What we discovered: Groups on the cut line revealed out

Feb 10, 2024, 10:25 PM ET After last weekend’s quartet of marquee top-10 matchups, this Saturday was more about groups on either side of the NCAA tournament cut line requiring to take advantage of résumé-boosting chances. 6 top-10 teams dealt with unranked groups on the roadway– environments where highly ranked groups have consistently struggled all season. This group doesn’t consist of the similarity Marquette, which was hosting a St. John’s team in requirement of a win, or Kentucky, which was at home versus a desperate Gonzaga squad. Michigan State, Colorado, Cincinnati, Florida were likewise all in requirement of a victory to increase their NCAA tournament hopes. Who could seal the deal and get a win?With just

one month left in the routine season, bubble teams are lacking time to get wins that will matter on Choice Sunday. Saturday supplied some clarity, and ESPN’s Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello and Joe Lunardi accordingly have some ideas.

Medcalf: Baylor’s difficulties at Allen Fieldhouse continue. The Bears are now 1-18 in their previous 19 games at Kansas. And they had never ever had a better opportunity to steal a success over Expense Self in a hostile venue. No Kevin McCullar Jr. due to injury. Dajuan Harris Jr. hurt his ankle late in the game. Instead of adding a signature win to boost their tournament seed, the Bears could not stop the short-handed Jayhawks.Editor’s Picks 2 Associated The game also highlighted the

Huge 12’s superiority. 3 of the 4 teams that signed up with the league this season– Houston, BYU and Cincinnati– are all top 35 on KenPom. The 4th( UCF )has wins over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Ten groups total in this conference remain in the top 40 in the web rankings.In this league, a great team like Baylor– among America’s many offensively efficient groups, initially in the country in 3-point shooting though below average defensively– might win a league title with a diminished the stretch, or end the season in the middle of the pack. Or worse. The competition is that difficult.play


No. 13 Baylor misses 2 connecting 3-pointers in closing seconds vs. No. 4 Kansas

Baylor misses two open game-tying 3-pointers as they fall 64-61 to Kansas.Borzello: On the one hand, Kansas beating a top-15 team without McCullar, with Harris banged up late and with Hunter Dickinson sidelined with nasty problem and having a hard time for long stretches of the game is flat-out impressive. The Jayhawks scored 17 points off 21 turnovers and got a number of big shots from Nicolas Timberlake– which is a terrific indication moving forward.But it wasn’t all favorable. That Baylor had a hard time to make shots from the boundary, coughed it up 21 times and still had possibilities to send out the game to overtime late was unexpected. And the way Kansas safeguarded Baylor in the final two belongings, when Jayden Nunn and Ja’Kobe Walter got wide-open 3s, will not make Costs Self happy.Perhaps most concerning, however, was Harris’late injury. He completed the game, however we’ll have to watch on it this coming week.Lunardi’s bracket effect: We call this a” status quo”game, where the result was basically chalk. When that happens, especially this late in the season, there’s really little motion from a single outcome. Kansas entered the game as a 2-seed, No. 8 total, and stays exactly that. Baylor went into as a 4-seed, No. 14 overall, and drops just to No. 15 (behind Duke)as a still-solid No. 3 seed. Gonzaga finally pulled out a Quad 1

win versus Kentucky. There’s (some) wish for the Zags to return to the NCAA competition. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Medcalf: After emerging from a double-digit halftime deficit with a second-half run, Kentucky ended Saturday’s loss with another curious choice: what seemed a designed lob from Reed Sheppard to Adou Thiero, which was obstructed by Ben Gregg. That wasn’t Kentucky’s only missed out on opportunity this game, though. There were missed defensive tasks and a crucial offending rebound late in the game that Gonzaga nabbed up simply since Kentucky didn’t play with a sense of urgency.It just does

not seem like John Calipari and his players are on the exact same page. Yes, the Wildcats– who are 2-4 in their previous 6 games and haven’t won a game against a top-30 KenPom team since Jan. 6 against Florida– are playing a few of the worst defense amongst Power 5 teams. But the detach exceeds that. A team filled with NBA prospects has actually been outworked by challengers who lack that skill. The Wildcats remain in a complimentary fall, and it’s uncertain how they will stop it.

