UCLA wins out for potential fourth 1-seed spot

Is the discuss for the fourth 1-seed — and the Nos. 4 and 5 spots inside the vitality Rankings — rising as we enter the ultimate two weeks earlier than selection Sunday? allow us to take a take a look on the primary three 1-seeds: Alabama bounced again from its avenue loss at Tennessee with three straight wins, Houston hasn’t misplaced in over a month and Kansas has a fool-proof résumé with its Quadrant 1 wins and power of schedule.

After that, it is all up for grabs. taking a look finally week’s vitality Rankings, No. 4 misplaced, No. 5 misplaced, No. 6 misplaced, No. 7 misplaced, No. 9 misplaced (twice) and No. eleven misplaced. a quantity of weeks in the past, it appeared far-fetched that Purdue might lose its grip on a 1-seed, even with a loss or two. however Saturday evening time’s dwelling defeat to Indiana was the Boilermakers’ fourth of their final six video games, which has clearly left them weak to falling a quantity of spots.

Arizona‘s loss to Arizona State was its fifth to a crew ranked 50 or beneath inside the web. the selection extreme massive 12 teams proceed to go after every completely different: Kansas State beat Baylor, which circled and beat Texas.

UCLA is the beneficiary of all of the chaos. The Bruins haven’t acquired the noteworthy wins the the rest of the best-seed candidates possess; their best wins are over Maryland and Kentucky again in December. however they’ve handed the proverbial eye take a look at with their on-court docket performances, they’re working away with the Pac-12 common-season title — and the metrics love them. UCLA isn’t any. 2 at KenPom, No. 4 inside the BPI, No. 4 in Sagarin and No. 5 in ESPN’s power of report.

If Mick Cronin’s crew can protect enterprise at dwelling in the direction of Arizona State and Arizona this week, they might enter the Pac-12 match in a terribly strong place to land the ultimate 1-seed.

Onto this week’s awards and rankings …



Eric Dixon and Mark Armstrong make clutch buckets in Villanova’s upset of Creighton

Eric Dixon and Mark Armstrong make strong strikes to the basket as Villanova defeats No. 19 Creighton.

it is taken three months longer than anticipated, however Villanova is rounding into sort as a consequence of it enters the large East match. The Wildcats sat at 10-thirteen on Feb. 4 after a avenue loss at Creighton, however with Justin Moore absolutely healthful, this previous week despatched a message: Kyle Neptune’s crew will seemingly be a tough opponent at Madison sq. backyard subsequent week. Nova opened with a sixty 4-sixty three avenue win at Xavier on Tuesday, with Moore hitting massive shot after massive shot down the stretch, notching 25 factors to maintain off the Musketeers. On Saturday, the Wildcats dealt with their enterprise in the direction of the Bluejays from start to full. They led by as many as 17 factors inside the second half and cruised to a seventy nine-sixty seven win. Moore had eight factors and eight assists, however Saturday’s star was Eric Dixon, who accomplished with a profession-extreme 31 factors and 6 three-pointers.

Is it too little, too late for this crew? regardless of worthwhile 5 of six, the Wildcats are nonetheless solely 15-14. even when Moore missed 20 video games and star freshman Cameron Whitmore missed seven, the general profile ought to not be okay to garner NCAA match consideration. however as quickly as they win at Seton hall and at dwelling vs. UConn this week, and do some harm at MSG? it is not out of the realm of risk.

Hood-Schifino’s sport in the direction of Purdue on Saturday evening time was amongst the numerous most interesting massive-sport performances we have seen from anyone all season — and is greater than ample to beat the exact actuality Indiana misplaced earlier inside the week to Michigan State (Hood-Schifino had sixteen factors in that one). He was unbelievable in the direction of the Boilermakers, particularly when factoring in it was a rivalry sport on the avenue at Mackey enviornment. The freshman guard accomplished with a profession-extreme 35 factors on 14-for-24 taking pictures, additionally grabbing seven rebounds and meting out a pair of assists. He had 23 factors at halftime after which hit well timed baskets inside the second half as Indiana prolonged its lead or halted Purdue’s momentum. in accordance with ESPN Stats & information, he turned the primary Indiana freshman with a quantity of 30-level video games since Eric Gordon in 2007-08.

