Bubble Banter: Kansas State’s profile is not as strong as you might think

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There are 23 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before. 

This post will be updated throughout the night.

You can see NBCSports.com’s latest bracket here.

Barring some kind of insanity to end the regular season, Kansas State (RPI: 38, KenPom: 38) is going to be in the NCAA tournament. They have six top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins.

But simply looking at the raw numbers doesn’t tell you everything about the Wildcats’ resume. Of those eight top 100 wins, only one game came away from the Octagon of Doom, and that was a “neutral site” game played against Gonzaga in Wichita.

Kansas State is 1-6 on the road in Big 12 play after getting drubbed by Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. The win? At TCU. They also lost to Northern Colorado on the season’s opening night and were beaten by Charlotte and Georgetown (by 27!) in Puerto Rico.

With the state of the bubble this season, no team with six top 50 wins will miss the dance. But don’t be surprised to see Kansas State end up with a lower seed than you would expect.

THE REST OF THURSDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

Winners:

  • Georgetown (RPI: 62, KenPom: 58) was blown out by Seton Hall for the second straight time this past week, which really hurt the Hoyas. They bounced back on Saturday, however, knocking off Xavier and keeping themselves in the conversation. According to our Dave Ommen, they entered the game just on the wrong side of the cut-line.
  • Baylor (RPI: 44, KenPom: 39) won at West Virginia on Saturday, extending their winning streak to four games and have probably gotten themselves into the tournament and maybe even out of the play-in game. They still have to play at Texas and Kansas State and how Iowa State, however.
  • Stanford (RPI: 49, KenPom: 33) picked up a huge win, knocking off UCLA at home on Saturday. The Cardinal are all but in the tournament as of today. Their last four games are tough, however: at the Arizona schools then hosting the mountain schools. As long as they don’t lose all four, they should be in.
  • Oklahoma State (RPI: 47, KenPom: 30) beat Texas Tech at home, which, on paper, isn’t huge. But it snaps a seven-game losing streak and it marked the return of Marcus Smart, who was terrific. If the Pokes are back, they are a tournament team.
  • Clemson (RPI: 70, KenPom: 45) has a win over Duke, which is keeping them in the mix for now. I’m not sure they can withstand another loss, however.
  • Saint Joseph’s (RPI: 40, KenPom: 66) won on the right side of the cutline entering Saturday, and that won’t change after a win over Fordham.
  • Dayton (RPI: 57, KenPom: 57) won by three against Duquesne on Saturday, meaning that the Flyers now have a great chance to make a run at a bid. Their last four games: at Saint Joseph’s, UMass, at Saint Louis, Richmond. They’ll need to win at least two of those games to have a chance.
  • Arkansas (RPI: 69, KenPom: 52) beat Mississippi State, keeping them within striking distance of a bid if they can win at Rupp next week.
  • Richmond (RPI: 45, KenPom: 67) knocked off La Salle at home, keeping their hopes for a bid alive. Their rivalry game with VCU in two weeks may end up being for their at-large lives.
  • BYU (RPI: 37, KenPom: 46) avoided a letdown after knocking off Gonzaga on Thursday by beating Portland. The Cougars have a nice RPI and seven top 100 wins, but they have four sub-100 losses and need to win out to have a real chance.
  • Marquette (RPI: 75, KenPom: 56) keeps their hopes alive win an overtime win at DePaul. But with just a 4-10 record against the top 75 and one win against the top 50, the Golden Eagles are in a tough spot. The good news? Their last four games are against teams in the tournament or on the bubble.

Losers:

  • Tennessee (RPI: 51, KenPom: 24) was one of the last teams in our latest bracket. They would probably feel much more comfortable about their tournament standing if it wasn’t for Antwan Space.
  • Ole Miss (RPI: 76 KenPom: 81) is more or less out of the bubble discussion after losing a hard-fought game against No. 2 Florida at home on Saturday.
  • St. John’s (RPI: 53, KenPom: 29) had a chance to more or less lock up a bid at Villanova, but the Johnnies lost a heart-breaker. They’re one of a handful of teams on the cut-line right now, meaning next week’s visit from Xavier is all the more important.
  • Colorado (RPI: 24, KenPom: 60) was run off the court by Arizona. The Buffs play their last three on the road, and while they have a strong computer profile, the key is how they will be judged without Spencer Dinwiddie. Don’t go 0-fer down the stretch.
  • Minnesota (RPI: 42, KenPom: 49) got run off of the court by Ohio State in the second half and now finds themselves in a position where they have lost six of their last eight games, including ugly losses to Northwestern Purdue and Illinois. Minnesota is right on the cut line as of now.
  • Xavier (RPI: 52, KenPom: 46) The Musketeers were embarrassed by Georgetown in DC on Saturday afternoon. Chris Mack’s club is slowly inching their way towards the cut-line. A trip to NYC to play St. John’s next week is suddenly a huge game. They also still get Creighton and Villanova at home, so chances are there to lock a bid up.
  • West Virginia (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61) is still trying to dig themselves out of a hole, and losing at home to fellow Big 12 bubbler Baylor won’t do them any favors. They probably need to win two of the following: at Iowa State, at Oklahoma, Kansas.

