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For last night’s weekly Hoops HD Report podcast – CLICK HERE
NEWS AND NOTES
-Last night in college hoops, there were three teams that showed up with a sense of urgency and came out with signature wins. First was Virginia Tech – they played their first game on ESPN’s Big Monday and pulled away in the 2nd half with an 80-69 win over North Carolina. The lead ballooned to as many as 19 points before North Carolina made the margin a little more respectable. The Hokies badly needed this win and will try to get some momentum going into a 2-game road trip that includes stops at Notre Dame and Boston College.
-Another team making their debut on Big Monday was TCU – they trailed by as many as 9 points in the first half before going on a late run and pulling away in the 2nd half with an 82-73 victory over West Virginia. With or without Jaylen Fisher, it was a much-needed win against a protected seed that the Horned Frogs added to their profile. West Virginia ended up falling into a tie for 2nd place with Kansas State – the Wildcats were able to beat Baylor 90-83 to earn their 3rd straight win in league play. Baylor is now in deep hibernation and the Wildcats are creeping closer to the NCAA Tournament bubble. Texas also earned a season sweep of Iowa State with a 73-57 win in Austin last night.
-With Maryland losing at Indiana last night, it is looking more and more like the Big 10 may end up only getting 4 bids this year – Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State have separated themselves from the pack by a country mile. While Michigan State cruised to a win at Illinois last night, Ohio State trailed last night for almost as long as their first eight games COMBINED in Big Ten play. However, Nebraska’s upset bid fell short as Ohio State pulled away late with a 64-59 victory.
-Under the radar, North Carolina A&T made a furious comeback in regulation – they trailed Howard by 10 points with 3:58 to go. The Aggies went on a 17-7 run (including a buzzer beater basket) to send the game into OT, but an unfazed Howard team ended up winning by 2 points. A&T was unable to get a shot off in the final 6 seconds after Howard missed a pair of FTs. The end result is that North Carolina A&T lost their first MEAC game and puts Bethune-Cookman in sole possession of first place.
-In the SWAC, a wild finish between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Texas Southern took place – Martaveous McKnight scored 5 points in the final 3 seconds to give Pine Bluff a victory at Texas Southern. McKnight started with a 3-point shot while being fouled to tie the game at 72-72. Following a technical foul by TSU coach Mike Davis, McKnight hit 1 of 2 technical free throws and completed the and-1 to give Pine Bluff a 74-72 victory.
-PROVIDENCE AT VILLANOVA (Big East). Following a pair of decisive wins at also-rans Georgetown and UConn, Villanova returns to Philly to take on a very bubblish Providence team at the Wells Fargo Center. The Friars are one of only 3 teams that have won at Villanova since the formation of the new Big East.
-ARKANSAS AT GEORGIA (SEC). Both teams come into this game at 3-4 in the SEC – while the Razorbacks beat Ole Miss at home last Saturday, Arkansas has a slightly higher sense of urgency in that they have not won a game away from home in about a month (and that was a win against Troy). Georgia is coming off of a tough loss at Auburn over the weekend.
-KANSAS AT OKLAHOMA (Big 12 – Spotlight Game). This is one of the best games you will see on paper all season long. Kansas is arguably the best team in the country when it comes to playing away from home. Oklahoma is coming off of 2 straight losses against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. As wonderful a player as Trae Young has been for the Sooners, he can’t be just a one-man show if OU is going to stop the bleeding at home tonight.
-CLEMSON AT VIRGINIA (ACC). This is the Tigers’ first major test without Donte Grantham in their lineup. By the same token, this also gives Virginia an opportunity to add a quality win to their profile that has more than enough quantity at the moment. They can also separate themselves further from the ACC – they currently lead Louisville by a game and a half in the standings. Everyone else has at least 2 losses in the ACC so far.
-OKLAHOMA STATE AT TEXAS TECH (Big 12). Speaking of teams looking to stop the bleeding, the Red Raiders have lost 2 straight games that included a loss at Texas and a bad loss at Iowa State where they were not very competitive. Oklahoma State has momentum after beating Oklahoma at home, but now have a difficult 2-game road trip that includes TX Tech and Arkansas this weekend. They could really use at least one road win on this trip to get more NCAA Tournament consideration.
-VANDERBILT AT TENNESSEE (SEC). It’s been a while since the Vols have swept the season series with Vanderbilt, but they should be able to hold serve at home tonight. Tennessee is also coming off of a win against an improving South Carolina squad.
-WISCONSIN AT IOWA (Big 10). I can only conclude that ESPN2 is airing this at 7 tonight to help ensure that more people are watching Kansas-Oklahoma instead. As the Puppet would say, you may want to put a parental lock on this game.
-DAVIDSON AT DAYTON (A-10). Davidson is an explosive enough offensive team that should be able to win in an environment that is normally a very tough one. However, we just don’t know which Dayton team shows up night in and night out this season.
-MISSOURI STATE AT BRADLEY (Missouri Valley). Both teams come in with padded records, but a win for the Bears tonight will keep them in the MVC race that also includes Drake and Loyola so far this season.
-ALABAMA AT OLE MISS (SEC). While Alabama is looking more and more like a first-ballot NCAA team right now, they have to be careful on this road trip – the Rebels are a homecourt hero in the SEC.
-CREIGHTON AT ST. JOHN’S (Big East). One thing is certain about the Johnnies in league play – either it will be a root canal playing them or it will be an easy victory. A Creighton loss wouldn’t be damaging from a metrics standpoint, but they need to cash in on winnable road games like this one.
-DUKE AT WAKE FOREST (ACC). Duke hardly missed a beat when they beat Wake a couple of weeks ago in Mike Krzyzewski’s absence. While they’ve been caught napping at BC and at NC State, they shouldn’t have much trouble tonight.
-NORTHWESTERN AT MINNESOTA (Big Ten). This game has more NIT bubble implications than it does NCAA Tournament implications right now.
-TEXAS A&M AT LOUISIANA STATE (SEC). The Aggies are playing a little more loosely after home wins against Ole Miss and Missouri. LSU has hit the skids with home losses to Alabama and Georgia and a road loss at Vandy. Both teams are real desperate for wins of any kind right now.
-MISSISSIPPI STATE AT KENTUCKY (SEC). This might not be the best time for Mississippi State to be playing at Kentucky right now. However, UK cannot be overlooking the Bulldogs in this game even if a bigger game at West Virginia looms this weekend.