West Regional breakdown, team capsules

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Who wins, who’s overrated and what’s the best game? We have an answer for each region. I had freelance writer Ray Glier pinch hit for the East breakdown, but the capsules are all me. Enjoy

Underrated: Arizona
These guys have some brutal losses: by 22 to BYU in December, by 22 to UCLA in February. But just watch them for a stretch here and there and they can score (47 percent field goal percentage) and they have a terrific player in Derrick Williams. They lost by just eight at Kansas. They pass that eye test and give you a reason to pause and consider ‘What if…”.

Arizona won 14 games in the Pac-10, which isn’t a deep league, but 14 wins is 14 wins.

Can a No. 5 seed be underrated? Sure it can because everyone else is thinking UConn and Texas are better. Arizona can play with both of those teams in this tournament because the Cats score and score.

Overrated: UConn
They have the best player in the country, Kemba Walker, but the Huskies are going to get erased. Their legs have to be wobbly after five games in five days. Serves the Big East right for its money-grubbing, team-hoarding ways.

UConn could run up against Missouri in the second round and the Tigers furious defense is going to take care of what’s left of UConn’s legs.

Most likely first-round upset
It is not going to be Oakland over Texas. Don’t even think about it.

Missouri is an 11th seed and Cincinnati is a sixth seed. Pick that one. It is a question of style with Mizzou’s frantic pressure giving UC something different than what it sees in the Big East. The Tigers get 10 steals a game with their rushing around the floor.

The upset won’t happen if the Tigers do not score in transition. When they get into halfcourt and start firing up 3s they can look like a dreadful team. But this is where upsets happen, 11 vs. 6.

Best matchup: Texas vs. Duke
For most of the season, Texas was lauded as the heir apparent to Duke. The Longhorns were nasty on defense and beat people up by covering the floor with defenders. They were being tabbed in January as the team that would sweep into the Final Four in their home state and close down on Ohio State’s shooters.

The Longhorns were seeded fourth, which is low for this team. You could call them the most underrated team in the region, but everyone knows the committee just blew this one. UT will show itself as a national title contender with a win over Duke in Anaheim: a match of defense vs. offense.

Plenty of people are going to get anxious to see UConn vs. San Diego State, but Duke is the defending champion playing across the country and Texas has been talked up all season. That’s the game to see, especially if Duke’s Kyrie Irving makes his return.

Impact player
Well, you would have to say Kemba Walker of UConn or Nolan Smith of Duke, but that’s too easy. Jordan Hamilton is a good one to look at. He has taken almost 20 shots a game the last eight games for Texas. That’s a lot of impact for one team. When he shot poorly against Nebraska (3 of 16), the Horns were upset.

Now, if Kyrie Irving of Duke suddenly reappears, that’s a different story. Might he play? He told reporters Sunday in Greensboro he has a shot.

Champion: San Diego State
It is a veteran team that can score and has a coach who has been there, done that. UConn has to be wasted after its Big East gantlet, so it will not survive. Duke is going to beat Arizona in a sensational game, but Texas is going to rub out the Blue Devils.

That leaves Texas vs. SDSU in the title game of the toughest region.


No. 1 Duke Blue Devils

Location: Durham, N.C.

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Pre-tournament record: 30-4, 13-3

Best wins: North Carolina, Temple, Marquette

Surprising loss: Florida State, Virginia Tech

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Nolan Smith, senior forward Kyle Singler, sophomore forward Mason Plumlee, sophomore guard Seth Curry .

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: The defending NCAA champions don’t hit the glass as hard as last year and are slightly worse beyond the arc, but that’s about it. The Devils remain one of the favorites to win it all thanks to their shooting – 38 percent from deep and 52 percent inside the arc – and ability to take care of the ball. If you want to beat Duke, you have to earn it. That means keeping track of their shooters (Curry and sophomore Andre Dawkins), limiting Smith’s dribble penetration and not allowing Singler to get into an offensive rhythm. Of all the Devils’ offensive stars, Singler’s the key. Smith has been a consistent scorer, while Singler has struggled with his shot and been ineffective off the dribble. If he regains his form from last year, Duke has a potent 1-2 punch to pair with a deep bench filled with shooters. That’s a tough team to beat.