Trayce Jackson-Davis has been the man for Indiana all season, particularly in massive Ten play, however with the large man struggling in the direction of Zach Edey, Hood-Schifino confirmed he can carry Indiana if needed.

Not solely did this sport attribute in all probability the easiest ending of any sport this previous weekend, the rivalry win gave the photo voltaic Devils, who entered the weekend in Joe Lunardi’s “subsequent 4 Out,” their best win of the season. Defeating their in-state rivalry moved them to 4-three in the direction of Quadrant 1 opponents and 9-eight in the direction of Quadrant 1 + 2 opponents. They nonetheless have video games left at UCLA and at USC, and additionally they’re nonetheless on the pores and skin trying in heading into these video games, however Desmond Cambridge Jr.‘s 50-footer on the buzzer retains Bobby Hurley and Arizona State inside the match dialog.

Southern Miss did lose Wednesday at outdated Dominion — which might usually disqualify a coach from incomes this award. nonetheless the Golden Eagles bounced again Friday, worthwhile at Texas State and clinching the outright photo voltaic Belt common-season title. that is arguably in all probability the most surprising convention champion inside the nation this season — the Eagles had been picked thirteenth out of 14 teams inside the preseason photo voltaic Belt ballot, simply 4 factors forward of final-place UL Monroe. the dearth of expectations wasn’t a shock: the Eagles went 7-26 general final season inside the convention USA, worthwhile simply one league sport. They obtained extra general video games (25) and extra convention video games (14) this season than inside the earlier three seasons mixed (24 and 10). Ladner coached his teams to wins at Vanderbilt and at Liberty in November, setting the stage for what could be amongst the numerous most interesting common seasons in program historic previous.

Three teams with questions

Iowa State Cyclones: The Cyclones had been a three-seed in final weekend’s mock bracket reveal, however it is exhausting to think about they’re wherever shut to that now. After dropping by eleven at dwelling to Oklahoma on Saturday, they’re now 4-9 of their final thirteen video games, and drop to .500 inside the large 12 with eleven losses general. They’ve scored fewer than zero.ninety factors per possession in every of their final three video games.

Oklahoma State Cowboys: OSU was truly one of many hottest teams inside the nation from mid-January till mid-February, worthwhile seven of eight. After this previous weekend, although, it is teetering on the NCAA match cutline. The Cowboys have now misplaced 4 in a row, collectively with Saturday’s dwelling defeat to Kansas State. Monday vs. Baylor looms large.

New Mexico Lobos: After being the nation’s final unbeaten crew on the flip of the mannequin new yr, New Mexico will seemingly should win the Mountain West match to have its identify referred to as on selection Sunday. The Lobos misplaced on the buzzer to San Diego State on Saturday evening time, their sixth loss in seven video games, dropping to 7-9 inside the league. They’re simply 5-9 since opening the season with 14 straight wins.

vitality Rankings

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (25-4)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Auburn (Wednesday), at Texas A&M (Saturday)

It wasn’t a convincing week for the Crimson Tide, who needed time past regulation to win at South Carolina on Wednesday after which overcame an eleven-level deficit to beat Arkansas on Saturday. there have been a quantity of similarities between the two video games when it entails the place they struggled. Offensively, Alabama wasn’t making pictures from the perimeter; it was simply 7-for-27 from three in the direction of the Gamecocks, and three-for-22 in the direction of Arkansas. South Carolina and Arkansas in the meantime shot a mixed 14-for-31 from three in the direction of the Tide, a sharp enhance from the 24.6% they’ve allowed in SEC play. This was additionally the primary time since December they allowed a pair of level per possession in again-to-again video games.

