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Re-ranking the 2013 recruiting class

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July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career. 

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2013, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

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1.  Joel Embiid (25)

The meteoric rise of “The Process” has been fascinating to witness. Embiid didn’t become a five-star caliber prospect until his senior season of high school. He parlayed that into one good season at Kansas before a stress fracture in his foot prevented him from suiting up in March. After missing his first two seasons of NBA ball with the Philadelphia 76ers due to injury, Embiid became one of the game’s best players — and biggest personalities — over the last several years.

Embracing the role of franchise savior in Philly, Embiid became a second-team All-NBA player in his first full(ish) season in 2017-18. Injury concerns prevent Embiid from playing on back-to-back nights during the regular season, but the All-Star is a major force when he’s healthy. Embiid signed a max extension to stay in Philadelphia after his rookie deal ended.

2. Andrew Wiggins (1)

One of the most hyped high school players of the past decade, Wiggins has been debated as much as any player on this list. Becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft after a good season at Kansas, Wiggins has been remarkably durable during his four-year NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Missing only one game during that four-year span, Wiggins has averaged 36.2 minutes per game for his career as he’s grown into a functional scoring wing. During his third season, Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game as his inconsistent perimeter jumper improved enough for him to make a leap. Polarizing among some in the NBA community, Wiggins has been criticized at times for not making enough of an impact outside of scoring.

3. Aaron Gordon (3)

A mega-athlete at forward, Gordon has become a successful NBA starter during his four seasons with the Orlando Magic. The former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year showed flashes of potential greatness during his one season at Arizona. Since the Magic surprisingly (at the time) selected Gordon with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he made some memorable appearances in the dunk contest while growing into one of the league’s better young talents. During the 2017-18 season, Gordon averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Magic as he looks like their centerpiece to build around the next few years.

(Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

4. Zach LaVine (44)

A classic late-bloomer, LaVine has used his supreme athleticism to make a name for himself in the NBA the past few seasons. Coming off of the bench during his only season at UCLA, LaVine’s dominant performance at the NBA Draft Combine vaulted him into a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. With the Minnesota Timberwolves, LaVine developed into a double-figure scorer while also becoming the fourth player in history to win back-to-back dunk contests. A torn ACL has limited LaVine’s play the past two seasons, as he was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade that brought LaVine to the Chicago Bulls before the 2017-18 season. Despite a sluggish return from the ACL injury last season, the Bulls matched a lucrative offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings to retain LaVine this offseason.

5. Julius Randle (2)

After a decorated high school and college career that included a Final Four run with Kentucky, Randle has carved out a nice niche in the NBA. Playing the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Randle started to figure things out during the past two years as he was especially effective coming off of the bench in small-ball situations. Putting up 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 55 percent shooting this past season, Randle left the Lakers as a free agent this offseason as he signed to play with the New Orleans Pelicans.

6. Jabari Parker (4)

Another decorated high school player and one-and-done, Parker made an impact during his one season at Duke — particularly on the offensive end. Selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Parker showcased natural scoring ability during his four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks — peaking at 20.1 points per game during the 2016-17 season. Parker’s big issue has been health. He’s suffered two torn ACLs during his four years in the The League. Showing flashes of former brilliance during his return late last season — including a 35-point game at Denver — Parker signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Bulls this offseason. He’ll return to his hometown in the hopes of remaining healthy and revitalizing his career.

7. Bobby Portis (15)

The first player on this list to not be a one-and-done, Portis had a memorable sophomore season at Arkansas as he became SEC Player of the Year. Picked at No. 22 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Portis has exceeded expectations by becoming one of the game’s better bench scorers. A shot-happy big man who can space the floor out to the three-point line, Portis put up 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in only 22.5 minutes per game for the Bulls last season. For as good as Portis has been on the floor, he’s perhaps best known for a violent fight with Bulls teammate Nikola Mirotic before the 2017-18 season. The incident left Mirotic with a concussion and multiple facial fractures as Portis was suspended eight games.

8. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (21)

The former Arizona product has started to come into his own as an NBA player. Following two good seasons with the Wildcats, where he was one of the best two-way forwards in the country, Hollis-Jefferson has carved out a starting role with the Brooklyn Nets. In his third season as a pro, Hollis-Jefferson developed into a double-figure scorer who could do a little bit of everything. Although Hollis-Jefferson still struggles to make perimeter jumpers, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the 2017-18 season, as he started in 59 games for the rebuilding Nets.