No. 2 San Diego State Aztecs

Location: San Diego

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Steve Fisher

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

Best wins: UNLV (twice), Gonzaga

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard, senior guard D.J. Gay, senior forward Malcolm Thomas, senior forward Billy Thomas.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, ball-handling, their frontcourt.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: This is a senior-laden squad with an exceedingly efficient defense, a fantastic frontcourt and usually works for a high-percentage shot on offense. All three usually mean success in March. Throw in an NBA talent like Leonard – he can guard anyone and thrives in a half-court offense – and the Aztecs are a strong Final Four contender. Their biggest problem? Lack of a consistent outside shooter. Gay and sophomore Chase Tapley should be those guys, but have trouble creating their own shot. SDSU also doesn’t get many points at the free-throw line. They’re right at the D-I average for percentage (69.9), but rarely get to the line. That speaks to their lack of a go-to guy who can create his own shot or open things for others. (Leonard’s close, but isn’t ideal in that role.) It’s a really good team, but can be held back by its offense.

No. 3 Connecticut Huskies

Location: Storrs, Conn.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Pre-tournament record: 26-9, 9-9

Best wins: Kentucky, Texas

Surprising losses:None

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Kemba Walker, sophomore forward Alex Oriakhi, freshman guard Jeremy Lamb.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, ball-handling, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent shooting, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: Don’t let the 10 losses fool you. UConn’s as good as any team in the field. (Did you see the Big East tournament?) It’s just not as reliable as the likes of Pitt or Kansas because the Huskies are so dependent on how Walker plays. When the lightning quick guard is on, they’ll beat anyone. And have. But when his shot isn’t falling, UConn relies on guys like Lamb or freshman guard Shabazz Napier to carry the scoring load, which they’re not ready for yet. The wild card is Oriakhi. When he’s grabbing rebounds and getting putback scores, everything’s easier for Walker and the Huskies. UConn will be playing during the second weekend if Walker’s legs aren’t completely exhausted after five games in five days.

No. 4 Texas Longhorns

Location: Austin, Texas.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Rick Barnes

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

Best wins: Kansas, North Carolina

Surprising losses: Nebraska, Colorado

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore wing Jordan Hamilton, freshman Tristan Thompson, freshman guard Cory Joseph, senior forward Gary Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Challenging shots, offensive rebounding, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Texas’ tumble at the end of the season – losers of three of the last five games – seemingly ended in the Big 12 tournament. The reason? Hamilton started hitting shots again. The 6-7 wing broke out of a prolonged shooting slump against Oklahoma, a promising sign for a team that desperately needs his scoring touch. Given that the Longhorns’ once ferocious defense turned meek at season’s end, Hamilton’s scoring is needed even more. Unlike last season, when Texas dealt with myriad injuries and chemistry issues, this year’s team is healthy and happy. If Hamilton’s on and Thompson, a gifted shot blocker and rebounder, stays out of foul trouble, this is a Final Four team. At worst, it’s bound for the Sweet 16.

No. 5 Arizona Wildcats

Location: Tucson, Ariz.

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Sean Miller

Pre-tournament record: 27-7, 13-4

Best wins: Washington, UCLA

Surprising loss: Oregon State

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Derrick Williams, sophomore guard Momo Jones, sophomore forward Solomon Hill .

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, 3-point defense, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, interior defense.

Outlook: It all starts with Williams, the Pac-10 player of the year. The 6-7 forward is a future NBA lottery pick for his offensive

efficiency, rebounding skills and underrated defense. He’s the type of player a team can ride to the Final Four – if it has enough players to play supporting roles. That’s the biggest question surrounding the Wildcats, who are back in the Big Dance after missing it last season for the first time in 25 years. Can guys like Hill, junior guard Kyle Fogg and sophomore wing Kevin Parrom hit enough outside shots to prevent teams from focusing on Williams? And is point guard Momo Jones steady enough to avoid last-minute mistakes? Then there’s the defense, which is average. Teams feast on Arizona’s post players because Williams is their biggest guy, but has to stay out of foul trouble. Who slows down opposing forwards?

No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats

Location: Cincinnati

Conference: Big East

Coach: Mick Cronin

Pre-tournament record: 25-8, 11-7

Best wins: Louisville, Georgetown (twice)

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Junior center Yancy Gates, sophomore guard Cashmere Wright, freshman guard Sean KIlpatrick.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Shooting.

Outlook: The Bearcats ended a six-year tournament drought thanks to what they were known for in the ‘90s and early 2000s – defense. Led by the powerful Gates and solid guards, Cincinnati excels at forcing turnovers and making opponents work for tough shots. It also thrives at crashing the offensive glass and doesn’t turn the ball over. That’s a recipe for success, but doesn’t give the Bearcats much room for error against good teams, and especially ones that can hit 3s. That could be bad news against Missouri in the first round.

