Southwest 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 Southwest Regional breakdown with team capsules below. Enjoy.

Underrated: UNLV
By nearly any measure — victories, RPI, kenpom.com rating — the Rebels deserved better than an underperforming Big Ten team capable of insane shooting performances and a second-round matchup with Kansas.

Not that it’s a no-win situation. Lon Kruger’s team (24-8) is filled with athletic players who thrive on defense and create matchup difficulties for nearly any team. UNLV as an 8 seed? No respect.

Overrated: Vanderbilt
Giving the Commodores a 5 seed isn’t horrible. They posted another solid season and have three fine players in John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Festus Ezeli. But they were third in the SEC East and faded down the stretch.

Last year, they fell to Murray State as a 4 seed. Could Vandy be the 5-12 upset this time around?

Most likely first-round upset
I already mentioned Richmond-Vanderbilt, so let’s target another first-round game: No. 11 USC vs. No. 6 Georgetown. The Hoyas (21-9) lost five of their last six games, three of which came when point guard Chris Wright went out with a hand injury. He’ll be back for the NCAA tournament, but he’ll almost certainly be rusty, as will the Hoyas’ offense.

As for the Trojans (19-14) they do have to get past VCU first. But USC has the talent and the game-breaking player in Nikola Vucevic to get to the second round.

Best matchup: Kansas vs. Louisville
A possible regional semifinal game looms as perhaps the toughest test for the top-seeded Jayhawks. Kansas struggles against quick guards who can hit from outside, and the Cardinals (23-8) have two in Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles.

Not that it’s about the upset — it should be a wildly entertaining game, too. Louisville loves to push the pace and Kansas (32-2) has never been shy about running when given the chance. The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, should be salivating at the thought of the Cardinals’ post defense.

Impact player
It could be Chris Singleton, Florida State’s outstanding defender and best player. He hasn’t played since fracturing his foot on Feb. 12, but maintains he’ll play again this season. He would certainly be the difference in the first round vs. Texas A&M, and would make life miserable for the No. 2 Irish.

But, in light of his uncertain status, I’ll go with Purdue’s JaJaun Johnson. The senior center is the best player in the region. He’s a double-double machine, blocks shots and provides the big plays when the third-seeded Boilermakers need them. He’ll be the reason why Purdue gets to the Elite Eight.

Champion: Kansas.
Alas, Johnson isn’t enough. The Jayhawks are too deep, too talented and playing too well to pick anyone else. No, this wasn’t written last season when Kansas was doing all those things entering the tournament only to lose in the second round.

The difference is that Kansas isn’t as reliant on one player to do all the clutch scoring and has more threats on the outside. Plus, point guard Tyshawn Taylor — demoted after a late-season suspenion — got motivated to play. He smoked Texas in the Big 12 title game.

The Jayhawks are motivated and the’re playing like it. That’s enough.

TEAM CAPSULES

No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks

Location: Lawrence, Kan.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Bill Self

Pre-tournament record: 32-2, 14-2

Best wins: Arizona, Missouri (twice), Kansas State

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Junior forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris, senior guard Tyrel Reed, sophomore guard Elijah Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, shooting, depth.

Weaknesses: Sloppy play, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Perhaps the deepest and most talented team in the tournament, the Jayhawks boast impressive offensive stats – they make 58 percent of their 2s, 39 percent of their 3s and hit the offensive glass – and a defense that occasionally wins games, too. Self’s team isn’t as good at man-to-man defense as the 2008 champs, but the offense usually makes up for any defensive lapses. The Morris twins – or Morrii, if you prefer – have developed into game-breaking forwards. Marcus is more versatile and more likely to step back for a 3, while Markieff is essential to Kansas’ defense and rebounding. Kansas doesn’t have any guards who can consistently create their own shot, but that hasn’t been an issue when teams have to account for the Morrii down low. When Kansas is on, they’re the best team in the country. Then again, that’s what we wrote about last year’s team, too.

No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Location: South Bend, Ind.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Mike Brey

Pre-tournament record: 26-6, 14-4

Best wins: Pitt, Wisconsin

Surprising losses:None

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Ben Hansbrough, senior forward Tim Abromaitis, senior forward Carleton Scott.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Notre Dame’s always had a good offense under Brey. The problem’s been defense. This season, the Irish are better at contesting shots and grabbing misses. They’re not Purdue, but it’s been enough. Question is, will that decent defense and superb offense be enough for a Final Four run? Much of its depends on Hansbrough and Abromaitis. The pair are lethal from deep – they’ve hit 44 percent of their 333 attempts beyond the arc – which opens things up for their undersized forwards inside. You can’t force the Irish into a fast game, either. Hansbrough excels at dictating the tempo and takes over when needed. Your best hope? Get in their face and force the two into rushed shots.

