Bubble Banter: Xavier, Wisconsin land massive wins for their bubble standing

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Best I can tell, there are 23 teams in action on Saturday sitting somewhere between the 10 seed line and within reach of getting into the NCAA tournament.

Let’s talk about them.

Bubble Banter!

Dave Ommen’s latest bracket can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here. A full bubble breakdown is right here.

WINNERS

XAVIER (NET: 63, NBC: Next four out): It’s impossible to overstate just how important Saturday’s win at Seton Hall (14) is for Xavier. The Musketeers entered the day with a 13-8 record, but just a 1-7 mark against Quad 1 opponents. Their only Quad 1 win enter the day came at TCU (65). Their only top 50 win entering the day came against Georgetown (49) at home. They didn’t have anything close to resembling a marquee win, and now they do. With two games left against Butler (8) and a visit from Villanova (13) left on their schedule, the Musketeers still have a couple of more chances, too. They’ll probably want to win at least one of those, and they certainly aren’t a lock just yet, but this is precisely the kind of win that chances the calculus for their tournament chances.

WISCONSIN (NET: 31, NBC: 10): The Badgers had quite the eventful week. They lost at Iowa on Monday. They had one starter quit the team on Wednesday after skipping Monday’s game. They had another starter get suspended for punching an opponent below the belt in that Monday loss. Then they went out and knocked off Michigan State (7) in the Kohl Center on Saturday. The Badgers are 6-7 against Quad 1 opponents, and while they are 13-9 with a Quad 3 loss to their name, a lot has to happen for them to miss the tournament at this point.

STANFORD (NET: 28, NBC: First four out): The Cardinal snapped a three-game losing streak by landing their first Quad 1 win of the season, beating Oregon (15) at home. With a pair of Quad 3 losses on their resume and just a 4-3 record against the top two Quads, Stanford still has work to do to feel good about their place on the bubble, but with the mountain road trip coming up next week, this was close to a must-win. They got it done.

CINCINNATI (NET: 51, NBC: Off the bubble): Cincinnati has turned their season around. Entering Saturday, they have won three in a row and five of their last six. The problem is that they have dug themselves a pretty significant hole to get out of. They entered Saturday without so much as a top 60 win, let alone a Quad 1 win, and they have three Quad 3 losses to their name. They need to start building out a resume, and given that they play in the AAC — a league without a top 30 team in the NET — they cannot miss on chances like this. And they didn’t, coming back from 12 down in the second half to beat Houston (35) at home. That is still just a Quad 2 win, but it’s a start.

TULSA (NET: 69, NBC: Off the bubble): The Golden Hurricane are doing everything they can to put themselves in a position to get an at-large bid to the tournament. On Saturday, they got a buzzer-beating three from Elijah Joiner to knock off Wichita State (32) in Tulsa. They are now sitting in sole possession of first place in the American. They still are without a Quad 1 win, but sitting at 4-4 against the top two Quads helps offset a Quad 3 and a Quad 4 loss.

BYU (NET: 29, NBC: 10): The Cougars knocked off Saint Mary’s (33), 81-79, at home on Saturday, a win that should put them in really, really good position to get an at-large so long as they avoid any terrible losses. They are 5-7 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents, and while four of those five wins are against Quad 2 opponents, that’s misleading. Saint Mary’s is three spot away from being a Quad 1 win. Virginia Tech (53) and Utah State (54) on neutral courts will be Quad 1 wins if they end up being top 50 by the end of the season. BYU is legit, and they should probably get in the tournament.

MEMPHIS (NET: 50, NBC: 10): The Tigers won their second game in a row on Saturday, as they picked off UConn (88) at home. Beating the Huskies doesn’t do much for the Tigers’ resume, but given the way that this season has gone for the Tigers, every win counts. They still don’t have a top 50 win on the season and are just 1-3 against Quad 1 opponents.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 42, NBC: Play-in game): The Bulldogs have now won two games in a row and five of their last six after beating Tennessee in Starkville on Saturday. With a pair of Quad 3 losses on their resume, and Arkansas (38) dropping down to just a Quad 2 win after losing to South Carolina (76) at home last week, Ben Howland’s club can hardly afford another slip-up. Keep winning, keep moving up the seed list.

TEXAS (NET: 64, NBC: Off the bubble): The Longhorns did what they needed to do this week by beating TCU (65) on the road and knocking off Iowa State (72) at home. They now head into the most important three-game stretch of their season — at Kansas (3), Texas Tech (30), Baylor (1) — with some confidence. They probably should win at least one, if not two of those to feel good about where they are heading into the stretch run.

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 57, NBC: First four out): The Sun Devils ended up splitting the road trip to the Washington schools, which could have been worse considering the fact that U-Dub (48) is a Quad 1 win still. That’s the second Quad 1 win for the Sun Devils, who are now 6-8 against the top two Quads. They’ve put themselves in a good position to get a bid.

PURDUE (NET: 37, NBC: Off the bubble): The Boilermakers did what they needed to and won at Northwestern on Saturday. Purdue’s biggest issue at this point is how many losses they’ve stacked up. They’re 12-10 overall and 2-8 against Quad 1 opponents, and seven of their final nine games are Quad 1 games. That doesn’t include home games against Michigan (34) or Indiana (46). It’s just a brutal, brutal schedule.

