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Breaking down Indiana’s historically bad defense, and why their season’s at a crossroads


DURHAM, N.C. — Before we can talk about what’s wrong with Indiana on the defensive end of the floor, before we can even think about discussing how to fix the issues that are plaguing the Hoosiers, we need to understand just how bad things are right now.

On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers went into Cameron Indoor Stadium — a place where Duke hasn’t lost a non-conference home game since Feb. 26, 2000 — and shot 50.7 percent from the floor, hitting 7-for-17 from beyond the arc while turning the ball over just nine times. They finished the night scoring 1.19 points-per-possession (PPP).

On the road.

Against the No. 7 team in the country.

And they lost by 20.

That’s incredibly difficult to do.

But that’s what happens when a defense allows an opponent to more-or-less look like the Harlem Globetrotters. Chew on this for a minute: Duke finished the night, according to KenPom, scoring 1.52 PPP, an insanely high number regardless of who the opponent is. This didn’t come against some run-of-the-mill opponent that Duke paid five figures to fill a spot on their schedule. It came against Indiana. The last time a team scored more than 1.5 PPP against a high-major opponent came in March of 2011, when Ohio State whipped up on Wisconsin at home.

That night, the Buckeyes shot 14-for-15 from three.

That was an NCAA record.

So it’s not exactly stretching the truth to say that Indiana, on Wednesday night in Durham, North Carolina, put together one of the worst defensive performances in NCAA history.


“I’m sure they would have wanted to play better defense,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “But we were playing good offense.”

“For a period of time there, we just kind of scored.”

Once we get past the analytical breakdowns, once we get over the discussion of whether or not Indiana should be a man-to-man team or strictly play zone or continue to throw junk defense after junk defense out there, hoping the powerhouses in the Big Ten aren’t as adept at figuring them out as Duke was on Wednesday, what you come down to is that quote from Krzyzewski.

A quote as unintentionally damning as any of Duke’s 19 offensive rebounds or 11 three-pointers.

“For a period of time there, we just kind of scored.”

And he’s right.

Indiana was up 24-20 with 9:30 left in the first half and Duke proceeded to close the half with a 31-18 run in which they scored on 14 of their 15 possessions. Twice, during that stretch, the Blue Devils got offensive rebounds off of missed free throws, which is inexcusable.

Here’s the kicker: Duke really didn’t do anything complicated offensively. This wasn’t some magisterial coaching performance by the man with more wins than any one else in the sport, the discovery of a fatal flaw in Indiana’s defensive schemes. Duke’s game-plan was as simple as simple gets. They wanted to isolate Bryant in ball-screen actions against man-to-man because Bryant cannot guard ball-screen actions against man-to-man. They wanted to attack Indiana’s defenders off the dribble because Indiana’s perimeter players can’t stop dribble penetration. They wanted to get Jefferson the ball in the high-post against IU’s zone because Jefferson could distribute from that spot on the floor. And they wanted to attack the offensive glass because Indiana’s front line has no idea the kind of physicality that it takes to rebound the ball at this level.

That’s basic stuff.

And Indiana let them do it, all of it. Whatever Duke wanted to do on Wednesday, they did.

The part that frustrates the Hoosier faithful, the reason that my mentions on twitter filled with vitriolic tweets from people with red IU logos in their avatar every time I happened to mention Indiana’s defense, is that none of this is new. None of it is. Not just this season, either. This was Indiana’s issue last year, when they finished 214th nationally in defensive efficiency despite having one of the nation’s ten most potent offensive.

I spoke with multiple coaches that have handled scouting and game-planning for the Hoosiers, and the answers were all the same. They were all answers that I probably could have gotten if I just talked to the Cameron Crazies sitting behind me:

  • “They’ve been awful in ball-screen coverages. Watching the tapes of the [their] games, against their man-to-man defense, we wanted to take advantage of that.”
  • “We wanted to put them in as many step-up ball screens as possible to get our guards going down hill, let our guards try to come off it and make plays.”
  • “You slow them down offensively by making them take the ball out of bounds.”