9. Josh Hart (84)

After a decorated four-year college career at Villanova, not surprisingly, Hart has found his way into an NBA rotation. With the Wildcats, Hart went from low-end four-star prospect, to National Player of the Year candidate as he was a first-team All-American during his senior season. Hart also won a national title at Villanova and helped turn the Wildcats into one of the most consistent programs in the nation. At the NBA level, Hart is coming off of a promising rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers as he started 23 games and put up 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

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10. Andrew Harrison (5)

The former Kentucky star made two Final Four appearances during his college career. As a pro, Harrison has steadily gained traction the past few seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. After beginning his career in the G League, Harrison has been a rotation player with the Grizzlies the past two seasons. Starting 46 games during the 2017-18 season, Harrison averaged 9.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as his campaign was cut short due to injury.

11. Pascal Siakam (UR)

A late-bloomer to come from the mid-major ranks, Siakam redshirted during his freshman season at New Mexico State due to injury. From there, Siakam has hit the ground running. He was named WAC Freshman of the Year his first season and WAC Player of the Year as a sophomore. Since getting drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Siakam has developed into a well-rounded backup big man. Last season, Siakam played 81 games and averaged 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

12. Jordan Bell (68)

Bell has worked hard to make the NBA as he was a key role player for the Golden State Warriors during their 2017-18 championship run. Initially redshirted during his freshman season at Oregon, Bell eventually become a second-team All-Pac 12 player and the league’s defensive Player of the Year in 2017 as he helped the Ducks to the Final Four. As a rookie, Bell earned a lot of buzz in the NBA community as a do-it-all backup forward as he received a healthy amount of minutes during the NBA Playoffs.

13. Noah Vonleh (8)

Averaging nearly a double-double as a freshman at Indiana, Vonleh became the No. 9 overall pick of the Charlotte Hornets in the 2014 NBA Draft. Although Vonleh has continued to clean the glass at a solid rate as a role player, he hasn’t found the right fit during his four-year NBA career. Traded twice during his first four seasons, Vonleh has spent time in Charlotte, Portland and Chicago. The New York Knicks recently signed Vonleh for the 2018-19 season.

14. Jarell Martin (13)

Following two successful seasons at LSU, which included first-team All-SEC honors as a sophomore, Martin has found his way as an energy big man coming off of the bench. Spending the last three seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Martin started 36 games last season as he averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. During the offseason, Martin was traded to the Orlando Magic in a deal involving Dakari Johnson.

15. Wayne Selden (12)

The former McDonald’s All-American was a polarizing player at times during his three-year career at Kansas as he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors with the Jayhawks in 2016. Going undrafted in 2016, Selden defied expectations by going from the G League to earning NBA Playoff minutes as a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies. Selden’s second season with the Grizzlies was cut short to 35 games during the 2017-18 season as he battled a right quad injury. Selden averaged 9.3 points per game during his second season.

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16. Cameron Payne (UR)

Payne went from unranked mid-major player into an NBA lottery pick after only two seasons of college at Murray State. The former Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, Payne drew some Damian Lillard comparisons coming out of college since both players had similar college trajectories. Payne has struggled with inconsistent play and injury during his three NBA seasons. Last season with the Chicago Bulls, Payne looked like a potential rotation guard as he averaged 8.8 points and 4.5 assists per game in 25 games and 14 starts.

17. James Young (11)

Helping Kentucky to the Final Four as a freshman, Young parlayed second-team All-SEC honors into the No. 17 pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Spending his first three seasons with the Boston Celtics, Young was let go, as he eventually signed a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Still only 22 years old, Young has appeared in 95 career NBA games.

18. Semi Ojeyele (31)

Starting his college career at Duke, Ojeyele eventually transferred and found a better fit at SMU. After winning AAC Player of the Year honors in 2017, Ojeyele kept his name in the 2017 NBA Draft, as the Boston Celtics scooped him up in the second round. Playing in 73 games and 17 playoff games as a rookie last season, Ojeyele looks like a potential steal for the Celtics — although he’s stuck in a deep rotation of wings now that Gordon Hayward is returning from injury.

