Night Court: Wisconsin wins Big Ten; Pitt's bad loss; Buckeyes beat Purdue
Everything you ought to know from college basketball's Sunday.
Everything you ought to know from college basketball's Sunday …
Game of the Night: For the first time since 1976, Oregon sweeps Cal and Stanford.
Oregon last year: 10 league wins. Oregon this year: 12, with a finale at Oregon State on Wednesday. The Ducks have won four straight and have a bye in the Pac-12 tourney. Dana Altman probably deserves to win Pac-12 coach of the year. His program was in tatters 10 months ago, and now the Ducks are 22-8, have won eight of nine, and have just about locked up a bid. (Just about.)
Plenty of people expected Oregon to be below .500 this season. And instead Greg Gumble's going to call out it name in two weeks. Oregon just won 73-70 in Palo Alto. Big-time game and it looked like a great atmosphere.
Tough for Chasson Randle to drop his final home game.
Stanford's lost five of eight, by the way, and the three wins all came at home and game against USC, California and and Oregon State. So no heft to the resume at all. The Cardinal faces road games against Arizona and Arizona State. Have to assume at least one loss is coming.
Johnny Dawkins' team has work to do, and reaching the Pac-12 semifinals would behoove this crew if it doesn't want to deal with lemon booty on Selecion Sunday.
For first time since 2008, Wisconsin secures Big Ten regular-season title.
For now it's at worst a shared title, but with one more win Bucky will have the Big Ten regular-season championship to itself. Wisconsin messed around with Michigan State on Sunday at the Kohl Center. A 68-61 win on Senior Day was led by national player of the year candidate Frank Kaminsky, who went out in his final home game in front of Wisco faithful with a 31-point, 8-rebound, 3-block, 3-assist, 2-steal performance.
Heck of a showing. Kaminsky vs. Okafor for POY? A toss-up as good as Redick vs. Morrison in 2006, and that's saying something.
Here's Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, giving a classic Izzo-like quote.
Izzo on Kaminsky: "If I wasn't coaching against him I would have started clapping."— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) March 1, 2015
Kaminsky showed on Sunday, in so many ways, how he's become this superb college player, the kind of big man the sport needs but seldom sees. And to think, he was an unknown heading into his junior season.
Fellow UW seniors Josh Gasser and Duje Dukan combined for nine points and five rebounds. Traevon Jackson, also a senior, had to sit as he's still not quite ready to play due to injury. When he returns, Wisconsin, on its best night, is capable of beating anyone in the country.
Wisconsin's hopes for a No. 1 seed are still alive, but it will need to win the Big Ten tournament to have a valid case.
Michigan State is no lock for the NCAAs just yet. Sparty's dropped two straight and has a home game against Purdue and a roadie vs. Indiana remaining. Winning one of those two will get Izzo's guys in, but yeah, they're not trumpeting toward the Round of 64 at the moment. Bryn Forbes led MSU with 21 points -- off the bench -- while Travis Trice put up 16. Twenty-four rebounds for MSU will cause Tom Izzo to punch his pillow tonight, I presume.
Without looking, can you tell me UConn's record? Unless you live in the Nutmeg State or are a dyed-in-the-wool Huskies fan, probably not.
The Huskies have been off the national radar for more than two months now because it's been a lost year of sorts. The reigning national champions need a miracle to reach the NCAA Tournament, but beating SMU on Sunday afternoon in Hartford did keep hopes alive, even if a glimmer.
UConn won 81-73, improving to 17-11 and dropping the Ponies to 23-6. For SMU, this eliminates all hope of earning a No. 2 seed (which wasn't realistic, but had Larry Brown's team run the table -- been at five losses on Selection Sunday -- and gotten some help, it was still in the discussion).
Rodney Purvis did this -- HELLO -- accounting for two of his career-high 28 points. This is what Kevin Ollie meant when he called Purvis his Lamborghini in the preseason.
UConn next gets Memphis at home, then finishes its regular season with a road game against Temple. If the Huskies beat Memphis, that tilt with the Owls will effectively eliminate the loser from the at-large conversation.
But really, UConn needs to get to the AAC championship game to feel good about its chances, and win its next two. I think it's possible. Likely? Wouldn't go that far, but UConn isn't dead yet.
Oh, that's a bad loss: Pittsburgh might have just done itself in.