That last quote is an angle I didn’t even think about until.

This Indiana team really is an offensive juggernaut. They were last year and they are again this year. They have a trio of guards who are really difficult to keep out of the lane, they’re loaded with shooters and Troy Williams is a matchup nightmare at the four spot, but perhaps more than anything, where they’re the most dangerous is in transition because it’s just so difficult to locate all of the guys that are able to shoot on this team.

But that transition game, that potent offensive attack gets hurt because IU can’t get stops, meaning they can’t get out and run, meaning the best part of their offensive arsenal is limited because they’re unable to get stops.

The way that I see it at this point, there are two main issues with Indiana’s defense. One of them is fixable, and one of them may not be:

The biggest issue at this point is that the Hoosiers are not a team with a defensive identity. Case in point: when you play Duke, you know what they are going to do on the defensive end of the floor. Opposing coaches don’t even need to bother watching them on that end of the floor. They can use the same scouting reports that they did 20 years ago.

The Blue Devils play half-court man-to-man. They extend their defense on the wings, taking away swing passes, and they switch all exchanges 1-through-4. What this does is eliminate the ability for opponents to get into their sets and run their offense and forces offenses to rely heavily on the ability of their guards to make plays going one-on-one. They also don’t want to help on drives, particularly when they’re playing a team like Indiana, a team with a myriad of snipers salivating for their next rhythm, catch-and-shoot three. It puts the onus on individual perimeter defenders. They have to stop their man or they’re giving up a bucket. This is why teams with talented play makers in the back court — like, for example, Miami last season — have success against Duke.

Indiana doesn’t have an identity defensively.

I spent my Wednesday night sitting court side, trying to track what the Hoosiers were doing defensively. I counted at least five different defenses that they played: man, a 2-3 zone, a 1-1-3 zone, a 1-2-2 press and a defense where they switched between man and zone in the middle of the possession.

“They were going man and then turning their man to a zone,” Jefferson said. “It was really weird. You don’t see that a lot. It was kind of different.”

The problem was that it was difficult to identify what, exactly, they were running because, at times, I’m not convinced the players actually knew themselves. It was unnecessarily complicated, and when you’re a team that’s struggling to find their way on the defensive end of the floor, the answer isn’t to start trying a myriad of junk defenses.

“No question you have to simplify,” one high major coach told NBCSports.com. “Be good at one defense. Focus on doing one right. If you try to have an elaborate defensive package, you’ll end up being lukewarm at them all. They need to analyze what they do best and stick to it.”

As of today, according to Synergy’s logs, Indiana’s man-to-man defense is their best defense, at least on a per-possession basis. But the problem is that A) that man defense isn’t very good at all, and B) those numbers don’t factor in that they’ve played games against teams like Alcorn State, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay.

Talk to the coaches that scout them, that game-plan for them, and it’s fairly clear: Indiana cannot play man-to-man, not unless they get markedly better at it. Crean knows this. His press conference after last night’s loss lasted all of four minutes and three questions from the media. And when he wasn’t snapping at reporters for asking if he was concerned about just how atrocious his team was defensively, he repeatedly said things like “We were not nearly good enough on the ball tonight defensively” or “We didn’t get enough rebounds.” He made sure to point out — three times — that it’s only December 3rd and we’re only eight games into the season. They have time to get better.

But where Crean believes the issues they have defensively are a result of effort and execution, that may not actually be the case.

Which brings me to Indiana’s second issue:

“I don’t think it’s an effort thing. A lot of it’s personnel driven,” another high-major coach said. “I don’t know if they’ve got the quickest bigs. That has a lot to do with it. I think you’re going to see them play more zone as the year goes on because of it, because everyone is going to take advantage of [their man defense].”

Bryant just isn’t ready to be the game-changing defensive presence we thought he would be, and that’s not something that is an indictment on Crean or Bryant. He’s a freshman big man and freshmen big men tend to take time to adjust to the college level. In high school, they’re essentially told to stand in the paint, be really tall and get the rebounds and block the shots that tall people are supposed to.


