, with a win, the Tide earns a share of the SEC regular season title. If ‘Bama wins and Florida loses at Vanderbilt? The Tide are your SEC champs. Could a major conference’s outright winner really get left home?

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 7 Notre Dame @ No. 16 UConn: This is a good test for the Irish heading into the postseason. The Irish, frankly, are not a very good road team. UConn is reeling a bit down the stretch of Big East play, but they will be celebrating Kemba Walker’s senior night and have proven capable of beating good teams regardless of location. The Irish are playing their best basketball of the season right now. Will it travel with them?

Sat. 2:00 pm: Michigan State @ Michigan: Another rivalry game with major postseason implications. Michigan State is inching ever closer to being considered safe, while the Wolverines simply need to win a couple of games before they can get out of the area around the cut list. The matchup in this game that will be interesting is between Kalin Lucas and Darius Morris. Both are quality point guards, both are asked to do quite a bit for their team.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 19 Villanova @ No. 5 Pitt: This one could get ugly. Whatever is going on with Villanova of late is far from good. They aren’t playing hard, they aren’t shooting the ball well, and they aren’t defending the three. About the only thing Villanova is doing is right now is that they are getting off to slow starts. Pitt is coming off of a loss to Louisville on the road, a team that is not exactly known for their ability to box out. Keep an eye on that. Will Pitt be able to dominate the offensive glass like we’ve become accustomed to

Sat. 6:00 pm: No. 14 Florida @ No. 20 Vanderbilt: With a win, the Gators will earn, at the very least, a share of the SEC regular season title. What’s more important, however, is how everything shakes out in the middle of the SEC East. If Florida wins, Tennessee beats Kentucky, and Alabama beats Georgia, there will be four teams tied at 9-7 and tied for second place in the eastern division. No one is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament, but earning the bye in the SEC Tournament could help seeding immensely.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Princeton @ Harvard: The Ivy is the only league in the country that not only plays their games on a Friday night/Saturday afternoon schedule, they are also the only league that still has the regular season champ get the automatic bid. The game should determine who that autobid is.

Sun. 12:00 pm: No. 23 Kentucky @ Tennessee: Like I mentioned earlier, seeding in the postseason tournaments is the only real outcome of this game. But what I think we all want to see is whether or not Kentucky can find a solution for their road woes. Tennessee is inconsistent at home, but this will be senior night (and possibly the last time Bruce Pearl coaches at Thompson-Boling), so you have to think the Vols will be ready to play

Sun. 4:00 pm: No. 10 Wisconsin @ No. 1 Ohio State: Unfortunately, this game won’t directly be for the Big Ten regular season title (wouldn’t that have been awesome). That said, Ohio State wins it outright with a victory, or shall I say revenge, over Wisconsin. The Badgers are coming off of a win at Indiana where Jordan Taylor scored 39 points on 55 possessions. Based on how entertaining the last game between these two teams was, there is no for you not to tune in.



  • 12:00 pm: Duquesne @ Richmond: The Spiders can probably lock up an NCAA Tournament bid with a win against the Dukes and in the first round of the A-10 Tournament.
  • 12:00 pm: Indiana @ Illinois: Most folks have the Illini safely in the NCAA Tournament right now. Does that change if they lose to the Hoosiers and finish below .500 in the Big Ten?
  • 1:30 pm: Iowa State @ Kansas State: Iowa State has beaten both Nebraska and Colorado after they knocked off Texas. Can they do the same to the Wildcats?
  • 2:00 pm: No. 17 Georgetown @ Cincinnati: The last time the Hoyas played the Bearcats, Cincy complete shut Georgetown down in the second half after Chris Wright broke his hand. Will the rematch be any different?
  • 2:00 pm: Oregon @ No. 18 Arizona: The Wildcats will clinch the Pac-10 regular season title with a win.
  • 2:00 pm: Xavier @ St. Louis: The Musketeers can lock up the Atlantic 10 regular season title with a win.
  • 4:00 pm: Wyoming @ No. 3 BYU: Can the Cougars recover from the loss of Brandon Davies? It didn’t look that way on Wednesday night.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 6 Purdue @ Iowa: The Boilermakers still have an outside chance of being able to play their way into a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday.
  • 4:00 pm: DePaul @ No. 12 Syracuse: With a win, Syracuse will clinch the fourth spot in the Big East standings and a double bye in the Big East Tournament.
  • 5:30 pm: UCLA @ Washington State: This game would have held a lot more intrigue if Washington had lost to UCLA Thursday night. Wazzu still has an outside chance at getting in off the bubble.
  • 6:00 pm: Marquette @ Seton Hall: Marquette needs this win if they want to make the tournament.
  • 7:00 pm: No. 21 Utah State @ Louisiana Tech: The Aggies long ago locked up the WAC regular season title, but they still have some work to do to assure themselves on an NCAA Tournament trip.
  • 8:00 pm: South Florida @ No. 15 St. John’s: The Johnnies can only earn themselves a double bye with a win and a Syracuse loss.
  • 8:00 pm: East Carolina @ UAB: The Blazers are still in the tournament picture, believe it or not, but without a quality win on their resume, a loss to ECU would be devastating.
  • 9:00 pm: Nebraska @ Colorado: The Buffaloes are one of the handful of teams trying to play their way into one of the last few spots in the NCAA Tournament.
  • 10:00 pm: Colorado State @ No. 9 San Diego State: Want an idea of how bad the bubble is? If the Rams win this game, they will likely be dancing.
  • 10:30 pm: USC @ Washington: The Trojans and the Huskies probably locked in their NCAA Tournament fates on Thursday. USC looks to be done. Washington should be in.

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

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:


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.


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.


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

EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown

SOUTH Houston                           WEST – Los Angeles
Omaha Spokane
8) Arkansas 8) Illinois
9) Memphis 9) HOUSTON
Tampa Sacramento
5) Colorado 5) Arizona
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
St. Louis Greensboro
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Saint Mary’s
Albany Spokane
7) Wisconsin 7) LSU
10) USC 10) Oklahoma
2) SETON HALL 2) Oregon
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
8) Rutgers 8) Indiana
9) STANFORD 9) Florida
Albany Cleveland
5) Kentucky 5) Creighton
4) Villanova 4) DAYTON
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Penn State 6) Auburn
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown 11) BYU
3) West Virginia 3) Butler
Tampa Cleveland
7) Ohio State 7) Wichita State
10) DePaul 10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State 2) MICHIGAN STATE

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:


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.


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.


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.


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: and

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.



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.


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?


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.


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.


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.