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Monday’s Three Things To Know: Syracuse is a more deserving tourney team than Louisville

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1. IN A BATTLE OF BUBBLE TEAMS, LOUISVILLE DROPS ONE AT HOME TO SYRACUSE

Tyus Battle popped off for 25 points while Frank Howard chipped in with 22 as Syracuse went into the Yum! Center and knocked off Louisville, 78-73, despite the fact that they have just six scholarship players currently available.

This was an enormous win for the Orange. I can’t stress that enough. Enormous. Syracuse, entering Monday night, had yet to notch a Quadrant 1 win. Beating Louisville, who is 42nd in the RPI, on the road? That’s a Quadrant 1 win. It’s not exactly a marquis win, but Quadrant 1 is Quadrant 1.

The other part of this that is important for Syracuse? This is the first road win for the Orange that didn’t come against Georgetown or Pitt. Put another way, winning this game put Syracuse on the road in two categories that are valued by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

Louisville, on the other end, is trending in the wrong direction. They have just one Quadrant 1 win and two Quadrant 2 wins. They’ve also lost three in a row and four of their last five, including back-to-back games at home against Quadrant 2 opponents. Most brackets currently have Louisville in and Syracuse out, and I’d love to hear the logic for why Louisville is currently a tournament team over Syracuse.

2. WEST VIRGINIA SWEPT OKLAHOMA

Trae Young scored 32 points but finished with just a single assists as the Sooners lost to West Virginia for the second time this season. The win keeps the Mountaineers within a game of first place in the Big 12, while Oklahoma falls two games off the pace. It’s the first time that the Sooners have lost at home this season, and another worrying sign that Young carrying the water for this team offensively might just be a little too much for him to handle on his own.

But credit where it is due: West Virginia took away everyone not named Young, and did their best to allow college basketball’s best perimeter defender — Jevon Carter — go one-on-one against the youngster. It worked out. Young finished with just a single assist, although if we are going to be fair to the kid, he could have had five or six more if some shots had gone down.

3. HMM …

On a slow night, this is tough.

I’m going to go with Patriot League leaders Bucknell losing in overtime to Lehigh over Indiana beating Rutgers by 22 points.

Villanova, Virginia, Purdue stay 1-2-3 atop latest AP Top 25

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Villanova, Virginia and Purdue are making themselves comfortable atop the AP Top 25. And with the way they’re playing, they might stay there for a while longer, too.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in Monday’s latest poll, followed by the second-ranked Cavaliers and the third-ranked Boilermakers. It marked the fourth straight week that with the trio sitting 1-2-3 in the poll as they continue extended winning streaks while avoiding the upsets that hit national powers Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Kentucky last weekend.

Villanova (22-1, 9-1 Big East) has won nine straight and hasn’t lost in the 2018 calendar year.

Virginia (22-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 14 straight games and leads the rest of the tradition-rich league by at least three games in the loss column. Its defense ranks No. 1 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings (82.2 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the Cavaliers are coming off a game in which they held Syracuse to 44 points — the Orange’s lowest output ever in the Carrier Dome.

“The guys are playing at a high level, for sure,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said afterward. “They understand how they have to play. … I like what our guys are doing.”

Then there’s Purdue (23-2, 12-0 Big Ten). The Boilermakers have the nation’s longest winning streak at 19 games with the only hiccups coming in a two-day blip in November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

“If there is a better team inside and out in the country, I haven’t seen them yet,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said after his team’s Saturday overtime loss to the Boilermakers.

HERE IS THE FULL POLL

1. Villanova (48 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (16)
3. Purdue (1)
4. Michigan State
5. Xavier
6. Cincinnati
7. Texas Tech
8. Auburn
9. Duke
10. Kansas
11. Saint Mary’s
12. Gonzaga
13. Arizona
14. Ohio State
15. Tennessee
16. Clemson
17. Oklahoma
18. Rhode Island
19. West Virginia
20. Michigan
21. North Carolina
22. Wichita State
23. Nevada
24. Kentucky
25. Miami

TOP-10 CHANGES

Several teams reached first-time-in-years perches in the top 10.