He has to learn defensive schemes and be able to move his feet on the perimeter. He has to deal with trying to rebound the ball against the likes of Marshall Plumlee, a physical 7-foot senior that spent the summer in the national guard, and Amile Jefferson, as savvy of a college four as you’re going to find.

It would be best if he could be a complimentary piece to a front line at this point, much the way Diamond Stone is at Maryland.

But Indiana doesn’t have that luxury. Hanner Mosquera-Perea is gone. Emmitt Holt is gone. If Bryant isn’t in the game, Crean’s center is Max Bielfeldt, a 6-foot-7 land warrior that averaged career-highs of 5.1 points and 3.6 boards as a redshirt junior at Michigan last season.

Ready or not, Bryant has to play.


That is the crux of Indiana’s issues defensively, and I promise that I’m not trying to pin this all on the play of a freshman. That’s not fair. If anything, the blame falls on the coach — and the former players that prioritized weed and booze over playing for the Hoosiers —  for putting him in a situation where he has to play 30 minutes a night.

There’s so much more at play here.

James Blackmon Jr., Yogi Ferrell and Robert Johnson are all quick enough to be very good perimeter defenders if they want to be. To this point in the season, they haven’t been.

Troy Williams has the athleticism to be a game-changer in this system, a guy that can grab a defensive rebound and lead the break himself. He didn’t get a rebound in the first half and finished with just three on the night.

Speaking of rebounding, Duke grabbed 19 of an available 35 offensive rebounds. That should never happen. Bryant goose-egged on the glass.


Indiana’s starting center didn’t get a single rebound in a game where Duke got 19 offensive rebounds. The Hoosiers leading rebounder was Robert Johnson, who grabbed six boards. Two of them came in the final five minutes which is the only reason that Indiana’s leading rebounder was “deadball rebounds”, a stat used when a carom goes out of bound and ends up in their possession.

Indiana’s personnel isn’t ideal, but the effort isn’t there, either.

They were humiliated on national television on Wednesday night, putting their season at a crossroads. If things don’t change, if the Hoosiers can’t figure out a way to play with pride defensively, they’re going to end up missing the NCAA tournament.

And Crean may not be able to last the season in the pressure-cooker that Bloomington has become.

All-out brawl mars the end of Jackson State-Prairie View A&M game

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After a chippy end to Prairie View A&M’s 70-61 win over Jackson State on Monday night, several players were involved in a fight that came after the buzzer sounded and knocked over fans sitting courtside.

The skirmish started during the handshake line, when Jackson State’s Dontelius Ross appeared to take exception to something that was said by Prairie View’s Darius Williams. He was initially held back, but the melee continued elsewhere on the floor.

Here is another angle of the brawl:

Monday’s Things To Know: Kansas is ready for Baylor, UNC drops another heartbreaker

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Monday was a slow night for college basketball, but we did get a couple of fun finishes around the country.

Here are the three things that you need to know:


No team in the country has suffered more soul-crushing losses than the Tar Heels have this season.

Remember when they lost to Virginia Tech in double-overtime? Remember when they lost to Clemson in the Dean Dome for the first time ever because Roy Williams forgot to tell his team to foul up three? What about the time they lost to Boston College because Brandon Robinson sprained his ankle while “fouling” a three-point shooter with 17 seconds left? We all remember the collapse against Duke, but did you see Tomas Woldetensae’s game-winning three for Virginia on Saturday?

And if that wasn’t enough, the Tar Heels lost at Notre Dame on Monday night when Nate Laszewski hit a three with 1.8 seconds left for a 77-76 win in South Bend.

That is now six straight losses for the Tar Heels, if you’re scoring at home. Four of the six are one possessions losses. They lost by six at Florida State in a game they led by eight late in the first half, too. They are really not all that far away from being a team with a pretty good record, but as it stands, they are now going to finish the season under .500.

It’s been a tough, tough season for the Tar Heels.


Zach Freemantle, a freshman forward for the Musketeers, scored four points in the final 10.4 seconds as Xavier landed a key win at St. John’s on Monday night.

