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Nebraska surprises No. 21 Maryland 69-61 in Big Ten tourney

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CHICAGO — James Palmer scored 24 points and Nebraska shut down No. 21 Maryland for the first big surprise of the Big Ten Tournament, holding off the Terrapins for a 69-61 victory on Thursday.

Using a seven-man rotation because of injuries and backup guard Nana Akenten’s suspension, the Cornhuskers harassed the Terrapins into 36 percent (18 for 50) shooting and 11 turnovers. Glynn Watson Jr. added 19 points and Isaiah Roby finished with 15.

Nebraska (17-15) earned a second win in the Big Ten tourney for the first time since 2016 and will face fourth-seeded Wisconsin on Friday afternoon. The Cornhuskers advanced with a 68-61 victory against Rutgers on Wednesday night.

Maryland (22-10) swept Nebraska during the regular season, including a 60-45 win in Lincoln on Feb. 6. But the Terrapins struggled offensively in their third loss in their last four games.

Bruno Fernando, who entered with averages of 14 points and 10.5 rebounds, was held to three points and eight boards. Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half, and Darryl Morsell finished with 14.

The Terrapins trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but they closed to 35-30 on Morsell’s jam with 14:49 left. The Cornhuskers responded with a 9-0 run, capped by Watson’s 3-pointer with 11:59 to go.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was whistled for a technical foul with 8:25 left after no foul was called as Morsell drove up the court on a fast break. Watson then made two foul shots and Roby converted a three-point play, extending Nebraska’s lead to 51-37 with 8:12 left.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: A third game in three days is one tough order for the Cornhuskers, but they have won three in a row since a four-game losing streak.

Maryland: The Terrapins showed some fight in the second half, but they had to chase the Cornhuskers after a shaky start. They had just 20 points in the first half on 29 percent shooting.

UP NEXT

Nebraska lost 62-51 to Wisconsin on Jan. 29 in their only meeting this season.

Maryland waits to see where it’s going in the NCAA Tournament.

Goins scores 24 as No. 9 Michigan State tops Nebraska 91-76

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Kenny Goins and Matt McQuaid have been role players for much of their careers at Michigan State.

On the same night and in timely fashion, the seniors were stars for the ninth-ranked Spartans.

Goins scored 21 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and McQuaid finished with a career-best 22, leading Michigan State to a 91-76 win over Nebraska on Tuesday.

“It’s our last week in the Breslin and both of us are trying to go out with a bang,” Goins said.

Goins and McQuaid, along with freshman Aaron Henry, who scored a season-high 15 points, made up for Cassius Winston matching his season low with eight points.

Winston was slowed by knee tendinitis.

“Nothing that will linger,” coach Tom Izzo insisted.

The Spartans (24-6, 15-4 Big Ten) close the regular season against No. 7 Michigan (26-4, 15-4) at home Saturday night with at least a share of the conference championship at stake. No. 11 Purdue lost at Minnesota, dropping the Boilermakers into a three-way tie with Michigan State and the Wolverines.

“With a championship at stake, that just adds that much more,” Goins said.

The Cornhuskers (15-15, 5-14) have lost four in a row and 11 of 13 in what might be Tim Miles ‘ final season as their coach. Relatively speaking, they bounced back after an 82-53 loss at Michigan.

“That was such a disappointment,” Miles said. “We’ve got to have more in us than that and tonight we did. There are no moral victories, but at the same time, we fought back to seven.”

Nebraska’s James Palmer matched his season high with 30 points. Glynn Watson equaled his season best with 25 points while Isaiah Roby added 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Michigan State started slowly before taking control and leading 47-29 at halftime after Goins was 5 of 5 on 3-pointers and McQuaid scored 13 in the opening 20 minutes.

“The basket looked huge in the first half,” Goins said.

Goins entered scoring 7.8 points per game and the former walk-on averaged 3.4 or fewer points over his first three seasons.

“He’s a self-made guy,” Miles said. “He went from a guy not in the scouting report years ago to going out and having a great night.”