2. Houston Cougars (27-2)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Wichita State (Thursday), at Memphis (Sunday)

Marcus Sasser is fully hitting his stride on the acceptable time. He entered 2022-23 garnering preseason All-American shouts, and whereas he is been amongst the numerous most interesting two-means guards inside the nation, his scoring had taken a backseat in contrast collectively with his 12 video games performed earlier than his harm final season. that is modified inside the final 5 video games. he is scored no decrease than 20 factors in every, a threshold he reached simply 5 instances inside the primary 24 video games of the advertising campaign. In these video games, Sasser’s averaging 21.eight factors and three.2 assists, whereas taking pictures 50% from the sector, forty seven.4% from three and 87.1% from the free-throw line. Assuming the ankle harm that sidelined him for a pair of minutes in the direction of East Carolina ought to not be extreme, he is ready to be the go-to man for the Cougars in March.

three. Kansas Jayhawks (24-5)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Texas Tech (Tuesday), at Texas (Saturday)

Jalen Wilson has passed by way of a quantity of transformations this season. For an excellent portion, he needed to maintain the Jayhawks’ load, one factor he was hardly ever requested to do all by way of his first two seasons in Lawrence. He was taking half in arguably his best particular person basketball in the direction of the tip of January and in early February. With Dajuan Harris Jr. starting to look to be an elite-stage two-means level guard as quickly as extra, and Gradey Dick, Kevin McCullar Jr. and okay.J. Adams Jr. discovering consistency, Wilson is barely averaging 12.2 factors over the previous six video games. however Kansas might even be at its best proper now, and Wilson seems content material in his function.

4. UCLA Bruins (X-X)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Arizona State (Thursday), vs. Arizona (Saturday)

UCLA clinched the Pac-12 common-season title with a avenue sweep of Utah and Colorado, truly one of many extra sturdy avenue swings inside the league. whereas Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell had been the best performers in each video games, as anticipated, freshman Adem Bona might even be making his mark on the inside — and by no means merely as a consequence of he had amongst the numerous most interesting blocks of the season to assist seal the win over the Buffaloes. Bona had blocked a quantity of pictures in 4 straight video games, additionally grabbing seven rebounds in every of the final two. he is moving into foul trouble too usually, committing 5.9 per forty in Pac-12 play, however his explosiveness and expertise to shield the rim will seemingly be an asset shifting forward.

5. Purdue Boilermakers (24-5)
earlier rating:
This week: at Wisconsin (Thursday), vs. Illinois (Sunday)

The wheels have fallen off for the Boilermakers on the unsuitable time: They’ve misplaced 4 of their final six video games, placing each the large Ten common-season title and a doable 1-seed inside the NCAA match in hazard. So, what goes on on? For one, the freshman backcourt of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer is starting to hit a little bit of a wall. Smith struggled to shoot in the direction of Indiana, scoring six factors on eleven pictures, whereas Loyer totaled 14 factors inside the three video games main as a lot as Saturday’s loss to the Hoosiers. Purdue’s protection might even be not as efficient as a consequence of it was lots of the season. it is allowed no decrease than 1.15 factors per possession in three of its final six video games, after not permitting a single opponent to hit that quantity inside the primary 23.

6. Texas Longhorns (22-7)
earlier rating:
This week: at TCU (Wednesday), vs. Kansas (Saturday)

Texas’ hopes for a share of the large 12 common-season title — and a doable 1-seed — aren’t dashed but. The loss at Baylor on Saturday clearly did not assist, however they nonetheless ought to go to TCU on Wednesday and host Kansas on Saturday. in the event that they will go 2-zero this week, they’re going to pull out no decrease than a large 12 tie, and enter the convention match with eleven Quadrant 1 wins. might a run to the convention title sport put them inside the hunt for a 1-seed? they’re going to ought to shore issues up defensively, given they’ve allowed no decrease than one level per possession in seven of their final 10 video games.

7. Baylor Bears (21-eight)
earlier rating:
This week: at Oklahoma State (Monday), vs. Iowa State (Saturday)



Dale Bonner’s triple extends Baylor’s lead

Dale Bonner buries the three-pointer from the wing to current the Bears a 60-forty three lead inside the second half.

Keyonte George’s well being is important for Baylor shifting forward. He left Saturday’s sport in the direction of Texas with an ankle harm after taking half in simply six minutes inside the primary half and did not return. Scott Drew acknowledged after the sport that he did not know the extent of the harm, or a timeline for a return. with out George, Baylor leaned extra on Langston Love and Dale Bonner. Love responded with eleven factors off the bench, whereas Bonner had thirteen factors and 4 assists. each have proven flashes this yr when requested to contribute, when LJ Cryer (three video games) and Adam Flagler (two video games) missed time. Neither can change George’s combination of shot-creating capability and athleticism, however they will maintain Baylor afloat on the perimeter.

