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Bracketology: All Hail the Wolverines

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With Duke’s home loss to Syracuse, and with the status of Blue Devils’ point guard Tre Jones uncertain following a shoulder injury, Michigan climbs the final rung on the latest Seed List ladder.

The Wolverines hold the No. 1 overall position in today’s bracket, followed closely by Virginia and Tennessee.

The real debate involved the fourth No. 1 seed position.

One could make a compelling case for Duke, Kansas, or Michigan State.

The Blue Devils were without two of their primary players for much of the loss to Syracuse.

In the end, however, the Jayhawks’ eight Group 1 wins, plus victories over both Tennessee and Michigan State, proved to be the difference.

UPDATED: January 17, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION VCU vs. Pittsburgh
WEST REGION Texas vs. Arizona State
SOUTH REGION Norfolk State vs. Prairie View
EAST REGION Sam Houston vs. UMKC

SOUTH Louisville   EAST – Washington, DC          
Columbus Columbia
1) MICHIGAN 1) VIRGINIA
16) PR VIEW / NORFOLK ST  16) SAM HOUSTON / UMKC
8) NC State 8) Kansas State
9) Mississippi State 9) Minnesota
Salt Lake City Des Moines
5) Florida State 5) VILLANOVA
12) LIPSCOMB 12) VCU / Pittsburgh
4) Marquette 4) Maryland
13) GEORGIA STATE 13) YALE
Des Moines Jacksonville
6) Nebraska 6) Indiana
11) SAINT LOUIS 11) Arizona
3) HOUSTON 3) Kentucky
14) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 14) VERMONT
Jacksonville Tulsa
7) LSU 7) Auburn
10) TCU 10) Syracuse
2) Duke 2) Texas Tech
15) RIDER 15) UTSA
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Tulsa Columbia
1) KANSAS 1) TENNESSEE
16) WEBER STATE 16) WAGNER
8) Purdue 8) Ohio State
9) St. John’s 9) Seton Hall
Hartford San Jose
5) Iowa 5) Louisville
12) Texas / Arizona State 12) MURRAY STATE
4) North Carolina 4) Oklahoma
13) HOFSTRA 13) UC-IRVINE
San Jose Hartford
6) Iowa State 6) BUFFALO
11) WOFFORD 11) Temple
3) NEVADA 3) Virginia Tech
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Salt Lake City Columbus
7) Wisconsin 7) Ole Miss
10) Cincinnati 10) WASHINGTON
2) GONZAGA 2) Michigan State
15) RIDER 15) LEHIGH

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
TCU Texas Butler Clemson
Cincinnati Arizona State UCF San Francisco
Temple VCU Florida Fresno State
Arizona Pittsburgh Alabama Dayton

TOP SEED LINE: Michigan is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Virginia, Tennessee, and Kansas

Breakdown by Conference …

Big 10 (10): MICHIGAN, Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota

ACC (9): VIRGINIA, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh

SEC (6): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State

BIG 12 (6): KANSAS, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Iowa State, TCU, Texas

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John’s

American (3): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, Temple

Pac 12 (3): WASHINGTON, Arizona, Arizona State

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

Atlantic 10 (2): SAINT LOUIS, VCU

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), UTSA (C-USA), Georgia State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Lipscomb (ASUN), Murray State (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), UMKC (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

No. 21 Houston leads throughout in 69-58 win at SMU

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DALLAS — Corey Davis Jr. scored 20 points and Armoni Brooks added 19 with five 3-pointers as No. 21 Houston led throughout in a 69-58 win at SMU on Wednesday night.

Davis hit a 3-pointer for the game’s first points, and the Cougars (17-1, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) jumped out to a 12-4 lead after Brooks made three early 3s. Houston led 31-22 at halftime after Brooks buried a long straightaway 3 just before the break.

Jimmy Whitt Jr. had 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting for SMU (11-6, 3-2), which played most of the game without senior guard Jarrey Foster (sprained left knee).

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson got his 600th career win in 30 seasons, and his 100th victory in five seasons with the Cougars. Sampson, who has a 600-319 overall record, previously coached at Indiana, Oklahoma, Washington State and Montana Tech.

