Southeast Regional breakdown, team capsules

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Who wins, who’s overrated and what’s the best game? I’m here to help.

Here’s a regional breakdown and team capsules for the Southeast. Enjoy.

Underrated: Utah State
The Aggies got a 12 seed despite a sweep of the WAC regular-season and conference tournament titles, 30 wins, an RPI of 16 and a kenpom.com rating of 16. That is far from a 12 seed. This isn’t anything new for Utah State, which received a 12 seed after winning 27 games last season.

Their reward? Facing a physical Kansas State squad that played its best basketball late in the season after underperforming amid Final Four expectations. The Wildcats are talented and tough. Too bad for Utah State.

Overrated: Florida
The Gators have a gaudy profile — 26 wins, 8th in the RPI, an SEC regular-season title — but play more like a 4 seed. They don’t shoot well and can be soft inside on defense. With either UCLA or Michigan State awaiting in the second round, Florida might be exposed.

Most likely first-round upset
Poor St. John’s. Back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2003, but senior forward D.J. Kennedy won’t be available because of an ACL injury. That opens the door for Gonzaga to pull off the 6-11 upset.

The Zags (24-9) will have some trouble checking powerful guard Dwight Hardy, but that’s about it. Besides, Mark Few’s team is due for a little March magic.

Best matchup: No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Belmont
There aren’t two more different teams in matched up in the field. The Badgers play slow, work every possession and rely on their two stars, Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer, to do most of the scoring. The Bruins use a fleet of players — five in, five out — and force teams to play fast, and force them into mistakes.

Which style wins? Wisconsin was overwhelmed in its first-round matchup vs. Cornell last season, but that was because the Big Red got smoking hot from outside. But it’s foolish to overlook Belmont, which has won 30 games and boasts impressive tempo-free numbers. This one’s beyond compelling, it’s must-see

Impact player
Hmm. Tough call. There’s Taylor, Leuer, Hardy, Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen and Utah State’s Tai Wesley, but there’s really only one choice.

Jimmer Fredette.

BYU’s senior guard leads the nation in scoring, jaw-dropping shots and almost carried the Cougars to the Mountain West tournament title by scoring 52 vs. New Mexico and 30 against San Diego State. For BYU to reach the second weekend — let alone the Final Four — Fredette will have to be spectacular. And defenses know it. Should be memorable.

Champion: Pitt
The region’s top seed benefits greatly by having the weakest 2 seed (Florida), the most vulnerable 3 seed (BYU) and a plodding 4 seed (Wisconsin). That sets up Jamie Dixon’s team for a breakthrough run to the Final Four, a first for the coach and the school’s first since 1941.

Pitt (27-5) will have some detractors because it lost its opening Big East tournament game, but remain a team with an elite offense and an underrated defense. Scorers? Rebounders? Floor leaders? The Panthers have it all.

TEAM CAPSULES

No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers

Location: Pittsburgh.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Jamie Dixon

Pre-tournament record: 27-5, 15-3

Best wins: Texas, Syracuse, (twice), West Virginia (twice)

Surprising losses:Tennessee (at home)

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Brad Wanamaker, junior guard Ashton Gibbs, senior forward Gilbert Brown, senior center Gary McGhee.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, shooting, ball-handling, help defense.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Forget the Pitt clichés of tough defense and an offense that relies on gritty guards. This is the nation’s best offense. (The defense isn’t bad either, but we’ll get to that.) The Panthers run superb offensive sets to create shots for Gibbs and Wanamaker (who may be the most underrated player in D-I). If they miss, guys like McGhee, Brown and Dante Taylor grab the rebound and score. If that’s not enough, Pitt rarely turns the ball over on offense. Anyone who says Pitt doesn’t score enough points to win the national title doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If there’s a concern for the Panthers, it’s that they don’t have a lockdown defender who’s able to take an opposing scorer out of the game. Their help-defense is good, but can be burned at times (ask Ben Hansbrough). Still, things are lining up for Pitt to reach the Final Four for the first time since ’41. They’ll rarely have a better path.

