Bubble Banter: So what do we make of LSU, Indiana and Boise State?

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(This post will be updated throughout the day.)

READ MORE: Thursday’s Bubble Banter | Friday’s Bracketology

WINNERS

  • Davidson: I still think that the Wildcats are closer to the bubble’s cut-line than a lot of folks are implying at this point, but that doesn’t change the fact that today’s buzzer-beating win over La Salle should just about lock up their bid. Here’s why: Davidson would have a ways to go to drop to the wrong side of the bubble, but thanks to the bloodbath that was Thursday’s action for bubble teams, there aren’t enough teams close enough to actually threaten the Wildcats with an NIT trip. Think about it like this: Using our latest bracket, we can assume that the Wildcats are, at worst, the sixth-to-last team in the bracket. That means they’d need at least six teams to jump them in order to lose their bid. A loss to either Richmond or VCU won’t hurt all that much, and of the teams behind them, only Indiana, Tulsa, UCLA, Richmond and Rhode Island have yet to get knocked out of their league tournaments. They’re safe.
  • Temple: The Owls did what they needed to do against Memphis, getting a win and advancing to face SMU in the American semifinals. Temple is probably on the right side of the bubble as of today, and while today’s win does help, it certainly doesn’t lock them into a bid. Beating SMU would. A loss on Saturday wouldn’t be a killer, but it would make Selection Sunday quite stressful.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane got past Houston, which would have been the loss that kept them out of the NCAA tournament. As it stands, Frank Haith is probably on the wrong side of the bubble. I’m not convinced that Tulsa can get in without winning the automatic bid given the way the American bracket shook out; beating Cincinnati or UConn in the semifinals is not the kind of win that drastically changes a profile.
  • Purdue: The Boilermakers likely locked up their bid on Friday by beating Penn State. With two horrid non-conference home losses on their resume and an ugly non-conference strength of schedule, Purdue could not afford another “bad” loss. They were on the right side of the bubble entering the day, and losing to Wisconsin in the semifinals tomorrow won’t change that.
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LOSERS

  • LSU: LSU just couldn’t make it easy, could they? The Tigers lost (choked?) to Auburn in a thriller in the SEC tournament quarterfinals, and it’s a loss that I’m not sure the Tigers can afford. At the very least, they are going to be one of the most intriguing bubble discussions on Sunday. Let’s lay it out for you: LSU has 13 top 100 wins, but only three of those wins are against the top 50. They won at Arkansas and at West Virginia, which are two very impressive road victories, but they also lost to five (!!!) teams ranked outside the top 100 of the RPI, two of whom are ranked outside the top 200. The only reason they don’t have six sub-100 losses is that Tennessee is still, as of today, ranked in the top 100. Their non-conference schedule strength is 186th, and as we saw with SMU last season, that’s a major factor for the committee. It’s going to be a long, long 48 hours for Johnny Jones and company. They’re going to be rooting very strongly against everyone else on the bubble for the rest of the weekend.
  • Indiana: The Hoosiers lost to Maryland on Friday night in the Big Ten quarterfinals, meaning that they are going to end up being one of the most discussed bubble teams out there. Personally, I think they’re in, and I think that most bracket projections will say as much. They were in entering the day, and they lost to a top ten team where they had a shot to take the lead in the final two minutes. The issue would be whether or not the bubble teams behind them win the games they need to move past them in the pecking order, and for the most part, bubble teams have not had a good week (ahem, looking at you, LSU). They need teams like Tulsa, UConn and UCLA to lose. My guess: they’re in on Selection Sunday, but it’s going to be a long couple of days.
  • UCLA: The Bruins badly needed to land a win over No. 5 Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Friday night, and they came up short. That means that UCLA will have to wait it out until Selection Sunday, and for my money, they’re going to end up being on the wrong side of the bubble. They have wins over Oregon and Utah, which are nice, but they have three sub-100 losses, they’re just 5-10 against the top 100 and their only two road wins are at Stanford and at Arizona State. Compare that to LSU, who has 13 top 100 wins and three top 50 wins.
  • Boise State: The Broncos lost to Wyoming on Friday, which is far from a crushing loss. The Pokes are ranked 90th in the RPI, but their numbers are skewed by a couple of losses that they took while their star, Larry Nance Jr., was battling mono. The problem is that Boise State has just three top 50 wins — all top 30, including a win at San Diego State — and three sub-100 losses. They did win the Mountain West regular season title, but their non-conference schedule strength is 176th and they have just one other top 100 win. The complicating factor? This team actually got markedly better when Anthony Drmic made the decision to sit out the season in mid-December. Boise State is in a tough spot, and while they got helped out by the fact that seemingly every team behind them in the bubble pecking order lost, there’s still a good chance that they don’t end up hearing their name called. At this point, I think they’re out.
  • Colorado State: The Rams might be in some trouble after losing to San Diego State in the MWC semifinals. They have just two top 50 wins (Boise State and San Diego State) and they are just 5-5 against the top 100 with an ugly loss at New Mexico. That said, Larry Eustachy is a master of working the RPI, which is why the Rams currently are No. 25 in that ranking. If I had to guess, they’re probably looking at a play-in game.
  • Richmond: The Spiders wouldn’t have been a lock even if they had beaten the Rams on Friday, but they ended losing a thriller in the A-10 quarterfinals, which likely relegates them to the NIT.