McQuaid topped his previous best scoring game with a 3 midway through the second half to give the Spartans a 69-55 advantage after Nebraska rallied to pull within seven points.

“He’s playing some of his best basketball,” Izzo said.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: Miles fired back at a heckling fan who shouted his name and said he was going to get fired. “You think so?” Miles asked. “Maybe they’ll hire you.”

Miles is 112-112 at Nebraska, which would have to give him a $2.52 million buyout if the school fires him with two years left on his contract.

“It’s been a tough run for him, but his team had enough character to not quit,” Izzo said.

Michigan State: Henry played the way Izzo hopes he can for the rest of the season. The shooting guard entered averaging just 4.9 points per game. He has not looked confident starting in place of Joshua Langford, who had season-ending foot surgery.

“He did a good job of being aggressive,” McQuaid said. “He hit that 3 and that really got him going. He was on the boards and he was looking for his shot.”

INJURY REPORT

The Spartans, already without Nick Ward and Langford, were missing Kyle Ahrens because of a back injury. Izzo isn’t sure how long Ahrens will be out. Izzo doesn’t expect Ward , who had surgery on his left hand last month, to play against Michigan.

Ward’s shooting hard was broken and repaired, adding an obstacle to his comeback.

“I’ve learned I can do a lot of things with either hand,” he said. “It’s harder, but I can do it.”

Nebraska guard Thomas Allen, who averages 8.7 points, was on the bench with a walking boot on his left foot after being injured last week against Michigan.

WELCOME BACK

Michigan State’s 1959 Big Ten championship team , which was led by Jumpin’ Johnny Green, was honored on the court during the game.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: Will play Iowa at home on Sunday.

Michigan State: Hosts the rival Wolverines on Saturday night.

Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage

More AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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

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Now that conference play is just about done and the NCAA tournament is right around the corner, it is time for us to get fully invested in 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: Ole Miss, Ohio State, Auburn, Wofford, Baylor, Minnesota, St. John’s, Syracuse.

Onto the weekend’s action.

WINNERS

TCU (NET: 41, SOS: 33): The Horned Frogs are the biggest winners of the day, as they avoided a second half collapse to land their second win of the season over Iowa State (14), 75-72. TCU is not 18-9 overall, and while they are 6-8 in the Big 12, they don’t have a bad loss to their name right now. Losing at Oklahoma State (87) is the only time they’ve lost to a team that isn’t at the very least in the bubble picture. The problem with their resume is that the only Q1 wins that they currently have are against the Cyclones; TCU is 2-6 against Q1 and 5-3 against Q2.

WOFFORD (NET: 24, SOS: 152): The Terriers continued to build on their at-large profile by going into Furman (45) and knocking off the Palladins, 72-62. That’s Wofford’s third Q1 win of the season, and they don’t have a single loss to their name that is “worse” that at Oklahoma. For my money, Wofford will be an at-large as long as they don’t lose at Chattanooga and at Samford.

CLEMSON (NET: 44, SOS: 31): Beating Boston College (123) at home isn’t going to change all that much for the Tigers, but for a team that is currently sitting at one of the First Four Out in the most recent NBC Sports bracket projection, that’s a loss that would have been tough to survive.

VCU (NET: 37, SOS: 32): The Rams blew out George Washington, which is exactly what they need to do. With the way their schedule has shaken out — a non-conference win at Texas (35) and over Temple (56) on a neutral — and the lack of quality wins available in the Atlantic 10, VCU is in a spot where they simply cannot afford a loss to any of the teams left on their schedule.

UTAH STATE (NET: 36, SOS: 123): I’m not quite sure how Utah State managed it, but the Aggies found a way to win in overtime after blowing a big lead and finding themselves down late. That’s their fourth straight win and their 11th win in the last 12 games. That’s really what the Aggies need to do until they get a shot at Nevada (22) at home on March 2nd.