No. 7 Temple Owls

Location: Philadelphia

Conference: Atlantic 10

Coach: Fran Dunphy

Pre-tournament record: 25-7, 14-2

Best wins: Georgetown, Richmond, Maryland

Surprising losses: Cal, Duquesne

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Ramone Moore, junior wing Scootie Randall, senior forward Lavoy Allen.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, interior defense, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: The Owls sport a record almost as impressive as last season when they were a 5 seed. They’ve even won 13 of their last 15 games. But don’t be fooled. This team isn’t as good as last year – and that Temple squad was crushed in the first round by Cornell. Temple has similar issues as other slow-paced, possession-prizing teams – when the shots aren’t falling, things turn south. Temple tries using its outside shooters – Juan Fernandez, Moore and Randall – to take some of the pressure off Allen inside, but it doesn’t always work. Allen’s a force inside, especially on the glass and blocking shots. Yet he’s not an accomplished offensive player, occasionally leaving Temple as a one-dimensional offensive team. The defense isn’t good enough to make up for those deficiencies against an athletic team, either. A win against Penn State? Maybe. But against North Carolina? No way.

No. 8 Michigan Wolverines

Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: John Beilein

Pre-tournament record: 20-13, 9-9

Best wins: Clemson, Illinois, Oakland

Surprising losses: UTEP, Northwestern

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore guard Darius Morris, freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr., freshman center Jordan Morgan.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, shooting.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers, interior defense.

Outlook: The Wolverines got hot at the right time, winning nine of their last 13 games. However, none were against elite teams as Michigan came up short against both Ohio State and Wisconsin late in the year. That’s this team’s M.O – they hang with most everyone, but can’t close out for wins. That’s partly because the Wolverines are young. Morris, Hardaway and Morgan spent the season adjusting to the rigors of Big Ten play and did well most of the time. Consider this team lucky to be in the NCAA tournament, and even luckier if they get a win. The future, however, looks very bright.

No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers

Location: Knoxville, Tenn.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Bruce Pearl

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

Best wins: Pittsburgh, Villanova, Vanderbilt (twice), Belmont (twice)

Surprising losses: Charlotte, Arkansas, Miss State, Oakland

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Scotty Hopson, freshman forward Tobias Harris, junior wing Cameron Tatum, senior center Brian Williams.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, shot blocking.

Weaknesses: Shooting, ball-handling, fouls.

Outlook: The Vols are vying for the crown of team with the oddest season. And in a field like this, that’s saying something. Tennessee handed Pitt its first loss of the year, then turned around and lost to Charlotte and Oakland. It dealt with the eight-game suspension of Pearl, the maddeningly inconsistent play of Hopson and a defense that showed flashes of greatness. At times. Could Tennessee sneak under the radar and get to the Elite Eight again? No. Could they sneak into the Sweet 16? Well, that depends on the matchup. And Hopson. Don’t bank on either.

No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions

Location: College Station, Penn.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Ed DeChellis

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

Best wins: Wisconsin (twice)

Surprising losses: Maine, Ole Miss

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Talor Battle, senior forward Jeff Brooks, senior forward David Jackson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Everything else on defense.

Outlook: Penn State’s lucky to be here. Two wins against Wisconsin and a .500 Big Ten record was enough to overlook an otherwise unimpressive season. The Lions play slow, ugly and not very well on defense. (Their biggest defensive virtue? Keeping foes off the free-throw line.) Battle’s a guard who lives up to his name, fighting through bigger defenders for baskets, but he’s one of the few shining lights. Brooks is a nice player, but not much else. Penn State won’t be around long, no matter how much they ugly up a game.

No. 11 Missouri Tigers

Location: Columbia, Mo.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Mike Anderson

Pre-tournament record: 23-10, 8-8

Best wins: Vanderbilt, Kansas State

Surprising losses: Oklahoma State, Colorado

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Marcus Denmon, junior wing Kim English, sophomore guard Michael Dixon, junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, ball-handling, shooting.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, fouling.

Outlook: Missouri is fun to watch. Their pressure defense usually creates a fast-paced game full of turnovers, exciting sequences and high scores. But lately it has backfired. Teams with mobile big men feast on Missouri’s lackluster frontcourt, while capable guards can handle the press when needed. You’ll hear a lot about the Tigers’ road issues, and with good reason. They’ve won two games away from home since Dec. 22. Missouri can frustrate teams who aren’t prepared for the press or don’t pay enough attention to shooters like Denmon or Dixon. Anderson is 5-1 in first-round games, but think carefully when studying their matchup. Will Cincy’s Yancy Gates dominate the Tigers’ frontline? Can Mizzou force enough turnovers on the Bearcats’ guards?