19. Frank Mason (76)

Exceeding all expectations during a memorable four-year career at Kansas, Mason evolved into a first-team All-American and one of the best two-way point guards in the country. Following his time with the Jayhawks, Mason was picked in the second round by the Sacramento Kings in the 2017 NBA Draft as he played in 52 games last season. Mason averaged 7.9 points and 2.8 assists per game.

20. Damian Jones (77)

The former two-time All-SEC first-team selection at Vanderbilt was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2016 by the Golden State Warriors. Although Jones has spent most of his pro career playing in the G League, thanks to the Warriors’ insane depth, he has played 25 games in the NBA the past two seasons. Most importantly, Jones has two rings in his first two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see how Jones develops over time since he’s been stuck on one of the deepest teams in basketball.

21. Sindarius Thornwell (43)

The former South Carolina star helped lead the Gamecocks to a Final Four appearance in 2017 as he was a first-team All-SEC selection that season. Picked in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Thornwell’s rights were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers before the season. Thornwell exceeded expectations by appearing in 73 games, and starting 17, for the Clipper as a rookie as he averaged a little over 15 minutes per game.

22. Tyler Ennis (22)

Jumping to the NBA after one season at Syracuse, Ennis was the No. 18 overall selection of the Phoenix Suns in the 2014 NBA Draft. Spending the past four seasons in the NBA, Ennis appeared in 186 total games and made 21 starts as he spent time with the Suns, Bucks, Rockets and Lakers. Although Ennis played in 54 games for the Lakers during 2017-18, averaging 12.6 minutes per game, he opted to sign a contract to play in Turkey for next season.

23. DeAndre Bembry (UR)

A former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year at Temple, Bembry was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2016. The G League is where Bembry spent most of his first pro season, and last season, Bembry was limited by injury. During two pro seasons, Bembry has only played in 64 NBA games. But he should have a chance to earn much more playing time on an Atlanta team that is currently in the midst of a rebuild.

24. Christian Wood (40)

The former UNLV product spent two productive seasons in Sin City before turning pro, as he went undrafted in 2015 after receiving first-round buzz during the season. Bouncing between the G League and the last spot of NBA rosters, Wood played in 30 NBA games with the 76ers and Hornets between 2015 and 2017. But, after spending all of last season in the G League, Wood might have finally figured things out. A monster Summer League led to the Milwaukee Bucks signing Wood to a contract for the 2018-19 season as he’s expected to make the roster.

25. Wes Iwundu (UR)

One of six three-star prospects to enter Kansas State in the same recruiting class, Iwundu became one of the Big 12’s best players during his final two years on campus — earning third-team All-Big 12 honors. Selected in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Iwundu played in 62 games and started 12 last season. Remarkably, Iwundu was considered by some to be the fifth-best prospect on his own Houston Defenders AAU team coming out of high school as he played with the Harrison twins, Johnathan Motley (Baylor) and Derrick Griffin (Texas Southern).

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

Chris Walker (6)

The 6-foot-10 Walker never lived up to his immense hype as NCAA eligibility issues affected his freshman season at Florida. Even as a sophomore, Walker never found his footing with the Gators, as he left the program after two pedestrian seasons in the SEC. Going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, Walker spent some time in the G League before eventually signing a deal to play in a Puerto Rican professional league in 2018. At one point in time, Joel Embiid, the No. 1 player in this class re-rank, was coming off of the bench in favor of Walker when the duo played together on the Florida Rams on the grassroots circuit.

Aaron Harrison (7)

While twin brother Andrew has been able to stick in the NBA the past few seasons, Aaron has had to grind in the G League. Playing in 35 career NBA games to this point, Harrison finished last season with the Dallas Mavericks after they opted to extend his 10-day contract for the rest of the season. The former McDonald’s All-American and Kentucky star is still looking for a spot for next season.

Kasey Hill (10)

Although Hill never made the NBA’s radar, he ended up as a solid four-year presence at Florida. Making a Final Four appearance as a freshman backup, Hill eventually became an All-SEC defender during his senior season as he was one of the league’s better guards. After his college career finished out at Florida, Hill went on to sign pro deals in Hungary and Greece. Hill was also grassroots teammates with Joel Embiid and Chris Walker on the Florida Rams.