Cincinnati (21-2) followed No. 4 Michigan State and No. 5 Xavier, reaching No. 6 for its highest ranking since January 2004. Next came No. 7 Texas Tech (19-4), which reached its highest ranking since hitting No. 7 in March 1996. And eighth-ranked Auburn (21-2) has its highest ranking since January 2000.

Ninth-ranked Duke and No. 10 Kansas rounded out the top 10, each sliding along with fellow national powers Arizona (No. 13) and Kentucky (No. 24) after losses in an upset-filled weekend.

HIGH MARKS

St. Mary’s (23-2) is rolling along with 18 straight wins behind high-scoring forward Jock Landale (24.5 points per game). Now the Gaels have their highest ranking in program history at No. 11, surpassing a two-week stay at No. 12 last season.

And No. 18 Rhode Island (19-3) also claimed its highest ever slot in the AP Top 25.

VOLS’ CHARGE

Tennessee (17-5) has won five straight games — the last two by a combined 56 points — to reach No. 15, the program’s highest mark since hitting No. 7 in December 2011.

TOP RISERS

Rhode Island joined No. 16 Clemson and No. 20 Michigan in making the week’s biggest climbs of four spots each.

LONGEST SLIDES

No. 22 Wichita State (17-5) had the week’s biggest fall of six spots after losing in overtime at Temple. Duke fell five spots after losing to a St. John’s team that was 0-11 in the Big East, while No. 17 Oklahoma also fell five spots after losing to Texas.

NEWCOMERS

No. 23 Nevada and No. 25 Miami were new to this week’s poll, though both have been ranked multiple weeks this season.

SLIDING OUT

Florida fell out from No. 23 after two losses to unranked teams, while Arizona State fell out from No. 25 in what has been a big decline after a strong start. The Sun Devils went from unranked in the preseason all the way to No. 3 in December, but stand at just 5-6 in the Pac-12.

CBT Podcast: Monday Overreactions: Are you more worried about Duke, Kansas or Arizona?

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Rob Dauster was joined on Monday by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic to go through all of the Monday Overreactions. The two open with a discussion of whether they are more worried about Duke, Kansas or Arizona after this weekend, as well as long discussions about the hierarchy of the Big 12, whether or not Jalen Brunson has a shot at winning National Player of the Year and who in the Big Ten can get to a Final Four. Plus, a bonus discussion on Miles Bridges. The rundown:

OPEN: Super Bowl sides, and prop bet success.

7:15: Are you more concerned about Duke, Arizona or Kansas? Are they still title contenders?

33:30: Overreactions! The best team in the Big 12 is Texas Tech.

41:00: Jalen Brunson is the National Player of the Year.

46:30: There will not be a Final Four team out of the Big Ten.

55:30: Is Miles Bridges having a bad season?

Dates, details released for $100,000 3-on-3 tournament

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Details of the $100,000 3-on-3 tournament that will be taking place at the Final Four were announced on Monday morning.

The tournament — which has been branded the 3X3U National Championship — will be played from Friday, March 30th, through Sunday, April 1st.

The way it works is this: There will be 32 four-man teams competing in the event. Each one of those teams will be made up of players from the same conference, seniors that have completed all of their eligibility. (Full disclosure: I am on the Selection Committee for these teams.)

Those 32 teams will be broken up into eight pools of four teams, and those four teams will then play three pool play games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The winners will advance to play in an eight-team tournament that will take place on Sunday, with the finals being a best-of-three series.

Every win will earn that team $1,000, or $250 per team member, until the finals, where the champ will take home a cool $50,000 to split between the four of them.

All of the games will be broadcast live on twitter until the championship series, which will be live on ESPN2.

The rosters will officially be revealed during the four days before the start of the tournament and can only consist of players from teams that did not reach the Final Four. A second watch-list will be released in February.

Player Of The Week: Keenan Evans, Texas Tech

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The Big 12 is absolutely loaded at the point guard spot.

Loaded.

Trae Young, Devonte’ Graham, Jevon Carter, Manu Lecomte. Barry Brown has been one of the most improved players in the country. Matt Coleman was fantastic this weekend for Texas. TCU replaced one very good point guard (Jaylen Fisher) with another (Alex Robinson).

It’s hard to differentiate yourself from the field in that league, but Keenan Evans has been just as good, if not better, than anyone in the conference not named Trae Young.

