College basketball HQ: Illini present combat in slender loss to Hoosiers

Editor’s be aware: John Fanta is offering reside response and evaluation all through a busy day of school basketball.

It’s a busy day in faculty basketball, with a number of large video games on FOX (learn extra right here), an early take a look at the highest 16 NCAA Tournament seeds (scroll under), and extra. Let’s check out what’s taking place across the sport.


No. 14 Indiana edges Illinois, 71-68

I’ll start with a twist: Illinois didn’t win this recreation, however Brad Underwood’s group must be inspired about the best way it performed at Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon.

Yes, there is no such thing as a such factor as an ethical victory, and Underwood absolutely is kicking himself after the Illini misplaced a nine-point lead with lower than 13 minutes to go. But by the identical token, Matthew Mayer confirmed why he was such an impactful switch addition from Baylor this previous offseason. With main scorer Terrence Shannon Jr. (17.0 PPG) out attributable to concussion protocol, the thought stepping into was that it could be very troublesome for Illinois to stroll out with a win. But Mayer, freshman guard Jayden Epps and massive man Dain Dainja had been all in double-figures, whereas Luke Goode confirmed he can serve in a key position for this Illini group. While the Illini are an 8-seed in Mike DeCourcy’s newest bracket forecast, I’d not be stunned to see them go on a run, with a manageable schedule to shut the common season.

Turning to Indiana, the Hoosiers continued to indicate what they’ve over the past 5 weeks: the hopes of a run to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament — on the very least — are actual. They’ve received 9 of their final 11 video games, primarily as a result of they’ve among the finest 5 gamers within the sport.

If Zach Edey wasn’t the Big Ten participant of the yr, it could completely be Trayce Jackson-Davis. The Indiana senior celebrity put up 26 factors and 12 rebounds within the win, with 15 and 9 boards within the second half. Over the final 5 contests, TJD has posted 24.4 factors and 11.6 rebounds per recreation, elevating his manufacturing because the plot of the season thickens to a constant All-American first-team stage.

The key for Indiana down the stretch — and the important thing for this group on the whole — is what occurs past Jackson-Davis. With Xavier Johnson out for a protracted interval however inching nearer to coming back from a foot damage, that has solely made five-star freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino’s position extra necessary. 

With Illinois up 56-51 with seven minutes left, the possible one-and-done prospect canned a triple to get the Hoosiers again inside a pair. Down the stretch, when Indiana wanted a lead guard to step up and make a play, Hood-Schifino took what the protection gave him and drilled an elbow jumper off a display to tie it at 67. After a turnover by the Illini, Hood-Schifino stepped up once more and was fouled on a shot, hitting two clutch free throws to offer Indiana the lead. To rating 4 straight in that spot is reflective of the essential position he’s performed on this group. With the quantity of consideration Jackson-Davis receives from a protection, it opens issues up for Indiana’s guards, and Hood-Schifino has averaged 16 factors over the past three video games. 

The bounce-back win for the Hoosiers places them into third within the Big Ten behind Northwestern, and additional cements Indiana’s standing within the NCAA Tournament choice committee’s eyes. IU was the No. 13 total seed in Saturday’s bracket reveal. 

Overall: It was a top quality dwelling win for Indiana. But actually, Illinois confirmed some toughness. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Illini make a deep Big Ten Tournament run in Chicago in a few weeks.

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UConn choosing up steam with 4 wins in final 5 video games

UConn’s 64-55 win over Seton Hall wasn’t at all times fairly. The Pirates reduce the result in simply two with over 12 minutes left, and Gampel Pavilion grew to become quiet. But UConn confirmed composure and toughness in pulling away late. It marks the Huskies’ fourth win within the final 5 video games, and this group is beginning to decide up some steam as we hit the house stretch. 

UConn moved into sole possession of fifth place within the Big East, going to 9-7 within the league standings and sending the bubbly Pirates to 9-8. This is necessary as a result of the highest 5 groups within the convention find yourself getting a first-round bye within the Big East Tournament. 

Sophomore celebrity Jordan Hawkins didn’t have his jumper going — he went 3-for-13 from downtown — he nonetheless ended up with a game-high 20 factors. That’s the mark of an important scorer, and UConn must experience Hawkins in moments when it wants a bucket. Andre Jackson additionally confirmed why he’s such a handful, including 15 and 10, and Connecticut imposed its will on the glass (39-25 rebounding edge) behind Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan.