FLORIDA (NET: 42, NBC: 10): The Gators did not lose to Vanderbilt on Saturday, which is a good thing. Florida’s computer numbers are strong, but after losing to Mississippi State (42) at home earlier this week, their overall resume is pretty bland. They have home wins over Auburn (26) and Alabama (40), but their only road win came at South Carolina (76) and their three neutral site wins are against teams that look unlikely to get to the tournament. It’s enough to get them a bid, but not a seed that you would expect from a team as good as the Gators were supposed to be.

LOSERS

NORTH CAROLINA (NET: 93, NBC: Off the bubble): Just when we thought that the Tar Heels were going to be able to rally with Cole Anthony back in the mix, they go out and lose at home to Boston College with Cole on the floor. That dream is over.

ALABAMA (NET: 40, NBC: Play-in game): The bad news for Alabama is that they lost at home to Arkansas (38), a game that would have been the kind of Quad 2 win they need to continue to bolster their resume. With just one Quad 1 win to their name, the Crimson Tide need all the help they can get right now. The good news? Penn (151) has played their way into being a Quad 3 loss.

N.C. STATE (NET: 56, NBC: Play-in game): The Wolfpack got smoked at home by Louisville (10) on Saturday, their third straight loss. They now head out on the road for their next three games before returning home to play Duke (6) and Florida State (16). For a team with a 13-8 record, two Quad 1 wins and two Quad 3 losses, that is not an ideal situation.

DEPAUL (NET: 59, NBC: First four out): The Blue Demons lost another heart-breaker, blowing yet another lead and falling at Marquette (22), 76-72. They are now just 1-8 in the Big East, and while the rest of their resume looks pretty good, we’ve reached the point where the losses are just piling up too much. They have to sweep Xavier (61) and at Georgetown (49) next week if they want a real shot at this.

SYRACUSE (NET: 60, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange fell to 13-9 on the season with a loss at home to Duke (9) on Saturday. That’s now back-to-back losses for Jim Boeheim’s team after they had won five games in a row. They do have three Quad 1 wins, but they have yet to beat a single top 50 team this season.

UTAH STATE (NET: 54, NBC: Off the bubble): The Aggies lost at San Diego State (1) on Saturday, which might seal their fate as an NIT team barring an automatic bid. Wins over LSU (19) and Florida (42) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-95 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses?

TENNESSEE (NET: 62, NBC: Next four out): The Vols are now 12-9 on the season with three Quad 2 losses and a Quad 3 loss on their resume after losing to Mississippi State (43) on the road on Saturday. With just two Quad 1 wins, neither of which came against a top 30 opponent, Tennessee is backing themselves into a corner. The good news? They still play eight Quad 1 games, and that doesn’t include Florida at home. The Vols can survive this if they get hot, but that’s starting to look like a pretty big ‘if’.

VIRGINIA TECH (NET: 53, NBC: Next four out): Virginia Tech lost their third straight game and their fourth in five games on Saturday as they hosted Florida State (16) and lost 74-63. This was one of just three chances that Mike Young’s team had left on their schedule to land resume-changing wins, and the other two come on the road against Duke (6) and Louisville (10). The Hokies are in a tough spot.

TCU (NET: 65, NBC: Off the bubble): The Horned Frogs lost their third straight game and their first in the last six games on Saturday, but it’s understandable — they were playing at Baylor (1). They are still without a Quad 1 win and are now 3-7 against the top two Quads. They have quite a bit of work to do.

WASHINGTON (NET: 47, NBC: Off the bubble): Washington lost again on Saturday, this time at home against Arizona State (56). They’ve now lost five in a row, seven of eight and nine of 11. They’re 12-11 overall and 2-8 in the Pac-12 and play their next three games on the road. They’re off the bubble for now.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Ohio State tumbles

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It was a rough week for Ohio State, which lost all three of its games and tumbled down the AP Top 25 as a result.

The previously unbeaten Buckeyes fell from second to 10th in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday after losing to Iowa and Indiana, two top 10 teams, as well as Purdue. Ohio State fell two games back in the Big Ten Conference standings.

South Carolina remained No. 1 for the 32nd consecutive week. The Gamecocks, who were again a unanimous choice from the 28-member national media panel, have the fourth-longest streak ever atop the poll. Only UConn (51 and 34 weeks) and Louisiana Tech (36) have had longer runs at No. 1.

Stanford moved back up to No. 2 in the poll and the Cardinal were followed by LSU, Indiana and UConn in the top five. LSU is the only other undefeated team in women’s basketball besides South Carolina, which visits UConn for a top-five showdown on Sunday.

Iowa jumped out four spots to sixth with Utah, Maryland and Notre Dame coming in ahead of Ohio State. The Hawkeyes started the season No. 4 in the poll.

The Fighting Irish split a pair of games last week against ranked opponents, routing Florida State before falling to N.C. State.

“There’s a lot of parity right now, which is great, great for the game,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “The game is growing, which is what you want. But yeah, I mean, every night, especially the ACC, the ACC is the strongest league and, you know, we have just a tough stretch every night.”

One week after falling out of the rankings, Texas re-entered the poll at No. 24. The Longhorns routed then-No. 14 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week. South Florida also came in at No. 25. Colorado and Illinois fell out of the poll.

RISING BULLS

No. 25 South Florida continued its streak of being ranked for at least one week every season since the Bulls entered the poll for the first time in 2015.

“For us not being in a so-called football five conference, that’s a huge accomplishment,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. His team has won 10 consecutive games and has 20 victories this season. The team’s four losses have all come against ranked opponents (Michigan, Villanova, Ohio State and N.C. State).

“This group has been fun to coach. We always play a great non(equals)conference schedule,” Fernandez said. “We won on the road at Texas, beat Alabama, beat Arkansas. We challenged ourselves in November and December.”

RECORD PERFORMANCES

Cameron Brink carried Stanford to a win over Oregon with a triple-double that included 10 blocks. It was the first triple-double in NCAA Division I women’s basketball featuring double-digit blocks since Tamari Key did it for Tennessee in an overtime win against Texas on Nov. 21, 2021.

No. 20 Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson set the all-time NCAA women’s career record for 3-pointers when she hit her 498th in a loss to Iowa State on Saturday. Robertson has 503 entering this week. The all-time NCAA record, men or women, is held by Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who has 534 and counting.

Purdue a unanimous No. 1 in AP Top 25; Vols up to No. 2

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Purdue became this season’s first unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 men’s college basketball poll Monday after wins over Michigan and Michigan State last week as chaos ensued behind the Boilermakers among other ranked teams.

More than half of Top 25 teams lost, including second-ranked Alabama, which was routed by Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. That allowed Purdue to grab the remaining No. 1 votes and tighten its grip atop the poll, while Tennessee jumped two spots to second and Houston held onto third in voting by 62 national media members.

The Boilermakers (21-1) have won eight straight since a one-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 2.

“We’re the No. 1 team in the country because of how unselfish we are as a team,” Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “We had a lot of people doubting us in the beginning because, you know, we may not be the most talented team or whatever, but we’re close on the court and off the court and it’s really translating to how we’re winning.”

The Volunteers climbed to their highest perch since reaching No. 1 for four weeks during the 2018-19 season. They routed Georgia before becoming one of three SEC teams to beat Big 12 opponents on Saturday, knocking off No. 10 Texas 82-71 for their fifth consecutive win over a top-10 team.

Perhaps this is the year Rick Barnes finally gets the Vols through the Sweet 16 for the first time as their coach.

“We have a chance to be as good as we want to be,” he said. “It’s up to one thing: Are we tough enough to embrace the daily grind? And not worry about going to the Final Four or worry about going to the NCAA Tournament, but can we build a team that can be successful that time of year? It starts with truly embracing the grind.”

The Crimson Tide dropped to fourth after the blowout loss to the Sooners, when Alabama fell behind by 17 at halftime in an eventual 93-69 defeat. The Tide edged fifth-ranked Arizona by just two points in this week’s poll.

“It doesn’t have any effect on SEC standings, which is the only good thing to come out of this,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of the lopsided loss. “Hopefully we’ll recover from a loss out of conference, but you know, it’s not good.”

Virginia was sixth and Kansas State, which rebounded from a narrow loss at No. 13 Iowa State by pummeling Florida on Saturday, fell two spots to seventh; the Wildcats face eighth-ranked Kansas in a top-10 showdown Tuesday night.

UCLA dropped to ninth after losing to Southern California and Texas rounded out the top 10.

Baylor continued its climb from unranked to No. 11 following wins over the Jayhawks and Arkansas. The Bears were followed by Gonzaga, Iowa State, Marquette and league rival TCU – the sixth Big 12 team in the top 15.

Xavier, Providence, Saint Mary’s, Florida Atlantic and Clemson completed the top 20, while poll returners Indiana and San Diego State joined Miami, UConn and Auburn in rounding out the Top 25.

RISING AND FALLING

The No. 11 Bears and No. 17 Providence made the biggest leaps, each climbing six spots from last week.

“I think our defense is better. Our turnovers are better. When you don’t give people easy transition baskets, now its five-on-five in the half court,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team had a date with the Longhorns on Monday night.

“We execute at a pretty high rate,” Drew said. “It really comes down to taking care of the ball, making sure we get shots up and when you don’t make them, you’ve got to get rebounds. And our guys are buying into that.”

Auburn took the biggest hit of those still in the poll, dropping 10 places after losses to unranked Texas A&M and West Virginia.

IN AND OUT

The Hoosiers returned to the poll at No. 21 and the Aztecs rejoined it right behind them. They took the place of Charleston, which fell out from No. 18 after losing to Hofstra, and New Mexico, which lost to Nevada in double overtime last week.

CONFERENCE CALL

The Big 12’s dominance of the SEC in the final year of their head-to-head challenge was rewarded in the poll, where the league led the way with six ranked teams and all of them in the top 15. The Big East has four teams in the poll but none higher than No. 14 Marquette, while the SEC and ACC have three teams apiece.

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

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

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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.