FLORIDA (NET: 31, SOS: 29): After going into Baton Rouge and beating LSU (17) in overtime on Wednesday night, the Gators very nearly found a way to ruin all the positive momentum they had built by struggling with Missouri (92) at home. Florida does have 11 losses this season, but 10 of those 11 losses are against Q1 opponents. The problem? They have just three Q1 wins. The question for Florida is going to end up being simple: Does the committee value a resume like this over a resume like Furman’s? Both have one elite win and one Q3 loss. The difference is that the Gators got 13 chances for Q1 wins while Furman only got six.

N.C. STATE (NET: 32, SOS: 208): The Wolfpack could not afford to lose at home to Wake Forest (192), and they didn’t. Kevin Keatts’ team has a resume that looks an awful lot lie a mid-major teams’ resume. They have one Q1 win — at home against an Auburn team that has one win over a tournament team — and one Q3 loss, but the bigger issue is a non-conference SOS that ranks 352nd nationally. I think they have to win at Florida State (24) on Saturday, at this point.

ALABAMA (NET: 51, SOS: 27): The Crimson Tide jumped out to a big, early lead on Vanderbilt (132) and never looked back on Saturday. Alabama does not have a great profile — they are 2-6 against Q1 with a 16-11 record and two Q3 losses — but they do have a win over Kentucky (5) that looks better and better with each blowout win that the Wildcats land.

UCF (NET: 39, SOS: 72): The Knights absolutely obliterated SMU (103) on Sunday, beating them 95-48. That looks great in the box score. It doesn’t help their tournament resume all that much, though. UCF is still 0-3 against Q1 opponents, and while they are 6-2 against Q2, they have no wins over top 50 competition and they lost at home to FAU (153), a Q3 loss. The Knights either need to win at Houston (4) or beat Cincinnati at home (50) if they don’t want to sweat out Selection Sunday.

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 66, SOS: 69): It was more of a sweat than it should have been, but the Sun Devils got the job done in the end, winning at home against Cal and avoiding another brutal loss on their resume. As it stands, ASU sits at 4-1 against Q1 opponents with a 4-4 record against Q2, but they’ve lost to Utah (102), Washington State (168) and Princeton (170) at home. No one else near the bubble has three losses that are quite that bad.

BELMONT (NET: 53, SOS: 217): Belmont has two more landmines to dodge in the regular season after they beat up on SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday night. If they can get to the OVC tournament without taking another loss, and if they can find a way to lose to Murray State and only Murray State in the OVC tournament, then I think that the Bruins have a real chance to get a big. They have ins at Lipscomb, at Murray State and at UCLA.

OKLAHOMA (NET: 38, SOS: 13): Have the Sooners figured things out? After snapping a five-game losing streak last Saturday at TCU (41), they turned that into a winning streak by beating Texas (41) at home this Saturday. The Sooners are 17-10 on the season and 5-9 in the Big 12, but with a couple of good wins — Wofford (24) at home, Florida (31) on a neutral, at TCU (41) — they are in a good spot considering the state of the bubble this year.

TEMPLE (NET: 54, SOS: 63): Temple picked off a Tulsa team that has been playing better of late, but the issue the Owls are currently facing is that there isn’t really a way to drastically improve their profile until the American tournament starts. As it stands, we have them in a play-in game. Essentially every game they play is a must-win at this point.

LOSERS

GEORGETOWN (NET: 69, SOS: 75): The Hoyas had a chance to add another Q1 win on Saturday afternoon, and instead they went into Omaha and lost 82-69 to Creighton (57). The Hoyas are still in a decent spot thanks to last week’s win over Villanova (27) at home, but the Wildcats are barely a Q1 win and Georgetown has also lost to SMU (101) at home and to Loyola Marymount (153) on a neutral. Those are two Q3 losses. Georgetown’s schedule closes out like this: DePaul (111), Seton Hall (64), at DePaul (111), at Marquette (18). I think they need to win out to get an at-large bid.

