WATCH: No. 16 Louisville avoids late disaster, beats Clemson 56-55

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Christen Cunningham scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to rally No. 16 Louisville, which hung on for a 56-55 victory over Clemson on Saturday.

The Cardinals (18-8, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 56-49 with 17 seconds left after a free throw by Steven Enoch but then nearly lost a third straight in disastrous fashion. Louisville saw a 23-point second-half lead evaporate against No. 2 Duke on Tuesday.

A turnover and a held ball in the Tigers end led to a pair of 3-pointers by Marcquise Reed, the latter making it a one-point game with 3 seconds left. Louisville’s Jordan Nwora tried to inbound the ball, but Reed got the steal. Nwora redeemed himself by blocking Reed’s shot, and Clemson could not get off another shot before time ran out.

Cunningham hit 5 of 7 shots in the second half to help Louisville come back from a seven-point deficit.

Louisville was held to a season-low 19 first-half points thanks to shooting a season-worst 29.6 percent in the half. While Clemson wasn’t much better at 37 percent, the Tigers took a four-point lead at the break thanks to a 3-pointer just before the buzzer by Clyde Trapp.

Elijah Thomas led the Tigers (15-10, 5-7) with 15 points. Reed had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Clemson: The Tigers dictated play with their physicality inside and defense. Clemson held the Cardinals to season-low 35.2-percent shooting and held Louisville to just three offensive boards. They could keep it up for a full 40 minutes, but their defense gave them a chance for an upset.

Louisville: After losing three of their previous four, the Cardinals looked anything but great on Saturday. The Cardinals’ play in the closing seconds was reminiscent of how they wrapped up the Duke game on Tuesday and is something coach Chris Mack needs to address immediately.

Bracketology: Happy Valentine’s Day for Duke, LSU

AP Photo/L.G. Patterson
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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we’ll sweep the epic crumbles of futility – otherwise known as this year’s bubble – under the proverbial rug and try not to look.

Instead, we’ll send Happy Heart greetings to the Duke Blue Devils and LSU Tigers, both of whom celebrated huge road wins in the Commonwealth on Tuesday.  For their efforts, Duke remains the No. 1 overall seed in today’s bracket.  LSU rises to No. 12 on the seed list, good for the final No. 3 seed.

As for those crumbles, today’s cutline decisions included serious consideration for teams like Oklahoma, Indiana, Butler, and Florida, all of whom have significant resume issues. There are no clear answers, especially with regards to how the Selection Committee will use the NCAA’s new NET ratings.  The good news for those four, and others, is we still have games to play.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 14, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
WEST REGION Clemson vs. Arizona State
MIDWEST REGION UNC Greensboro vs. Utah State
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Quinnipiac
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

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

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Clemson Oklahoma Arkansas
Texas Arizona State Indiana Georgetown
UCF UNC-Greensboro Butler Fresno State
Temple Utah State Florida Davidson

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

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

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

BIG 12 (7): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama

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

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

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (2): WOFFORD, UNC-Greensboro

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

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

Tuesday’s replay fiascos must result in changes in how we use the monitor

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The insanity that was Tuesday night in the state of Kentucky was a perfect encapsulation of why the NCAA rulebook can be ridiculous at times.

It started with No. 5 Kentucky losing at home to No. 19 LSU in a game that ended in controversy. With the score tied on the final possession of the game, LSU took the ball the length of the court, Skylar Mays missed a runner that would have won the game, but Kavell Bigby-Williams was there for a tip-in at the buzzer.

The only problem?

That tip in clearly was basket interference. It wasn’t even close:

The officials went to the monitor to review whether or not the tip came before the buzzer, and while reviewing the play, they no doubt saw that the call was objectively wrong:

As you can see, the ball is still clearly in the cylinder when Bigby-Williams touched it, but since the rules state that basket interference is not a reviewable play, the bucket counted.

Instead of going into overtime, LSU wins and Kentucky loses, all because a call that can definitively be determined on review is not allowed to be reviewed.

Just two hours later, No. 2 Duke found a way to win on a similar technicality. With less than 20 seconds left on the clock, Cam Reddish drives the lane, is out of control and goes barreling into Ryan McMahon. It’s the easiest charge call that official has ever had to make, proof being that Mike Krzyzewski didn’t even bother to argue whether or not the official made the right call:

What Coach K argued, and correctly so, is that McMahon’s left heel was in the charge circle.