eight. Kansas State Wildcats (22-7)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Oklahoma (Wednesday), at West Virginia (Saturday)

Jerome Tang’s crew seems to be discovering its rhythm. The Wildcats had misplaced 5 of seven video games earlier than final weekend and had been simply 5-5 since opening 2022-23 with 15 wins of their first sixteen video games. for the rationale that disappointing avenue loss to Oklahoma — after which Tang questioned his group’s effort — KSU rattled off three wins in a row and is performing greater at each ends of the floor. It has held every of its final three opponents to beneath one level per possession, and Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell have answered the bell on the selection finish: Johnson is averaging 19.zero factors in his final three, Nowell 18.7 factors and seven.7 assists.

9. Arizona Wildcats (24-5)
earlier rating:
This week: at USC (Thursday), at UCLA (Saturday)

All 5 of the Wildcats’ losses are to teams ranked 50 or decrease inside the web moving into the weekend. How does this maintain occurring? every of these 5 opponents shot properly from the perimeter, making 10.6 3s per sport, with 4 trying 25 pictures from behind the arc. Oumar Ballo was additionally neutralized — he scored eleven or fewer factors in 4 of the 5 losses, collectively with seven factors in simply 18 minutes in the direction of Arizona State as a outcomes of foul trouble. He did have 22 in the direction of Utah in December, however it is worth noting the Utes used 7-footer Branden Carlson to draw him away from the basket on the selection finish, making 5 3s and scoring 22 factors of his personal.

10. Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-5)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Chicago State (Wednesday)

Saint Mary’s truly acquired Saturday evening time’s sport in Spokane at its most properly-appreciated tempo — each it and the Feb. 4 matchup had precisely sixty two possessions — however merely might not cease the Zags’ offense. Gonzaga scored 1.24 factors per possession, in all probability the most the Gaels had allowed since their NCAA match loss to UCLA final season. With Julian Strawther struggling and Drew Timme dealing with foul trouble, Mark Few turned to 2 expert veterans to shoulder a quantity of the load: Anton Watson had 17 factors, eight boards, three assists and 4 steals, whereas Malachi Smith had thirteen factors, simply his fifth double-decide scoring sport of WCC play. There’s additionally this:

eleven. Marquette Golden Eagles (23-6)
earlier rating:
This week: at Butler (Tuesday), vs. St. John’s (Saturday)

What an unbelievable teaching job by Shaka clever this season. He took a Marquette crew picked ninth inside the large East inside the preseason all of the means all by way of which to worthwhile the common-season title. The Golden Eagles clinched no decrease than a share of the championship with their win over DePaul on Saturday, and want simply one other victory in the direction of two of the 4 worst teams inside the league this week to clinch it outright. We talked about Kam Jones a quantity of weeks in the past, and the means Marquette needed him to get your hands on his early-season sort to discover its full potential. properly, inside the two wins over DePaul and Creighton this previous week, Jones averaged 20.5 factors, 5.zero rebounds and shot 10-for-19 from three.

12. UConn Huskies (22-7)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. DePaul (Wednesday), at Villanova (Saturday)

UConn is trying means extra simply like the crew that ticked off 14 straight wins to start the season — simply in time for its journey to Madison sq. backyard for the large East match, the place the potential 5-seed might discover your self as a consequence of the betting favourite. The Huskies are actually clicking on the offensive finish proper now, coming off per week the place they scored 182 factors on 141 possessions, grabbing greater than 50% of their misses and likewise taking pictures 19-for-forty six from three. Andre Jackson Jr. scored a profession-extreme 15 factors in two of his final three video games, Joey Calcaterra found his taking pictures stroke in the direction of St. John’s — however it is Jordan Hawkins who’s that this crew’s offensive catalyst. he is now scored 20 factors in three straight video games (and 4 of his final 5).

thirteen. Indiana Hoosiers (20-9)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Iowa (Tuesday), vs. Michigan (Sunday)


1:forty eight

Jalen Hood-Schifino shines in Indiana’s avenue win over Purdue

Jalen Hood-Schifino scores 35 factors to steer Indiana to a large win over rival Purdue.

