Bubble Banter: Three bid thieves take the floor hoping to shrink the bubble

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Throughout the day, we will be tracking how every result impacts the teams currently sitting on the bubble. You can find our most recent bracket projection right here. This story will be updated throughout the afternoon and evening.

Big Thievery is alive and well in the Atlantic 10, as Rhode Island upset No. 1 seed VCU in the quarterfinals. Assuming that the Rams handle this Marcus Evans injury the smart way — play it close to the vest, if it’s a serious knee injury don’t announce that he’s out until after Selection Sunday — and they should be OK. They entered the day with a NET of 31, and with a pair of Q1 wins, winning at Texas (37) and at Dayton (66). They do now have three Q3 losses, but a 25-7 record and a non-conference SOS that ranks No. 2 nationally should be enough to get them in. VCU was a No. 8 seed in our most recent bracket projection. They’re not going to fall out of the tournament.

Nevada also went down on Friday night, although the Wolf Pack are in a different situation than the Rams were. San Diego State still has to beat Utah State in the Mountain West title game to be considered a bid thief — the Aggies are in the tournament regardless of whether or not they win or lose. The good news for bubble teams is that Buffalo found a way to win, meaning that the MAC is still a one-bid league, as far as we know.


FLORIDA (NET: 32, SOS: 42): Andrew Nembhard hit a three with 1.0 seconds left to break a tie and give the Gators their second win over LSU (14) this season. For my money, that is going to be enough to get them onto the right side of the bubble. They have four Q1 wins — including a win at LSU in February — and they are 8-12 against Q1 and Q2 opponents.

UTAH STATE (NET: 30, SOS: 106): The Aggies picked off Fresno State (85) by 25 points on Friday afternoon, advancing to the Mountain West title game to take on San Diego State (124) and Jaden McDaniels. I think this team is in. They are 4-2 against Q1 opponents with a win over Nevada (18) and Saint Mary’s (34). They are 4-2 against Q1 opponents and four of their six losses are Q2 losses. The only concern is their opponent in the title game — SDSU on a neutral court would be their worst loss of the season. I don’t think it would be enough to push them to the wrong side of the cut line, but it would not be a comfortable Sunday if the can’t find a way to win.

MINNESOTA (NET: 57, SOS: 49): Minnesota is dancing. They were essentially in the tournament prior to today’s game against Purdue, and the Golden Gophers went out and beat the Boilermakers.


OHIO STATE (NET: 55, SOS: 56): Ohio State fell against Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday afternoon, but despite the loss, I think they are going to end up being OK. They have four Q1 wins, including a road win at Cincinnati (26) in their season-opener. That is their only elite win of the season, but with just one Q3 loss and a 9-13 mark against Q1 and Q2 opponents, I think that they did enough, but they are going to want to see Nevada and Buffalo win.

ALABAMA (NET: 58, SOS: 22): Alabama, like Ohio State, is going to be one of the teams that ends up directly on the cutline on Selection Sunday. After losing to Kentucky (5) in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament on Friday, the Crimson Tide are 3-10 against Q1 opponents and 10-13 against the top two quadrants. They did beat Kentucky at home, but they also lost to Texas A&M (83) and Georgia State (126) in that same building. It is going to be close. Pray that Utah State and Buffalo win, I guess.

TEMPLE (NET: 51, SOS: 78): Now the sweating begins. The Owls fell against Wichita State on Friday, meaning that they are going to spend the next two days seeing just how long fingernails can be chewed for. At this point, I think Temple will be in. They are 2-6 against Q1 opponents with an 8-8 record against the top two quadrants. They only have one bad loss — Penn (108) at home — and they also knocked off Houston (4) in Philly. The bubble is slowly getting tougher as the days pass, but I think Temple will be on the right side of history.

XAVIER (NET: 70, SOS: 51): Xavier is out. After losing to Villanova, the Musketeers are likely NIT bound.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.