By Andrew Kahn
It may not have been a particularly memorable weekend, but there were exciting finishes across the country. Some of the teams mentioned below, as well as Gonzaga and Michigan State, continue to impress, while other contenders have looked shaky of late.
Miami survives again
Low scoring, high scoring, home, away, close, or blowout—Miami has found a way to win all types of games en route to a perfect 12-0 start in the ACC. With a three-game lead in the conference and a favorable schedule down the stretch—a road game at Duke may be the only time the ’Canes are underdogs—Miami is in great position to win the league for the first time in school history. Miami’s latest victory was Sunday’s 45-43 win at Clemson, thanks to Kenny Kadji’s three-pointer with 36 seconds left. Miami moved up a spot to No. 2 in yesterday’s rankings.
Terps top Duke
Maryland may have only half as many ACC wins as Miami, but a thrilling 83-81 victory over No. 2 Duke on Saturday puts the Terps in NCAA Tournament consideration. Alex Len, Maryland’s 7’1” center, scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds while holding Mason Plumlee to just four points. Maryland led by eight with two minutes left, but needed two free throws from Seth Allen to break the tie in the final seconds. The Blue Devils fell to No. 7 in yesterday’s poll.
Top 10 blowouts
While Duke went down, several other top-10 teams cruised to easy victories. Indiana held on to its No. 1 ranking after crushing Purdue for the second time this season. Will Sheehey came off the bench and hit all nine of his field goal attempts, scoring 22 points and leading the Hoosiers to an 83-55 win. Victor Oladipo left the game with a hurt ankle but is expected to play tonight in a huge game at Michigan State. Meanwhile, Florida continued its domination of the SEC. The Gators hit 15 threes and had a 25-point halftime lead over Auburn on Saturday, winning 83-52 and moving from No. 7 to 4. In the Big 12, No. 10 Kansas State routed Baylor 81-61 to remain in the hunt for a league title.
Overtime for Okie St, Oregon
Forty minutes weren’t enough for two ranked teams on Saturday. Oklahoma State, looking like a dangerous NCAA Tournament team, won its seventh straight, beating Oklahoma 84-79 in overtime. The Cowboys continue their climb in the rankings, moving from 17 to 14. Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash combined for 54 points. Out west, No. 23 Oregon beat Washington State in OT, 79-77. The Ducks couldn’t make a basket at the end of regulation and never got a chance to attempt one in their final overtime possession, as Washington State mistakenly fouled E.J. Singler with three seconds left in a tie game.
Insult to injury for UK
Nerlens Noel’s injury was unfortunate for a lot of reasons. If Saturday is any indication, one of those reasons is that Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament hopes are in serious jeopardy. The Wildcats, ranked No. 25 at the time, lost 88-58 to Tennessee, a team it had beaten by 10 earlier in the season. Kentucky’s next five games come against teams ranked below them in the SEC, but without their rim protector and leading rebounder it won’t be easy.