No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

Location: West Lafayette, Ind.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Matt Painter

Record: 25-7, 14-4

Best wins: Ohio State, Wisconsin

Surprising losses: Richmond, Minnesota, Iowa

Team stats

Key players: Senior center JaJuan Johnson, senior guard E’Twaun Moore, junior guard Lewis Jackson.

Full team roster

Strengths: On-ball defense, ball-handling, interior defense, 3-point shooting.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, shooting slumps.

Outlook: They don’t come much better than Moore and Johnson. The seniors have been Boilermakers’ mainstays since their freshman seasons, and have improved greatly each year. Johnson’s perhaps the best post player in the nation, boasting a repertoire of moves and a fine spot-up jumper. Moore excels at creating his own shot, usually a pull-up jumper from 12 feet, though he’s also improved his outside shot. Jackson, a 5-9 point guard, is tough, quick and thrives when foes underrate his scoring ability. Those are Purdue’s horses, but Painter also has a deep bench that fill outside shooting and defensive roles. But Purdue is perplexing. Just two weeks ago, it had won seven straight and was eyeing a No. 1 seed. Now it enters the Big Dance having lost two in a row. This team’s capable of reaching the Final Four, but the Sweet 16 might be realistic right now.

No. 4 Louisville Cardinals

Location: Louisville, Ky.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Rick Pitino

Pre-tournament record: 25-9, 12-6

Best wins: Pitt, Syracuse, UConn

Surprising losses:Drexel, Providence

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore guard Peyton Siva, senior guard Preston Knowles, junior forward Terrence Jennings, junior guard Kyle Kuric.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, shooting, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: The Cardinals go as their guards go. When Siva’s able to shake off defenders and get into the lane, and when Knowles and Kuric are hitting from outside, Louisville’s a tough, tough out. Kuric’s the most consistent shooter, but can’t create his own shot like Knowles and Siva. The guards are quick, aggressive and can spark a run and open a big lead in a matter of minutes. Still, for every big run the Cardinals make, they’re also as likely to go cold on a moment’s notice. If the defense isn’t creating easy baskets off turnovers and the shots aren’t falling from outside, Louisville’s a team primed for an upset. Teams with physical post players or who have good guards are trouble. That’s Morehead State exactly.

No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores

Location:Nashville, Tenn.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Kevin Stallings

Pre-tournament record: 23-9, 9-7

Best wins: North Carolina, Kentucky, Belmont

Surprising losses: South Carolina, Arkansas

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Jeff Taylor, sophomore guard John Jenkins, junior center Festus Ezeli.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, 3-point defense, shot-blocking.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, rebounding.

Outlook: Vandy is like half a dozen other tourney teams: When the Commodores are hot from outside, they’re tough. If not, they’ll be home early. Simple as that. With Jenkins and Taylor, Vandy has two of the game’s outstanding shooters. They can hit from anywhere, at any time. But Jenkins dealt with a bum ankle during the SEC tournament and Jenkins has been struggling lately. That leaves a lot for Ezeli to do down low. And really, it’s just those three. Murray State stunned Vandy last year in a 4-13 matchup. Another exit could be in the works.

No. 6 Georgetown Hoyas

Location: Washington

Conference: Big East

Coach: John Thompson III

Pre-tournament record: 21-10, 10-8

Best wins: Syracuse, Louisville

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Senior wing Austin Freeman, senior guard Chris Wright, junior guard Jason Clark.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, guard play.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, fouls.

Outlook: Two of the 11 Big East teams in the field finished the season on a swoon: Villanova and Georgetown. Yet the Hoyas have escaped the naysayers bemoaning the Wildcats’ season, mostly because point guard Chris Wright broke his hand on Feb. 23 vs. Cincinnati. The Hoyas haven’t won since. Freeman remains a supremely talented offensive player and Clark’s capable of scoring in bunches. But without Wright’s ability to break down defenses, Georgetown becomes one-dimensional on offense. As an added worry, the Hoyas have no reliable post players and struggle on defense. Remember the first-round loss to 14-seed Ohio last year? History could repeat itself.