Miles Kelly leads Ga. Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

Illinois v Maryland
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NEW YORK – Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation – a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Marcus Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

Shannon then converted a reverse layup and finished off a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining. Jayden Epps hit a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

Texas took its only double-digit lead when Dillon Mitchell hit a layup with 8:28 left. Illinois cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3 by Melendez nearly four minutes later. After Cunningham hit an open 3 with 4:15 remaining, Si’Jabari Rice made a 3 for a 64-58 lead.

Allen found Cunningham for an open jumper that counted when officials called goaltending on Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins. That gave Texas a 65-61 lead with with 1:51 remaining.

Carr’s rainbow jumper in the lane made it 68-63 with a minute left and Illinois had a 3-pointer by Melendez waved off because it called timeout with 45.3 seconds left. After the timeout, Epps made an open corner 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

Hunter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up Epps’ tying free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 17. But only two of them came in the final 10-plus minutes of regulation or overtime. Illinois’ 15th turnover was an offensive foul by Mayer, which sent him to the bench with four fouls with 10:42 remaining.

Texas: The Longhorns had little offense beyond Allen and Hunter. While the duo was a combined 13 of 29, the rest of the team missed 24 of 40 shots.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday. The Illini lost their conference opener to No. 13 Maryland.

Texas hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic on Saturday.

Clark, Gardner lift No. 3 Virginia past James Madison, 55-50

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kihei Clark scored 18 points, Jayden Gardner had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 3 Virginia beat feisty in-state rival James Madison 55-50 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (8-0), who lost starting guard Reece Beekman to a right leg injury early in the first half, prevented the Dukes (7-3) from winning a second straight December game in Charlottesville. James Madison beat Virginia 52-49 last Dec. 7.

Clark had seven assists while playing nearly 39 minutes with Beekman sidelined.

“Kihei gave everything he had and I had to, you know, ride him,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Sure, he missed some free throws. And I know he made some mistakes, but you could just see him, you know, how tough-minded he was.”

Dukes coach Mark Byington said he told Clark – who’s playing his fifth season for Virginia – after last year’s game that he loved watching him play.

“He’s seen everything and nothing you’re going to do is going to surprise him,” Byington said. “There’s nothing Kihei Clark hasn’t seen out there, and he’s poised. I mean, you can’t rattle him. … So I told him this time I was like, `Look, I better never see you in college basketball again.’ But he’s one of my favorite players to watch just because he’s tough, talented, and he’s a winner.”

Takal Molson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for James Madison, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 7:47 to play. Gardner responded for Virginia by scoring five straight points in a 9-1 run.

The Cavaliers kept the Dukes in the game by missing eight of 13 free throws over the last six minutes.

Molson made an acrobatic layup while being fouled with 1:51 left, but he missed the free throw. He scored again with 1:01 left, pulling the Dukes within 52-50, but freshman Ryan Dunn answered with a strong move on the baseline for Virginia with 35 seconds to play.

James Madison threw the ball away on its ensuing possession.

BIG PICTURE

James Madison: The Dukes came into the game leading the nation in scoring (93.3 points per game) and having scored as many as 95 points five times. They were shooting 52.7% for the year, but made just four of their first 19 shots and finished 15 of 55 (26.9%). Vado Morse scored 11 points, the only other JMU player in double figures.

“Yeah, we knew how good they were and they showed it in spots tonight,” Gardner said. “But I think you saw a lot of resiliency tonight on the defensive end getting crucial stops.”

Virginia: The Cavaliers played the final 36 minutes without Beekman and gave extensive minutes to freshman Isaac McKneely. Virginia will hope Beekman, its third-leading scorer and a primary ballhandler and defender, recovers in time for its showdown with No. 1 Houston on Dec. 17.

UP NEXT

The Dukes return home to play Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Virginia has a 10-day break before hosting the top-ranked Cougars.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.

No. 6 UConn star Azzi Fudd out 3-6 weeks with knee injury

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STORRS, Conn. — Sixth-ranked UConn’s top scorer, Azzi Fudd, is expected to be out three to six weeks because of a right knee injury she suffered during her team’s weekend loss to No. 5 Notre Dame, a university athletic spokesperson said.

The sophomore guard was injured in the first half of the game when a teammate collided into her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way.

“I think she’ll be all right,” coach Geno Auriemma said afterward.

Fudd entered the game averaging 24.0 points but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes in the team’s first loss of the season.

The athletic spokesperson didn’t specify the type of knee injury Fudd sustained.

She underwent evaluation and an MRI confirmed the injury, the spokesperson said.

The Huskies host Princeton next.