No. 2 Florida Gators

Location: Gainesville, Fla.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Billy Donovan

Pre-tournament record: 26-7, 13-3

Best wins: Kentucky, Florida State, Xavier, Vanderbilt (twice)

Surprising losses: Jacksonville, Central Florida, South Carolina

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, senior forward Chandler Parsons, junior guard Erving Walker.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Free-throw shooting, ball-handling, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: It’s tempting to say Florida worked out the kinks from a rough non-conference schedule that included some odd losses (Jacksonville at home?) and blowouts (Ohio State). So go ahead and take that leap. They have the conference player of the year in Parsons, two quick, athletic guards in Walker and Boynton and a pair of hardworking forwards in Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. The Gators were mighty good during SEC play, matching Kentucky for the lead in efficiency margin. That’s impressive given how poorly they shoot from outside and that they don’t get to the free-throw line very often. It’s good to be cautious, but this team has performed well enough time and time again that the Sweet 16 seems inevitable. But any further than that and you’re getting greedy.

No. 3 BYU Cougars

Location: Provo, Utah

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Dave Rose

Pre-tournament record: 30-4, 14-2

Best wins: San Diego State (twice), Arizona

Surprising losses: New Mexico (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Jimmer Fredette, senior guard Jackson Emery, junior forward Noah Hartsock .

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: BYU has the nation’s leading scorer in Fredette, excellent spot-up shooters in Emery and Abouo and a skilled forward in Hartsock. They shoot 37 percent from beyond the arc and get more than 30 percent of their points from 3s. But with the dismissal of center Brandon Davies – their most reliable post player and leading rebounder – they’ve become one-dimensional and unable to rebound. That means Fredette is being asked to do more, the other shooters have defenders paying closer attention and if nobody is hitting, BYU is in trouble. Can Fredette shoot them into the Sweet 16?

No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers

Location: Madison, Wis.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Bo Ryan

Pre-tournament record: 23-8, 13-5

Best wins: Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois

Surprising losses: Penn State (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Jon Leuer, junior guard Jordan Taylor

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, defensive rebounding, not committing turnovers.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Wisconsin hasn’t missed the NCAA tournament in 10 seasons under Ryan. Yet the Badgers have made the Sweet 16 only once. Why? Look at it two ways: They’ve either hit hot teams (Cornell, Xavier and Davidson) or they’ve underperformed all those years. It’s probably a little of both, mixed in with their style of play. When Wisconsin’s ball-control offense is on, it’s deadly. All-Big Ten players Leuer and Taylor are great shooters and key an attack that prizes ball movement, precise passing and screens to work for good shots. The Badgers rarely push the pace, mostly because they’re focused on squeezing every possible possession for as many points as possible. And on defense, foes usually get one shot. However, the slow pace allows opponents to stay in games and if Wisconsin’s not hitting shots, it doesn’t have the defensive firepower to create turnovers. It’s a great team, but one that doesn’t have any margin for error in a tournament.

No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats

Location: Manhattan, Kan.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Frank Martin

Pre-tournament record: 22-10, 10-6

Best wins: Kansas, Texas, Gonzaga

Surprising losses: Oklahoma State, Colorado (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Jacob Pullen, senior forward Curtis Kelly, sophomore guard Rodney McGruber.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, 3-point shooting, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Sloppy play, fouling, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Here’s a puzzling team. Kansas State entered the season as a Final Four contender, hit a stretch where it was 2-5 in Big 12 play, then won seven of its last eight games to close the regular season. Then it lost to Colorado in the Big 12 tournament. Who knows what awaits the Wildcats? They’ve had two forwards leave the team, dealt with tantrums from Pullen and Kelly, only to jell in February. They’re a brutal team to play. Few teams are more physical on defense, or crash the offensive boards more. When Pullen’s shot is falling, they’re worthy of the Elite Eight. But if he’s off a step, they’ll be gone by Sunday.

No. 6 St. John’s Red Storm

Location: Queens, N.Y.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Steve Lavin

Pre-tournament record: 21-11, 12-6

Best wins: Duke, Pitt, Notre Dame

Surprising losses: St. Bonaventure, Fordham

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Dwight Hardy, senior forward Justin Brownlee, senior forward D.J. Kennedy.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive pressure, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, 3-point shooting, fouls.

Outlook: The Red Storm are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2002. Serendipitously, that also was the last time coach Steve Lavin was in the NCAA tournament. UCLA fired Lavin in ’03, he spent the years in-between in TV, then returned in time to lead senior-laden St. John’s to a stupendous season. That’s kismet. Question is, can St. John’s keep it rolling? Few teams can boast of such highs – Duke, Pitt and Notre Dame – and lows. There’s little doubt the Red Storm possess the talent to reach the Sweet 16, especially when Hardy’s on a roll. But when the defense becomes too aggressive and players get into foul trouble, or when their shots aren’t falling, they’re vulnerable. Be wary of being too confident in St. John’s.

No. 7 UCLA Bruins

Location: Los Angeles

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Ben Howland

Pre-tournament record: 22-10, 13-6

Best wins: BYU, St. John’s, Arizona

Surprising losses: Montana, VCU

Team stats

Key players: Freshman center Josh Smith, sophomore wing Tyler Honeycutt, junior guard Malcolm Lee, sophomore forward Reeves Nelson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Interior defense, offensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, ball-handling, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: UCLA has run the gamut this season. It opened 3-4, beat BYU shortly after that, stumbled to start Pac-10 play, went on a tear, then lost two of its last three. The Bruins have decent talent and play hard, but lack the defensive nastiness of Howland’s Final Four teams from a few years ago. They don’t have any good on-ball defenders and are OK on the boards, but make up for it by being physical inside. Smith is big, Nelson is tough and Honeycutt leads the Pac-10 in blocks. Everything on offense depends on Smith. When he’s on, he’s impossible to stop – ask Kansas – but he’s often plagued by foul trouble and dumb plays. Honeycutt can score, but is inconsistent, which speaks to the Bruins’ issues at scoring from anywhere besides the key. If UCLA reaches the Sweet 16, it’ll be because they outhustled two opponents.

No. 8 Butler Bulldogs

Location: Indianapolis

Conference: Horizon League

Coach: Brad Stevens

Pre-tournament record: 23-9, 13-5

RPI: 35

Best wins: Florida State, Washington State

Surprising losses: Evansville, Youngstown State

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Matt Howard, junior guard Ronald Nored, junior guard Shelvin Mack.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, ball control, 3-point shooting.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, fouling, interior defense.

Outlook: This isn’t the same Bulldogs team that made a run to last year’s title game. Sure, they play the same way – deliberate, with an emphasis on high-percentage shots or 3-pointers and preventing opponents from getting second-chance points – but don’t have a standout talent like Gordon Hayward anymore. The odds of them reaching the second weekend? Slim. That said, Butler will be a tough, tough opponent. Howard’s an efficient scorer, sophomore center Andrew Smith is an improving talent, while Mack and Nored are gamers. Butler will keep the game close and be in it at the end.

No. 9 Old Dominion Monarchs

Location: Norfolk, Va.

Conference: Colonial Athletic

Coach: Blaine Taylor

Pre-tournament record: 27-6, 14-4

Best wins: Xavier, George Mason

Surprising loss: Delaware

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Frank Hassel, junior swingman Kent Bazemore, senior guard Ben Finney.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, shot blocking and rebounding. Also, rebounding.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, perimeter shooting and defense.

Outlook: The Monarchs aren’t great shooters, but it doesn’t really matter. They lead the nation in offensive rebounding, grabbing 45 percent of their misses. Hassell and Finney are the guys who do most of the work, along with junior forward Chris Cooper. They also snare three of every four missed shots by opponents. Combine that proficiency with their deliberate style and it’s little wonder ODU’s a formidable team. Last year, they stunned Notre Dame in the first round as an 11 seed. This season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Monarchs in the Sweet 16, but that would take more than just great rebouding against a team like Pitt. ODU would need to catch fire from outside.

No. 10 Michigan State Spartans

Location: East Lansing, Mich.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Tom Izzo

Pre-tournament record: 19-14, 9-9

Best wins: Purdue, Wisconsin, Washington

Surprising losses: Iowa, Michigan (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Kalin Lucas, junior forward Draymond Green, freshman guard Keith Appling, junior forward Delvon Roe.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense, shooting.