The officials went to the monitor, reviewed the call, saw this picture and overturned the ruling:

Reddish made both of his free throws, Louisville couldn’t find a way to get a good look at the rim at the other end and the result was the biggest second half comeback in Coach K’s career.

That’s just a brutal way for Louisville to lose a game, but the right call was made. McMahon is very clearly in the restricted area. The officials went to the monitor and made the correct call. But at the same time, this is a ridiculous way for Kentucky to lose.

What is the difference between what we can see on replay in the Kentucky-LSU game and the Duke-Louisville game?

Truth be told, there is no difference, and the way that these events played out last night should change the way that the end of college basketball games work. There’s absolutely no reason to have the ability to go back, look at the monitor, see that the call that was made was clearly incorrect and then not be allowed to change the call.

I would be hesitant to say that referees should be able to review any call in the final minute because it becomes a slippery slope. Are we going to review every foul call in the final minute, too? If everything is reviewable, as some people have suggested, are we going to go to the monitor because a coach is trying to get a basket waived off by arguing that a screen that was set earlier in the possession was, by the letter of the law, an illegal screen?

But basket interference?

Yeah, we need to get this one right.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that a bad call going against Kentucky has resulted in a rule change. We can now review whether or not a shot beat the shot block in large part due to this basket that was scored by Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes in the 2015 Final Four, a call that helped cost Coach Cal an undefeated season.

“We’re like Wilt Chamberlain,” Cal said last night after the game. “We change rules.”

Tuesday’s Things To Know: Duke’s incredible comeback; LSU stuns Kentucky; Penn State upsets Michigan

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It was a wild night full of action in college hoops on Tuesday as the schedule had four matchups between ranked teams. The results didn’t disappoint as we saw a memorable comeback from a top-five team while another top-five team lost at home at the buzzer. And that doesn’t even include two more matchups and an additional top-ten team getting picked off by an unranked conference opponent.

No. 2 Duke earns incredible comeback win over No. 16 Louisville

In the largest second-half comeback win of Coach K’s storied career at Duke, the Blue Devils overcame a 23-point halftime deficit to beat Louisville for an ACC win. Left for dead, Duke started to ramp things up on the defensive end as full-court pressure led to Louisville turnovers and easy buckets.

Freshman Zion Williamson had 27 points, 12 rebounds and three steals while Cam Reddish made multiple huge shots late to step up with 22 points. This win will give Duke a lot of confidence in the national title journey as they were able to overcome a significant disadvantage to come back and win against a top-20 team on the road.

No. 19 LSU stuns No. 5 Kentucky with buzzer-beating win at Rupp

Earlier in the night, the SEC saw a great comeback road win of their own as the Tigers clawed back to take down Kentucky. Even though LSU’s stars struggled for much of this game, the Tigers put together a gritty performance to help them secure their biggest win of this season.

Although LSU isn’t getting a lot of love from national college hoops pundits, they’re only a game back of Tennessee in the SEC standings as the Tigers are unbeaten on the road in conference play. Also 6-2 against both Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 teams, LSU is looking like one of the most intriguing teams in the country down the stretch thanks to a young and emerging lineup.

Penn State upsets No. 6 Michigan as John Beilein gets tossed

In the most shocking upset of the night, Penn State — 1-11 in the Big Ten entering this one — pulled off a win over the Wolverines. Building a double-digit first-half lead against a subpar Michigan team, the Nittany Lions were aided when Wolverines head coach John Beilein received a double technical right before halftime and was ejected.

The moment allowed for a 13-point lead to grow into a 16-point lead out of halftime for Penn State as Michigan could never overcome despite a late charge. The Nittany Lions had a double-double from Lamar Stevens (26 points, 12 rebounds) to earn their best win of the campaign. The loss puts Michigan tied with Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings as the Wolverines need to figure things out before their Big Ten schedule gets much tougher from here.

No. 11 Michigan State, No. 24 Maryland beat ranked Big Ten foes

It’s tough to match the excitement of the first three matchups on this list, but the Spartans and Terps both earned notable wins in the Big Ten over fellow top-25 opponents.

To start the night, Maryland clamped down on defense and received a balanced effort with five double-figure scorers to outlast No. 12 Purdue. While the Boilermakers had the edge with an eight-point halftime lead, that was quickly erased when Purdue was held to 18 second-half points as everybody outside of Carsen Edwards (24 points). Impressive comeback for Maryland in this one as freshmen like Jalen Smith (16 points) and Eric Ayala (15 points) were huge difference-makers down the stretch.