No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies

Location: College Station, Texas.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Mark Turgeon

Pre-tournament record: 24-8, 10-6

Best wins: Temple, Missouri, Kansas State

Surprising losses: Baylor (twice), Nebraska

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Khris Middleton, junior forward David Loubeau, senior guard B.J. Holmes.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, defense, deliberate play.

Weaknesses: Shooting, sloppy play.

Outlook: The Aggies would feel right at home in the Big Ten. They rarely push the pace and focus on maximizing each possession. They rebound well and rarely allow an easy look at the basket. Sometimes it’s ugly, but it works. Where A&M gets into trouble is when it faces teams with elite scoring talents. The defense gets stretched, then the Aggies fall behind and don’t have enough offensive firepower to catch up. They have underrated guards and a solid scorer in Middleton, though he’s been less aggressive looking for his shot of late. A Sweet 16 berth would be a fine accomplishment for this team.

No. 8 UNLV Rebels

Location: Las Vegas

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Lon Kruger

Pre-tournament record: 24-8, 11-5

Best wins: Wisconsin, Kansas State, Virginia Tech

Surprising loss: UC Santa Barbara

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Tre’Von Willis, junior forward Chase Stanback, junior guard Oscar Bellfield, sophomore forward Quintrell

Thomas.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Fouls, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: If the Rebels could hit shots consistently, they’d be dangerous. They’re a dynamite defensive team that relies on its physical man-to-man to force turnovers and force bad shots. That’s not a bad scheme when you’re loaded with athletic players – all between 6-3 and 6-8 – who also do a fair job on the boards. And yet, there’s the shooting. UNLV works for its shots by breaking down defenders and ball movement. Just one outside threat would make it so much easier. The Rebels will be a tough out, but the Sweet 16 is a long shot.

No. 9 Illinois Illini

Location: Champaign, Ill.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Bruce Weber

Pre-tournament record: 19-13, 9-9

Best wins: North Carolina, Wisconsin, Gonzaga

Surprising losses: Illinois-Chicago, Indiana

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Demetri McCamey, senior center Mike Tisdale, sophomore guard Brandon Paul, senior forward Mike Davis.

Full team roster

Strengths: Perimeter defense, shooting, shot-blocking.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, settling for jump shots.

Outlook: The talent’s there for a Sweet 16 run. Maybe even further. But the Illini will be lucky to get out of the first round. Few teams are more baffling. McCamey’s a gifted point guard and has drawn comparisons to Deron Williams, but he makes too mistakes. Davis and Tisdale are skilled big men, but very soft inside. When’s Paul’s shot is falling, he’s impossible to stop. But that’s becoming increasingly rare. And, for all of Illinois’ defensive ability, they don’t get stops when it matters most. But this isn’t a team to be taken lightly. A few favorable matchups could result in the Illini heating up from outside and making it to the second week of the tournament. But odds aren’t good.

No. 10 Florida State Seminoles

Location: Tallahassee, Fla.

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Leonard Hamilton

Pre-tournament record: 21-10, 11-5

Best wins: Duke, Clemson

Surprising loss: Auburn

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Derwin Kitchen, sophomore guard Michael Snaer, junior forward Bernard James, junior forward Chris Singleton.

Full team roster

Strengths: Interior defense, shot-blocking, offensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: There are two FSU teams. One plays nasty defense and beats teams like Duke. The other plays good defense and comes up short in losses to North Carolina. The difference? Singleton. Their best player and defensive stopper has missed five games with a fractured foot. Even if he plays, he won’t be the same Singleton foes saw for most of the ACC season. He has the height (6-9) to guard forwards and the mobility to handle guards. Without him, FSU is more limited on defense and offense. This athletic team will be a tough out, but without a fully healthy Singleton, it won’t see the weekend.

No. 11 USC Trojans

Location: Los Angeles

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Kevin O’Neill

Pre-tournament record: 19-14, 10-8

Best wins: Texas, UCLA, Washington, Arizona

Surprising losses: Mercer, TCU, Bradley, Oregon State

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Nikola Vucevic, junior guard Jio Fontan, senior wing Marcus Simmons, senior forward Alex Stephenson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, offensive rebounding, shooting.