Jordan Hawkins scores 20 vs. Seton Hall

Jordan Hawkins scores 20 vs. Seton Hall

Jordan Hawkins led UConn previous the Pirates on Saturday.

The larger image for UConn: NCAA Tournament choice committee chair Chris Reynolds revealed on Saturday’s bracket preview present that the Huskies are one in all 4 groups — with Creighton, Miami and Saint Mary’s — which can be simply exterior the highest 16.

The Huskies have an opportunity to bolster their standing on Wednesday night time (6:30 p.m. ET on FS1) once they host an NCAA Tournament group in Providence. If Connecticut goes to construct a case to maneuver up a seed line, it wants that one earlier than matchups with St. John’s and DePaul. A difficult regular-season finale comes at Villanova on Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX. 

For the Pirates, who’ve misplaced three of their final 4 video games, their NCAA Tournament hopes are dwindling. A must-win comes Friday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1 when The Hall hosts No. 16 Xavier.

Committee provides early take a look at prime 16 seeds in NCAA Tournament

It’s been a season of thriller in faculty basketball, however there may be one factor the NCAA choice committee made very clear on Saturday afternoon: The Big 12 is by far the very best convention within the sport.

The committee positioned 5 Big 12 groups in its prime 12 throughout its prime 16 reveal Saturday: 

  • No. 5 Kansas (1-seed)
  • No. 6 Texas (2-seed)
  • No. 9 Baylor (2-seed)
  • No. 19 Iowa State (3-seed)
  • No. 12 Kansas State (3-seed)

This could be a ridiculously good accomplishment for any league, not to mention one with solely 10 groups. For half of the convention to be included within the prime 12 nationally is nothing in need of unimaginable, and could be historic if it seems that approach three weeks any further Selection Sunday.

Turning to the rest of the storylines, the Alabama Crimson Tide are the general No. 1 seed — sure, in basketball — within the present projection. Selection committee chair Chris Reynolds revealed on Saturday’s bracket preview present that the Tide’s 71-65 win at Houston on Dec. 10 is what separated them from the 24-2 Cougars, who examine in because the No. 2 total seed. 

Despite dropping three of its final 4 video games, Big Ten front-runner Purdue notched the No. 3 total seed, which is warranted at this second. The Boilermakers received 22 of their first 23 video games and are tied for second within the nation with 9 Quadrant 1 victories. None of their 4 losses have come exterior the highest quadrant. 

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The Jayhawks, who lead faculty basketball with 12 Quad 1 wins, had been a simple decide for the committee to fit into the ultimate No. 1 slot. Nobody else in faculty basketball has double-digit Quad 1 victories. 

Turning to the 2-seeds, it was all Big 12 and Pac-12: 

5. Texas
6. Arizona
7. Baylor

It’s actually nice information for the Pac-12 to have a pair among the many prime eight contemplating the league has not been robust past these two groups. 

The Maui Invitational champion Wildcats constructed up robust outcomes early, and wins over fellow top-16 members Indiana and Tennessee are a powerful indicator of their energy. The Bruins are an attention-grabbing one as a result of they solely have a 4-4 Quad 1 file. But are 7-0 in opposition to Quad 2s and taking part in solely 4 cupcake video games in Quad 4 assist their trigger, together with the truth that Mick Cronin’s group has received 19 of its final 21 video games. 

As for the Longhorns, to see them at No. 5 total is a mirrored image of interim head coach Rodney Terry and a veteran core of gamers who didn’t give in when Chris Beard’s off-court drama led to his firing. It’s been a very spectacular season in Austin, and Texas’ resolve has been rewarded. 

The different takeaway on the 2-line? One of the groups listed truly began Big 12 play at 0-3. If that doesn’t sum up simply how a lot respect the convention has earned, nothing does. Those had been the circumstances for Baylor, however since that begin to league play, the Bears have received 10 of 11 behind among the finest backcourts in America. 

Turning to the 3-line:

9. Tennessee
10. Virginia 
11. Iowa State
12. Kansas State 

Based on the itemizing of total rating, Tennessee would have been on the 3-line no matter Wednesday’s consequence, however a 68-59 victory over Alabama solely strengthens the Volunteers’ case. It moved their Quadrant 1 file to 6-2 on the yr. They additionally personal wins over each the Crimson Tide and a impartial ground win over Kansas within the Battle 4 Atlantis championship recreation.