Did Indiana remedy Purdue? It swept its rivalry sequence with Purdue on Saturday — solely the second time it is beat a ranked Boilermakers crew twice inside the identical season, in accordance with ESPN Stats & information. the selection time was in 1992-ninety three. The numbers from each of this season’s video games are pretty comparable from a Purdue perspective. Zach Edey dominated on the inside, Fletcher Loyer had a comparatively inefficient double-decide outing and no particular person else did something. The Boilermakers managed the offensive glass, however actually struggled to protect IU from scoring contained in the arc. inside the primary sport, dwelling-court docket benefit was an factor. inside the second, it was Jalen Hood-Schifino’s star flip.

14. Tennessee Volunteers (21-eight)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Arkansas (Tuesday), at Auburn (Saturday)

will in all probability be consideration-grabbing to see how the selection committee finally seeds the Vols. they’ve been one factor of a metrics darling, rating shut to the best — and even taking on No. 1 briefly in late January — of KenPom for thus a lot of of the season, and nonetheless sit at No. three inside the BPI. they’ve three extreme-stage wins: Kansas, Texas, Alabama. however they’ve additionally misplaced 5 of their final eight, have three defeats exterior Quadrant 1 and are simply 9-eight in the direction of Quadrant 1 and a pair of opponents. Their power of report is simply contained in the best 20. If the committee values Tennessee’s extreme-line wins and predictive metrics, a three-seed is sensible. If it emphasizes completely different issues, the seed might probably be decrease.

15. San Diego State Aztecs (23-5)
earlier rating:
This week: at Boise State (Tuesday), vs. Wyoming (Saturday)

Since Feb. 1, SDSU has had in all probability the easiest adjusted effectivity margin inside the nation at BartTorvik.com. The Aztecs rank No. 1 in adjusted defensive effectivity over that stretch, by a protracted means. The defensive effectivity hole between them at No. 1 and Mississippi State at No. 2 is as massive as a consequence of the hole between the No. 2 Bulldogs and No. 20 Iona. After some impartial-court docket hiccups in nonconference play, Brian Dutcher has his crew in its standard spot: inside the best 25, and atop the Mountain West. They’ve obtained sixteen of their final 18 video games, and their metrics again up the stretch of strong performances: extreme 20 at KenPom and in ESPN’s power of report.

sixteen. Virginia Cavaliers (21-6)
earlier rating:
This week: vs. Clemson (Tuesday), vs. Louisville (Saturday)

Virginia is in disarray proper now, nonetheless the one set off it is nonetheless inside the rankings is that every crew round it — Miami, Xavier, TCU, Iowa State, Creighton, Saint Mary’s, Northwestern — all dropped no decrease than one sport this previous week. Tony Bennett’s crew has gone from a crew no particular person needed to play inside the NCAA match to at least one earmarked for an early spherical exit. The Cavaliers’ offense has deserted them over the previous couple weeks: of their final three video games moving into the weekend, they had been averaging fifty five.three factors and zero.ninety three factors per possession, taking pictures 37.4% from the sector. in the direction of North Carolina, they scored zero.ninety 4 factors per possession, shot 39.7% from the sector and made simply 4 3s.

Dropped out: Iowa State Cyclones (No. sixteen)

inside the ready room

Xavier Musketeers: After dropping three of 4, going to Seton hall on Friday and worthwhile by 22 ought to really feel like a discount for the Musketeers. Colby Jones bounced again from his poor taking pictures efficiency in the direction of Villanova (4 factors on 2-for-10 taking pictures) to go for 19 factors in the direction of the Pirates. a go to to windfall awaits Wednesday.

TCU Horned Frogs: Mike Miles Jr.‘s return is getting lots of the eye, and he did have 24 factors in the direction of Texas Tech on Saturday. however JaKobe Coles has been an exact situation since Eddie Lampkin Jr.‘s harm, scoring in double figures in seven of his final 9 video games, averaging 12.1 factors over that span. He additionally hit the sport-worthwhile free throws with 4 seconds left to beat the purple Raiders.

Miami Hurricanes: It ought to’ve been straightforward to get into the best sixteen this previous week, nonetheless the Hurricanes proceeded to blow a 25-level lead on their dwelling court docket and lose to Florida State. they’ve an alternative at a share of the ACC common-season title, with current chief Pittsburgh coming to Coral Gables inside the season finale. nonetheless, Saturday appears like a missed alternative.


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