Davis scored 15 points in the second half, when Houston built a 17-point lead. The Mustangs cut the deficit to nine before Houston worked the shot clock down and Brooks hit a long 3 from the left wing to make it 67-55 with 1:47 left.

Fabian White Jr. added 11 points for Houston.

Isiaha Mike had 15 points for SMU and Jahmal McMurray scored 11. Ethan Chargois had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars won for the second year in a row at SMU, where the Mustangs are 46-9 under coach Tim Jankovich the past four seasons. Houston has bounced back nicely from a loss last week at Temple that ended its 15-0 start, winning at home over Wichita State on Saturday before the solid road win at Moody Coliseum.

SMU: The Mustangs had won nine of their previous 11 games. … Foster played only four minutes before leaving the game. He missed the second half of last season and the first six games this season after an ACL injury. Jankovich said Foster tweaked his knee and will have tests on Thursday. He is the only scholarship player who has played at SMU more than one season.

UP NEXT

Houston is in a stretch with three of four games on the road. The Cougars play Saturday at UCF.

SMU plays at Memphis on Saturday, then has a week between games before playing again the following Saturday at home against Tulane.

NBC Sports Top 25: Buh-bye Iowa State, hello Ole Miss?

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The #DausterCurse strikes again!

After going all-in on Iowa State, taking them from outside the top 25 to No. 10 in the country based on a dominant win against Kansas and buying into the (what I thought was an accurate) eye-test, the Cyclones never stood a chance. They lost by three at Baylor on Tuesday night and followed that up by blowing a late lead and losing at home to Kansas State on Saturday.

So much for that.

While I still do believe that Iowa State is really, really good and that they may actually be the second-best team in the Big 12 this season — two one possession losses are just that, one possession losses — I can’t justify ranking them in the top 25 today and keep any shred of credibility that I have remaining.

Beyond that, there isn’t anything to talk about in the top ten. Duke won on the road against Florida State despite playing without Zion Williamson for an entire half, further solidifying by belief that they are the best team in the country. Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia all logged impressive wins at every turn. Michigan State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech took care of business, and Gonzaga survived what may be the toughest test they face in league play, a trip to San Francisco.

Things get weird outside the top nine, as Ole Miss beating Auburn at home and Mississippi State on the road threw things for a loop. So did North Carolina. The Tar Heels went into Raleigh and beat N.C. State before turning around and getting blown out at home against Louisville, but I could only drop them one spot because A) they still beat N.C. State on the road, and B) everyone in that group of teams directly behind them lost at some point this week, too.

The only really notable development near the bottom of the top 25 was that Villanova jumped back into my rankings. The Wildcats have won five in a row, just handled Creighton in Omaha fairly easily and now sit as the lone undefeated team in the Big East at 4-0.

Here is the full NBC Sports Top 25:

1. Duke (14-1, Last Week: 1)
2. Michigan (17-0, 2)
3. Tennessee (14-1, 3)
4. Virginia (15-0, 4)
5. Gonzaga (16-2, 5)
6. Michigan State (15-2, 6)
7. Kansas (14-2, 7)
8. Texas Tech (15-1, 8)
9. Virginia Tech (14-1, 9)
10. Kentucky (12-3, 11)
11. Nevada (16-1, 14)
12. Marquette (14-3, 19)
13. North Carolina (12-4, 12)
14. Florida State (13-3, 13)
15. Ole Miss (13-2, NR)
16. N.C. State (14-2, 15)
17. Auburn (12-3, 16)
18. Mississippi State (12-3, 17)
19. Buffalo (15-1, 20)
20. Maryland (14-3, NR)
21. Villanova (13-4, NR)
22. Houston (16-1, 21)
23. Oklahoma (13-3, 25)
24. Indiana (12-4, 24)
25. Louisville (11-5, NR)

New Additions: 15. Ole Miss, 20. Maryland, 21. Villanova, 25. Louisville
Dropped Out: No. 10 Iowa State, No. 18 Ohio State, 22. St. John’s, 23. Wisconsin

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Markus Howard drops 53; Houston’s unbeaten season ends; Auburn, Ohio St lose on road

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Chaos dictated the early portion of college basketball’s schedule on Wednesday night. With five ranked teams playing on the road in conference games, strange things were bound to happen. We ended up with a 50-point outing, two road upsets to unranked teams and an undefeated season ending all within the first few hours of the night.