No. 12 Memphis Tigers

Location: Memphis, Tenn.

Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Josh Pastner

Pre-tournament record: 25-9, 10-6

Best wins: Gonzaga, UAB (twice)

Surprising losses: SMU, East Carolina

Team stats

Key players: Freshman guard Will Barton, freshman guard Joe Jackson, freshman forward Tarik Black, freshman guard Antonio Barton.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, raw talent.

Weaknesses: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting, defensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Tigers are lucky. They have the potential to be good, but it’s been a lot of luck. They’re 15-1 in games decided by five points or less. Maybe it’s because they’re relying on talented freshmen and don’t run much on offense, which usually creates close games that allows guys like Jackson and Will Barton to make winning plays late. It’s not a rip (well, it’s kind of a rip), just a statement about Memphis’ season. It oozes talent. But that talent lacks cohesiveness on the court. They could go one of two ways in the NCAA tournament – the talent rises to the top and Memphis makes the Sweet 16, or it flames out early because it can’t hit shots and has too many defensive lapses. Lean toward the latter.

No. 13 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

Location: Oakland, Mich.

Conference: Summit League

Coach: Greg Kampe

Pre-tournament record: 25-9, 17-1

Best win: Tennessee

Surprising loss: IUPUI

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Keith Benson, junior guard Reggie Hamilton, senior forward Will Hudson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, offensive rebounding, shot-blocking.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Oakland played seemingly every major-conference team during its non-conference schedule, losing to the likes of Ohio State, Purdue, West Virginia, Michigan State and Illinois. By the time the Grizz beat the Vols, people had seen enough of them to know they could play. It was no surprise to see Kampe’s team roll through the Summit League. They were tested and have better players, starting with Benson, who’s bound for the NBA. He and Hamilton are the two playmakers on an offense that runs, shoots and scores as well as anyone around. That doesn’t leave much for defense, but that’s by design. Oakland’s topped 100 points six times this season. That might be enough for an NCAA tournament win, even against Texas’ stellar defense.

No. 14 Bucknell Bison

Location: Lewisburg, Pa.

Conference: Patriot League

Coach: Dave Paulson

Pre-tournament record: 25-8, 13-1

Best win: Richmond

Surprising losses: Wagner, Army

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Mike Muscala, senior guard Darryl Shazier, sophomore guard Bryson Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, offensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Bison have won of their past 20 games. The last time they were that hot was 2006 when they knocked off Arkansas in the NCAA tournament as 9 seed. This year’s squad might have some of that magic in ‘em. Bucknell lost by 11 at Marquette and by four at Boston College. Pulling off an NCAA tournament win will mean amplifying a couple of things at which they thrive: Shooting more 3-pointers and hitting the defensive glass. The Bison make 40 percent of their 3s (D-I average is 34.4), but those 3s only account for 29 percent of their total points. If they boost that to 40 percent of their points and limit UConn’s second-chance opportunities, they’ll have a shot.

No. 15 Northern Colorado Bears

Location: Greeley, Colo.

Conference: Big Sky

Coach: B.J. Hill

Pre-tournament record: 21-10, 14-3

Best wins: Montana (twice)

Surprising losses: Louisiana Monroe, Denver

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Drew Beitzel, senior forward Chris Kaba, senior forward Neal Kingman.

Full team roster

Strengths: 3-point shooting, rebounding.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: The Bears are one of the tournament’s best stories. The school made the transition from Division II a few years ago and has only been eligible for postseason play since 2007. Now, a team with four seniors is off to its first NCAA tournament. Those seniors, led by Big Sky player of the year Devon Beitzel, can be fun to watch, too. Northern Colorado plays faster than most, doesn’t hesitate on 3-pointers and has pulled out its share of close games. That’s not promising for their tournament hopes, though. The berth is as good as it’ll get for the Bears.

No. 16 Hampton Pirates

Location: Hampton, Va.

Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic

Coach: Edward Joyner, Jr.

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

Best wins: Colorado State, Boston

Surprising losses: Florida A&M (twice)

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Darrion Pellum, junior guard Kwame Morgan, senior forward Charles Funches.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive pressure, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Shooting, rebounding.