Outlook: USC’s the most bi-polar team in the field. The Trojans have beaten Texas, yet lost to Bradley. They beat Washington, but lost to TCU. They took down Arizona, yet fell to Mercer. At home. They’re athletic, sturdy on defense, have one of the Pac-10’s best talents in Vucevic and a floor leader in Fontan. The problem? USC just makes dumb plays sometimes. Maybe it’s a fatigue factor. O’Neill rarely goes to his bench and rides his starters as long as he can. But the Trojans are capable of brilliance. You just never know when. There’s not a more difficult team to predict in the field. Beating VCU and Georgetown? It’s possible.

No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth Rams

Location: Richmond, Va.

Conference: Colonial Athletic

Coach: Shaka Smart

Pre-tournament record: 23-11, 12-6

Best wins: UCLA, ODU, George Mason

Surprising losses: Georgia State, Northeastern

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Joey Rodriguez, senior forward Jamie Skeen, senior guard Brandon Rozell.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, interior defense.

Outlook: The Rams lost six of their last 11 games, but somehow snuck into the tournament. But the strength of the CAA and a win vs. George Mason in the conference tournament was apparently enough. They’ll have their hands full vs. USC as well. The Rams will have decent athletes, but nobody who can check athletes from major conference schools. They’ll need to open up space for Skeen and find Rodriguez and Rozzell open on the wings for 3-pointers. Might not make it out of the First Four.

No. 12 Richmond Spiders

Location: Richmond, Va.

Conference: Atlantic 10

Coach: Chris Mooney

Pre-tournament record: 27-7, 13-3

Best wins: Purdue, Duquesne

Surprising losses: Rhode Island, Bucknell

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Kevin Anderson, senior center Justin Harper, senior forward Dan Geirot.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, settling for jump shots.

Outlook: The Spiders’ aggressive man-to-man defense doesn’t force as many turnovers as last season, but it’s still an effective deterrent of open shots. They even do it without getting into foul trouble. This team’s capable of beating elite teams, too. A win vs. Purdue is awfully impressive. Anderson’s an excellent talent, flanked by Harper and Geirot up front. But take caution: the Spiders rarely rebound. It’s just not how they play. That means if their shots aren’t falling – not usually the case – they’re in trouble. They’ll have a chance against Vandy, but only if John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor aren’t hitting.

No. 13 Morehead State Eagles

Location: Morehead, Ky.

Conference: Ohio Valley

Coach: Donnie Tyndall

Pre-tournament record: 24-9, 13-5

Best win: College of Charleston

Surprising loss:at Eastern Illinois

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Kenneth Faried, senior guard Demonte Harper.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, interior defense, forcing turnovers.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, perimeter defense, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Faried grabs all the attention because of his ferocious rebounding – he broke Tim Duncan’s career mark this season and is the top offensive and defensive rebounder this season – and freakish athletic ability. After Florida escaped with a six-point win over Morehead State back in November, coach Billy Donovan called Faried “the next Dennis Rodman.” But Faried’s far from the only star at Morehead. Harper’s the team’s second-leading scorer and assist leader and, at 6-foot-4, has the size to play against anyone. This is the tandem’s second appearance in the NCAA tournament, which could pay dividends in a close game. And given their defensive style of play, expect a close game.

No. 14 St. Peter’s Peacocks

Location: Jersey City, N.J..

Conference: Metro Atlantic

Coach: John Dunne

Pre-tournament record: 20-13, 11-7

Best win: Alabama

Surprising loss:Lehigh

Team stats

Key players: Senior swingman Jeron Belin, senior guard Nick Leon, senior guard Wesley Jenkins.

Full team roster

Strengths: Challenging shots, steals.

Weaknesses: Making shots.

Outlook: For most of the season, the Peacocks won with their defense. Few teams are better at forcing teams into bad shots. Opponents make just 40.6 percent of their 2-pointers and 30.5 percent of their 3s, both well below the D-I average. But here’s the thing: When St. Peter’s ripped off three wins to take the MAAC tourney title, it made 47 percent of its field-goal attempts. That’s not great, but was far better than what St. Peters’ did most of the year. If the Peacocks come close to that vs. Purdue, they’ll be in position to pull off the upset.

No. 15 Akron Zips

Location: Akron, Ohio.