play 0:19 Collin Murray-Boyles tosses down huge dunk vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

Collin Murray-Boyles tosses down big dunk vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Borzello: Gonzaga suddenly has NCAA tournament life. The Zags’postseason hopes essentially hinged on Saturday’s game, as they were without a Quadrant 1 win all season and this was among their last chances to get one. They still need to look after WCC business– and the regular-season finale at Saint Mary’s looms big– however Mark Couple of’s team now at least has a sensible opportunity moving forward.How did Gonzaga do

it on Saturday? The Bulldogs returned to fundamentals and just dominated the paint. Graham Ike, Anton Watson, Braden Huff and Gregg combined for 66 points, and Ryan Nembhard stayed in attack mode in the pick-and-roll. The Zags have struggled from the perimeter all season but didn’t try to beat Kentucky from 3; they rather discovered a weakness and continued to make use of it.Top stories of the week from

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Lunardi’s bracket impact: The knee-jerk reaction will be to put Gonzaga immediately into the forecasted NCAA field. Not so fast, say the bracketologists. This win certainly provides the Zags life as an at-large prospect, however there is plenty more work to do, considering how lacking their profile was heading into Rupp Arena. We’ll move the Bulldogs conveniently into “Next 4 Out” area, within variety of “First Four Out” however requiring to run the table in the WCC– including a win at Saint Mary’s on March 2– to have any breathing space in the conference tournament.

play 1:49 Auburn Tigers vs. Florida Gators: Video Game Highlights

Auburn Tigers vs. Florida Gators: Game Highlights

Quick hits

South Carolina’s young star

The Gamecocks emerged from a careless first half to beat Vanderbilt by double digits (75-60) and extend their winning streak to 7 ahead of a tough matchup at Auburn. Throughout that stretch, 3 various players have actually led the Gamecocks in scoring. Lamont Paris constantly preaches about South Carolina’s worth as a team; that’s how it has actually won this season.But freshman Collin Murray-Boyles– who was out for the very first month of the season with mononucleosis– has actually emerged as a young star. Against the Commodores he completed with 31 points (14-for-17), 7 rebounds, 2 helps, a steal and a block. He is just the third South Carolina player to score 30 points with an 80% shooting clip in the past 25 seasons, per ESPN Stats & Information. It was also the third successive game where he was his group’s leading scorer. South Carolina is simply betting its seed at this point, however Murray-Boyles is emerging into an exceptional young talent who has actually raised SC’s postseason ceiling– and his own. — Medcalf

Bubble hopes stay alive

While the Zags keeping their at-large hopes alive received the most headings, 2 other groups that got in Saturday in need of a résumé increase added marquee victories: Michigan State over Illinois, and Florida over Auburn. The Spartans were on the best side of the bubble going into the day but had simply lost at Minnesota and required to bounce back. And Tom Izzo’s elders stepped up: A.J. Hoggard (23 points), Malik Hall (22 points), Tyson Walker (19 points).

On the other hand, Florida beat Auburn by 16 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. The Gators led by as numerous as 29 points and didn’t make a shot for the last nine minutes. They’ve now won 5 of 6– consisting of victories over Mississippi State, Kentucky and, now, the Tigers. — Borzello

Big East makes relocations

My eye was largely on the Big East bubble heading into Saturday’s play, and the games did not disappoint. Butler affirmed its at-large status with a hard-fought win over Providence, while the Friars, Xavier and St. John’s all lost opportunities to move up or into the forecasted NCAA field. The conference has another big-time bubble game on Sunday as Villanova hosts Seton Hall: The Wildcats are multiple wins away from a go back to the field, while the “last group in” Pirates are simply a single loss far from dropping out. — Lunardi

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