Isaac Hamilton (14)

The middle brother of the three Hamiltons (Jordan Hamilton is oldest, Daniel Hamilton is youngest), Isaac had a very successful three-year run at UCLA as one of the Pac-12’s better scoring guards. Earning All-Pac-12 second-team honors in 2016, Hamilton went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. Hamilton played with the Indiana Pacers during Summer League last year as he spent 2017-18 in the G League.

Nigel Hayes (UR)

From unranked to one of college basketball’s best players, Hayes made two Final Fours and three all-Big Ten teams during his four seasons in Madison. Helping the Badgers to at least the Sweet 16 in all four of his seasons, Hayes is one of college basketball’s most accomplished players of the past decade. Last season, Hayes spent most of his year in the G League, but he did appear in nine NBA games — playing for the Lakers, Raptors and Kings. Hayes is expected to play for Galatasaray in the Turkish league this upcoming season.

NBC Sports Top 25: Kentucky beats Tennessee as injuries abound

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The big talking point this week comes with Kentucky’s win over Tennessee, which came just four days after Kentucky lost at home to LSU.

I wrote all about the top five battle on Saturday. Without taking anything away from what Kentucky did, I think that the way that game played out had as much to do with situation — Kentucky, at home, coming off a brutal loss against a team that hadn’t been tested in two months — and matchup as it did with what each of those two teams are.

Put another way, I still buy the idea that this Tennessee team can win it all, just like I still believe Virginia can win it all despite losing to Duke twice in the last month.

Beyond that, the toughest thing to do with ranking teams this week was figure out what to do about injuries. I dropped Michigan State to No. 17 because it appears that they have lost Nick Ward for an extended period of time. The Spartans were not all that talented to begin with and now they are down their top two scorers. I also dropped Kansas State over the uncertainty surrounding Dean Wade’s health. If he’s not 100 percent — and if Cartier Diarra isn’t playing — then Kansas State is a bad basketball team offensively.

Anyway, here is the rest of the top 25:

1. Duke (23-2, Last Week: 1)
2. Gonzaga (25-2, 3)
3. Virginia (22-2, 4)
4. Kentucky (21-4, 5)
5. Tennessee (23-2, 2)
6. Michigan (23-3, 6)
7. North Carolina (20-5, 7)
8. Marquette (21-4, 9)
9. Nevada (24-1, 11)
10. Iowa State (19-6, 15)
11. Texas Tech (21-5, 16)
12. Houston (25-1, 13)
13. Kansas (20-6, 17)
14. Villanova (20-6, 10)
15. LSU (21-4, 20)
16. Purdue (18-7, 12)
17. Michigan State (21-5, 8)
18. Virginia Tech (20-5, 18)
19. Kansas State (19-6, 14)
20. Wisconsin (17-8, 19)
21. Louisville (18-8, 21)
22. Iowa (20-5, 22)
23. Buffalo (22-3, 23)
24. Florida State (20-5, 24)
25. Wofford (23-4, 25)

Dropped Out: None
New Additions: None

St. John’s rallies from 14-point deficit to stun No. 13 Villanova

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NEW YORK (AP) — A 70-foot shot just before halftime gave St. John’s momentum, and LJ Figueroa and the Red Storm used a strong defensive effort in the second half to surprise No. 13 Villanova.

Figueroa scored 22 points and St. John’s rallied to beat the Wildcats 71-65 on Sunday night. It was the first win for the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden against Villanova in 17 years, and they accomplished the feat in front of an energetic sellout crowd of nearly 20,000 fans.

“It was as loud as I can remember, maybe louder,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “I’m happy for them they got to experience that too. There’s nothing like that. There are some great places to play college basketball, but when you get a full Madison Square Garden against a championship team like Villanova there’s nothing like that. It’s awesome. It helped us. It kept us in the game and took us to another level.”

Trailing by 17 late in the first half, the Red Storm scored the final six points, including Justin Simon’s shot from the opposite 3-point line that banked in just before the buzzer and made it 37-26.

“We were screaming the whole way into the locker room,” said Mustapha Heron, who added 19 points. “We had to do it on the defensive end (in the second half).”

The Red Storm (19-7, 7-6 Big East) were down 48-34 with 12:30 left. They scored 20 of the next 25 points to take their first lead on Figueroa’s 3-pointer from the corner.

During that run, Villanova coach Jay Wright was hit with a technical foul for arguing a call.

