Saturday was a quite noisy day in faculty hoops, and the performances of groups on the bubble — each inside and outdoors it — echoed the loudest.
For a few of the sport’s greatest manufacturers, it was each good and dangerous. North Carolina upended No. 11 Florida State in a shocking win to reward wrap Roy Williams’ 900th win in type simply days after an equally beautiful stumble at dwelling towards Marquette. Throughout the state, it wasn’t as rosy as Duke took a tough additional time loss to Louisville. Each have been amongst Jerry Palm’s “first 4 out” getting into the day, so whereas UNC did itself some actual good, Duke’s loss did the alternative to its file.
In non-bubble information, it was (largely) a very good day for ranked groups with a couple of notable exceptions. No. 3 Michigan allotted of wobbly Indiana, enhancing its résumé to obtain a No. 1 seed. No. 5 Illinois stole one on the highway over No. 23 Wisconsin. And No. 20 Arkansas gained its billionth (give or take) recreation in a row, marking its ninth consecutive win in SEC play.
However others weren’t as lucky, chief amongst them No. 2 Baylor, which took its first lack of the season. So, as these items go, there have been naturally loads of losers to emerge from the mud on the day that was. So let’s begin with a doozy at Duke, then work our method via the winding slate with another winners and losers.
Loser: Duke misses large probability to bolster résumé
After profitable its final 4 video games and surprisingly turning its season round with out the providers of Jalen Johnson, Duke entered Saturday on the skin of the bubble with an opportunity to maybe pop inside it and into the sector of 68 projections. Alas, Louisville had different plans, coming to Cameron Indoor and ousting the Blue Devils on their dwelling courtroom in additional time 80-73. Do not put a nail in Duke’s coffin simply but. Nonetheless loads of time to course-correct. Nevertheless it was amongst Jerry Palm’s “final 4 out” forward of the sport and did itself no favors with a troublesome dwelling loss to the Playing cards, who have been a projected No. 8 seed.
Loser: Baylor takes its first lack of the season
No. 2 Baylor appeared flat earlier within the week when it got here off a three-week COVID pause and barely scooted previous Iowa State. It appeared equally rocky Saturday on the highway towards No. 17 Kansas — hitting solely six of its 26 3-point makes an attempt and going 23-of-66 from the sector — however this time it paid the value. Its 71-58 loss is Baylor’s first of the season, which means there is only one undefeated workforce left in faculty hoops: No. 1 Gonzaga.
Winner: Alabama locks up regular-season SEC title
No. 6 Alabama, a No. 2 seed in Palm’s Bracketology to begin the day, wanted only one win to safe the SEC regular-season title earlier than dealing with — and falling — to Arkansas earlier within the week. However that long-anticipated win lastly got here Saturday towards Mississippi State, as its 64-59 win clinched the crown for the Tide and handed them their first regular-season SEC championship since 2002 — with two common season video games to spare.
Winner: Xavier will get large bubble win
Xavier (13-5, 6-5 Huge East) picked a very good time to cease its stoop towards fellow Huge East foe Creighton. The Musketeers snapped their three-game skid towards the No. 13 Bluejays with a 77-69 on Senior Day. The win for X is a essential one for a workforce smack dab in the course of Jerry Palm’s dreaded bubble as a No. 9 seed to begin the day. It is their first over a ranked opponent all season and an injection of hope for his or her tourney hopes amid a season that has seen almost a dozen of their video games postponed.
Loser: Wisconsin falls to shorthanded Illini
Going through an Ayo Dosunmu-less Illinois workforce at dwelling, No. 23 Wisconsin couldn’t capitalize on his absence in a disappointing Senior Day that noticed the Badgers fall 74-69. Wisconsin, who was a No. 7 seed, by no means led within the recreation. It did make it attention-grabbing late, climbing to inside some extent of the Illini lead. Nevertheless it simply wasn’t Wisconsin’s evening.