In ho-hum vogue, Virginia could be very deserving of a No. 3 seed with a 4-4 file in opposition to Quadrant 1 and no losses exterior the highest quadrant. Perhaps the one purpose why the Hoos aren’t larger is that the Bruins performed three fewer video games in Quad 4 than the Cavaliers, who’ve seven wins in opposition to the worst competitors. 

Interestingly sufficient, Iowa State and Kansas State sq. off Saturday in Manhattan. The Wildcats want this recreation greater than the Cyclones, as Jerome Tang’s group has misplaced 4 of its final 5 video games. Yes, the Big 12 is an absolute gauntlet, however to see a group that’s 7-6 in its personal league and has misplaced 4 of 5 video games but nonetheless within the top-12 of a bracket reveal is fairly wild. A house loss to Iowa State, and we might see Ok-State get bumped to the 4-line. 

With a top-10 protection in faculty basketball, Iowa State has had a second straight robust yr underneath TJ Otzelberger, and the eight Quad 1 wins — the third-most nationally — is an effective purpose for them to be included on the 3-line.

Again, are you able to inform the Big 12’s cannibalization has solely helped everybody out? It can be attention-grabbing to see if this convention can be as nice with regards to NCAA Tournament outcomes, or if there’s a little bit of inflation happening. There’s additionally one thing to be mentioned about everybody beating one another up. 

Turning to the No. 4 seeds: 


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The committee gave respect to the Hoosiers for taking part in a top-20 schedule in response to KenPom, and a 7-2 file over the past 9 video games in a convention that might ship 9 groups to the NCAA Tournament. Indiana followers have Trayce Jackson-Davis to thank for them being within the prime 16. A street win over Xavier within the Gavitt Games has additionally ended up being even larger than perhaps initially anticipated.

The Golden Eagles, who prime the Big East at 13-3 in convention play, are actually deserving of being within the prime 16. Their declare to fame in non-conference play: a 96-70 victory over Baylor that absolutely modified the complexion of their season. That win carries limitless mileage, exemplified by the truth that the Bears are on the 2-line. 

The Zags is probably not as robust by their requirements and the expectations nationally, however they’re nonetheless 22-5, and you can really feel Mark Few getting rewarded for taking part in the non-conference schedule he does in Saturday’s reveal. That slate ranks No. 5 within the nation in response to KenPom.

Finally, Xavier rounded issues out within the prime 16. An enormous takeaway on why the Musketeers might have slid in there? A season sweep of Connecticut, plus wins over Creighton and Marquette, who’re all very a lot within the thick of issues. Sean Miller’s group is 5-5 in opposition to Quad 1, and a 6-1 file in opposition to Quad 2 actually doesn’t harm.

Trayce Jackson-Davis amongst nation’s greatest defenders

Trayce Jackson-Davis among nation's best defenders

Andy Katz shares his three tiers of the very best defensive gamers in faculty basketball.

The ultimate takeaway from this reveal was the very fact Reynolds launched the subsequent 4 groups on the committee’s present bracket on Saturday’s broadcast:

Saint Mary’s 

For the Bluejays, who as soon as misplaced six in a row this season, to be the “first team out” is a mirrored image of the difficult non-conference slate Greg McDermott went with, together with the very fact the Bluejays have received eight of their final 9 video games to re-establish themselves. Creighton has St. John’s tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, earlier than internet hosting Marquette on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1. That’s a chief probability in opposition to the Golden Eagles to make a transfer up with a win, whereas the Big East common season title race solely intensifies. 

The Hurricanes not being within the prime 16 could also be a mirrored image of the ACC’s lack of energy and the very fact they personal a Quad 3 loss. Saint Mary’s not being rewarded does present the committee doesn’t ONLY take a look at the NET, as a result of the Gaels are No. 7 in that metric. As for the Huskies, they should be upset to not be within the prime 16 in the intervening time, particularly after a 14-0 begin to the yr. But Dan Hurley’s squad continues to be proper within the dialog and has performed higher in latest weeks. A stretch run within the Big East might see them rise, particularly with 5 Quad 1 wins and a 3-0 file versus Quad 2.

John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter at @John_Fanta.

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