“Their half-court defense went to another level after they pressed us and the crowd got going,” Wright said. “We had it to 11-12 in the second half there and they started pressing us. They got that turnover at half court and we got the technical that really got them going. That was the turning point in the game.”

The teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before Figueroa hit another 3-pointer that gave the Red Storm a 58-57 advantage with 3:12 left and started an 8-0 run.

The Red Storm led 63-57 with 50 seconds left when Villanova’s Phil Booth was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He made two free throws to get the Wildcats within four.

That’s as close as they could get as St. John’s converted its free throws down the stretch to complete the biggest comeback since the team rallied from a 20-point deficit against DePaul in 2010.

Joe Cremo scored 14 points for Villanova (20-6, 11-2), and Eric Paschall added 11 points and 14 rebounds.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Wright said. “We were really dominant in the first half, the second half they matched up the intensity.”

The game was a little bit of revenge for the Red Storm, who lost to Villanova by five after blowing an 11-point second-half lead on Jan. 8.

The Wildcats jumped all over the Red Storm early on, outscoring them 29-10 over the first 12 minutes. During that stretch, the Red Storm went without a basket for 7:39.

Bubble Banter: All of the weekend’s bubble action in one spot

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There is now just under a month left in conference play, so it is time for us to go all-in on the “who’s-in-who’s-out” discussion. Bubble Banter has never been more important!

Some quick housekeeping before we dive into it:

  • This page will be updated throughout the weekend, so be sure to check back on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the games get played. 
  • We’ll update them best that we can, but the NET rankings will be accurate through Friday morning. 
  • If you see something we missed, if you have an issue with a team we left out or if you want to congratulate us on a job well done, drop a comment below or hit us up here: @RobDauster.
  • The cut-off we will be using this year for teams that are “on the bubble” is the No. 9 seed line. If your favorite team is seeded as a No. 9 or better in our most recent bracket, they will not be discussed below. This does not mean that those teams are locks, but it means they need to do something dumb before they are in danger of missing out on the tournament. 
  • On Thursday, our Dave Ommen released an updated bracket, and these eight teams were placed in an 8-9 game: Buffalo, Alabama, Baylor, Syracuse, St. John’s, Auburn, Washington and TCU.

Onto the weekend’s action.

WINNERS

OKLAHOMA (NET: 41, SOS: 12): The Sooners finally snapped a five-game losing streak by going into Fort Worth and picking off TCU, 71-62. I still think that the Sooners are in a tough spot as it stands, but they now how four Q1 wins and just one loss to a team outside the top 35 in the NET — at West Virginia (115), a Q2 loss. A 4-8 mark against Q1 is not great, and neither is their 16-10 record or 4-9 mark in the Big 12, but OU does have three more shots at Q1 wins, and that doesn’t count Texas at home. Their bid is in their hands.

SETON HALL (NET: 61, SOS: 36): Seton Hall may have just about punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament on Sunday afternoon. They landed their third Q1 win of the season by going into Omaha and picking off Creighton (59), but making it all the more impressive is the fact that their first two Q1 wins came against Kentucky (6) on a neutral and at Maryland (21). They do have three unimpressive losses — they were swept by DePaul (91) and lost at home to Saint Louis (123) — but they are now 10-7 against Q1 and Q2 opponents. They end the season like this: Xavier (104), at St. John’s (49), at Georgetown (79), Marquette (20), Villanova (19). Win three more games and they’re in. Win two more and they’re probably feeling pretty good.

MINNESOTA (NET: 58, SOS: 60): The Golden Gophers got screwed on a bad foul call in the final seconds of a loss on Wednesday night, which cost them a Q1 win. They bounced back by absolutely humiliating Indiana at home, a win that won’t carry quite as much weight on Selection Sunday but that will keep the Gophers heading in the right direction. I personally think Minnesota is in really good shape right now given their win at Wisconsin and a win over Washington on a neutral. The 3-7 record in Q1 games isn’t ideal, but their worst loss is only a Q2 loss at Boston College. They close the season like this: Michigan (8), at Rutgers (118), at Northwestern (72), Purdue (11), at Maryland (21). If they go 3-2 in that stretch, they’re dancing, and 2-3 might even be enough to get the job done.