Here are the things to know about Wednesday night in college hoops.

Markus Howard drops 53, Sam Hauser’s heroic regulation buzzer-beater lift No. 21 Marquette over Creighton

Things got dramatic in the Big East as Marquette outlasted Creighton for a 106-104 overtime win.

At the end of regulation, with Marquette down by three, Creighton turned the ball over on an inbounds pass with 0.8 seconds left. Sam Hauser and the Golden Eagles took advantage by nailing the controversial game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer to send it to overtime.

Junior guard Markus Howard took over from there as he finished with 53 points — with 14 points coming in overtime. It marked Howard’s third time with 45 or more points in his career — the first college player to do that since Jodie Meeks. For the first time in 20 years, college hoops also has a player with two career 50-point games. And Howard’s only a 19-year-old junior.

No. 17 Houston’s unbeaten season ends in controversial fashion at Temple

College hoops is only down to Michigan and Virginia among college basketball’s undefeated teams after Temple knocked off No. 17 Houston in AAC play on Wednesday night.

The game ended on a controversial charge call on a potential game-tying lay-up by the Cougars’ Corey Davis Jr. as Houston lost its undefeated season in dramatic fashion. Over the past two seasons, Houston has some of the most dramatic losses in college basketball as they’ll look to bounce back and stay atop a crowded field in the American.

Temple also joins the AAC conference race with a more intriguing case as they’ve now taken down the league’s best team early in conference play. In Fran Dunphy’s final season, the Owls now have a much better postseason case after a win like this.

Ole Miss enhances its profile with big win SEC win over No. 11 Auburn 

Things got more interesting in the SEC on Wednesday night as Ole Miss held off No. 11 Auburn, 82-67, for a quality upset win. Finding themselves in bubble range after a surprising start to the season, the Rebels might have just given themselves the kind of signature win they were looking for by knocking off last season’s co-SEC champion.

Terence Davis came through with a monster game of 27 points and 12 rebounds as he put Ole Miss on his back during stretches of this game. Previously with only wins over Baylor and on the road at Vanderbilt to open SEC play, now the Rebels have the type of win they can build around.

Auburn’s loss means they’ll need to do more to keep up with Tennessee in the SEC. And they’re 0-2 in true road games on the season.

Also, who saw Ole Miss and South Carolina as being 2-0 in the SEC while teams like the Tigers and Kentucky would be 1-1? The SEC has already been wild to start this conference season.

Rutgers knocks off No. 16 Ohio State for biggest win of Steve Pikiell’s career

And finally in the Big Ten, Rutgers claimed its most important win of the Steve-Pikiell era with a 64-61 home Big Ten win over Ohio State.

The Scarlet Knights really don’t have much of a shot at the NCAA tournament with an 8-6 record at this point, but it shows the progress the program has made. Big Ten basketball is also as brutal as ever as the league, top-to-bottom, is incredibly tough. The young backcourt of Montez Mathis (16 points) and Geo Baker (15 points) came through while Ron Harper Jr. chipped in 12 points.

Ohio State could fall out of the top 25 with its latest loss as they fell behind in the first half of a back-and-forth game. With a late lead, the Buckeyes dropped control, and eventually the game, as a young team looked inconsistent down the stretch. Big man Kaleb Wesson scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough for the Buckeyes.

Temple ends No. 17 Houston’s undefeated season on controversial charge call

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College basketball is down to two undefeated teams as Temple knocked off No. 17 Houston with a controversial 73-69 American Athletic Conference win on Wednesday night.

With the Cougars trailing by two points with possession and under 10 seconds left, an offensive foul was called on Houston’s Corey Davis Jr. as he made the driving potential game-tying bucket with time expiring. While the call appeared to be a correct one, it’s a tough call to swallow to end an undefeated season.