The Musketeers are still fighting for a spot in the NCAA tournament. They do have some room to spare right now, but if they can find a way to win out during the regular season, the Musketeers will have a shot of climbing up past the 8-9 game. They’ve now won four of their last five games.


Kansas has picked a great time to get hot.

On Saturday, the Jayhawks put up 87 points — the most points they have scored in regulation against a high-major opponent this season — in a 17 point win over Oklahoma on Saturday. They shot 11-for-22 from three in that game.

On Monday, they Jayhawks put up 91 points after shooting 12-for-27 from three against Iowa State. Marcus Garrett scored 24 points on Saturday. Devon Dotson scored 29 points on Monday.

Why is this important?

Because the Jayhawks play No. 1 Baylor in Waco on Saturday. When these two teams last faced off, the Bears beat the Jayhawks 67-55 in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. They’ll be ready for the rematch.

Bubble Watch: Breaking down every team in at-large conversation

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It’s that time of the year again, which means that we are diving head first into our annual NCAA tournament bubble watch.

The way that it will work is simple: We’ll be looking at every team that our Dave Ommen, the best bracketologist in the business, considers in the mix for an at-large bid. In an effort to keep this somewhat manageable, we are going to assume that the top 36 teams in the field — every team that is a No. 9-seed or above — is “off the bubble”. This does not mean those teams are a lock to dance, it just means that they have given themselves enough room for error that we can take them out of the conversation until they do something dumb.

Dave’s latest bracket can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

So with all that in mind, let’s get into the full NCAA tournament bubble watch:


TOP 9: Duke (NBC: 2), Florida State (NBC: 2), Louisville (NBC: 4)

VIRGINIA (NET: 55, NBC: 11): Tomas Woldetensae hit a three with a second left on the clock to beat North Carolina (95) in Chapel Hill on Saturday. The Wahoos are now 17-7 overall with a 7-6 mark against the top two Quads thanks to this win. They do have three Quad 1 wins, but just one of them — Florida State (15) at home — is a surefire Quad 1 win to go along with a Quad 3 loss at Boston College (143). Perhaps the biggest issue is that UVA has just two potential Quad 1 wins left on their schedule. They can’t afford slip-ups, and could really use a win over Duke (6) or Louisville (7) next month. But as of today they are in a pretty good spot.

N.C. STATE (NET: 61, NBC: First four out): The Wolfpack landed their third Quad 1 win of the season by going into the Carrier Dome and picking off Syracuse (69) on Tuesday night, but they followed that up with their third Quad 3 loss, a 71-68 loss at Boston College (143). N.C. State has just one win over a top 50 team — a home win over Wisconsin (33) — but they do have those three Quad 1 road wins. Three Quad 3 losses weigh things down quite a bit, but if they’re going to get to the NCAA tournament, they can earn it this week when they host Duke (6) and Florida State (14).


TOP 9: Houston (NBC: 8)

WICHITA STATE (NET: 46, NBC: 10): The Shocker shook off a recent three-game losing streak with back-to-back impressive wins against the bottom of the AAC. They have beaten VCU (52) and Oklahoma (47) at home, and they don’t have any truly terrible losses, but with just three potential Quad 1 games left on their schedule — all of which are on the road — the Shockers need to get hot, and soon. I think they need to win two of at Cincinnati (51), at SMU (67) and at Memphis (60)

MEMPHIS (NET: 59, NBC: NExt four out): The Tigers are now in the midst of a three-game losing streak after losing yet another nailbiter at UConn (71). They’ve now lost their last three games by a total of 11 points, one of which came in overtime. In total, they have lost five of their last eight and seven of their last 12 games, and they are playing without D.J. Jeffries, their second-leading scorer. They have more Quad 3 losses (two) than Quad 1 wins (one) and the two best teams that they have beaten on the season are on the bubble. I don’t think this ends well for Memphis.

