Key games for bracketology
Kansas 87, Baylor 71
After 20 minutes of basketball, it looked like the up-to-the-second No. 1 seed the Kansas Jayhawks had just gotten from the NCAA Selection Committee wasn’t going to last until sundown. It was 45-32 Bears at halftime, and honestly it didn’t seem that close.
And that’s when KU decided to turn up the defensive intensity, smash the offensive glass, start making some 3’s, and just simply refuse to turn the ball over (just four TO’s all day). Rock Chalk was 23-36 from the field, and 23-27 from the charity stripe. That’s tough to beat.
For Baylor, their current No. 2 seed likely remains, but any chance at moving up to the top line between now and the Big 12 Tournament is now very slim. Kansas leads the nation in Quad 1 wins at 13-5, and no one else has more than nine.
Kentucky 66, Tennessee 54
We found a team Kentucky can beat consistently, and of course Rick Barnes is involved.
Look UK, just make up your minds: Are you going to be a threat in March or not? But this on-again, off-again is pretty doggone annoying to college hoops fans everywhere. Yes you have one of the best players in the country on Oscar Tshiebwe, but otherwise UK’s ability to win games seems to come down to what side of the bed they get out of that morning.
UT was the No. 9 overall by the committee and a 3-seed earlier Saturday afternoon. They’re still a protected team for sure, but that might be as a No. 4 with now two losses to Big Blue. But the Cats have now tripled their Quad 1 wins this season in the last four days, going from 1-7 to 3-7 against the top-tier.
Joe Lunardi had them in Dayton before this game, but now they’re probably straight to the main draw. Until they lose at home to Vandy in 10 days, because you know that’s coming.
TCU 100, Oklahoma State 75
Mike Miles returned for the Horned Frogs, and played 35 minutes. So that whole “TCU could be in trouble!” thing? Yeah, that’s over. MM makes them a different team, and that’s even with five turnovers and just two assists to go with his 15 points today.
The Big 12 is the toughest league in the nation by a wide margin, and Miles being healthy gives the Frogs a chance at winning the Big 12 Tournament. They’re back, they’re in, and the only question now for TCU is can they do enough winning to get a protected seed again? The four games lost without Miles (at OK State, at K-State, Baylor, at Iowa State) got them moved off the top-four lines, but there’s always time to recover in the Big 12.
Beating Kansas at home on Monday, in front of a Schollmaier Arena that might actually need to be reinforced by engineers for the safety of the fans and students before the tip, would be a good start.
Utah State 75, Nevada 66
Steve Alford’s Wolfpack could have almost locked up a bid today, but that didn’t happen. The Pack had won four in a row in the Mountain West, but got stopped at the Spectrum by a tough Aggies team that has now split the season series.
It feels like USU and Nevada are in a “four teams for 3.5 spots” standoff in the MWC, and this loss puts UNR as the bubble team as of now. They’re still very much in the mix, and will be favored in their last four regular season games (vs. San Jose State, at Fresno State, at Wyoming, vs. UNLV).
But the loss today likely took away some wiggle room, and they’ll probably need to run out and win at least pair in Vegas at the MWC Tournament to not be sweating on Selection Sunday.