FLORIDA (NET: 42, SOS: 43): The Gators are not going to let us quit them. They picked up their best win of the season on Saturday, going into Tuscaloosa and pounding Alabama (45). That’s just Florida’s second Q1 win of the season. They are now 2-9 against Q1 opponents with a Q3 home loss to South Carolina in the mix. Their 14-11 overall record is not good, and their metrics are floated by the fact that they’ve played a lot of good teams close. Mike White’s team still has some ground to make up, but with two games against LSU (14) and a trip to Kentucky (6) on the schedule, they’ll have chances.

NEBRASKA (NET: 40, SOS: 70): I just can’t quit you, Nebraska. The Cornhuskers won their second straight game on Saturday, adding another Q2 win by picking off Northwestern (72) at home. I know that they lost seven straight earlier this year, but the Huskers are now 8-11 in Q1 and Q2 games with a pair of Q1 road wins. That’s enough to keep them in the mix, and with a schedule that is just absolutely brutal in the final three weeks of the season — at Penn State (70), Purdue (11), at Michigan (8), at Michigan State (7), Iowa (28) — they’ll get five more chances to notch Q1 wins.

WOFFORD (NET: 28, SOS: 167): Wofford absolutely beat the brakes off of the second-best team in the SoCon, UNC Greensboro. They won by 30 points. It’s not a Q1 win because it’s at home, but it is their fourth Q2 win to go along with a 2-4 mark against Q1. As long as the Terriers avoid losing at Chattanooga and at Samford, they are an at-large team in my mind. A 15-0 league record against a conference with more top 60 NET teams than the Pac-12 deserves to get in.

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 72, SOS: 67): Arizona State has one of the strangest resumes in college hoops this season. They are 4-1 in Q1 games and have another Q2 win at UCLA (107). But they’ve lost four Q3 games — Princeton (90), Utah (101), at USC (145), at Vanderbilt (189) — and that doesn’t court their worst loss of the year, at home to Washington State (230) by 21 points.

TEMPLE (NET: 55, SOS: 58): Here is the catch-22 for life on the bubble: Entering Saturday, Temple winning at USF (76) would have been a Q1 win. The Owls went out and they beat the Bulls in overtime. The problem? That loss dropped USF to 76th in the NET, meaning that it is now a Q2 win and Temple’s resume is still a win over Houston (5) and not much else. The reality is that won’t matter all that much. The committee will take into account that winning South Florida, whether it’s Q1 or Q2, is not a game-changer, which is why I’m still of the mindset that Temple needs to win at least four of their final five regular season games and avoid an AAC tournament loss to one of the teams at the bottom of the league.

BUTLER (NET: 53, SOS: 25): The Bulldogs beat DePaul on Saturday night, getting the win they needed to set themselves up for a shot at an at-large. Butler plays at Marquette on Wednesday and at Villanova in two weeks. With just one Q1 win to date, Butler might need to get both to really feel comfortable.

VCU (NET: 43, SOS: 40): The Rams were up by 22 points at Dayton (82) early in the second half and blew the lead, but thanks to a late Marcus Evans bucket, they were able to get out of Dayton Arena with a win. The win at Texas (35) continues to look better and better, a 3-2 mark against Q2 teams is solid and with just one bad loss — a Q3 home loss to Charleston (113) — the Rams are the Atlantic 10’s best chance at an at-large.

BELMONT (NET: 60, SOS: 166): For the Bruins to have a chance at an at-large, they need to win out and lost to Murray State and only Murray State in the OVC tournament. On Saturday night, they smacked around Tennessee Tech. So far so good.

UTAH STATE (NET: 38, SOS: 126): The Aggies probably couldn’t afford a loss to Air Force, and they did what they needed to win — win. There are two things that Utah State needs to do in they truly want to get an at-large bid to the tournament: 1. Beat Nevada at home, and 2. Hope that Fresno State cracks the top 75 in the NET. If they two, that’s one less Q3 loss and one more Q1 win on their resume.

UCF (NET: 45, SOS: 83): UCF won against Memphis in Orlando, which gives them a sixth Q2 win but doesn’t do much to change the biggest flaw in their profile: A total lack of Q1 wins. The Knights play at Cincinnati on Thursday. That will be the game-changer.

TEXAS (NET: 35, SOS: 6): The Longhorns did what they needed to do on Saturday, knocking off Oklahoma State in Austin to avoid picking up their second Q3 loss of the year. The Longhorns are now 15-11 overall and just 7-6 in the Big 12, but they have the No. 6 SOS and No. 11 non-conference SOS nationally. Combine that with a neutral court win over UNC (9), home wins over Purdue (11) and Kansas (18) and a win at Kansas State (26), and the Longhorns are in a pretty good spot.