You make the call: charge or not?

Michigan and Virginia are the only two unbeaten teams in college basketball entering Wednesday’s second session of games following Houston’s loss.

Besides for the controversial call at the end, Temple had control of most of this conference game on Wednesday night — earning a huge win for their postseason cause in the process. The Owls (12-3, 2-1) had a solid night from the trio of Quinton Rose (22 points), Nate Pierre-Louis (16 points) and Shizz Alston Jr. (12 points) as they looked like a tough contender in the American — and for a potential tournament bid.

Houston crawled back thanks to great stretches from its defense as the offense struggled with consistency. The interior play of big man Breaon Brady (19 points) was a bright spot for the Cougars, as his post touches generated some of the only offense Houston could count on.

While Houston’s undefeated season ending is going to hurt, they should still be in solid position to make the NCAA tournament. This is a road loss to a tough conference opponent and Temple now stands to benefit from knocking off the league’s elite team. The Owls still have more work to do to feel secure about their postseason standing, but this is the type of win you could center a profile around as the Cougars have the chance to end the season as a top-25 team.

Things just got a little bit more interesting with regard to the American and postseason spots — especially if leagues like the Pac-12 don’t have a lot of bids to offer.

NBC Sports Top 25: Duke remains No. 1, Iowa State into the top ten

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Nothing changed in the top five this week, as Duke, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and Gonzaga all won the games that they were supposed to win, some in more impressive fashion that others.

Where things changed began with Kansas at No. 6 and Nevada at No. 7.

Let’s start with the Jayhawks: I only dropped them from fifth to sixth despite the fact that A) they lost by 17 points to Iowa State, and B) they lost Udoka Azubuike for the season. That’s because the Jayhawks lost Azubuike the day before a game where they had to go into Hilton Coliseum and take on an Iowa State team that is both very good and matched up perfectly with the short-handed Jayhawks. And yes, Kansas will be different without their star 7-footer, but they also have a coach in Bill Self who knows how to tweak lineups and has spent the last two seasons coaching up a team that had to play four guards. I’m still in wait and see mode here.

And then there is Iowa State, who is right there with Texas Tech as the second-best team in the Big 12. I bumped them all the way up to No. 10 this week, and my reasoning as to why can be found here.

There were some other tweaks as well — Michigan State seems to be really flying under the radar right now, as does Virginia Tech — but the other major change was dropping Nevada from No. 7 to No. 14. I’m still in on the Wolf Pack as a threat to make a run in March, but as their schedule starts to look less and less impressive (they’ve only beaten one KenPom top 50 team, and that was No. 47 Utah State at home) and they continue to play like the regular season doesn’t matter all that much to them, it’s hard to rank them any higher than this.

I still think they can beat just about anyone on any given night given their talent and the way they like to play, but they proven with a 27 point loss to New Mexico that their floor is lower than anyone realized.

Anyway, here is the full top 25:

1. Duke (12-1, Last Week: 1)
2. Michigan (15-0, 2)
3. Tennessee (12-1, 3)
4. Virginia (13-0, 4)
5. Gonzaga (14-2, 5)
6. Michigan State (13-2, 10)
7. Kansas (12-2, 6)
8. Texas Tech (13-1, 8)
9. Virginia Tech (13-1, 11)
10. Iowa State (12-2, 25)
11. Kentucky (10-3, 12)
12. North Carolina (11-3, 13)
13. Florida State (12-2, 9)
14. Nevada (14-1, 7)
15. N.C. State (13-1, 14)
16. Auburn (12-2, 15)
17. Mississippi State (12-1, 19)
18. Ohio State (12-2, 16)
19. Marquette (12-3, 17)
20. Buffalo (13-1, 20)
21. Houston (14-0, NR)
22. St. John’s (14-1, NR)
23. Wisconsin (11-4, 18)
24. Indiana (12-3, 23)
25. Oklahoma (12-2, 24)

New Additions: 21. Houston, 22. St. John’s
Dropped Out: 21. Nebraska, 22. Iowa