He had his breakout game on Tuesday: 38 points and three assists while leading Texas Tech back from a late deficit and hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer in overtime. He followed that up with a team-high 17 points in a blowout win at TCU.

Evans is the head of the snake for Chris Beard’s club. He’s the senior leader, a defensive menace and the guy that has the cajones to take and make big shots on a seemingly-nightly basis. But my favorite part about Evans’ emergence is that he is not a Beard recruit. He was brought into the program by Tubby Smith and he has embraced everything that Beard wants him to embrace.

It is not always easy for a coach to work with a player recruited by someone else, and it is not always easy for a player to play for a new coach after the guy that recruited him left.

So credit to both of those guys.

They’re currently tied for first place in the Big 12 standings with a home game against Kansas.

THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • NOAH DICKERSON, Washington: In Washington’s biggest weekend of the season, Dickerson played his best basketball. The 6-foot-8 junior had 25 points and seven boards in a win over No. 9 Arizona just 48 hours after going for 21 points and 16 boards in a win over No. 25 Arizona State.
  • ANTHONY LAWRENCE, Miami: Miami picked up a pair of wins after losing Bruce Brown, and Lawrence was one of the stars. He posted a pair of double-doubles this week, including 25 points, 13 boards, three blocks and two assists against Virginia Tech.
  • SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s: Ponds had 31 points, six steals, five assists and five boards in a loss to Xavier, then followed that up with 33 points, seven boards, four steals and three assists — including two huge buckets in the final 75 seconds — as the Johnnies snapped an 11-game losing streak and beat No. 4 Duke.
  • JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: In two wins this week, Landale averaging 30 points, 15 boards, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks. The Gaels are still sitting a game in front of Gonzaga in the WCC title race.
  • TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: Bluiett led the Musketeers with 14 points in a win at St. John’s and followed that up with a thrilling 31-point performance in a home win over Georgetown that included this four-point play that forced overtime:

Team Of The Week: Washington Huskies

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Think about where Washington was last season.

They had more or less the same roster they do today, expect they had the 2017 No. 1 pick — Markelle Fultz — in the mix while being coached by Lorenzo Romar.

That team went 9-22 and was barely competitive in the Pac-12 during the regular season.

But that was last year.

This year?

Washington is coached by Mike Hopkins, and things are totally different. The talent that Romar amassed is paying off. After sweeping the Arizona schools this week, Washington is now sitting pretty at 17-6 on the season with a 7-3 mark in Pac-12 play. That’s a helluva way to start off a tenure, especially when you consider that Romar is now an assistant coach with Arizona.

But this week was much more important than simply being a chance for the Huskies to get a win over their former head coach. This was the last time that Washington would play the Arizona schools or the LA schools this season, and that is a big deal because those are essentially the only quality wins in the conference this year.

Washington is now in a great spot to make a run at getting to the NCAA tournament, and I’m not sure they would have had the chance to make that happen had they not won these two games.

Should I mention that the latter came on a buzzer-beater that will go down as one of the best plays of the entire season?:

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • MISSOURI: It was a massive week for the Tigers, who shook off a three-game losing streak to land a pair of critical, Quadrant 1 wins: they won at Alabama and followed that up with an impressive home win over Kentucky. The Tigers were already on the right side of the bubble entering the week.
  • TEXAS TECH: The Red Raiders have now won four straight after losing by 18 points at Iowa State. They capped it off this week with a come-from-behind, overtime win over Texas at home and a dominating win at TCU on Saturday.
  • CLEMSON: Despite playing without Donte Grantham, the Tigers have now won three straight games. It started with a mid-week win over North Carolina and they followed that up with a win at Wake Forest. It’s impressive to lose a piece as important as Grantham without missing a beat.
  • TENNESSEE: Is there a team that has been hotter in the last two weeks than Tennessee? The Vols have now won three straight games by at least 23 points. They have not allowed more than 63 points in a game since January 10th.
  • TEXAS A&M: The Aggies got headed back in the right direction this week, beating both Arkansas and South Carolina at home in impressive fashion. It’s made all the more important for this group considering that they have games at Auburn and against Kentucky at home this week. That could be the difference between the NIT and the NCAA tournament.