The loss itself — towards a top-five Illinois workforce that may be a No. 2 seed in Bracketology and vying for a No. 1 seed — shouldn’t be why the Badgers are a loser right here, although to make certain it’s a large purpose. The issue is that they ensured themselves a dreadful February, with their solely three wins coming towards the underside three groups within the league (Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern).
Winner: Arkansas stays red-hot in SEC play
I’ve lastly discovered the actual purpose why Eric Musselman retains stripping his shirt off in postgame celebrations. It is as a result of his workforce is completely, positively scorching sizzling.
The No. 20 Razorbacks, a No. 3 seed in Palm’s newest bracket, gained their seventh consecutive recreation 83-75 over LSU, a workforce seeded No. 9 in Palm’s Bracketology however on the bubble, exhibiting no indicators of a hangover after ousting SEC-leader Alabama earlier within the week. It is the Razorback’s ninth win in 10 video games and ninth consecutive win in league play as they proceed charging forward with a wave of momentum into the postseason.
Winner: Cade Cunningham carries Oklahoma State
What occurs when a future No. 1 decide will get to lace ’em up towards faculty gamers? Contemplate that hypothetical query answered: 40 factors, 11 rebounds and one win. That is what Oklahoma State standout freshman Cade Cunningham did to rival Oklahoma on Saturday in a Bedlam exhibiting for the ages.
“Folks know he is a extremely good participant,” coach Mike Boynton stated after the sport. “I am not shocked that on the largest recreation on our schedule, on the highway, he stepped up and was able to go compete on the highest degree.”
Added Boynton: “He is 19 years outdated, by the best way, in case anybody wants a reminder of why he is particular.”
Loser: Tennessee lays an egg
Saturday formed as much as be a bounce-back day for No. 25 Tennessee after taking lopsided losses to Kentucky and LSU within the final two weeks, with its solely wins coming over South Carolina and Vanderbilt. As an alternative, the Vols put out a puzzling stinker, falling on the highway to Auburn 77-72 with out the providers of star Tigers guard Sharife Cooper. Tennessee, who have been a No. 4 seed to begin the day, shot higher than Auburn from the sector and from distance within the recreation. However the Tigers’ large edge got here in a beautiful free-throw try disparity of 37 to 10 in Auburn’s favor.
“I do not perceive the inconsistency,” Vols coach Rick Barnes stated. “There’s sufficient guys who’ve performed sufficient basketball proper now. However this week we have got to return and take a very good onerous look, all of us, everyone in this system. See if we are able to use this week to get higher.”
Barnes added that the mix of gamers not understanding roles and never taking part in with confidence has given Tennessee actual issues that proceed to point out up in inconvenient spots this season.
“If we may merely do this: get guys to play their position the best way they need to play it, we might be OK,” he stated.
Winner: Texas Tech reveals off defensive prowess
It was tangled up at 33 every at halftime in Lubbock, Texas, with No. 14 Texas and No. 18 Texas Tech within the warmth of a detailed battle. That was till, hastily, it wasn’t. The Purple Raiders got here out of halftime by locking down on protection. Texas went and not using a made area aim for the opening eight minutes and 55 seconds of the second half. And in that span, the Purple Raiders constructed a 10-point lead, comfortable sufficient to trip to a 68-59 win.
Techa projected No. 6 seed, had misplaced its final three video games getting into the day and steadily backslid in tourney positioning throughout that skid, so it wanted this one vs. the Longhorns, who have been a projected No. 4 seed.
Winner: Liberty takes dwelling the A-Solar common season title
In a de facto winner-take-all Saturday matinee between the A-Solar’s two prime groups, Liberty broke the tie by besting Bellarmine within the regular-season finale 94-78 to say the league title. It was Liberty’s ninth consecutive win to enhance to 20-5 general, and ensured the Flames for the fifth consecutive season below Ritchie McKay a 20-win season. They’ll enter the convention match because the No. 1 seed.
