BUBBLE BANTER: A loaded Saturday slate could determine a few bids

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This post will be updated throughout the day. 

A week ago, No. 25 Wichita State (KenPom: 11, RPI: 43) was going to be one of the most interesting seeding discussions on Selection Sunday.

But after the second straight Saturday that the Shockers have taken a loss to a league opponent with a sub-100 RPI, Wichita State is no longer a discussion about seeding.

We now have to ask whether or not this group can actually get a bid to the NCAA tournament without earning the automatic bid in the Missouri Valley. They have just one top 90 win (Utah) and two sub-100 losses; by Sunday morning, it will likely be just one, as Northern Iowa should sneak into the top 100 after beating the Shockers in Wichita.

As we all know, Wichita State was on the receiving end of some bad injury luck, losing Fred VanVleet to a hamstring injury during the Advocare Invitational, when the Shockers lost to USC, Alabama and Iowa. But even with VanVleet, Wichita State has not done enough to unequivocally prove themselves as a tournament team.

Another loss would give them three bad losses in the eyes of the selection committee. My advice? Don’t give them a chance to leave you out of the dance.

WINNERS

  • Wisconsin (KenPom: 47, RPI: 54): The Badgers picked up a massive, massive, massive win on Saturday, going into Maryland and knocking off the Terps. Suddenly, the Badgers are one of the most intriguing bubble teams. They have four top 50 wins — including Michigan State and at Maryland — and a 7-6 record against the top 100. But they also have three ugly losses, including a loss to Western Illinois that is one of the worst losses a bubble team has ever suffered. The Badgers are probably on the right side of the cut line as of today, and as long as they keep winning — they’ve won seven in a row, mind you — Greg Gard will be headed to the NCAA tournament in his first year.
  • Texas Tech (KenPom: 57, RPI: 41): The Red Raiders are doing everything they can to prove that they deserve to be in the bubble conversation. After beating Iowa State during the week, Tubby Smith’s club went into Waco and beat the Bears by 18 points. Here’s the deal: Tech still has to play Oklahoma, at Kansas and at West Virginia. Win one of those three games, sweep the other three games on their schedule and get to .500 in the league and I think they have a real shot.
  • LSU (KenPom: 59, RPI: 74): The Tigers got one step closer to locking up an at-large bid on Saturday, as they kept pace with Kentucky atop the SEC with a win over No. 15 Texas A&M. The Tigers are 9-3 overall and have looked like a tournament team since they got Keith Hornsby healthy and Craig Victor eligible. Throw in the fact that their bad losses all came without those two (and, frankly, are not as bad as we thought they would be) and I think that the Tigers, at this point, have done enough to get in as long as they win the games they’re supposed to win.
  • Michigan (KenPom: 48, RPI: 60): The Wolverines picked up a huge win, knocking off Purdue on a day that they got Caris LeVert back. It was their third top 100 win of the season, but the good news for Michigan? It was also their third top 25 win of the season. Michigan also doesn’t have a loss outside the top 50. Four of their last five games come against top 100 competition. Go 3-2 down the stretch and they should be able to enter the Big Ten tournament feeling pretty comfortable.
  • Cal (KenPom: 33, RPI: 29): The Golden Bears picked up their fifth top 50 win and 10th top 100 win beating Oregon State on Saturday night. The only concern on their profile at this point is their struggles away from home given that four of Cal’s last six are on the road.
  • Alabama (KenPom: 84, RPI: 38): Is it time for us to start paying more attention to Alabama? The Crimson Tide won their fourth straight game on Saturday, knocking off Florida. It was their second top 25 win of the week — they beat Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday — and this won came on the road. They’re 5-5 against the top 50 and 6-8 against the top 100 with just one sub-100 loss.
  • Stanford (KenPom: 122, RPI: 82): The Cardinal somehow found a way to keep their name in the hunt for an at-large bid, snapping a four-game losing streak with a win over Oregon at home. Stanford how four top 50 wins, but they’re just 4-10 against the top 50. The good news? Their worse loss is on the road against a top 75 opponent and they have five more games against top 100 foes. Will this be the start of a winning streak or a weird blip in a disappointing season?
  • UConn (KenPom: 22, RPI: 46): UConn is trending for the cut-line, which is what made Saturday’s win over Tulsa so important. The margins are slim when you’re on the bubble, and every top 50 win is valuable.
  • Colorado (KenPom: 61, RPI: 30): The Buffaloes landed another top 100 win on Saturday, beating Washington. They’re 7-7 against the top 100 with three top 35 wins and no bad losses to their name. The Pac-12 is tough, so it’s possible that the Buffaloes could lose all five of their remaining games. Even then, I’m not sure they’d be all that far out of the bubble picture. Going 2-3 in that stretch should be enough.
  • Vanderbilt (KenPom: 34, RPI: 59): Vandy made light work of Auburn on Saturday. Their bid will be earned the last two weeks of the season, when they play at Florida, Kentucky and at Texas A&M.
  • St. Bonaventure (KenPom: 66, RPI: 34): The Bonnies are slowly but surely climbing their way into bubble contention. They have a great RPI, but their win over George Washington was just their fourth top 100 win of the year.
  • Clemson (KenPom: 58, RPI: 88): The Tigers picked up a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, their seventh top 100 win. The Tigers still have a lot of work to do, however, as they have three bad losses on their profile and one of the 15 worst non-conference schedules in college basketball.
  • Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 37, RPI: 28): The Hawks beat La Salle, but with GW losing against tonight, there’s a chance that St. Joe’s only top 50 win drops out of the top 50. They play Dayton this week. Winning that game could alleviate a lot of stress in Hagan Arena.
  • Creighton (KenPom: 42, RPI: 84): The Bluejays landed a nice road win at Marquette on Saturday, but with an ugly non-conference schedule and just one top 50 win, Creighton still has a lot of work to do. They close at Providence and at Xavier. They might need them both.
  • Cincinnati (KenPom: 30, RPI: 63): The Bearcats avoided a landmine loss to East Carolina. Next week will be critical for them, as they visit Tulsa and host UConn.
  • VCU (KenPom: 41, RPI: 53): Like Cincy, the Rams avoided an awful loss to Saint Louis, keeping them smack in the middle of the bubble conversation.
  • Saint Mary’s (KenPom: 39, RPI: 72): The Gaels beat Loyola Marymount today, but I still don’t think they have a chance to get a bid on Selection Sunday.

LOSERS

  • South Carolina (KenPom: 43, RPI: 21): The good news for South Carolina? The RPI, which is the DNA of the selection process, does not factor in margin of victory. So that 27-point loss they took to Kentucky at home on Saturday afternoon? It looks the same as a one point loss in the formula. But with a gaudy record that lacks quality wins, getting embarrassed on national television at home is not a good way to make an impression.
  • Butler (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58): In and of itself, losing to Xavier at home is not a bad loss for Butler. What hurts is the opportunity cost: That was their best chance on landing another elite win for their résumé. With just one top 50 win to their name and only one top 50 opponent left (at Villanova), the Bulldogs are going to have some issues at the top of their profile on Selection Sunday.
  • Gonzaga (KenPom: 31, RPI: 64): The Zags lost at SMU on Saturday. As I wrote here, that’s a devastating loss for their tournament hopes.
  • George Washington (KenPom: 88, RPI: 44): The Colonials lost their second straight game on Saturday, falling at St. Bonaventure in another game between Atlantic 10 bubble teams. The Colonials are in a troubling spot at this point. There are no more potential top 50 wins left on their schedule — at the moment, Davidson and VCU are both just outside the top 50 — and they are anything but a lock for the dance right now.
  • Tulsa (KenPom: 50, RPI: 48): Tulsa lost to UConn on the road on Saturday, a loss that doesn’t hurt all that much in and of itself — it was a top 50 road game, after all — but is a killer because it was the last chance for the Golden Hurricane pick up a top 50 win this season. If Frank Haith’s club was in a better position entering the day it wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but they still have work left to do.
  • Florida (KenPom: 28, RPI: 24): Florida looked like they were in a pretty good spot to earn an at-large bid after beating West Virginia two weeks ago, but they’ve gone 2-2 since then and now sit with just a 2-7 record against the top 50. Their RPI is great and their non-conference strength of schedule is second nationally. They’re not exactly in trouble yet, but landing at least one more good win (at South Carolina, Kentucky) would be quite helpful.
  • Oregon State (KenPom: 73, RPI: 31): There’s no shame in losing at Cal, especially now that Cal has Tyrone Wallace back. The Beavers have six top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins. They’re still in a good spot.
  • Washington (KenPom: 77, RPI: 61): Losing to Colorado on Saturday hurt not because a road loss to a top 30 team is a bad thing, but because they had a real shot to win that game without Colorado State Josh Scott on the floor. They’re likely headed directly for the bubble.
  • Marquette (KenPom: 104, RPI: 95): Marquette, who lost at home to Creighton, might need to win out at this point. Their non-conference schedule does them no favors.
  • Georgetown (KenPom: 60, RPI: 78): The Hoyas lost to Providence on Saturday. At this point, we can basically write off Georgetown from the bubble conversation.
  • Valparaiso (KenPom: 22, RPI: 49): I think Valpo is one of the top 40 teams in college basketball. But with three losses to sub-150 opponents, the only way they’ll have a chance to prove it in the NCAA tournament will be by winning the Horizon’s automatic bid.
  • Kansas State (KenPom: 49, RPI: 52): The Wildcats had a shot at an at-large bid simply they had some good wins left on their schedule and no bad losses on their résumé. They lost to Oklahoma State today. That’s a bad loss.

 

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.