Outlook: Hampton pulled off one of the biggest first-round upsets ever in 2001 when it beat No. 2 seed Iowa State. The odds of that type of upset happening again? Mighty slim. The Pirates struggle to score. They’re among the nation’s worst shooting and rebounding teams. That’s not their focus – defense is – but those are severe obstacles. Unless they can harass Duke like they did during MEAC play, they’re going to lose. And lose big.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Ten Things You Need To Know: Catch up on all of Saturday’s college hoops action

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College basketball went insane on Saturday.

Well, it was insane all week.

But Saturday was really nuts.

Here’s everything you need to know.


David Johnson exploded on to the scene with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks.

Louisville exorcised some demons.

Duke looked like a team that is banged up, can’t guard the four and lacks a go-to scorer.

A full breakdown of this game can be found here.


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.


But this game said a whole lot more about DePaul than it did about Butler.

I explained why right here.


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?


Seton Hall capped off an absolutely stellar week by going into Madison Square Garden and knocking off their biggest regional rival, St. John’s, on the road despite trailing by 13 points at the half.

That’s a big time win.

And Powell was, as you might expect, once again a big time player.

He scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half and made big shot after big shot down the stretch. This came just three days after he went for 29 points as Seton Hall erased a 10 point halftime deficit on the road against No. 5 Butler.

In fact, the Pirates are currently sitting at 6-0 in the Big East after a slow start to their season, and they already have won at DePaul, at Xavier, at Butler and at St. John’s.

And now they get three straight home games.

Kevin Willard’s club has put themselves in a great position to make a run at the 2020 Big East regular season title.


This was awesome.

Coach Cal was ejected on Saturday in the most mild-mannered way I’ve ever seen.

He was arguing with the refs about the way they were implementing the flop rule against his team, and — I think — he was given two technicals for being out of the coach’s box and staying out of the coach’s box to curse at the refs. Look at this:

The best part?

Kentucky was up 11 early in the first half, but they blew that lead. After going 3-for-4 on technical free throws, Arkansas held a 47-44 lead on a coach-less Kentucky team.

And how did the Cats respond?

A cool 17-2 run to put the game to bed in a 73-66 win.


The Houston we expected to see all season long showed up in Wichita on Saturday night.

The Cougars beat the No. 16 Shockers in their own building, 65-54, and it wasn’t really that close. Wichita State was down 49-27 at one point, allowing just one player to crack double-figures.

The Shockers lost two games this week and now sit a game off the pace in the American, behind Houston and Tulsa, who are tied for first.


Kansas State entered Saturday ranked 198th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric. James Madison, the 275th-best team in college basketball, and VMI, the 291st-best team in college basketball, ranked directly behind them. The only “high-major” players worse than Kansas State offensively this season?

Temple, South Florida, Virginia, East Carolina and Boston College.

West Virginia, on the other hand, entered Saturday ranked as the single-best defensive team in the entire sport. They were playing defense at a level that would rank among the very-best defensive teams that we have ever seen. Their four Big 12 opponents were averaging 51 points against them.

Kansas State had 42 points at halftime. They scored 84 points on the night. They won 84-68 to drop the Mountaineers two games out of first place in the Big 12 title race, because …


The Bears looked like they were going to be the top five team to blow a win they should not be blowing on Saturday.

Oklahoma State threw a 2-3 zone on the Bears, doing the exact same thing that Washington did to Baylor late in the only game that they lost thus far this season, and Baylor was lost for the first half. They trailed 36-24 at one point late in the half before slotting MAtthew Mayer at the high post and thwarting all of Oklahoma State’s plans.

In the end, however, the Cowboys still had a shot to win late, but that was until Devonte Bandoo banged home three threes in the final eight minutes, including two in a one minute span after the final TV timeout, to secure a 75-68 win.

Bandoo scored 14 points off the bench. He is the fourth-best guard on this Baylor roster.

Put another way, this team is deep, they are loaded, and the guys all the way down their bench can make the shots that beat you.

That’s scary.


The Aztecs trailed at the half but ran Nevada off the court after halftime, taking home a 68-55 win.

David Johnson shines as No. 11 Louisville beats No. 3 Duke, 79-73

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David Johnson scored all 19 of his points in the first half and added seven assists, four boards, three steals and a pair of blocks off the bench as No. 11 Louisville went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off No. 3 Duke, 79-73.

The Cards jumped out to a 25-10 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game as Duke struggled to protect the ball. The Blue Devils slowly chipped away at the lead and got within one point with three minutes left before Louisville put the game away.