Conference: Mid-American

Coach: Keith Dambrot

Pre-tournament record: 23-12, 9-7

Best wins: Kent State (twice), Detroit

Surprising losses: Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Nikola Cvetinovic, sophomore center Zeke Marshall, senior guard Steve McNees.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shot-blocking, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, interior scoring, fouls.

Outlook: The Zips are an aggressive, defensive-oriented team that relies on its depth to wear out opponents (mostly because the offense can’t reliably hit shots). They blocked 15 shots in the MAC tournament championship vs. Kent State. Much of that credit goes to Marshall, who blocked nine of those himself. But unless someone emerges as a scoring threat (senior guard Darryl Roberts, maybe?), the Zips probably won’t pull off an upset like Ohio did last year against Georgetown.

No. 16 Boston Terriers

Location: Boston

Conference: America East

Coach: Patrick Chambers

Pre-tournament record: 21-13, 14-4

Best wins: Vermont, Nevada

Surprising losses: Maryland-Baltimore CO, Hartford, New Hampshire

Team stats

Key players: Senior wing John Holland, junior forward Darryl Partin, freshman guard D.J. Irving.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, defensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Terriers have won 11 straight, but that’s quickly coming to an end. Outside of Holland, Boston doesn’t have any game-breaking players. That’s not a dig on their fine run to end the season, just a realistic assessment of their tournament chances. Their biggest strength is challenging shots on the perimeter and inside, but they don’t have the height to compete inside and their guards will be a step too slow for Kansas. It could stay close for a while if Holland heats up, but that’s about it.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Houston reaches No. 1 in AP poll for first time since 1983

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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Make some room, Phi Slama Jama. Another Houston team has reached the top of men’s college basketball.

Nearly four decades after Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon took the Cougars to No. 1, the latest bunch led by Marcus Sasser and star freshman Jarace Walker took over the top spot in the AP Top 25. They received 45 of 63 first-place votes from the national media panel, easily outdistancing second-place Texas and third-place Virginia.

“It’s not like we went online and applied for it and waited for a response back. We’ve been working for this,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team is coming off a Final Four and Elite Eight trip the past two seasons. “But remember, it’s a rental. You don’t own it. You’re just renting it because someday somebody else is going to be No. 1.”

North Carolina had been No. 1 all season, but the Tar Heels lost to Iowa State and in a four-overtime thriller to Alabama at the Phil Knight Invitational to cede the top spot to Houston, which beat Kent State in its only game last week.

The last time the Cougars ascended to No. 1 was the final poll of the 1982-83 season, when “The Glide” and “The Dream” along with coach Guy Lewis were the favorites to win it all. They rolled through the NCAA Tournament before falling to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in an iconic championship game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I’ve never been ranked No. 1,” said Sampson, now in his 34th season as a college basketball coach. “We were ranked all 12 years at Oklahoma. I’m sure we were ranked at Indiana. Then we’ve been ranked five or six straight years. We’re used to having a high level of success.”

Texas received eight first-place votes and Virginia received two. Arizona climbed from 14th to fourth after emerging from a stacked field to win the Maui Invitational. Purdue jumped from 24th all the way to fifth and scooped up eight first-place votes after beating West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke at the Phil Knight Legacy tourney.

“Our guys are competitive. They’re fun to coach. They get along. They’re out there playing with purpose and that’s what you have to have,” said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team was briefly No. 1 about this time last season.

“Early in the season, very few teams play with the purpose collectively,” he said. “I thought our guys played with a purpose.”

Baylor was sixth, Creighton seventh and U Conn climbed from 20th to eighth after beating Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State to win the Phil Knight Invitational. Kansas fell from third to ninth after losing to Tennessee in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, while Indiana rounded out the top 10.

There was a tie for 11th between SEC rivals Alabama and Arkansas with the Volunteers, another conference foe, right behind them. Gonzaga dropped from sixth to 14th, its first time outside the top 10 since Feb. 5, 2018, and Auburn was 15th.

Illinois was next followed by Duke and North Carolina in a tough week for Tobacco Road. The Blue Devils fell from eighth after their 75-56 loss to the Boilermakers.

Kentucky and Michigan State joined UCLA, Maryland, Iowa State, San Diego State and Ohio State in rounding out the poll.

RISING AND FALLING

Purdue made a rare 19-spot jump as the poll underwent a massive shakeup. UConn climbed 12 spots, Arizona moved up 10, Tennessee climbed nine and Alabama seven. On the flip side, the Tar Heels tumbled 17 spots, Duke dropped nine, Gonzaga fell eight and San Diego State fell seven.