STILL TO PLAY

Colorado State vs. San Diego State, 11:30 p.m.

Payne’s career game helps Florida beat No. 4 Auburn 69-47

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Omar Payne had the best game of his college career, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and led Florida to a 69-47 victory over No. 4 Auburn on Saturday.

Payne, a freshman from Kissimmee, was widely considered an afterthought in Florida’s highly touted recruiting class. Against the Tigers, he looked like a future lottery pick.

The 6-foot-10 forward dominated in the paint, scoring on tip-ins, putbacks and layups, and creating a mismatch nightmare for Auburn (15-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference). His three-point play, which came after an offensive rebound, put Florida (12-5, 4-1) up by 14 with a little more than 4 minutes to play.

The Gators sent the home crowd into a late frenzy – and to the exits – with a 14-0 run that included 3-pointers by Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. Fans chanted “over-rated” in the closing minutes.

Locke and Blackshear finished with 11 points apiece for the Gators, who haven’t lost at home to Auburn since 1996. Blackshear added a season-high-tying 16 rebounds.

The Tigers have lost two in a row since starting 15-0.

Danjel Purifoy was the only player in double figures for Auburn, which shot 25.5% from the field. He had 10 points.

The Tigers struggled out of the gate, missing 15 of their first 16 shots. But Florida failed to take advantage of Auburn’s sluggishness, turning the ball over far too often for coach Mike White’s liking.

Auburn kept it close thanks to being perfect (10 for 10) from the free throw line.

The Gators led by five at the break and quickly built a double-digit lead coming out of the locker room. Nembhard, Johnson and Blackshear made consecutive baskets and then Payne followed with a putback and a layup that pushed the lead to 38-27.

Florida looked like it might really pull away a few minutes later, but Samir Doughty answered with back-to-back 3-pointers. Auburn’s leading scorer missed all four shots in the opening 20 minutes and didn’t record a single positive statistic.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: The Tigers won’t win many, if any, games shooting like this. Purifoy made 3 of 11 shots and Doughty was 3 of 12 from the field.

Florida: The Gators finally look like a top-10 team. They opened the season ranked No. 6 but lost two of their first four games. White tweaked the offense, and the results are starting to show.

UP NEXT:

Auburn: Hosts South Carolina on Wednesday. The Tigers have lost four of the last six in the series.

Florida: Plays at LSU on Tuesday. The Gators have won four of the last five meetings, including two in overtime.