LIPSCOMB (NET: 30, SOS: 188): Losing to a three-win Kennesaw State team would have been a dream-killer for the Bisons. They won and live to fight another day.

LOSERS

N.C. STATE (NET: 37, SOS: 239): The Wolfpack lost at Duke on Saturday, which is what we all expected to see happen. The chink in N.C. State’s armor is that they played the worst non-conference schedule in the country, and when combined with A) just one Q1 win and B) a Q3 loss, Kevin Keatts is not in a place where he can feel comfortable yet. The most troubling part: N.C. State’s season ends like this: Boston College, Wake Forest, at Florida State, Georgia Tech, at Boston College. They have one Q1 opportunity left. They really, really need to win it.

UNC GREENSBORO (NET: 46, SOS: 191): The Spartans were whipped at Wofford, losing by 30 to the SoCon leaders. It’s their second loss this week and probably takes them out of serious bubble consideration. We’ll keep them around, but they’re probably not going to have enough good wins.

ARKANSAS (NET: 63, SOS: 45): I don’t get the appeal of Arkansas as a bubble team. They won at LSU, which is nice, but that is their only Q1 win in seven tries and they are 3-10 against Q1 and Q2 opponents. They’ve also lost at home to both Georgia Tech (118) and Western Kentucky (121), which are Q3 losses. What is the appeal here? What am I missing?

INDIANA (NET: 49, SOS: 36): Indiana is off the bubble at this point. They went into Minnesota and got absolutely poleaxed. The Hoosiers have now lost 10 of their last 11 games to fall to 13-12 on the season and 4-10 in the Big Ten. If they can somehow find a way to put together a winning streak late in the year, they have some great wins — at Michigan State (7), Louisville (16), Marquette (20) — and no bad losses, but that feels like saying if I can lose 30 pounds and get my six pack back I could be an underwear model.

CLEMSON (NET: 42, SOS: 33): The Tigers had a shot to land their second Q1 win of the season, but after erasing and eight point lead in the final minute and forcing a turnover with 3.5 seconds left, the Tigers had a layup blocked with that would have won the game. The result doesn’t really hurt their profile other than the opportunity cost — this is the kind of win that, on this year’s bubble, can jump Clemson up four or five spots in the seed list. That’s a tough miss.

No. 11 Michigan State’s win over Ohio State overshadowed by Nick Ward injury

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No. 11 Michigan State used a 20-2 run over the course of the final eight minutes on Saturday afternoon, sending Ohio State back to Columbus with a 62-44 loss to keep pace with Purdue and Michigan atop the Big Ten standings, but no one is going to be talking about that today.

They’re going to be talking about Nick Ward.

The 6-foot-9 junior center for the Spartans emerged from halftime with his left hand — shooting hand — heavily bandaged and played just four second half minutes because of the injury. Michigan State announced after the game that Ward suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand towards the end of the first half. The injury occurred when Ward hit his hand on the rim, a source close to the program said.

Michigan State is already down their second-best scorer with Josh Langford injured. Losing Ward would mean losing their best low-post scorer and a guy that gets them a couple of easy buckets every night because of his ability to run the floor and the way Cassius Winston can find him in transition.

With Langford out of commission, Michigan State is going to have a tough enough time with Michigan in two of their last four game.

Without Ward?

It’s hard to see the Spartans winning much if Ward cannot return in time for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

Saturday’s Things To Know: Barrett shines, Kentucky rolls, Kansas’ time is a flat circle

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PLAYER OF THE DAY: R.J. Barrett, Duke

Barrett has been something of a disappointment this season considering what the expectations for him were coming into the year. He was the No. 1 prospect in the class, the guy we thought was going to the No. 1 pick, and he’s been … just an all-american?

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, I guess.

One of the knocks on Barrett throughout the year has been that he can be too selfish and that he’s an inefficient gunner. Well, on Saturday, as Zion Williamson poured in 32 points while battling foul trouble in a 94-78 win over N.C. State, Barrett completed just the fourth triple-double in the history of the Duke program. He had 23 points (8-for-16 shooting), 11 boards and 10 assists, and he did it without committing a turnover.

Not bad.

