Villanovaâs senior class of Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart and Darryl Reynolds clinched its fourth Big East regular season title on Saturday with a 79-63 win over Creighton. In the last four years, the Wildcats are 127-13 overall and 27-3 this season. The defending champs are not only one of the best teams in the country over the last couple of years, but a sure-fire bet to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga has the No. 1 seed in the West Region all but locked up, leaving just two top-seed spots left for the remaining major conference champions in the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12. With crucial road wins, North Carolina and Kansas not only created some separation in the conference standings on Saturday (clinching top seeds in their respective conference tournaments) but moved ahead in the race for a No. 1 seed.
Oregon, UCLA and Arizona will continue to battle down the stretch for the Pac-12 regular season and conference titles, but ultimately they could be fighting for the No. 2 seed in the West, at best. As long as Josh Jackson and Justin Jackson continue to play at a high level, the Jayhawks and Tar Heels are not only worthy of a No. 1 seed, but ready to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hurricanes likely locked up an NCAA Tournament bid with their 55-50 win against Duke. The middle pack in the ACC standings will be separated by a few quality wins on Selection Sunday, and now Miami, a No. 8 seed in CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palmâs projected bracket before Saturdayâs games, has the Duke win to pair with victories against North Carolina and Virginia to boost its profile.
Duke was playing without Grayson Allen, still nursing an ankle injury. Mike Krzyzewski doesnât seem overly optimistic about the health of his leaders, Allen and senior forward Amile Jefferson, making the Blue Devils the ultimate wild card for the NCAA Tournament. If some combination of Allen, Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard are clicking offensively, Duke can beat anyone. It didnât come together for the Final Four hopefuls at Miami, making that deep run look less likely.
Whatâs wrong with Maryland? The Terps have one of the best rosters in the Big Ten, a superstar in Melo Trimble and enough momentum with Mark Turgeon to think that 2017 might be their year. In an 83-69 home loss to an average Iowa team, there was enough evidence to bail on the idea of Maryland as a threat to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, if this team doesnât turn things around quickly, itâs possible Maryland wonât make it to the second weekend of the tournament.
The Ducks have been the clutch kinds of the Pac-12 recently. Dillon Brings buried Cal with a 3-pointer earlier this week to cap a furious second-half rally, and then Saturdayâs game at Stanford again ended in disappointment for the underdog. This time it was Jordan Bell scoring on a putback with 14 seconds left to clinch a 75-73 win.
Loser: UConn (and the XL Center advantage)
If UConn is going to make the NCAA Tournament, the only chance is going to be earning the AACâs automatic bid in the conference tournament. Luckily, the tournament will be held in the XL Center in Hartford. But on Saturday, in Hartford, SMU showed that the Huskies have a ways to go before they are ready to knock off the best teams the conference. Losses to Houston and SMU have slid UConn to the 14-loss mark, and no team has ever made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team with more than 14 losses.
No DeâAaron Fox? No problem. Kentucky split the regular season series with Florida with a 76-66 home win against the Gators, potentially clinching the top seed in the SEC tournament in the process. High-volume scorer Malik Monk showcased his potency during a 30-point second half as the Wildcats grinded out their sixth straight win.
Q: Why do they call him BAM!?— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) February 25, 2017
Loser: The Big Ten
Purdue and Maryland are the class of the Big Ten, and both teams suffered losses (Purdue to Michigan, Maryland to Iowa) that basically guarantee the league wonât be represented with a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan, meanwhile, may have secured the quality win it will need to land an at-large bid in the tournament. The Wolverines have been playing great basketball recently and could have locked up a spot in the tournament with Saturdayâs victory.
The Bears have lost five of eight after losing to Iowa State, and itâs reasonable to wonder if their best days this season have come and gone. Baylor was introduced as a 1-seed when the selection committee offered its midseason top-16 seeds on CBS, but now that line is dropping by the week. Iowa State is looking good to make its annual Big 12 tournament run with Monte Morris, but Deondre Burton remains the Cyclonesâ X-factor.
Providence beat Marquette in a bubble-popping elimination game, notching its fourth win in a row. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Friars but after four straight wins Ed Cooley is close to getting them back into the NCAA Tournament for a fourth straight season.
Tough way to lose for TCU, falling to West Virginia 61-60 with a questionable late-game whistle. Daxter Miles Jr. drove the length of the floor and drew a questionable foul that sent him to the free throw line. But the foul, upon review, seemed to be questionable given where the contact took place and when the foul was called.