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Most of the fun stuff took place in the Pac-12 last night. Arizona is looking more and more like a protected seed team that we expected to see in the beginning of the year, and they withstood a 2nd-half Utah comeback before getting a decisive win on the road last night. Arizona State was not as fortunate – they ultimately fell in overtime at Colorado. While the Sun Devils currently don’t resemble a Top 5 team as they did in November and December, we will see what they do at Utah and at home the following week before figuring out whether or not they are a desert mirage.
UCLA and Stanford traded game-tying 3s and poor foul shooting in regulation and the first overtime period, but the Cardinal outscored the Bruins 22-14 in the second OT period to give UCLA a bad loss on the road. USC, on the other hand, overcame the first-half suspension of Chimezie Metu and outscored Cal by 21 in the first half en route to an 80-62 blowout win in Berkeley. With a chance of sweeping the Bay Area road trip this weekend, the Trojans can put themselves back in the NCAA picture as well as the Pac-12 picture.
While Michigan State reasserted itself as top dog in the Big 10 with a blowout win at home against Maryland, Ohio State got a nice road win at Iowa and were not seriously challenged in this one. This sets up a big showdown between these two teams in Columbus on Sunday – even bigger for the Buckeyes since a win here would really solidify their NCAA chances in a season they were supposed to be rebuilding under Chris Holtmann.
Off the court in the Big Ten, Reggie Lynch has been suspended by the University of Minnesota until August 2020 (per the St. Paul Pioneer Press) for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy – barring any last-minute appeal from Lynch, his season is effectively over for the Gophers.
In the American, Cincinnati only led Temple for 3 minutes, but they were able to come back late in the game (with the help of an ill-timed technical on Temple in the final 2 minutes) and Jacob Evans hit a game-winner with 0.4 seconds remaining to give UC the win and keep them atop the American with Wichita State and Tulsa. SMU was not as lucky – they lost on the road to Tulane last night. Despite a toe stub at home against Tulsa, Tulane looks like they can qualify for postseason (outside of the CBI/CIT) for the first time since at NIT bid in 2000. Their last NCAA Tournament bid? 1995.
– WISCONSIN AT RUTGERS (Big Ten). The Badgers are coming off of a home win against Indiana earlier in the week and cannot afford to lose this one if they have any aspirations of postseason for 2018.
– CHARLESTON AT DREXEL (Colonial). Charleston begins a crucial road trip this weekend with their first stop being in Philly. While a bigger game at Towson awaits on Sunday, they cannot afford to look past the Dragons in this one if they wish to remain on top in the conference standings.
– ELON AT NORTHEASTERN (Colonial). Another game to watch in the Colonial tonight will be Elon’s first road game in conference play against a pesky Northeastern team. While the Huskies have been much improved since December, they are coming off of a tough home loss against Hofstra. Elon held serve at home against Drexel and Towson and now have a chance to cement themselves as a season-long contender for the regular season title in this one.
– NORTHWESTERN AT PENN STATE (Big Ten). Both teams were expected to contend for NCAA bids this season, and both have disappointed so far in the regular season. The winner gets to .500 in conference play and the loser will be further on an NIT trajectory (if they’re even that lucky).
– NORTHERN KENTUCKY AT OAKLAND (Horizon). This normally would have been Chad’s UTR Game of the Day, but we can never pass up a chance to highlight the Penn-Princeton rivalry. NKU has not been able to win a true road game yet (although they did beat Iona on a neutral floor), but winning on the Blacktop is a tall order here.
– OREGON AT OREGON STATE (Pac 12). The first installment of the Civil War rivalry gives Oregon a pathway to get back into NCAA contention if they win tonight, but their pathway all but becomes a dead end if they lose in Corvallis tonight.