The Panthers went to Winston-Salem and will fly home 19-11, losers of a 69-66 outcome against Wake Forest that could well bury Jamie Dixon's team's chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
What's up with this Pitt team anyway? It's been irregular all season. And it doesn't force as many turnovers as it should, not even close. Its 2-7 road record is a bad look, as it its 5-9 record against the top 100. Pitt was a 12 seed on Sunday morning in Jerry Palm's bracket, but I'd put Pitt at least sixth in line to win that 68th bid at this point. Next comes a home game vs. Miami, then a roadie against Florida State to close out the regular season.
Gotta win those two.
Then win the first ACC tourney game.
Then assess. It's possible that might be enough to barely squeeze Pitt in, but if it wants to eliminate all chances of going to the NIT, a four-game winning streak is in order.
A 65-61 win was effectively sealed when D'Angelo Russell broke Purdue's spirit on this play in the final minute.
Man, I'm way bummed that college hoops is only getting this kid for one year. And really, only another six games or so. Russell finished with 28 points and seven rebounds. He's still No. 2 on my freshman of the year list. (Five turnovers tonight put his team in a tougher spot than it needed to be. Then again, Amir Williams has Buckeyes fans looking to stars and questioning the universe's order.)
Purdue, in my estimation, would've clearly leapfrogged Ohio State in the at-large realm. This 65-61 outcome drops the Boilermakers to 11-5 in the league; Ohio State is 10-6. Really, they're still about equal overall, though Purdue has two dreadful losses, which definitely wets their blanket.
What's tough for Purdue is, it goes to Michigan State on Wednesday -- and Izzo's angry. The loser of the game will be flashing panic lights, easily. Boilermakers finish up with a home game against Illinois. Can't blow that.
The Big Ten tourney is going to be a bog. This whole Big Ten season has been a bog -- in a fun way.
Providence bounces back after Villanova, earns 20th win.
The Friars might be worth a Sweet 16 entry in your bracket when it comes time to fill out the sheet two weeks from now. PC got a good game from Marquette, but you never sensed the Golden Eagles were taking this one. A 77-66 final showed why Providence is a Sweet 16 sleeper: LaDonate Henton and Kris Dunn, a frontcourt/backcourt combo that I'd put among the six or seven best two-man attacks in college hoops.
"He's Super Man," Friars coach Ed Cooley said in a postgame TV interview.
Henton, who I picked as the Big East Player of the Year in the preseason, went nuts: 25 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. Dunn had 16 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals. Providence won last year's Big East tourney out of the blue, and it may happen again.
TODAY'S TOP PLAYERS
1. Give it up to LaDontae Henton of Providence, of course. We touched on him above.
2. Monmouth's Deon Jones had an afternoon: 22 points, 13 rebounds in Monmouth's 63-57 win over Siena.
3. Eighteen points, 10 rebounds and five steals for Devonta Pollard in Houston's 72-55 win over South Florida.
4. It came in a losing effort, but when score 17 points and grab 14 rebounds on a slow Sunday, you're gonna get some dap here. So credit to Marist's Chavaughn Lewis for doing just that in a 59-49 loss at Rider.
5. And has any player put up beefier numbers for an average team in a small conference than Ousmane Drame? Guy is a beast. Went for 12 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks and three steals in just 30 minutes during Quinnipiac's 69-65 loss at Manhattan. Drame's averaging nearly 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Other outcomes blipping the radar:
- Cal, which I expect to be a single-digit seed in the ... 2016 NCAA Tournament, played its final home game of the season on Sunday and beat Oregon State 73-56. Forward David Kravish went for 13 and 13.
- Washington State and UCLA played the final game of the night. The Bruins were played close by the Cougars throughout. UCLA kept its bubble chances alive thanks to Norman Powell's 28 points in a 72-67 win. If UCLA was a little better, he'd be seriously in the convo for league player of the year.
- St. Peter's, a 14-17 team, knocked off 24-7 Iona (68-60), which has long since clinched the MAAC regular-season title. If you're thinking of a 15 seed Cinderella, Iona could be it. This loss may in fact mask that sleeper-like quality, provided it wins its conference tourney.
Miscellanea, etc. ...
The latest on the Cliff Alexander holdout -- per an NCAA issue -- is that we don't really know much more. His lawyer is pretty hush-hush on the details. Will he play again this season?
My friend Jeff Eisenberg on what he believes will be the bubble's most hotly debated team. Me? I go Kansas State.
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A band of Kentucky fans -- and these guys have chops -- take The Rolling Stones' Paint it Black and parody it toward the Wildcats.
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