FURMAN (NET: 45, SOS: 232): The Palladins are going to be a very interesting team come Selection Sunday. They are 19-6 on the season and 11-5 in the SoCon, but because of the strength of that league, four of those five leagues losses are actually Q1 losses. One of those is today’s loss to Wofford (24) at home. There are three other things here to note:

  • 1. Furman won at Villanova (27) back in November.
  • 2. They lost at home to Samford (156), which is a Q3 loss.
  • 3. Their non-conference SOS is 252nd nationally, a number that is not ideal. That’s why 14 of their wins are Q4 wins.

Frankly, I think that it is No. 3 that will end up costing the Palladins an at-large bid.

SETON HALL (NET: 64, SOS: 51): The Pirates lost at St. John’s (49) on Saturday, and in a vacuum, that’s probably not a loss that is going to hurt them. That is a Q1 loss, and given where Seton Hall currently sits on the bubble, they can survive it. The problem? They finish up the year at Georgetown and with Marquette and Villanova at home. That is a tough finish for a team that is already 16-11 overall.

TEXAS (NET: 35, SOS: 9): Playing without Kerwin Roach, Texas went into Norman and lost to Oklahoma (38), 69-67. That’s the seventh Q1 loss for the Longhorns this season. On the season, they’re 15-12 overall with four Q1 wins and an 8-11 mark against the top two quadrants. Throw in a home loss to Radford (130) and Texas is nowhere near safe despite the fact that they have a neutral court win over North Carolina (9), home wins over Purdue (11) and Kansas (15) and a win at Kansas State (28). This team is the perfect example of why the bubble is so soft this season.

NEBRASKA (NET: 46, SOS: 92): Nebraska lost 75-72 at home against Purdue (11). They’re now 14-13 on the season. I have them here because if they end the season with wins at Michigan (7), at Michigan State (8) and over Iowa (30) in Lincoln, they’ll be in. But that’s a big ‘if’.

With Edwards cold, Haarms leads No. 15 Purdue past Huskers

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Matt Haarms scored 17 points, Grady Eifert beat the shot clock for two huge baskets down the stretch, and No. 15 Purdue posted a 75-72 win over Nebraska on Saturday.

Purdue (20-7, 13-3 Big Ten) won its second straight close road game, having beaten Indiana 48-46 on a tip-in with three seconds left Tuesday. Ryan Cline’s 3-pointer to end the first half gave the Boilermakers a two-point lead, and they never trailed again.

Their 14th win in 16 games pulled them into a brief three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State. The tie will be broken Sunday when those two teams meet in Ann Arbor.

Glynn Watson Jr. scored a season-high 25 points and James Palmer added 15 points and a season-high eight assists for Nebraska (15-13, 5-12), which lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

The Cornhuskers cut the lead to 56-54 on Watson’s 3-pointer, but they couldn’t keep the Boilermakers off the offensive boards and Purdue got second-chance points on three straight possessions.

Carsen Edwards and Cline had 13 points apiece for the Boilermakers. Edwards continued to struggle with his shot after going 4 for 24 overall and 0 for 10 on 3-pointers against Indiana. Edwards was 3 for 16 and 1 for 10 on 3s Saturday and had no field goals the final 34 minutes.

Eifert made a couple big plays late to help keep the Boilermakers in front. Cline inbounded to Eifert under the Purdue basket with one second on the shot clock, and he scored to make it 62-58.

A few minutes later, Palmer partially blocked Edwards’ 3-point attempt as the shot clock was running out, and Eifert snatched the ball out of the air and in one motion banked in a shot to make it 64-61.

Purdue made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch the lead as many as seven and finished 23 of 26 from the line.

The taller, deeper Boilermakers dominated on the backboards, outrebounding Nebraska 48-30.

THE BIG PICTURE

Purdue: The Boilermakers continued their domination of Nebraska. Purdue is 16-5 all-time against the Huskers, 9-2 in Big Ten conference games and 3-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Purdue secured a fifth straight 20-win season and its 12th in coach Matt Painter’s 14 seasons.