Winner: Texas State wins the Solar Belt
When Texas State coach Danny Kaspar resigned in September simply earlier than his eighth season, the Bobcats promoted assistant Terrence Johnson to interim head coach, hoping this system may construct on the momentum of consecutive 20-win seasons. Johnson did a incredible job, culminating with a win over Louisiana-Monroe on Friday evening that earned this system its first Solar Belt title. In a merciless coincidence, Johnson was not on the sideline for the victory resulting from COVID-19 protocols. However the workforce managed to discover a artistic strategy to have fun with him anyway. Not dangerous for a workforce picked to complete fifth within the league.
Loser: Indiana’s NCAA Event hopes
There isn’t a disgrace in dropping to Michigan, however dropping three in a row and 4 of 5 whereas on the NCAA Event bubble is fairly shameful, particularly whenever you’ve acquired a participant like Trayce Jackson-Davis. If Indiana may string a couple of wins collectively, Jackson-Davis can be within the Huge Ten Participant of the Yr dialog with Iowa’s Luka Garza and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu. At any charge, the No. 3 Wolverines, who might be a No. 2 seed in Palm’s subsequent Bracketolgy replace, did a good job of bottling up Indiana’s star ahead in a 73-57 victory that leaves IU in must-win territory for its remaining common season video games towards Michigan State and Purdue subsequent week. However at this level, it is getting onerous to consider the Hoosiers have what it takes to safe an at-large bid.
Georgia Tech senior Moses Wright has been one of the underrated gamers within the ACC for 2 seasons, and now he is beginning to seem like one of the underrated gamers within the nation. The 6-foot-9 ahead was barely recruited out of highschool and has continued to lift his productiveness degree each season below coach Josh Pastner. Now it appears Wright is making it a private mission to get the Yellow Jackets to their first NCAA Event since 2010. His 31 factors and 16 rebounds carried Georgia Tech to an enormous bubble victory over Syracuse for the workforce’s fourth straight win. Wright is averaging 23.8 factors and 10.3 rebounds throughout the profitable streak. These are Garza-like numbers, and they’re coming on the proper time for a workforce that started the day as one of many “final 4 in” for the projected NCAA Event area, in response to Jerry Palm.
Loser: Ole Miss‘ NCAA Event hopes
With 5 wins it its final six video games, together with two victories over Missouri and one over Tennessee, Ole Miss had performed its method onto the bubble getting into Saturday’s recreation at shorthanded Vanderbilt. However the Commodores might have burst the Rebels’ bubble with a 75-70 win that was simply their third in league play. Any win towards SEC competitors is an efficient one for the reeling Commodores, however this was one particularly momentous as a result of they have been with out main scorers Scotty Pippen and Dylan Disu. The duo averages a mixed 35.5 factors per recreation. Of their absence, the trio of Trey Thomas, D.J. Harvey and Isaac McBride mixed to attain 37 factors off the bench.
Winner: Clemson’s resurrection is actual
As February dawned, it appeared like Clemson could be executed. A 9-1 begin that included wins over Purdue, Maryland, Alabama and Florida State had been enjoyable. However January introduced a 35-point loss to Virginia, an 18-point loss to Georgia Tech, a 19-point loss in a rematch with Florida State and, lastly a 26-point loss at Duke. Because it seems, the Tigers have been simply ready for his or her second wind. Saturday’s 66-58 win over Miami wasn’t a factor of magnificence, but it surely was Clemson’s fifth straight victory. Now 15-5 (9-5 ACC), the Tigers are a projected No. 4 seed in Palm’s newest Bracketology and shut with very winnable video games towards Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Winner: Gonzaga is the final unbeaten
Gonzaga pulled its traditional stunt and smelled the meals for a bit earlier than devouring it. However when the Bulldogs began pulling away from Loyola Marymount late within the first half, they by no means appeared again and gained 86-69 to flee the day because the nation’s lone undefeated workforce. The victory additionally marked Gonzaga’s 51st straight dwelling win, which is a brand new program file. It is the longest energetic dwelling profitable streak within the nation. On that word, the Zags are executed with the common season and can head into subsequent week’s West Coast Convention match with a 24-0 file.