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

No. 5 Butler loses second straight as DePaul gets first Big East win

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Paul Reed scored 23 points and shot 8-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the line as DePaul finally found a way into the win column on Saturday, pounding No. 5 Butler at home, 79-66.

The Blue Demons jumped out to a 22-6 lead early in the first half, and outside of a late first half surge that cut the lead to five, were never really threatened by the Bulldogs. Jalen Coleman-Lands finished with 19 points and Romeo Weekms added 11 as Dave Leitao’s club was able to land their biggest win of the season despite the fact that leading scorer Charlie Moore finished with just nine points to go along with his eight assists.

It helps that Moore was the only player that did not shoot the ball well for the Blue Demons. He was 3-for-13 from the floor and 1-for-4 from three. The rest of the team shot 18-for-30 from the field and 9-for-13 from three.

The truth is that DePaul, who entered the game in sole possession of last place in the conference with an 0-4 record, has been much closer to being this good than they have been to being a typical, winless DePaul program. They won non-conference road wins at Iowa and Minnesota — and we know how hard it is to win on the road in the Big Ten — while beating Texas Tech in overtime in Chicago. Their four losses have come by a total of 20 points, one of which came in overtime at Villanova.

Put another way, DePaul has taken as many tough losses as anyone in league play.

They were never going to be an easy out.

Butler found that out the hard way.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start asking questions about the Bulldogs, who have now been outscored 123-88 in the last three halves of basketball that they have played. For a team that prides themselves on their defense, their execution and their ability to prepare for an opponent, this is worrisome.

The Bulldogs aren’t winning based on talent. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that is willing to say that Butler is more talented than DePaul. Where they make up the difference is in being able to blow up anything that a team wants to run against them while executing well enough offensively to be able to land a win.

They haven’t been able to do that since the first half of the loss to Seton Hall.

Now, this could be as simple as the Bulldogs shooting poorly and running into a couple of tough, athletic teams that got hot at the right time.

Or it could be a sign that Butler has been figured out.

Either way, the truth is that the Bulldogs needed to find an answer, because things do not get easier for them this week.

They head to No. 14 Villanova next.

No. 2 Baylor pushes winning streak to 15 with come-from-behind win at Oklahoma State

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STILLWATER, Okla. — Devonte Bandoo hit four threes in the final 11 minutes, including two in the last three minutes, as No. 2 Baylor rallied past Oklahoma State 75-68 for the Bears’ 15th straight victory. Oklahoma State has now lost five in a row.

Jared Butler scored 19 points and had six assists.

Baylor (15-1, 5-0 Big 12) has the second-longest active streak in the nation and the third longest in school history.

Freddie Gillespie had 17 points and four rebounds and Devonte Bandoo scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half for Baylor, which overcame a 12-point deficit in the last 20 minutes.

Isaac Likekele scored 16 points and added nine rebounds and five assists for Oklahoma State (9-8, 0-5). Cameron McGriff had 16 points and five rebounds while Thomas Dziagwa and Lindy Waters each scored 14. Oklahoma State shot 41%, the highest allowed by Baylor since Nov. 24, a span of 10 games.

The Bears trailed 47-35 with 14 minutes remaining but used an 18-4 run over the next four-plus minutes to get back in the game. When MaCio Teague hit a 3-pointer 8:41 left, Baylor had its first lead.

The teams exchanged leads four times down the stretch before the Bears sank seven of eight free throws in the final minute to seal it.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears entered the day having trailed for a total of just 22 minutes, 13 seconds, over their previous nine games. Their largest deficit in that span was a 20-15 margin in the first half of a 67-55 win over then-No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 11. Oklahoma State led 36-27 at the half, just the fourth time this season Baylor wasn’t up at halftime.

Oklahoma State: After shooting just 30% or less in three of their previous four outings, the Cowboys found their mojo. Their shooting percentage was the highest in five games.

UP NEXT

Baylor: The Bears have a quick turnaround, hosting Oklahoma on Monday.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys play at Iowa State on Tuesday.