Nebraska: The crowd of 9,051 was the smallest of the season and one of the smallest since the Huskers began playing in Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013-14. The low turnout came during a winter storm and the public was urged to stay home.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles apologizes for ‘millionaire’ comments

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska coach Tim Miles apologized Thursday for saying he will still be a millionaire if he gets fired.

Miles and college basketball writer Jeff Goodman of WatchStadium.com on Sunday discussed how Miles and his family have dealt with speculation about his future next season. The Cornhuskers (15-12, 5-11) are tied for 10th in the Big Ten after returning four starters from the team that finished fourth, and the program has made the NCAA tournament only once in Miles’ seven seasons.

Miles, under contract through March 2021, would be paid a $2.52 million buyout if he is fired next month.

“If they fire me, they’re still going to pay me. I’m still a millionaire, so I’ve got that going for me,” Miles told Goodman.

Miles was criticized for the comment by a Lincoln newspaper columnist and fans posting on social media platforms.

Miles tweeted Thursday, “Earlier this week, my (sarcastic) attempt at humor during a podcast failed. Anyone who knows me understands that I got into coaching and remain a basketball coach for reasons beyond money. I apologize to anyone offended or taken aback by my flippant remark.”

Bracketology: The Zion Williamson factor for Duke

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The pertinent question this morning is the health of Zion Williamson.  Foremost, because he’s an exceptional talent and life is bigger than basketball.

The secondary component is how his injury impacts Duke – both on the court and, subsequently, the Blue Devils’ standing on the Seed List.

If last night were the eve of Selection Sunday, the Committee would be forced to make a tough decision: evaluating Duke while Zion’s future availability is unknown.

Since a decision related to today’s bracket had to be made quickly in the wee hours of the morning with little information, Duke stays put, largely because the Blue Devils own a season sweep of Virginia, and two of its losses occurred with less than a full roster.

Once we know more about Zion’s status, further review will ensue.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 21, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Temple vs. Alabama
MIDWEST REGION UCF vs. Utah State
EAST REGION ST. FRANCIS (PA) vs. CANISIUS
WEST REGION NORFOLK ST vs. PRAIRIE VIEW

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                   
Columbia Columbus
1) DUKE 1) Virginia
16) ST. FRANCIS / CANISIUS 16) LEHIGH
8) Ole Miss 8) Auburn
9) Ohio State 9) WOFFORD
Jacksonville Salt Lake City
5) Iowa State 5) Maryland
12) BELMONT 12) Temple / Alabama
4) LSU 4) Texas Tech
13) OLD DOMINION 13) LIBERTY
Hartford Hartford
6) Louisville 6) Villanova
11) Florida 11) VCU
3) MARQUETTE 3) Purdue
14) YALE 14) TEXAS STATE
Des Moines Columbus
7) BUFFALO 7) Cincinnati
10) Texas 10) TCU
2) Michigan 2) Kentucky
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) NORTHERN KENTUCKY
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Columbia
1) GONZAGA 1) TENNESSEE
16) PR VIEW / NORFOLK ST 16) SAM HOUSTON ST
8) Baylor 8) St. John’s
9) Minnesota 9) Syracuse
San Jose San Jose
5) Florida State 5) KANSAS STATE
12) NEW MEXICO ST 12) UCF / Utah State
4) NEVADA 4) Wisconsin
13) HOFSTRA 13) VERMONT
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Seton Hall 11) Arizona State
3) Kansas 3) HOUSTON
14) UC-IRVINE 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Des Moines Jacksonville
7) WASHINGTON 7) Mississippi State
10) NC State 10) Oklahoma
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) MONTANA 15) RADFORD

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
TCU Temple Clemson Nebraska
Seton Hall UCF Georgetown UNC-Greensboro
Arizona State Utah State Butler Lipscomb
Florida Alabama Furman Dayton

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

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (8): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU

SEC (8): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama

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

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, Temple, UCF

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (1): WOFFORD

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Liberty (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), St. Francis (PA) (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)