IN AND OUT

Despite all the movement, Iowa State was the only newcomer this week, checking in at No. 23 after beating Villanova and North Carolina before falling to UConn. The Cyclones replaced Iowa, which dropped out after a one-week stay following its loss to TCU in the title game of the Emerald Coast Classic.

CONFERENCE WATCH

There are six difference conferences represented in the first seven teams in the poll. The Big Ten leads the way with six in the Top 25 while the SEC has five and the Big 12 has four, though three of them are in the top 10.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Stanford, UConn next

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South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press women’s poll, as the Gamecocks keep close watch on the foot injury of reigning Player of the Year Aliyah Boston.

The Gamecocks received all 29 first-place votes in the poll, a day after Boston left a game with her injury. Coach Dawn Staley said Boston was “questionable” going forward but added that the “team doctor wasn’t too, too concerned.”

South Carolina’s next game is at home against No. 15 UCLA.

Stanford remained No. 2 after cruising through a tournament in Hawaii. It’s the 618th appearance for Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, tying the late Pat Summitt for most all-time. Summitt’s teams only missed being in the poll 14 times during her Hall of Fame career at Tennessee.

UConn, Ohio State and Indiana rounded out the top five.

The Huskies are one of four Big East teams to be ranked this week as Marquette entered the poll at No. 24. It’s the first time the Big East has four ranked teams since the conference realigned in 2014. The league is 56-14 so far this season, including going 8-2 against ranked teams.

“We’ve been trying to earn a little more respect,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said of the Big East. “Tried to schedule tougher non-conference (games). ‘Nova’s playing people. Us going to the Bahamas was great. Creighton’s doing what they’ve been doing since last season. Getting some of those quality wins is everything.”

North Carolina moved up two spots to No. 6 after rallying to beat then-No. 5 Iowa State in the Phil Knight tournament. The Cyclones fell to eighth.

The Tar Heels visit the Hoosiers on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Indiana returns home after winning two games in Las Vegas at a subpar venue that lacked basic necessities.

Notre Dame remained No. 7 while Virginia Tech and Iowa finished off the top 10. At No. 9, Virginia Tech has matched its best ranking ever and is in the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

Tennessee fell out of the poll this week marking the 56th time in the 827-week history of the poll that the Lady Vols weren’t ranked. Kansas State also fell out with Gonzaga moving in at No. 23.

FALLING CARDINALS

Louisville dropped to 18th in the poll this week after falling to South Dakota State in the fifth place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. It’s the Cardinals lowest ranking since Jan. 11, 2016.

Louisville entered the top 10 in the preseason poll in 2017 and hadn’t been out since, a span of 98 consecutive weeks. It was the longest active streak.

“It’s a compliment to the consistency that we built here,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of being ranked in the top 10 for so long. “Obviously are goal would have been to stay in the top 10, but it’s a new team and growing.”

Edey scores 21 as No. 24 Purdue beats No. 8 Duke 75-56

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Zach Edey and No. 24 Purdue shook off a slow start. When No. 8 Duke tried to rally in the second half, the Boilermakers finished strong.

Edey had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Purdue beat Duke 75-56 on Sunday in the championship game of the Phil Knight Legacy men’s tournament.

Fletcher Loyer scored 18 points for Purdue (6-0), and reserve Caleb Furst finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I feel like we weren’t getting the looks we wanted early. As we settled into the game, we kept our poise and kept getting the shots that we wanted,” Edey said. “They were making some tough twos at the beginning of the game, shots we’re OK with all season.”

The 7-foot-4 Edey was 7 for 13 from the field and 7 for 8 at the line. He was named tournament MVP.

“They have the most unique player in the country,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said of Edey. “He’s a hard guy to prepare for because there’s nobody else like him.”

Duke (6-2) shot 36.2% (21 for 58) from the field. Tyres Proctor scored 16 points for the Blue Devils. Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach each had 14.

Ethan Morton had a steal and a dunk to help Purdue open a 58-41 lead with 15:37 left in the second half.

Duke countered with an 8-0 run, capped by two foul shots by Dariq Whitehead. But Furst made a layup and a jumper to help hold off the Blue Devils.

A hook by Edey and a 3-pointer by Loyer made it 68-56 with 5:03 remaining.

Duke got off to a 14-7 start before Purdue worked its way back into the game.

“I don’t feel like we came out bad today, but they matched our energy,” Edey said.

A 3-pointer by Brandon Newman pushed the Purdue lead to 46-28. A late run by Duke cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 46-35 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: It looked as if Roach had an issue with his left foot at one point, but he went back into the game. Scheyer said Roach had hurt his toe.

Purdue: Although neither team had great offensive games, Purdue was the better team from range. Purdue made seven 3-pointers to just two for Duke.

UP NEXT

Duke: Hosts Ohio State on Wednesday.

Purdue: Visits Florida State on Wednesday.

No. 18 Alabama beats No. 1 North Carolina 103-101 in 4 OTs

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Mark Sears had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists, and No. 18 Alabama sent top-ranked North Carolina to a second straight loss with a 103-101 victory in a quadruple-overtime thriller on Sunday in the third-place game of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament.

Jahvon Quinerly added 21 points off the bench for the Crimson Tide (6-1), who knocked off the top-ranked team for the first time since upsetting Stanford in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

“I was losing track of how many overtimes we were in there at the end,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said. “A lot of credit to our guys. I thought they showed a lot of character when we could have folded.”

Charles Bediako had 14 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks, while Brandon Miller also scored 14 points.

Caleb Love led the Tar Heels (5-2) with 34 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Armando Bacot contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds, and R.J. Davis had 19 points and nine rebounds in the second four-overtime game in North Carolina history. The other was a victory over Tulane in 1976.

“At the end of the day, Alabama made one more play than we did,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “I walked in the locker room and a number of the guys had their head down and I told them to pick their head up. I’m just as disappointed (as the players) in terms of the final outcome, but I couldn’t be any more proud about the way they competed.”

Bediako gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good on a layup with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime.

The Tar Heels, who lost to Iowa State in the semifinals, led by as much as eight in the second half before Alabama came back to tie it. The Crimson Tide retook the lead on a pair of free throws from Gurley with 2 minutes remaining, and later tied with another free throw from Sears with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.

Alabama starting forward Noah Clowney took a hard fall on a dunk attempt four minutes into the first half and had to be helped off the court. He did not return.

The Crimson Tide were 16 for 38 (42.1%) from 3-point range, with Sears making seven.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: The Tar Heels figure to take a deep drop in the Top 25 poll.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide bounced back nicely following their loss to No. 20 UConn in the semifinals, beating a top-ranked team in the regular season for the first time since a 66-64 victory over eventual national champion Arkansas on Jan. 8, 1994.

UP NEXT:

North Carolina: The Tar Heels travel to Bloomington to face No. 11 Indiana on Wednesday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide return home to face South Dakota State on Saturday.

Clingan lifts UConn past Iowa State for Phil Knight title

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Donovan Clingan had 15 points and 10 rebounds to power No. 20 UConn to a 71-53 win over Iowa State in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational on Sunday night.

Tristen Newton scored 13 points for the Huskies (8-0), who went 20 for 25 at the free-throw line. Alex Karaban and Andre Jackson, Jr. each had 10 points.

Osun Osunniyi led Iowa State (5-1) with 14 points. Tamin Lipsey had 12 points and Jaren Holmes finished with 11.

“They were the more aggressive team,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We wanted a physical game. We didn’t want a physical game with them getting the rebounds and then also us putting them on the foul line. Lesson that we’ve got to learn is we need to embrace being the aggressor at both ends of the floor at all times.”

The Huskies had more offensive rebounds (20) than the Cyclones had total rebounds (19), and capitalized on that disparity with 20 second-chance points.

“Those guys are tough,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “T.J.`s an excellent coach. They grind people up. To outrebound them, it just speaks to how tough we were.”

Clingan, who was named tournament MVP, scored eight points to help UConn to a 38-28 lead at the break.

Iowa State closed to 53-48 on Holmes’ 3-pointer midway through the second half. But Karaban made a 3 and a dunk, and Newton’s jumper made it 60-48 with 7:13 remaining.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies couldn’t have asked for a better showing in Portland, winning all three of their games.

Iowa State: The Cyclones picked up nice wins over Villanova and top-ranked North Carolina in the earlier rounds but ended with their first loss of the season.

UP NEXT

UConn: The Huskies return home to face Oklahoma State on Thursday.

Iowa State: The Cyclones return home to face North Dakota on Tuesday.