Wednesday night’s college basketball slate brought on a number of important scores, many of them good and a few of them bad for teams trying to keep themselves on the right side of the bubble.
Let’s take a quick spin around the nation and give you an idea of what went down and which teams will enter the weekend with a stronger résumé than they had entering Wednesday night — plus the ones on thinner ice.
Winners and losers from Wednesday
WINNER: Kansas’ hopes for a 1 seed
The Jayhawks have now won 51 straight at Allen Fieldhouse. The third-ranked team in the nation beat the second-ranked team in the nation, Baylor, holding on for a 73-68 victory. Freshman Josh Jackson continues to impress, as he had another double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds). The victory puts Kansas in strong position to hold on to a No. 1 seed and likely means the Jayhawks will finish atop the Big 12 regular-season standings for the 13th consecutive season. Bill Self is now 8-1 in his career at Kansas when KU is ranked in the top five and plays another top five-ranked team.
LOSER: N.C. State’s tourney hopes
The Wolfpack (14-9, 3-7) had a weird night. Dennis Smith Jr. goes for his second triple-double of the season, and becomes the first player IN ACC HISTORY to have two triple-doubles in league play. His teammate, Maverick Rowan, scored 31 points. Every State starter scored at least 10. But the Pack gave up a 16-point second-half lead and blew a home game against a desperate-but-flawed Syracuse squad. I think this is it. I think N.C. State will be in the NIT.
WINNER: Syracuse stays alive
Meantime, Syracuse (14-9, 6-4) has this player practically nobody knows, John Gillon, who scored 43 points! Just a bizarre and amazing game. Gillon’s effort tied for fourth-most ever by a Syracuse player; current Orange assistant Gerry McNamara put up 43 on BYU in 2004. (The school record is 47 by Bill Smith in 1971.) Gillon also set the PNC Arena record for points. The Orange aren’t dead yet. If Syracuse beats Virginia at home this weekend, it will enter the bubble conversation, even if it will be well on the outside looking in.
Indiana’s last triple-overtime game came in 1987. Until Wednesday night. The Hoosiers needed three OT sessions but got out with a victory against Penn State. A loss here would’ve landed IU on the bubble, given the team is playing without its two best players, and we don’t know when James Blackmon Jr. is going to be able to return. Here was the critical play.
I have to point out that Thomas Bryant had 31 points and 11 rebounds, putting on maybe the best game he has ever had at IU. Love this kid’s fire, and he has this ability on certain nights to play like one of the 15 best players in the country.
WINNER: Xavier and Trevon Bluiett
Give it up for Trevon Bluiett, who has had four consecutive games with at least 20 points. He’s now a dark horse to be an All-American if Xavier can go on a roll. Bluiett hit the winning shot in X’s 72-70 victory against Seton Hall. Remember, Xavier recently lost Edmond Sumner for the season, and to get this victory meant a lot to that team. Here’s the winner.
WINNER: Caleb Swanigan’s Big Ten Player of the Year campaign
I predicted earlier this week that Northwestern would fall at Purdue. Fall it did. An 80-59 final. How about Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, though? Another double-double, this time 24 points and 16 rebounds. Look for more on Swanigan here at CBSSports.com on Thursday morning. The guy is a monster. Top-five player in America this season. Vince Edwards also roared from deep. NU didn’t have a chance. Purdue’s Big Ten title hopes are still alive.
LOSER: Georgia Tech’s bubble case
The Yellow Jackets fell 74-62 at Clemson. If Georgia Tech — which has beaten North Carolina, Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida State in Atlanta — wants to get respect from the committee, it’s going to have to steal a few more on the road to have a real shot at making the field of 68. The Bees are now 13-9.
WINNER: Wichita State’s shaky at-large case
I wouldn’t put the Shockers in a bracket right now — even though they’re No. 22 at KenPom — but winning at Drake on Wednesday was pivotal to WSU’s at-large credentials. Gregg Marshall’s team trailed late but pulled off a 77-69 victory. Wichita State is now 20-4 but a game behind Illinois State in the MVC standings. The two will square off Saturday in Wichita. If the Shockers win and both teams end as one-loss teams in the Valley, I would like to see both earn bids on Selection Sunday.
WINNER: TCU gets needed road win
Big-time outcome for the hopes of TCU, as they were able to win on the road against a Kansas State team that’s pretty hard to predict these days. No one’s really certain if K-State’s going to wind up in the NCAA Tournament. TCU hasn’t been there in almost two decades. Now the Horned Frogs are 15-7 after an 86-80 OT victory on Wednesday night. This is one of the three biggest wins of the season for Jamie Dixon so far.
LOSER: Kansas State
Meantime, Kansas State (15-7) has dropped three straight in the Big 12 after blowing a five-point lead late in regulation. Bruce Weber is in a pivotal season, and this loss is damaging. Here’s K-State’s next three games: at No. 2 Baylor, home for No. 3 Kansas, at No. 7 West Virginia. K-State could be 15-10 in a hurry and out of the NCAA Tournament picture by next weekend.
WINNER: Cincinnati’s errated season
The Bearcats are still unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference. It’s time to give Mick Cronin’s team (20-2, 8-0) some long overdue attention. I’ll have a column on UC on Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday night, the Bearcats overcame an 11-point deficit and won 57-55 at Tulsa.
LOSER: What happened, Marquette?
Marquette was such a fun little story … for about 30 minutes. The Golden Eagles won recently at Creighton, then followed up that with a home victory against then-No. 1 Villanova. But since then, MU has lost at home to Providence, and on Wednesday night, fell by 14 at St. John’s. Marquette’s now 5-5 in the Big East. It probably can’t afford to lose more than three games the rest of the season, lest it lose all chances at dancing.
WINNER: Florida State’s legitimacy
The Seminoles won at Miami, and won big, 75-57, which is a big boost to that team’s morale. No one’s entirely sure what to make of FSU just yet, but this victory — after Miami beat UNC at home over the weekend, remember — helps the credibility of Leonard Hamilton’s crew. (Miami is a loser here in more ways than one. The Hurricanes are 1-7 against the eight best teams they’ve faced this season.)
LOSER: Texas Tech and its awful nonconference schedule
The Red Raiders played the very worst nonconference schedule in college basketball this season, ranking 351 in the country, and so TTU’s Big Dance chances are slim. Had Chris Beard’s team been able to win at Texas on Wednesday night, it would have somewhat of a case. But now the 15-7 Red Raiders are going to need to compile a lot of wins in February to have any chance. The committee can and should punish TTU for having a putrid out-of-league slate.
WINNER: South Carolina as No. 2 in the SEC
The Gamecocks rolled 88-63 at LSU. The SEC isn’t that good, but South Carolina is absolutely a Top 25 team. The Gamecocks are currently ranked 19th.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Winners (Kansas) and losers (NC State) in college hoops from a wild Wednesday night