Jordan Nwora finished with just six points on 3-for-12 shooting as he dealt with Duke’s best defender in Stanley, while Dwayne Sutton took advantage of a mismatch at the four and chipped in with 13 points.

Stanley led the way for the Blue Devils with 24 points and 11 boards. Tre Jones was 5-for-16 from the floor and Vernon Carey struggled with fouls, finishing with just 12 points and six boards to go along with six turnovers.

Here are three things that we learned in Louisville’s win:


First things first: Johnson says he’s OK. He told reporters after the game that the injury he suffered to his surgically-repaired left shoulder is nothing more than a bump or a bruise. Chris Mack was not worried about he while speaking at his postgame press conference. For those that missed it, Johnson took an awkward fall on his left shoulder with three minutes left in the game. He stayed on the ground behind the play, went to the bench with his left arm dangling by his side and headed back to the locker room before returning to Louisville’s bench for the final minutes. He did not return to the game.

So it sounds like he is going to be OK.

And 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.

He finished with 19 points, but 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.

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.


I try to avoid the content in this space to be entirely narrative-based, but I’m not going to be able to avoid it here.

So indulge me for a minute, OK?

This game really felt like a turning point in Louisville’s season. It felt like they rid themselves of quite a few demons by going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and winning the way that they won, and the biggest reason that I say that is because of what happened last year. I’m sure every Duke and Louisville fan will remember this quite clearly: The Cardinals blew a 23 point lead at home in the final 10 minutes and lost to the Blue Devils.

This year, the game was starting to look like it might play out the same way. Louisville led by 15 points in the first half, by 10 at halftime and had a cushion of at least three possessions for what felt like the entire second half before Matthew Hurt capped off a 9-0 run by hitting three free throws to tie the game at 58. What happened? Fresh Kimble immediately answered with an and-one bucket to take the lead back. Duke tied things up against at 63, and on the next possession Kimble hit a three to, against, take the lead back. Duke made multiple runs in front of the Crazies, and Louisville had an answer every single time.

And on the road, no less.

Louisville has not been great playing away from the Yum! Center, and they have not played tough against elite competition all that often this season. It sometimes felt like they didn’t realize just how good they can be when they actually play with some heart.

That it happened in a game where they blew a lead and still won against Duke while getting elite play out of the point guard spot just feels like everything coming together.

The Cards head home to face Georgia Tech and Clemson next week.

We’ll see if that take ends up being true.


The two biggest issues that there are on this Duke roster are that they lack someone that can truly lock up at the four, and they don’t have a go-to scorer in crunch-time if teams are going to collapse on Vernon Carey.

Hurt is who Louisville went after on Saturday night. It wasn’t Jordan Nwora, who was being guarded by Cassius Stanley for much of the night, but instead the likes of Dwayne Sutton, or Samuell Williamson, or whoever Hurt ended up guarding on a switch. The three that I mentioned Fresh Kimble hitting in that last section? That came against Matthew Hurt.

And Hurt was really good on the offensive end tonight. He finished with 16 points. He hit three threes. He had a tip-dunk. He also didn’t get a single defensive rebound, steal or block. If he added 16 points, how many was he responsible for giving up?

The other issue is one that we knew Duke was going to face this season. Tre Jones has definitely gotten better this season, and he definitely is still not a guy that you want being the player you’re calling up a play for in crunch time. Neither is Cassius Stanley, who is elite in transition and has proven himself a capable floor-spacer that can make things happen with his athleticism, but you’re not drawing up a play to get him the ball when you need a bucket against a set defense.

Carey is the answer, but between the foul trouble and the size that Louisville had inside, he was never able to get it going. And that could be a problem considering how many good teams around the country have plenty of size inside.

In a vacuum, I don’t think a road loss to Clemson and a home loss to Louisville is the kind of thing that should scare you off of thinking that the Blue Devils are the best team in the country. But a vacuum doesn’t take into account the matchup issues that those teams — who play two different styles — both exposed in Duke.

I’m worried.

If you’re a Duke fan, getting Wendell Moore healthy and Tre Jones back to 100 percent should be your biggest priority.

Diarra, Gordon lift Kansas State over No. 12 West Virginia

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Cartier Diarra tied a career high with 25 points, Xavier Sneed added 16, Dujuan Gordon had a career high 15, and Kansas State held off No. 12 West Virginia 84-68 for their first win in Big 12 play this season on Saturday.

Kansas State (8-9, 1-4 Big 12) went up by as many as 23, but a 15-0 run by the Mountaineers cut the lead to eight in the second half, thanks in part to seven turnovers in four minutes by the Wildcats.