TEAM OF THE DAY: Kentucky Wildcats

No. 5 Kentucky smacked around the No. 1 team in the country on Saturday, beating Tennessee, 86-69, in Lexington. It was their ceiling game. We wrote 1,000 words all about it here.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Joe Wieskamp, Iowa

After Geo Baker hit a go-ahead three with 3.3 seconds left, Iowa answered with one of the wildest shots of the season. Check this out:

EXTRA ONIONS: David Jenkins, South Dakota State

Jenkins capped off a comeback from 17 points down in the second half as the Jackrabbits knocked off North Dakota State with a buzzer-beater from halfcourt:

WINNERS

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines kept a hold on first place in the Big Ten race by rolling over No. 24 Maryland in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

AVERY BENSON AND ANDREW SORRELLS: No. 15 Texas Tech steam-rolled another Big 12 opponent on Saturday, beating Baylor by 25 points. And while the win didn’t make all that much noise, Texas Tech did make some headlines thanks to a pair of walk-ons who through an alley-oop in the final seconds of a blowout win. Chris Beard was not happy:

My take?

Whatever the punishment ends up being — the suicides, the wall-sits, whatever it is — it was worth it. Walk-ons only get so many shots at glory. If you have a chance to throw a lob or catch a lob and dunk it as a walk-on, you take it. Those two already are legends on campus.

Like I said, it was worth it.

LSU: The Tigers hung on to beat Georgia on the road, their second road win of the week. This is significant because Kentucky knocked off Tennessee on Saturday as well, and that Wildcat win means that LSU is now tied with Tennessee for first place in the league standings. The best news? Four of LSU’s final six games are at home, including hosting a game against the Vols. And the Vols also have to play Kentucky against. Is … is LSU the odds-on favorite to win the SEC now?

LOSERS

INDIANA: This has to be rock bottom for the Hoosiers, right?

Not only have they now lost 10 out of their last 11 games, but this loss was a total and complete humiliation. The Hoosiers lost by 21 points at Minnesota. They trailed by as many as 30. With an NCAA tournament bid still up in the air, Indiana played as if they didn’t even want to make the trip up to Minneapolis. This has not been the sophomore season that Archie Miller wanted.

DEAN WADE’S FOOT: No. 18 Kansas State lost to No. 23 Iowa State at home on Saturday, which cost them the cushion they had in the Big 12 title race, but that might not be their biggest loss of the day. Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Dean Wade suffered another foot injury. It does not appear to be all that serious, but for a guy that has missed long stretches of each of the last two seasons with foot injuries, everything is serious.

CLEMSON: The Tigers lost their second straight game in demoralizing fashion on Saturday. Against Louisville, the Tigers erased a seven point deficit in less than 15 seconds and, with 3.5 seconds left in a one-point game, forced a turnover and had two shots two win it at the buzzer. Spoiler alert: They didn’t. On Wednesday, it was Miami — one of the worst teams in the ACC — hitting a last-second jumper that bounced off the backboard twice before going in. There’s only a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line here.

FINAL THOUGHT

Kansas is always going to find a way to win the Big 12.

Right?

I mean, it’s proven to be true for 14 straight years, regardless of what disaster or obstacle gets put in their way.

And after what transpired on Saturday, it looks like we’re heading down that same road again.

Kansas State entered the day holding a two game lead in the loss column in the league title race. But they lost at home to Iowa State and, in the process, lost Dean Wade. The injury does not appear to be serious, but it does appear to be something that will, at the very least, bother him for a little while. We know what Kansas State is without Wade on the floor at 100 percent (not very good), which opens the door for Kansas.

The standings, as of today, look like this:

  • Kansas State (9-3)
  • Texas Tech (9-4)
  • Kansas (9-4)
  • Iowa State (8-4)

Kansas still has to play at Texas Tech next Saturday in the game that appears to be the most likely to keep Kansas from calling themselves Big 12 champions one again. The Jayhawks also host Kansas State while Texas Tech pays a visit to Iowa State on the last day of the regular season.

Those are the games that will decide the Big 12 regular season title.

And despite starting four freshmen, one of whom was supposed to redshirt this season, while playing without Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett and Lagerald Vick, Kansas is very much in the thick of the race.

One win in Lubbock next week, and they might even be the favorites.

Someone once told me, time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re going to do over and over and over again.