No. 14 Villanova survives UConn, 61-55

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In a game with ever-changing momentum, Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels stepped up to make crucial shots as the Wildcats held on for a narrow 61-55 win over the Huskies.

In crunch time, the Wildcats turned to their experienced players — juniors Samuels and Collin Gillespie.

Samuels hit a three with 31 seconds left to give ‘Nova a four-point lead, ending the game with a team-high 19 points and going 4-of-6 from long. Collin Gillespie helped the Wildcats turn around a slow second-half start, scoring 10 straight after going scoreless for almost 27 minutes.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl played an important role in the Wildcats’ win as well, knocking down four critical free throws to extend the lead at the end of the game. The freshman crashed the boards for a total of seven rebounds, including three huge offensive boards.

Villanova (14-3) closed the game on an 18-7 run to pull off the victory, as UConn (10-7) gave it everything they had, keeping it close to the very end.

The Huskies got out to an early lead over the Wildcats, with Akok Akok making impressive plays on both sides of the court — turning a blocked shot into a three-pointer on the other end. Akok led the team with three blocks, grabbing two of five first-half blocks. UConn made clear why it is one of the nation’s best shot-blocking teams, totaling six blocks on the game and forcing Villanova to hit perimeter shots by taking away the paint.

After getting off to a slow start, Villanova shot lights out from beyond the arc in the first half, going 6-of-11 and utilizing spacing to avoid UConn’s high-level shot blocking. Six different Wildcats sank one from deep as ‘Nova finished 11-of-23 on the day.

After the game, Villanova coach Jay Wright commented on the team’s two slow starts on the day, saying the team had to learn how to play every possession intently.

While UConn wasn’t able to keep up from beyond the arc — shooting only 2-of-15 — the Huskies took advantage down low, with a whopping 36 points coming from inside the paint compared to the Wildcats’ 12.

Turnovers also plagued the Huskies, as they lost the ball 17 times, which the Wildcats capitalized on to score 23 of their 61 points.

UConn is clearly on the rise under the coaching of Dan Hurley and made it a tough game for Villanova. The Huskies will rejoin the Big East next season, making this a rivalry to watch moving forward.

Gators guard Andrew Nembhard has flu, could miss Auburn game

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida could be without point guard Andrew Nembhard against No. 4 Auburn on Saturday.

Coach Mike White said Nembhard has the flu and missed practice Thursday and Friday. The sophomore and Canadian national team player has started all 52 games in two seasons.

“We all better be ready to play potentially without him,” White said.

Nembhard is averaging 11.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds this season. He also ranks second on the team with 21 steals. If he doesn’t play, the Gators (11-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) would start one of two freshmen: Tre Mann or Ques Glover.

Neither option seems ideal against Auburn (15-1, 3-1), which starts four seniors including two in the backcourt.

“Great opportunity for freshmen guards,” White said. “All these guys want opportunities. They have to take advantage of it. We have to be ready.”

Although Florida has plenty of time remaining to bolster its postseason resume, White acknowledged that his team could use a victory against an Auburn team that sits 11th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings. The Gators have only one win against a team currently ranked in the NET top 50.

You’ve got to start taking advantage of some of them,” White said. “You want to play postseason and you want to play in that one tournament as opposed to the others, and you’ve got to win some of these.

“I don’t think any of them are do or die. I don’t think you put your team – especially this team – in the right mindset to execute (by saying that). But our guys also have to understand and we all have to understand that at this time of year – really from now to finish, really from the first game to finish – you’ve got to take advantage of some of these opportunities.”

It might be without Nembhard, who’s assist-to-turnover ratio is slightly better than 2 to 1.

“He’s one of the best guards in our league,” senior forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. said. “He’s somebody who calms us down on both ends of the plays, accountable on both ends. But I think we have some guys ready to step up, been really good in practice these last few days.

“I think we got a good chance of winning this one.”

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