In the second Big Ten ranked matchup, the Spartans pulled even with in-state rival Michigan for the Big Ten lead with a good road win at No. 20 Wisconsin. In a matchup of Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, Spartans point guard Cassius Winston (23 points, six assists, five rebounds) got the best of Badgers forward Ethan Happ (20 points, 12 rebounds). Happ struggled with six turnovers and 0-for-6 free-throw shooting and he didn’t receive much help either as Wisconsin drops two games back in conference play.

No. 2 Duke erases 23-point deficit in 10 minutes to stun No. 16 Louisville

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“I don’t coach losers.”

“I coach winners.”

That is was Mike Krzyzewski told his team in the huddle as they were in the middle of getting trucked on Tuesday night in Louisville, and whether it was a motivational ploy, a threat or simply a septuagenarian Army grad letting off some steam, it worked.

Cam Reddish scored 16 of his 22 points in the final 9:07 and Zion Williamson scored 13 of his 27 points in final 7:40 as No. 2 Duke erased a 23 point second half deficit in the blink of an eye to stun No. 16 Louisville, 71-69, in the Yum! Center on Tuesday night. Duke outscored Louisville 35-10 over the final 9:07 as the Cardinals turned the ball over nine times and shot just 2-for-11 from the floor. It was the biggest second half comeback of Mike Krzyzewski’s career.

Williamson, who finished with 27 points and 12 boards, played the final 12 minutes of the game with four fouls. Reddish, who missed his first five threes of the game, hit four during the run and capped off the game with a pair of free throws with 14.9 seconds left for the win.

The game did not end without controversy, however.

On Duke’s final possession of the game, Reddish came off of a dribble handoff, drove through three defenders and barreled into Ryan McMahon in what was the easy charge call of the season. The problem? McMahon’s left heel was on the charge circle, meaning that the officials were able to go to the monitor, overturn the call and give Reddish a pair of free throws.

Ball-game.

The question here becomes just how much credit we should give Duke for making the comeback and how much blame we need to throw at Louisville for choking away that lead, and the answer is simple: It’s all of the above.

Duke finally started playing hard midway through the second half. For the first 30 minutes of that game, it looked like they were playing in quicksand, which is something that this team has had a tendency to do. When their shots aren’t going down and they’re not getting out in transition, they can get into a funk. It happened in the first half against Boston College. It happened in the first half against Georgia Tech. It happened in the second half when they lost to Syracuse. Louisville is a Pack-Line team, they forced Duke out of the paint and into jumpers and the Blue Devils weren’t making them. At the other end of the floor, they were carving Duke up with their high ball-screen offense.

It was perfection.

Until Duke brought Jordan Goldwire on the floor and allowed him and Tre Jones to get out and pressure Louisville’s guards. One turnover led to another, which led to some serious #lemonbooty, and once Duke sniffed out the fact that no one on Louisville actually wanted to have the ball in their hands, it was over.

Duke had to make the plays — and, in Reddish’s case, the shots — that it did, and they deserve credit for that, but Louisville gifted them that win on a platter.

And at the end of the day, Coach K was right.

He coaches winners.

Bracketology: Committee pens Duke, Tennessee as 1-2 punch

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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Few of us were surprised on Saturday when the Selection Committee announced that Duke and Tennessee were Nos. 1 and 1A on their Seed List.  After an action-filled weekend, neither position has changed, although one could argue that Duke’s win at Virginia, giving the Blue Devils a regular-season sweep, might create a more distinct line of separation between those two.

The only top-line move this morning was lifting Gonzaga to No. 3 on the Seed List and dropping Virginia to No. 4.  Gonzaga still reigns over the West Region and Virginia the Midwest.  Elsewhere, team positions on the first four lines mirror what the Committee gave us on Saturday.  One could argue whether or not Iowa State would stay after a home loss to TCU, or about how losses by Louisville and Wisconsin might also impact those lines.  For today, we’ll let the Committee’s voice be heard.

Unfortunately, the Committee didn’t provide us any sort of insight into what has become a very mediocre bubble picture.  Then again, why take on that headache right now? Hopefully, some cleaner lines of separation will develop over the next three weeks.

UPDATED: February 11, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Butler vs. UCF
WEST REGION Oklahoma / Temple
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Canisius
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

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

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Butler Georgetown Providence
Arizona State UCF NC-Greensboro Utah State
Seton Hall Oklahoma Arkansas Florida
Clemson Temple Indiana Creighton

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

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

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

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

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Butler

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

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)