CINCINNATI (NET: 48, NBC: Play-in game): Cincinnati avoided disaster by beating East Carolina in overtime on Sunday. It’s their third straight overtime game: they beat Memphis (60) and home and lost at UConn (71). They’ve won seven of their last eight games and nine of their last 11, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are two major problems with Cincinnati’s resume right now: They don’t have an elite win and the best win available to them during league play is at Houston (29) in two weeks. They do have a pair of Quad 1 wins and an 8-5 mark against the top two Quads, but with three Quad 3 losses to their name, there is still some ground for them to makeup if they want to feel comfortable. They need to keep on winning, but the Bearcats are probably in the NCAA tournament as of today. My gut says they do enough to get there.


TOP 9: Dayton (NBC: 2)

VCU (NET: 42, NBC: Off the bubble): The Rams are in a terrible spot after losing three of their last four games, including a blowout loss at Richmond (45) on Saturday. Ig they do not beat Dayton (5) on Tuesday next week, than discussing the rest of their resume will not matter. They will not be a tournament team. We’ll talk Wednesday.

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 34, NBC: 11): URI did what they needed to do and picked off St. Joseph’s (237) at home on Saturday. They’re 19-6 overall and they have just one Quad 1 win, but they are 6-5 against the top two Quads. The loss to Brown (219) is ugly, but as long as URI avoids the landmines on their schedule, I think they can get an at-large even with a loss to Dayton (5) at home in March.

RICHMOND (NET: 52, NBC: Play-in game): The Spiders picked up a win in the toughest game they have left on their schedule, beating VCU (52) by 18 points at home. For my money, the Spiders’ at-large hopes are a longshot. I cannot see how they are going to be able to get enough wins to stay on the right side of the cutline without a win over Dayton (5). But stranger things have happened, and they could end up getting another shot at the Flyers in the Atlantic 10 tournament.


TOP 9: Baylor (NBC: 1), Kansas (NBC: 1), West Virginia (NBC: 5), Texas Tech (NBC: 8), Oklahoma (NBC: 9)

No one on the bubble.


Top 9: Seton Hall (NBC: 3), Villanova (NBC: 3), Creighton (NBC: 3), Butler (NBC: 4), Marquette (NBC: 6), Xavier (NBC: 9)

GEORGETOWN (NET: 43, NBC: Play-in game): Without question, the biggest bubble winner the week is Georgetown, who landed their fifth Quad 1 of the season and by far their best win of the year by going into Indianapolis and knocking off Butler (20). There are two major problems with Georgetown’s NCAA tournament profile: The first is that they already have ten losses, but some of that is explainable: They are 5-9 against Quad 1 opponents and 9-10 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents. They have played 19 games against top 75 teams. That’s a lot of good games, and a 9-10 record against them is hardly a bad thing. The other issue was a lack of elite wins, but they already had a win over Creighton (13) in their back pocket, and now they can add a road win over a top 20 team to the mix.


TOP 9: Maryland (NBC: 2), Penn State (NBC: 4), Michigan State (NBC: 5), Iowa (NBC: 6), Ohio State (NBC: 6), Illinois (NBC: 7), Michigan (NBC: 7), Wisconsin (NBC: 8), Rutgers (NBC: 9)

INDIANA (NET: 63, NBC: 10): Indiana is 16-9 on the season and 6-8 in the Big Ten, which is not ideal. Neither is their 1-6 record on the road. But the Hoosiers do have four Quad 1 wins and are sitting at 6-9 against the top two Quads without a single loss to a team that ranks outside the top 50. They’ve beaten three top 20 teams at home. Indiana fans are losing their minds, but they are in a better spot right now than they realize. Beating someone other than Nebraska (175) on the road would certainly make a different.

PURDUE (NET: 33, NBC: FIRST FOUR OUT): The biggest issue currently facing Purdue after losing at Ohio State (18) is that they now have 12 losses on the season, including a pair of Quad 3 losses, and the rest of their schedule is absolutely brutal. The most losses and at-large team has ever had is 15. For context, Indiana last season was 17-15 with six Quad 1 wins and nine Quad 1 and 2 wins and they were left out. Purdue is 3-9 against Quad 1 opponents and 7-10 against the top two Quads with a 3-7 record on the road. Their best road win is at Indiana (58). They’re in a tough spot right now.

MINNESOTA (NET: 40, NBC: Off the bubble): After blowing a late, eight point lead to Iowa (28) at home, the Gophers have lost four of their last five and five of their last seven games. They are 4-10 against Quad 1 opponents and sit at 6-12 against the top two Quads. Their 12-11 record on the season is certainly a problem, but their “worst” loss is DePaul (67) at home. The biggest red flag with Minnesota is that they have just one win away from home on the season — at Ohio State (15). They need to start winning, but they are in a place where getting hot for two weeks will be enough to get them up as high as a No. 8 seed. But they need to start winning now.


TOP 9: Oregon (NBC: 4), Colorado (NBC: 5), Arizona (NBC: 7)

USC (NET: 49, NBC: 10): I think USC is in a pretty good spot after sweeping the Washington schools in LA this week and doing so without Onyeka Okongwu. They only have two Quad 1 wins, but they are 8-6 against the top two Quads. The home loss to Temple (106) is not ideal, but it is survivable. They should be OK as long as they don’t do anything stupid down the stretch.

STANFORD (NET: 37, NBC: NEXT four out): The Cardinal lost their fourth straight game on Saturday night at home against Arizona (8). It was their seventh loss in the last eight games. They have an ugly Quad 3 loss to Cal (155) and just two total Quad 1 wins. Stanford will have chances down the stretch, but should we actually trust them to take advantage of those chances?

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 50, NBC: 10): The Sun Devils won their fifth straight game on Saturday night, winning at Cal (155) three days after they beat Stanford (37) on the road, their fourth Quad 1 win. They’re now 4-6 against Quad 1 opponents with three of those wins coming on the road. They are 7-8 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents and their “worst” loss is a Quad 2 loss at Washington State (107). Should I mention that they are tied for the lead in the Pac-12 with four other teams? Arizona State is in a good spot right now.


TOP 9: Kentucky (NBC: 4), Auburn (NBC: 4), LSU (NBC: 7), Florida (NBC: 9)

ARKANSAS (NET: 48, NBC: Next four out): The Razorbacks fell at the buzzer on Saturday when Mississippi State’s (53) Abdul Ado tipped in a missed shot with less than a second left. They ave now lost four straight games, are sitting with a 4-9 recorded against the top two Quadrants with just two Quad 1 wins — at Alabama (36) and at Indiana (63). They desperately need to get Isaiah Joe back.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 53, NBC: First four out): Abdul Ado made the biggest player of the year for the Bulldogs, tipping home a game-winning bucket with less than a second left on the clock in a 78-77 win at Arkansas (48) on Saturday. The enormity of this win cannot be overstated. For starters, Mississippi State only had one Quad 1 entering the day, and adding a second Quad 1 win means they now have the same number as their Quad 3 losses. But the bigger issue is that MSU’s schedule down the stretch features precisely one top 65 opponent. This was their last chance at a good win for their resume until the SEC tournament, and they got it.

ALABAMA (NET: 36, NBC: First four out): The Crimson Tide picked up an enormous win on Saturday, as they knocked off LSU (29) in Tuscaloosa for their second Quad 1 win of the season. Alabama is now 14-11 overall and while their 6-10 record against Quad 1 and 2 opponents is solid, a 3-6 mark on the road, a home loss to Penn (153) and just two Quad 1 wins is not a good sign. At this point, I think Alabama needs to win out during the regular season for the simple fact that their schedule is not all that strong. But they have a shot if they do.

SOUTH CAROLINA (NET: 65, NBC: Next four out): Suddenly, South Carolina is in the mix for the bubble. They are 7-7 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents with a trio of Quad 1 wins — Kentucky (24), at Arkansas (48), at Virginia (55). They do have a Quad 3 loss — Boston (152) — and a Quad 4 loss — Stetson (290) — so they do have some more work to do. With a schedule that includes a pair of games against Mississippi State and dates with LSU and at Alabama, they’ll have a chance to build.


TOP 9: Gonzaga (NBC: 1), San Diego State (NBC: 1), BYU (NBC: 7), Saint Mary’s (NBC: 9)

UTAH STATE (NET: 41, NBC: Play-in game): After beating Fresno State, the Aggies have won four in a row and seven of their last eight games, ensuring they are still in the NCAA tournament mix and fully turning around a season that looked like it was lost as recently as three weeks ago. Wins over LSU (27) and Florida (38) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-85 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses? They don’t play another top 100 team the rest of the season. I don’t see how they can get in without beating San Diego State (1) in the MWC tournament.

NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 40, NBC: 11): The Panthers lost at Loyola (94), which is hardly a bad loss, especially in the MVC, but I’m not sure that it is a loss they can afford. Their strong NET and wins at Colorado (17) and over South Carolina (66) on a neutral keep the Panthers in the conversation, but losses at Southern Illinois (151) and Illinois State (203) are killers. UNI cannot lose another game unless it is against Loyola-Chicago in the MVC tournament if they really want a chance at an at-large, and even then, it will be tough.

EAST TENNESSEE STATE (NET: 41, NBC: 11): ETSU has a win at UNCG (61) and a win at LSU (27). With a 20-4 record and a loss to Mercer (205) at home, the Buccaneers have to win out and lost to only UNCG or Furman (73) in the SoCon tournament to have a chance, and even that will be a bit of a longshot. They went 2-0 this week.

Top of AP poll steady as Baylor, Kansas set collision course

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A new college basketball AP Poll has been released, and Baylor and Kansas just keep winning, setting up a monumental showdown Saturday between the top-ranked Bears and No. 3 Jayhawks that could help decide not only the Big 12 title but the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The two teams were separated once again by Gonzaga in the latest college basketball poll from The Associated Press on Monday. The Bears (23-1) had 48 first-place votes from the 63-member media panel, while the Bulldogs (26-1) had 14 first-place nods and the Jayhawks (22-3) had the only remaining first-place vote.

Dave Ommen’s latest bracketology can be found here. Rob Dauster’s Bubble Watch can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

“The best we could be right now is being the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. We’re No. 2,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team beat West Virginia and Oklahoma last week. “The reason we’re not No. 1 is Baylor beat us on our home floor. They deserve it. I’m not looking at it like we haven’t done as well as our record because we’re in second place. I’m looking at it like we played pretty good that day and got beat by a better team, and now we have a chance to get them back.”

The Bears and Jayhawks both have business to handle before they collide on Saturday, though. Kansas got a visit from Iowa State to Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night while Baylor will be visiting Oklahoma on Tuesday night.

If both win, it would set up one of the biggest games in the history of the Ferrell Center.

“I think it’s a tribute to the players, their belief,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “We’ve been operating under joy … (and) focusing one game at a time and we’ll keep doing that.”

San Diego State (26-0) remained the nation’s last unbeaten team and was No. 4 in the latest poll, while Dayton (23-2) climbed one spot to fifth after wins over Rhode Island and Massachusetts and a rough week for then-No. 5 Louisville.

“I told our team, `Let’s get greedy. Let’s play for perfection,”‘ Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “If we’re this close, we might as well play for a perfect regular season. … Let’s do something special.”

That’s exactly what the Flyers are trying to do, too.

“We’re trying to win a national championship,” Dayton guard Jalen Crutcher said. “We feel like that there’s no team in the country we can’t beat. We feel like we can go and win a national championship, and we talk about that a lot.”

The Cardinals lost to Georgia Tech and Clemson to plummet all the way to No. 11, but they weren’t the only ranked team to lose to an unranked foe on Saturday. Auburn fell at Missouri, Seton Hall lost to Providence, Butler lost at Georgetown, Illinois lost at Rutgers, Houston fell at SMU, Texas Tech fell at Oklahoma State and LSU was beaten on the road by Alabama.

Throw in then-No. 14 West Virginia’s loss to Baylor and nine ranked teams were beaten. Eight lost to unranked opponents, the most in a single day this season.

“This week wasn’t a good week for us,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “The teams we’re playing are too together and we’re not right now. It’s unfortunate, but it happens sometimes and my job is to keep our team on course and get better.”

The Penn State Nittany Lions moved up into the No. 9 spot, tying the school’s highest ranking ever in the AP Poll era.

Here is the full college basketball AP Poll:

1. Baylor
2. Gonzaga
3. Kansas
4. San Diego State
5. Dayton
6. Duke
7. Maryland
8. Florida State
9. Penn State
10. Kentucky
11. Louisville
12. Villanova
13. Auburn
14. Oregon
15. Creighton
16. Seton Hall
17. West Virginia
18. Colorado
19. Marquette
20. Iowa
21. Butler
22. Houston
23. BYU
24. Arizona
25. Ohio State

Others receiving votes: Texas Tech 92, Michigan State 87, Michigan 83, LSU 55, Rhode Island 39, Virginia 32, Cincinnati 14, Stephen F. Austin 14, Illinois 12, Northern Iowa 9, Utah State 8, Rutgers 6, Florida 6, East Tennessee State 5, Saint Mary’s 4, Tulsa 3, Richmond 3, SMU 2, New Mexico State 2, Wright State 1, Arizona State 1

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

Bracketology: How many teams will make it from the Big Ten?

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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Here is today’s updated NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Heading into January, a good over-under line for how many Big Ten teams would make the NCAA tournament field felt like 9.5. It still does. If you were hedging your bet today, which way would you go?

Here’s what we do know about some potential Big Ten bubble teams:

  • Minnesota is an even 12-12 on the season.
  • Purdue is 14-12 with a trip to Wisconsin up next (then three of four at home).
  • Indiana has lost five of six games and three of its next four are away from Bloomington.
  • Illinois has lost four straight and heads to Penn State this week with Ayo Dosunmu’s status as day-to-day.
  • Rutgers is 1-8 in games played outside the RAC with three of its final five away from home.

Today’s biggest beneficiaries of a chaotic bubble are Utah State and Richmond. Whether the Aggies and Spiders can hold their at-large spots may depend as much on those behind them as it does on their own performance.

Anyway, here is today’s updated NCAA tournament bracketology projection. If you’re looking for the NBC Sports Bubble Watch, it can be found here.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: February 17, 2020

MIDWEST REGION Utah State vs. Richmond
SOUTH REGION Cincinnati vs. Georgetown

SOUTH Houston MIDWEST – Indianapolis          
St. Louis Omaha
1) BAYLOR 1) Kansas
8) Illinois 8) HOUSTON
9) Florida 9) Saint Mary’s
Tampa Omaha
5) Colorado 5) Butler
12) Georgetown / Cincinnati 12) Utah State / Richmond
4) Auburn 4) Louisville
St. Louis Albany
6) Ohio State 6) Iowa
11) Virginia 11) NORTHERN IOWA
3) Creighton 3) Villanova
Cleveland Greensboro
7) Wisconsin 7) Arizona
10) Arizona State 10) Wichita State
EAST – New York WEST – Los Angeles
Sacramento Spokane
8) Rutgers 8) Texas Tech
9) Oklahoma 9) Xavier
Sacramento Spokane
5) West Virginia 5) Michigan State
13) YALE 13) AKRON
Cleveland Albany
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) Rhode Island 11) EAST TENNESSEE ST
3) Penn State 3) SETON HALL
Greensboro Tampa
7) LSU 7) BYU
10) Indiana 10) USC
2) DUKE 2) Florida State

Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Georgetown Purdue Stanford
Wichita State Cincinnati Alabama Arkansas
Rhode Island Utah State Mississippi State South Carolina
Virginia Richmond NC State Memphis

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
Pac 12 (5)
Big 12 (5)
SEC (4)

ACC (4)
West Coast (3)
American (4)
Atlantic 10 (3)
Mountain West (2)