Outlook: Three weeks ago, it didn’t look like the preseason No. 2 would get in. But then Lucas took over on offense, the defense picked up and the schedule allowed for some confidence-building games. A win over Purdue in the Big Ten quarterfinals? Didn’t see that coming. But before anyone starts thinking about Izzo’s team pulling off a third-straight run to the Final Four, consider this: It’s not the typical Spartans team that grabs every rebound and scores when it needs to. It’s good on the defensive glass, average on the offensive and can hardly shoot. Part of that is related to inconsistency from Summers and a dearth of perimeter players. Lucas thrives as a high-possession, mid-range scorer, while Appling’s still finding his niche in an increased role. Green’s a great all-around player but is limited in his offensive ability. That said, their draw (UCLA and probably Florida) makes a Sweet 16 run a strong possibility.

No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Location: Spokane, Wash.

Conference: West Coast

Coach: Mark Few

Pre-tournament record: 24-9, 12-3

Best wins: Marquette, Xavier

Surprising losses: at San Francisco, at Santa Clara

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Steven Gray, senior center Robert Sacre, sophomore forward Elias Harris.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, sloppy play.

Outlook: These Zags play defense. And sometimes, they play offense, too. Behind the 7-footer Sacre, the Bulldogs allow opponents to make just 42.8 percent of their 2-pointers, far below the D-I average. Sacre and Harris also are behind their solid offensive shooting, though both tend to struggle against foes of similar size and skill. Gray is the playmaker, but his inconsistent shooting prevents him from being a reliable offensive threat. The wild card is freshman David Stockton, who’s played more and more as the season closed. He’s small, but an effective offensive leader and has a knack for making big plays.

No. 12 Utah State Aggies

Location: Logan, Utah

Conference: Western Athletic

Coach: Stew Morrill

Pre-tournament record: 30-3, 15-1

Best wins: St. Mary’s, Long Beach State

Surprising loss: Idaho

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Tai Wesley, junior guard Brockeith Pane, senior guard Brian Green.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, challenging shots, shooting.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, athletic teams.

Outlook: The Aggies have crushed WAC foes the last three seasons, racked up 87 wins and always feature an efficient defense or offense. (This year, it’s the defense.) So will this be the season they finally win a tournament game? It will depend on the matchup. Both BYU and Georgetown beat Utah State, but the Aggies ripped Long Beach State, the Big Sky champs. Much depends on how effective the 6-7, 240-pound Wesley is inside. He’s their go-to guy on offense and a good rebounder and shot-blocker to boot. He’s flanked by experienced guards who take care of the ball, but also don’t force many turnovers. Keeping a team like Kansas State off the boards will be tough, but ensuring their guards can handle the Wildcats’ pressure will be even tougher. This is a rough go for a team with 30 wins.

No. 13 Belmont Bruins

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Coach: Rick Byrd

Pre-tournament record: 30-4, 19-1

Best win: East Tennessee State (twice)

Surprising loss:Lipscomb

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore guard Ian Clark, junior forward Mick Hedgepeth, senior guard Jordan Campbell.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, offensive rebounding, depth, pressure defense.

Weaknesses: Occasional sloppy play, foul prone.

Outlook: Belmont’s sure to be a popular pick to pull off an upset or two, and with good reason. Any time a team wins 30 games and sweeps its conference’s regular-season and conference tournament titles by an average of 16.4 points per game, it must be awfully good. The Bruins do it by playing a ton of guys in their up-tempo, pressure scheme that uses five-man platoons. When the starters get tired, Byrd replaces them with five fresh guys. As a result, they force more turnovers than all but one D-I team and get good looks at the basket (they make 52.4 percent of their 2s). When they do miss, they grab 40 percent of their misses. Belmont has size (Hedgepeth and junior Scott Sanders are both 6-9), so they won’t be overmatched against most NCAA tournament teams. Don’t be surprised to see them in the Sweet 16.

No. 14 Wofford Terriers

Location: Spartanburg, S.C..

Conference: Southern

Coach: Mike Young

Pre-tournament record: 21-12, 14-4

Best win: George Mason

Surprising loss: Cornell

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Noah Dahlman, senior guard Cameron Rundles, senior guard Jamar Diggs.

Full team roster

Strengths: 3-point shooting, offensive rebounding, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Defense.

