Bubble Banter: Big wins for LSU, Xavier, Texas; why is Indiana in trouble and Georgia safe?

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(This post will be updated as the games are completed.)

Let’s have a conversation about Indiana, shall we?

The Hoosiers have now lost eight of their last 12 games after falling at home to Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. They’re 19-12 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten and headed for a first round Big Ten tournament game that they simply cannot afford to lose.

And to think, just six weeks ago, they were tied for first place in the conference and ranked in the top 25, fresh off of a 19 point win over Maryland.

At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to slot the Hoosiers on the wrong side of the bubble. I know that their win over Maryland was fluky and at home, but they smacked around the Terps, and that’s one of four top 40 wins they have. They’re 8-11 against the top 100 and their only bad loss came on the road against a Northwestern team that is better than their record would indicate.

Indiana’s profile is far from perfect, but when you put them up against Texas A&M, Tulsa, Texas, Davidson, Temple, BYU and the rest of the bubble, they actually look fairly strong.

That might change if the Hoosiers lose to, say, Northwestern in their Big Ten opener. The Hoosiers certainly aren’t safe.

But the sky hasn’t completely fallen just yet.

READ MORE: Latest Bracketology

WINNERS

  • LSU: The Tigers picked up a massive, massive win on Saturday, going into Bud Walton Arena and knocking off No. 18 Arkansas, which is one of the better road wins that you’ll come across for any bubble team this season. The win just about locks LSU into an NCAA tournament bid. They can still get tripped up by one of the league’s bottom-feeders in the SEC tournament, but even with another loss to a sub-150 team, LSU might be OK. They now have five top 50 wins, with the Arkansas win being their best on the season. They do have five losses to teams ranked outside the top 90, but it is really hard to argue with 12 top 100 wins.
  • Xavier: Creighton had a shot to win it at the buzzer, but the how is much less important than the what: Xavier won in Omaha, and now the Musketeers look like a good bet to get a big to the Big Dance on Selection Sunday. They have five top 50 wins and nine top 100 wins, but with four sub-100 losses on their profile, avoiding a loss to DePaul, Creighton or Marquette in the Big East tournament will be critical.
  • Texas: The Longhorns picked up a vital win over Kansas State in Austin to close out the regular season. Bear in mind, beating the Wildcats is not a “good” win, but the Longhorns’ profile is only bubble-worthy because they don’t have any bad losses. Their worst loss of the season came to Stanford at home, and the Cardinal were legitimately considered a potential top-two team in the Pac-12 at the time. With just two wins over top seven Big 12 teams and just a 3-11 record against the top 50, Texas needs all the help they can get right now. Their work is not done yet. They need at least one win in the conference tournament.
  • Temple: The Owls completed their sweep of UConn, beating the Huskies in Philly on Saturday. It’s a win they needed, but it remains to be seen if they have done enough to get into the tournament. Temple has just two top 50 wins and six top 100 wins, but they beat Kansas by 25 points. Only having one bad loss is a good thing, and they did win 10 of their last 12, but Temple is just 1-5 against the top three teams in the league.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs won at Auburn, and the consensus seems to be that will be enough to get Georgia into the Big Dance. I don’t understand that. Like Texas A&M, the Bulldogs don’t have any great wins. They’ve beaten two NCAA tournament-caliber teams, winning at Texas A&M and sweeping Ole Miss. But they also have four bad losses — South Carolina twice, Georgia Tech and Auburn. At 20-10 overall, I just don’t see how Georgia has a markedly better profile than, say, Indiana. Feel free to explain that one to me.
  • Purdue: The Boilermakers landed a key win over Illinois, one that strengthens their position on the bubble. They don’t have any great wins — their best is either Iowa at home or BYU on a neutral floor — but they are 9-9 against the top 100, which would be enough if they hadn’t lost to North Florida and Gardner-Webb at home in December. As it stands, they probably want to win at least one game in the Big Ten tournament to feel safe.
  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack landed a convincing win over Syracuse, one that will further solidify their NCAA tournament standing. I don’t want to say definitively that N.C. State is in the NCAA tournament, but with their trio of great wins — Duke, at North Carolina, at Louisville — and their strength of schedule, Mark Gottfried’s club should be able to rest easy on Selection Sunday Eve barring an awful loss in the ACC tournament.
  • Davidson and Boise State: The Wildcats and the Broncos avoided hurting themselves on Saturday. Davidson smacked around Duquesne and Boise beat Fresno State. Those wins don’t help their profiles outside of the fact that losses to sub-200 teams would have been killers. Both are still in the same spot they were at the start of the day: probably in right now, but with work to do to lock themselves into a bid.
  • Colorado State: The Rams won at Utah State, meaning, like Davidson and Boise State, they’re still on the right side of the bubble with work to do.
  • BYU: The Cougars avoided what would have been a disastrous loss to Santa Clara in the WCC semifinals, a loss that they could not afford as one of the teams on the bubble’s cut-line. I still think they need to get to the finals of their conference tournament and, at worst, lose to Gonzaga.
  • Miami: The best thing that you can say about Miami’s win over Virginia Tech is that they didn’t lose to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes are still on the wrong side of the bubble with some ground to make up in the ACC tournament.
  • Michigan State: I’m not sure if the Spartans were actually in trouble, but winning at Indiana locks up their bid.
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LOSERS