West Virginia (14-3, 3-2) would get as close as six, but the Wildcats held on and won by 16.

Miles McBride and Chase Harler paced the Mountaineers with 11 points each, Gabe Osabuohein had 10 as West Virginia lost their first game when the trailed at halftime.

Turnovers proved costly for West Virginia as they committed 18 and Kansas State scored 28 off those mistakes.

Kansas State shot 59% from the field and held the Mountaineers to 45%. The Wildcats hit nine 3’s while West Virginia had 41 bench points.

With two minutes left in the first half, it was a fastbreak dunk by Antonio Gordon assisted by Dujuan Gordon that got the crowd on their feet pushing the Wildcat lead to 11.

Kansas State held a 17-point lead at halftime and shot 58% in the first 20 minutes of play.


Kansas State: This was the best game played by the Wildcats all season. They needed a win like this one before taking on their in-state rival up next.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had way too many turnovers and didn’t shoot the ball very well.


Kansas State travels to Kansas on Tuesday.

West Virginia hosts Texas on Monday.


For more AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Payton Pritchard three caps come-from-behind win for No. 8 Oregon at Washington (VIDEO)

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Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard hit one of the shots of the year on Saturday, as he buried this ridiculous, step-back three with the game tied in overtime to deliver a 64-61 win over Washington:

“They can put the blame on me. I can take all the criticism, but I will be right there to take that last shot, take that pass, make that play whether it goes good or bad,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard hit his sixth 3-pointer of the game with 3.4 seconds left in overtime and Oregon rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to stun Washington 64-61 on Saturday.

The Ducks (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) avoided being swept on their trip north by overcoming a 48-32 deficit with 10:22 remaining in the second half and handed Washington (12-7, 2-4) its third loss in four games.

Pritchard was the extent of Oregon’s offense, finishing with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He hit a floater with 1:08 left to give Oregon the lead and provided the winning 3-pointer despite tough defense from Washington’s Jamal Bey. Pritchard was able to get just enough space to get the shot clear before the shot clock expired.

The Ducks rallied from 19 down to beat Seton Hall earlier this season. But this one felt a bit sweeter getting the better of one of their rivals.

“I don’t think the length really bothers me. If you don’t have a hand up I’m going to let it fly,” Pritchard said.

Chandler Lawson added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Ducks, who rebounded from an ugly loss to Washington State on Thursday. Lawson had not scored more than eight points in a game this season and played just seven minutes in the loss to Washington State.

“If you don’t get started right, you’ve got to keep battling,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I was really disappointed Thursday night. We didn’t compete. We got outworked. … I thought we played a lot harder. We didn’t play well, but we did play a lot harder.”

Isaiah Stewart led Washington with 25 points and 19 rebounds. The freshman was dominant on the interior but didn’t get the help he needed from others. Marcus Tsohonis had 12 of his 14 points in the first half, but the Huskies were 0 of 11 on 3-pointers in the second half and overtime, and 14 of 23 at the foul line.

Washington scored just 24 points in the second half and overtime combined.

“It was like he was going to will us to the game,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said of Stewart. “He’s just special. … I wish we could have got that one for him today.”

Stewart opened overtime with a baseline reverse, but it turned out to be Washington’s only basket of the extra period.

Lawson scored in the lane with 2:10 left and Pritchard followed with a runner to give Oregon a 61-59 lead, its first since it was 9-7 in the opening minutes. Stewart hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 49 seconds left. Pritchard forced another deep 3-pointer and missed, but Chris Duarte got the offensive rebound and Pritchard didn’t miss given a second opportunity.


Washington led by 12 at halftime after perhaps its best first half of the season. The Huskies led 48-32 with 10:22 remaining in regulation after a pair of free throws by Stewart. Oregon then went on a 15-2 run to get back into the game, triggered by a change in its defense. The Ducks went to a full-court press and it flustered the Huskies. Washington scored just eight points the rest of regulation.

Meanwhile, Pritchard was the catalyst at the offensive end. He hit Oregon’s first 3-pointer of the second half to get the Ducks within 50-45 and then left a perfect pass for Lawson’s dunk to pull them within 50-47 with 4:26 left.

Pritchard later hit a 3 from about 35 feet with 1:08 left to pull Oregon even at 54. Stewart hit a pair of free throws, but Shakur Juiston scored underneath for the Ducks with 17.8 left to tie the game at 56.

Washington’s final possession was rushed and Jamal Bey’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back rim.

“The press changed the tempo of the game. … Got them on their heels a little bit,” Altman said.


Stewart is the third player this season to have at least 25 points and at least 19 rebounds in a game, joining Purdue’s Trevion Williams (36 points, 20 rebounds) and Rider’s Tyere Marshall (28 points, 20 rebounds). All three performances ended up coming in losses.


Oregon: The Ducks changed the starting lineup with Will Richardson getting his first start of the season and Anthony Mathis coming off the bench for the first time. The switch didn’t work and Oregon lacked the scoring punch Richardson had provided coming off the bench. Richardson had one point. Mathis scored just two.

Washington: The Huskies got Jaden McDaniels back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s win over Oregon State with an ankle injury. McDaniels struggled with his shot, hitting 1 of 9 from the field, and finished with five points.


Oregon: The Ducks return home to host USC next Thursday.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Utah next Thursday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Dotson and Azubuike lead No. 6 Kansas over Texas 66-57

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Devon Dotson’s left hip looks fine. And that’s good news for No. 6 Kansas.

Dotson returned to the lineup after sitting out a game with a hip pointer injury and gave the Jayhawks a big late 3-pointer and free throws down the stretch to lead Kansas over Texas 66-57 on Saturday.

Dotson scored 21 points, including the final seven of the game for the Jayhawks. His long 3-pointer with 2:49 put Kansas ahead by eight and four straight free throws in the final 39 seconds closed out the win.

“If we played without him today, we would not have won,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Dotson played nearly 39 minutes and afterward said he felt good.

“It felt great,” Dotson said. “Coming in, there were no restrictions. When I’m out there playing, I have no excuses. I’m getting treatment. It’s gonna be fine.”

Udoka Azubuike scored 17 points and a burst from him early in the second half allowed Kansas (14-3, 4-1 Big 12) to take the lead.

Kansas closed the game with a 12-3 run that started with consecutive baskets from Marcus Garrett. The Jayhawks got a big break when Garrett was initially called for a charge, but the foul was quickly reversed. The layup counted, Garrett made the free throw and Jayhawks led 59-54 before Dotson closed it out.

Garrett had a scary moment earlier when he landed hard after an off-balance shot attempt. He stayed on the floor for several minutes and then briefly went to the Kansas locker room. He returned a few minutes later and made the big plays.

“That was a remarkable recovery,” Self said. “I think (the fall) scared him more than anything else.”

Dotson’s 3-pointer was just the second of the game for Kansas, the best-shooting team in the Big 12 from long range. Kansas attempted only 10, opting instead for Dotson and Garrett to drive or to push the ball inside to Azubuike, who was locked in a battle under the basket with Texas’ Jericho Sims.

Sims scored a career-high 20 points for the Longhorns (12-5, 2-3) and tied the game at 54-all. Texas gave him little help from the outside. After averaging 12.5 3-pointers in their previous two games, the Longhorns were just 6 of 20 on Saturday.

“Those two (Sims and Azubuike) canceled each other out,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “”Their guards were the biggest difference in the game.”


Kansas: Saturday was the eighth time the Jayhawks made four or fewer 3-pointers and the third time in Big 12 play. Isaiah Moss, who started in Dotson’s place against Oklahoma and made six, took and made only one in 32 minutes against the Longhorns.

“Its going to catch up to us,” Self said. “We were fortunate today. We’ve got to be a team that knock (them) down. We’re not going to shoot as many at most.”

Texas: The Longhorns let what would’ve been a big upset get away. A win could have changed a lot for the Longhorns going forward, but instead Texas now has two home losses in its first five Big 12 games. The inconsistency of the 3-point shooting continues to be baffling. In all three Big 12 losses, Texas has made six or fewer from long range.

“This a game you’ve got to seize, that you’ve got to grab,” Smart said.


Texas guard Andrew Jones scored eight consecutive points for Texas in the first half in a 13-1 run that opened an eight-point lead. Jones didn’t score again and missed all four of his shots in the second half.

Smart lamented that Texas didn’t build a bigger lead. The Jayhawks pulled the game back within six by halftime.

“For it to be six at halftime, that’s a good half, but the way that we defended,” Smart said. “But if that lead is 10 or 12, that’s a big difference.”


The game had an extended break in the second half when a fan collapsed behind the Texas bench during a timeout. Emergency officials had to move several chairs off the Texas bench to take her out of the arena across the court on a stretcher.

Texas officials didn’t release any further information on the incident or the women’s condition.


Kansas hosts Kansas State on Tuesday.

Texas plays at No. 12 West Virginia on Monday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25