Outlook: When the Terriers made the NCAA tournament last season for the first time, it was because of their defense. This year, credit the offense. They don’t play any faster, but have the effective combination of Dahlman inside – the team’s leading scorer is also one of the nation’s most efficient at it – and a brigade of 3-point shooters outside. Rundles, junior Brad Loesing and junior Kevin Giltner all make at least 41 percent of their attempts beyond the arc, while Diggs can hit from pretty much anywhere. But before you go picking Wofford to pull off an upset, consider the defense. It struggles in essentially every area and is the main reason why a host of non-conference foes like Minnesota, Clemson, Xavier and South Carolina beat Wofford this season.

No. 15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.

Conference: Big West

Coach: Bob Williams

Pre-tournament record: 18-13, 8-8

Best wins: UNLV, Long Beach State

Surprising losses: Cal St. Fullerton, Cal St. Northridge (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Orlando Johnson, junior guard James Nunnally.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Ball-handling, rebounding, perimeter defense.

Outlook: If you’ve seen the Gauchos play, you’re probably wondering: How did these guys lose so many games with Johnson and Nunnally? Join the club. They’re two of the conference’s top players, guys who can create their own shot, finish when needed and shoulder the offensive load. Well, for whatever reason, it never quite clicked. UCSB lost by double digits twice to Big West regular-season champ Long Beach State before Johnson went off for 28 in the conference title game and the Gauchos won. Now they’re back in the tournament for the second straight year. Last season, they were throttled as a 15 seed by Ohio State. Expect more of the same this time around. UCSB’s hot streak isn’t going to last.

No. 16 Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans

Location: Little Rock, Ark.

Conference: Sun Belt

Coach: Steve Shields

Pre-tournament record: 19-16, 7-9

Best win: South Alabama

Surprising loss: Tulsa

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Solomon Bozeman, senior guard Alex Garcia-Mendoza, freshman guard Daylon Guy.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, defense.

Outlook: The Trojans pulled off a surprising run in the Sun Belt title tournament for the automatic berth. Behind Bozeman’s heroics – he averaged 22 points in the tournament, including the game-winner vs. North Texas — they’re off to the Big Dance for the first time in 21 years. They won’t be around long to enjoy it, though. Little Rock can hit the 3 and has good guards, but doesn’t have the defense to make enough stops against a top seed.

No. 16 UNC Asheville Bulldogs

Location: Asheville, N.C.

Conference: Big South

Coach: Eddie Biedenbach

Pre-tournament record: 19-13, 11-7

Best win:Coastal Carolina (twice)

Surprising losses:South Carolina Upstate, High Point

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard J.P Primm, junior guard Matt Dickey, junior guard Chris Stephenson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, blocking shots, getting to the free-throw line.

Weaknesses: 3-point shooting, defensive rebounding, turnovers.

Outlook: A surprise out of the Big South, Asheville got hot late and beat regular-season champ Coastal Carolina twice in a week. The Bulldogs heavily rely on Primm and Dickey for a chunk of minutes and outside shooting, though neither is particularly deadly from beyond the arc. When Asheville’s defense is clicking, forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets as a result, they’re a pesky team to beat. But don’t expect miracles in the NCAA tournament. This is a team that lost to Ohio State by 47 points earlier this season.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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

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

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

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

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

His free throws sealed the win.

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

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

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

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

BIG PICTURE

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

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

STAT PACK

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

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

UP NEXT

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

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

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

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

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. THE BIG TEN STAYS WILD

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

Let’s start with the early game.

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

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

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

The late game was just as crazy.

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

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

This should give him some breathing room.

2. YOELI CHILDS IS BACK

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

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

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

But he’s back now.

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

3. HOUSTON SURVIVES UCONN

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

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

UConn ball.

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. No. 20 MEMPHIS LOST BY 40 TO TULSA

That is not a typo.

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

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

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

So good for Frank Haith.

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

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

“It’s pretty embarrassing.”

2. LUKA GARZA WENT NUTS AGAIN

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

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

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

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

3. VIRGINIA TECH TAKES DOWN NORTH CAROLINA

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

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

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

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

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

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

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

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

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

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

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

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

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

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

He’s not dressed for the game.

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

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure: