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Bubble Banter: Oklahoma State back in the mix, N.C. State continues their run

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 115, KenPom: 74, NBC seed: Out): The Cowboys are back in the mix! The Cowboys had lost three in a row and seven of their last ten games before going into Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday and knocking off Kansas. Combine that with a win over Oklahoma at home and a win over Florida State on a neutral and that’s three Quadrant 1 wins, two of which came over top 15 teams. Seven of their nine losses are against Quadrant 1 teams as well, and they don’t have any bad losses. They still have quite a bit of ground to make up, but in the Big 12, they’ll have chances to do just that.

ALABAMA (RPI: 41, KenPom: 62, NBC seed: 9): Alabama landed a massive, 20-point win at Florida. It’s the fifth Quadrant 1 win for the Crimson Tide, who had put together quite an array of victories. They’ve beaten Auburn (5), Rhode Island (8) and Oklahoma (11). But this matters because it is a Quadrant 1 win on the road. It is just their second true road win of the season. The other was LSU.

WASHINGTON (RPI: 43, KenPom: 90, NBC seed: 10): Washington may have just played their way into the NCAA tournament thanks to a sweep of the Arizona schools this weekend. On Saturday night, they beat Arizona at the buzzer.

MISSOURI (RPI: 35, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: Play-in game): For the second straight game, Missouri landed themselves a Quadrant 1 win, this time knocking off Kentucky at home. The Tigers now have five Quadrant 1 wins, including three of which that came on the road. The win over Kentucky looks better on an NCAA tournament résumé than it does in real life, but it should be enough to slide Missouri that much closer to playing their way off the bubble. Missouri entered this week having lost three in a row and six of their last nine.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 64, NBC seed: 9): The Wolfpack have now won three in a row and six of their last eight games, a stretch that has included wins over Duke, Clemson and at North Carolina, after blowing out Notre Dame at home. Kevin Keatts has four Quadrant 1 wins, including three over top ten teams, They are probably comfortably in the tournament as of today, but a poor non-conference SOS (271) is something of a concern.

BUTLER (RPI: 26, KenPom: 21, NBC seed: 9): The Bulldogs did what they needed to do by knocking off DePaul at home. Wins over Villanova and Ohio State at home plus a blowout win at Marquette gives Butler three Quadrant 1 wins. They don’t have a single loss that isn’t a Quadrant 1 loss. They are in a very good spot right now.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 36, KenPom: 61, NBC seed: 10): The Friars added another Quadrant 1 on Saturday, going into Milwaukee and knocking off Marquette. They now have five Quadrant 1 wins and eight wins in the top two Quadrants. Throw in the fact that five of their remaining eight games are at home, and the Friars look like they’ll be able to cruise into the NCAA tournament.

UCLA (RPI: 55, KenPom: 60, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bruins are working their way back into the bubble picture, and they’ve put themselves in a position where they’ll have an opportunity to win the games they need to win to get in. Beating USC at home helped — UCLA only has one Quadrant 1 win and now three Quadrant 2 wins — but it’s just the start. Five of their last seven games are on the road, including Arizona, Arizona State and USC.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 58, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Out): Beating Georgia at home isn’t a game-changer for Ben Howland’s club, but it is another Quadrant 2 win. They only had two of those before today, along with just a single Quadrant 1 win. They’ve now won three in a row after losing five out of six. That pesky non-conference SOS (310th) may be their downfall.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 40, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: First four out): The Broncos picked up an overtime win at home against UNLV (163) on Saturday. They needed that, mainly because they don’t have a Quadrant 1 win and cannot afford any more bad losses; believe it or not, Iowa State on a neutral is Boise State’s worst loss. They might need to win out and beat Nevada at home if they want to get in with an at-large.

TEXAS A&M (RPI: 31, KenPom: 33, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Aggies won a game that they needed to win, beating South Carolina at home on Saturday. I say they needed to win it because they’ve now won two in a row heading into the toughest stretch of their season: at Auburn, Kentucky, at Missouri, at Arkansas. The Aggies already have four Quadrant 1 wins and three more Quadrant 2 wins. Splitting that four game stretch would put them into really good position down the stretch of the season.

HOUSTON (RPI: 48, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 11): The Cougars added their fourth Quadrant 1 win of the season on Saturday, as they went into Orlando and picked off a UCF team that has been obliterated by injury. The Cougars are right on the edge, however. Three of their four Quadrant 1 wins could easily fall to Quadrant 2 — Arkansas (28) and Wichita State (29) at home, UCF (70) on the road — which means that they still have some work to do.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 20, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: 12): MTSU couldn’t afford a loss at Charlotte (309). They didn’t lose at Charlotte.

LOSERS

SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 60, KenPom: 74, NBC seed: First four out): The Gamecocks were absolutely smoked on the road by Texas A&M in a game between two teams right on the edge of the bubble’s cut-line. This is the third-straight loss for South Carolina, and their next four games are rough: at Arkansas, Florida, at Tennessee, Auburn. We’ll know by the end of that run if they’re going to the tournament.

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 62, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: 11): The Hokies missed out on a chance to protect their home court on Saturday, losing out on a Quadrant 1 win by losing to Miami. The Hokies have one of the toughest remaining schedules. They have four games against top RPI five teams and six games against top RPI 20 teams: at Virginia, at Duke, Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami. There are plenty of chances left.

GEORGIA (RPI: 55, KenPom: 63, NBC seed: First four out): Georgia is not all that far away, but they have not really done anything to help themselves in recent weeks. A loss at Mississippi State is a Quadrant 1 loss, but it is also their sixth loss in the last eight games. They have two Quadrant 3 losses that they need to make up for, and this is not going to get the job done. With five Quadrant 1 games left — including three at home — Mark Fox will still have a few chances to stave off that hot seat.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: First four out): The Golden Eagles blew another chance to land a quality win at home this week, as Providence beat them in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon. They have now lost four in a row, including three straight games at home. Five of their next six games are on the road, and as of today, Marquette has just two Quadrant 1 wins and only six wins that are not Quadrant 4. They are in a very, very difficult spot.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 46, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Next four out): The Orange missed out on a chance to land a win over the No. 1 team in the RPI, losing at home to Virginia. The Cuse have good underlying numbers, but they just don’t have the quality wins to back those numbers up at this point. They are 0-4 against Quadrant 1 opponents now.

ARKANSAS (RPI: 28, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: 10): The Razorbacks lost their second straight game on Saturday, falling at LSU to drop to 15-8 on the season. Mike Anderson’s team should still feel pretty good about themselves. They are 3-6 against Quadrant 1 teams with two more Quadrant 2 wins. Perhaps more importantly, for a team that plays much better at home than on the road, they play five of their last eight in Fayetteville including their three toughest opponents left.

USC (RPI: 39, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 10): Losing at UCLA doesn’t really hurt USC. It’s a Quadrant 1 loss and those can be forgiven. Where it hurts is that the Trojans held a double-digit lead in the second half and gave it away. There are only so many Quadrant 1 wins available in the Pac-12. They can’t waste opportunities.

WESTERN KENTUCKY (RPI: 48, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: Next four out): The Hilltoppers couldn’t afford a loss to anyone not named Middle Tennessee State. They lost to UT-San Antonio.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 66, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: Last four in): Losing at West Virginia is not exactly ideal. But West Virginia has lost five of their last six games and needed to make a statement. Sometimes you run into a buzzsaw, Bruce Weber.

NOTRE DAME (RPI: 77, KenPom: 35, NBC seed: Out): The Fighting Irish were smoked at N.C. State on Saturday. They will no longer be featured in this space until they land a win or two of note. Or until Bonzie Colson makes a return.

OREGON (RPI: 89, KenPom: 88, NBC seed: Out): We can probably count Oregon out after they lost by 35 points at Stanford.

Lyons leads Furman to stunning upset of No. 8 Villanova

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — First, it was Loyola. Next came Villanova.

One by one, Furman is picking off teams from last year’s Final Four and proving to be the surprise story of the first month of the college basketball season.

Jordan Lyons scored 17 points, Matt Rafferty had 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Furman stunned the defending national champion and eighth-ranked Wildcats in overtime, 76-68 on Saturday.

“We’re just tiny old Furman,” coach Bob Richey said. “Most people ask us what state we’re in, what city we’re in. Now all of a sudden people are starting to figure out who Furman is.”

If opponents and fans aren’t paying attention to the team from Greenville, South Carolina, they’d better start now.

Clay Mounce added 15 points and Noah Gurley and Alex Hunter scored 13 apiece for the surging Paladins, who have started 5-0 for the first time in 30 years.

Lyons and Rafferty delivered huge buckets in overtime to key a 7-0 spurt that put the Paladins ahead 69-63 in the final minute, enough cushion for them to hang on for the victory in front of a shocked sellout crowd at the recently renovated Finneran Pavilion.

“It almost can bring me to tears to think about how proud I am of the resolve, the resiliency and the fight this team has,” Richey said. “They play together, they play connected. It’s the definition of a team.”

Phil Booth scored 20 points and Colin Gillespie had 19 for the Wildcats (2-2), who were coming off a 27-point loss to Michigan in a rematch of April’s national championship game. It marked the first time Villanova lost back-to-back games since March of 2013.

“It’s not that shocking, to be honest,” Booth said. “They’re a very good team. We’re still a young team trying to find our way.”

Trailing 58-53 with under four minutes to play in regulation, Joe Cremo hit a 3-pointer, Booth scored and Gillespie made a layup in transition to put Villanova in front, 60-58, in the final minute.

After Lyons hit two free throws to tie the game at 60, Booth missed on the other end and Hunter misfired on a long 3-pointer in the final seconds. Cremo was called for a foul while going for the rebound, but Rafferty couldn’t connect on the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2.6 seconds left, setting the game up for OT.

Rafferty said his teammates picked him up and told him to make up for the missed free throw in overtime — which he did.

“This was incredible,” Rafferty said. “I’ve never been a part of something like this.”

ROAR OF THE LYONS

Two days after pouring in 54 points while matching an NCAA record with 15 3-pointers in a 107-67 win over North Greenville, Lyons had more big buckets, including one that put Furman ahead 48-46 with a little over eight minutes remaining.

Richey was proud of how the junior guard dealt with ‘Nova’s defense, especially after he was held to five points in the first half.

“He was mature enough to know he had to play within our team concept,” Richey said. “He got going in the second half. I was really proud of him.”

CHEMISTRY ISSUES

Although he put his team on his back at times, scoring five straight points during one stretch to tie the game at 51, Booth shouldered a lot of the blame for the loss.

“I have to do a better job of showing the team what Villanova basketball is on both ends of the floor,” said Booth, a senior guard who was a part of the Wildcats’ national championship teams in both 2016 and 2018.

“We’re trying to work on a lot of chemistry things as a team,” he added.

BIG PICTURE

Furman: It’s only November, but the Paladins are looking like a team that will be dangerous in March. In their only other road game of the season, they upset last season’s NCAA Tournament darling, Loyola-Chicago, on a last-second dunk.

Villanova: After losing four players from last year’s national championship squad to the NBA draft, coach Jay Wright continues to search for his best rotation. On Saturday, freshman Jahvon Quinerly, a five-star recruit, didn’t get in the game after playing key minutes in Villanova’s first three games. The Wildcats’ depth also took a hit Friday when the team announced that redshirt sophomore Dylan Painter will transfer.

“You always want to get the young guys in,” Wright said. “It was close and then we got down the stretch and you try to ride it out with the older guys and hope you can get through the game.”

Saturday’s Three Things To Know: No. 8 Villanova loses again, Michigan coasts

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Saturday was a quiet day on the college hoops front, but there were still some notable results that we are going to need to talk about.

Here are the three things to know:

1. NO. 8 VILLANOVA LOST THEIR SECOND STRAIGHT GAME

For the second time in as many games, Villanova lost a game in the new Finneran Pavilion. On Saturday afternoon, the No. 8 Wildcats were taking on a Furman team that had already won at Loyola-Chicago this season. After blowing a 10-point first half lead, Villanova trailed by s many as seven points late in the second half before rallying and forcing overtime. Furman would scored 11 of the first 14 points in the extra frame, and the Wildcats would go on to lose their second straight game, 76-68.

There is a lot to discuss here, but perhaps the most relevant point is that Jay Wright has opted to shorten his bench. He did not play Jahvon Quinerly on Saturday night. Cole Swider played seven minutes. Saddiq Bey only played 10 minutes. Phil Booth, Eric Paschall and Colin Gillespie all played more than 40 minutes. This is going to be a decision that will draw some scrutiny, but it is worth pointing out that Villanova used a deep bench in their blowout home loss to Michigan on Tuesday night.

2. NO. 18 MICHIGAN CONTINUES TO ROLL

There really is not all that much to say here. The Wolverines, fresh off of a dominating win over No. 8 Villanova on the road, smacked around a bad George Washington team in the opener of the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off tournament. I am not quite sure just how good Michigan is going to be this season, but it is pretty clear that right now, they deserve a spot someone in or around the top ten.

3. NO. 24 MARQUETTE HOLDS OFF PRESBYTERIAN

It was almost a disastrous night for the Golden Eagles, as they trailed Presbyterian by one heading into the break. Marquette was able to pull away from the Blue Hose down the stretch, but it was not the easiest nor the prettiest win for a Marquette team that was beating by Indiana in Bloomington during the week. Markus Howard finished with as many turnovers as field goals attempted — seven — while Joseph Chartouny and Sam Hauser combined for 35 points.

No. 18 Michigan, Providence win in Tip-Off tournament semis

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Michigan coach John Beilein was concerned his Wolverines might suffer a letdown against George Washington after a blowout victory over No. 8 Villanova on the road.

There was still a tinge of worry during the first half of Saturday’s semifinal of the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off tournament when GW (0-4) cut an 18-point Wolverine lead to six.

But No. 18 Michigan (4-0), which led by nine points at halftime, went on a 13-2 run to open the second half and finished with an easy 84-61 victory over the Colonials.

“A lot of the message after the Villanova game was handling success,” Beilein said. “Some kids struggle with that. It’s very natural. Michigan is not going to fall into that trap.”

Charles Matthews led the Wolverines with 25 points and Jordan Poole made five of his eight 3-point shots to add a career-high 22. Zavier Simpson finished two assists shy of a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Poole had made just one 3-pointer on 10 attempts coming into the game and was shooting just over 23 percent from the field. He hit his first three shots and finished 7 of 12 from the floor. The sophomore guard insisted that nothing had changed with his shot, but Simpson said he noticed a difference.

“Me and Jordan were having a little contest before the game,” Simpson said. “We were basically bragging with each other how our shot was feeling good today. So I’m not sure what he was talking about feeling normal. Then he knocked the first one down. That was kind of like, ‘I told you so.'”

Michigan, which gave up just 46 points in its 27-point victory at Villanova on Wednesday, held the Colonials to 39 percent shooting and outscored GW 17-2 on the fast break.

D.J. Williams had 16 points to lead George Washington, which lost its second straight game to a ranked opponent after falling by 19 points at No. 4 Virginia last Sunday.

“We’re a work in progress,” GW coach Maurice Joseph said. “The last two games, playing quality opponents, is something we can look back to in conference play and I think we’ll be more battled tested. It’s never fun taking these losses. But I believe our guys will grow from these opportunities.”

The Wolverines play Providence in Sunday’s championship game.

PROVIDENCE-SOUTH CAROLINA

David Duke scored 20 points to rally Providence to a 76-65 win over South Carolina.

Alpha Diallo added 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Friars (3-1), who trailed by eight points at halftime and nine early in the second half.

A.J. Reeves scored eight of his 10 points during a 10-0 Friars’ run that put Providence on top 44-43.

The teams went back and forth before Jimmy Nichols followed a missed shot with the first of the three straight Providence dunks. That gave the Friars a 54-49 lead, led coach Ed Cooley to toss aside his suit jacket and brought the pro-Providence crowd to its feet.

The game was played 60 miles from the Friars’ campus across the state line.

“We get a lot of fan support when we come down here, so it’s definitely worth it to come,” Cooley said. “My jacket comes off and sometimes I don’t even feel it. I don’t. It’s just a matter of getting into the game and getting excited.”

Consecutive 3-pointers from Duke and Isaiah Jackson made it 65-54 and put the game out of reach.

“I struggled a little bit before shooting the ball, but I came in today with a stay-positive attitude,” Duke said. “I know what I’m capable of and Coach put his trust in me. Once I got one, I started feeling it.”

Hassani Gravett scored 14 points to lead four players in double figures for South Carolina (2-2).

The Gamecocks committed 38 fouls and made just six of 25 shots from 3-point range.

Martin said he’ll be looking for one thing on Sunday when the Gamecocks face George Washington in the consolation game.

“Growth,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s why you play these events. You line up and play Providence in Providence, even though we’re just across the state line. You’ve got to challenge your team to force them to grow. We’re privileged we get to play in the SEC, just like Providence in the Big East. Those are elite basketball conferences. It’s our job as coaches, out duties, to prepare our teams to play in conference play.”

UConn coach Dan Hurley tossed for first time since HS days

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NEW YORK — Just 24 hours removed from an upset win over No. 15 Syracuse in Madison Square Garden, UConn head coach Danny Hurley was ejected from Friday night’s loss to Iowa in the finals of the 2K Classic.

It was the first time that he was ejected as a college coach.

UConn fans in the Garden gave Hurley a standing ovation and chanted his name as he walked off the court.

Hurley appeared to be caught off guard on the second technical. He was talking to Jalen Adams, who was unhappy with the officiating as well, and Hurley told his player, “I’ll handle it in the press conference.”

Bo Boroski, a Big Ten referee, overheard the statement and hit Hurley with his second technical foul.

“I don’t want to put myself inside the mind of that crew, but it was what it was,” Hurley said. “Bo obviously overheard a conversation I was having with a player on my team and thought that was the appropriate decision. I have a hard job. Players have a hard job. Referees all have a hard job. We all have to be accountable for our performances.”

Hurley went on to lament the job that he did coaching his team on Friday, that he wasn’t as prepared as Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery was. There are going to be frustrations for the young Huskies, and he knows that.

“This isn’t some Disney movie,” Hurley said. “It’s not the Mighty Ducks or whatever. It’s going to take some time.”

What Hurley wasn’t mad about, however, was a last-second dunk by an Iowa player after UConn had stopped trying to play defense. Iowa apologized for it to the remaining UConn staff on the floor. They apologized again in the press conference. Hurley, when asked about it, was clueless.

“I didn’t see it,” Hurley said, a smile breaking. “I was long gone by then, man.”

Friday’s Three Things To Know: Iowa wins, Cuse struggles

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Friday featured a full day of college hoops action, as tip-off in Charleston happened before noon ET while the final games didn’t end until well after midnight. 

The most important results, however, happened in New York City:

1. IOWA WINS THE 2K CLASSIC

The Hawkeyes look like they are going to be legit this season. A day after they put together an impressive win over No. 13 Oregon, Fran McCaffery’s club easily handled a UConn team that themselves had impressed with a win over a ranked team on Thursday night.

Part of this clearly had to do with matchup. Iowa is big. UConn is not. Luka Garza absolutely torched the Huskies in the first half, scoring 18 of his 22 points before halftime, while Tyler Cook took over down the stretch; he finished with 26 points and eight boards. UConn always plays three, and often four, guards, and the size was very clearly a problem for the smaller Huskies.

But that size is going to be an issue for a lot of teams. Garza is not overly skilled but he plays harder than just about anyone in the sport. Cook is skilled — far more skilled that I realized — and he matches Garza’s intensity. Throw in a good crop of guards, headlined by McCaffery’s, and this looks like an Iowa team that will make some noise in a very, very good Big Ten.

2. SYRACUSE HAS SOME SERIOUS PROBLEMS OFFENSIVELY

All the talk from the most high-profile matchup from the 2K Classic on Friday night will be about Bol Bol, Oregon’s dominant 7-foot-2 center who looked as good as I have ever seen him against the Orange.

The real story, however, is that Syracuse is a total mess offensively. The Orange are currently 204th nationally is points-per-possession, according to KenPom, and 342nd in the country in three-point shooting. They’re making just 20.5 percent of their threes, a problem when more than a third of their field goal attempts are from beyond the arc.

“After looking at [the stat sheet],” Boeheim said, of Oshae Brissett, his star forward that has looked anything-but a star this year, “if I could go back in time I’d say ‘Don’t take any 3s tonight.’ But I can’t do that. He’s been shooting it good in practice. He is a good shooter. He shot 32 percent last year, but he’s noticeably better in drills and practice this year than he was last year.”

“He’s just not there,” Boeheim said. “He’s not playing at the level we need him to be playing. We need him and Tyus [Battle] to play at a very high level and they’re not.”

The question is whether or not these struggles are the result of Syracuse being bad offensively — remember, they were 135th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric last season — or if the answer is that there isn’t a point guard on the floor. Battle is not a point guard. Elijah Hughes isn’t, either. Jalen Carey can score but, again, he’s not a point guard.

Franklin Howard is, and he could be back as soon as the next game.

We’ll see if that makes a difference.

3. WEST VIRGINIA, GEORGETOWN TAKE UPSETS

The Mountaineers just don’t appear to be all that good this season, and while that is a stark contrast to what the program has been in recent years, it shouldn’t be all that unexpected. Remember, this group lost Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, the two senior guards that set the tone for the entirety of the Press Virginia era to date.

So hearing that WVU lost to Western Kentucky after losing to Buffalo — both of who could end up being NCAA tournament teams — shouldn’t be that surprising.

Georgetown’s loss, however, is more worrisome.

The Hoyas, fresh off of a win at Illinois that got quite a few people excited about the program, loss their opener in head coach Patrick Ewing’s return to his native Jamaica. They lost by 13. To Loyola Marymount.

Not good for the Hoyas, and certainly not good for the Big East, which has struggled mightily through the first two weeks of the season.