  • Every bubble team: Illinois State upset No. 8 Wichita State, meaning the Redbirds will be playing for the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid. Bid thief!
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies lost to Alabama at home on Saturday, meaning that they are now staring down the barrel of a potential trip to the NIT. The only NCAA tournament team that the Aggies have beaten is LSU, who they swept (and who beat Arkansas today), and while they’re 21-10 on the season, losing to Alabama at home — No. 90 in the RPI — is their worst loss of the season. My opinion of A&M can be read in full right here. I haven’t changed it at all.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost at home to Vanderbilt on Saturday evening, dropping Ole Miss ever closer to the cut line. For now, they’re probably safe, but it means that their margin of error in the SEC tournament is just that much smaller. Also working against the Rebels: three ugly non-conference losses to TCU, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal were in big trouble entering the day, but the good news was that they were playing at Arizona, meaning they had a terrific chance to land a great win. They didn’t. Arizona blew them out, putting Stanford in a position where they have to either win the automatic bid or beat the Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament to have a chance.
  • Illinois: The Illini really needed to win at Purdue on Saturday, but despite dominating the first 15 minutes in Mackey Arena, they head back to Champaign knowing they have some work to do in the Big Ten tournament. The Illini have a pair of great wins — Maryland at home and Baylor in a neutral floor — but they’re 5-11 against the top 100 with a loss to Nebraska. I’d have them among the first four out right now.
  • Oklahoma State: The Pokes lost at No. 20 West Virginia, and while that, in and of itself, doesn’t kill the Cowboys, they are now 8-10 in the Big 12. Oklahoma State lost five of their last six games, and while they’re 3-8 against the top 25, they’re 5-1 against the rest of the top 100. The concern? You have to factor all of that in with three sub-100 losses on their resume. I think they’re safe, but I’d strongly recommend winning a game in the Big 12 tournament.
  • Kansas State: The Wildcats had an outside chance of getting an at-large bid, but that went out the window with their loss at Texas on Saturday.
  • Pitt: The Panthers lost to Florida State today. They were already on the wrong side of the bubble, and this ensures that they will need to win the ACC’s automatic bid to go dancing.

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

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

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

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

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

His free throws sealed the win.

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

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

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

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

BIG PICTURE

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

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

STAT PACK

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

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

UP NEXT

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

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

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

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

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. THE BIG TEN STAYS WILD

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

Let’s start with the early game.

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

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

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

The late game was just as crazy.

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

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

This should give him some breathing room.

2. YOELI CHILDS IS BACK

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

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

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

But he’s back now.

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

3. HOUSTON SURVIVES UCONN

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

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

UConn ball.

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. No. 20 MEMPHIS LOST BY 40 TO TULSA

That is not a typo.

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

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

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

So good for Frank Haith.

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

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

“It’s pretty embarrassing.”

2. LUKA GARZA WENT NUTS AGAIN

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

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

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

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

3. VIRGINIA TECH TAKES DOWN NORTH CAROLINA

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

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

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

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

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

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

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

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

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

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

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

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

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

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

He’s not dressed for the game.

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

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure: