Morning Madness: Wednesday, March 1
Here's what you need to know in college hoops for Wednesday, March 1.
Happy March! It's finally here! We've got conference tournaments, Naismith semifinalists and the NCAA Bracket Challenge. Let's get to it:
In case you missed it
• No. 9 Kentucky had an exciting start to Senior Night. Senior forward Derek Willis proposed to his girlfriend before the game. The actual game, though, started out much worse for the Wildcats, with unranked Vanderbilt climbing to a 19-point lead. UK coach John Calipari has never lost on a Senior Night, and so the Wildcats slowly clawed back, riding a 7-0 run to take the lead and finally winning, 73-67.
• Grayson Allen was back on the court for No. 17 Duke as it took on No. 15 Florida State (though he didn't start). The Blue Devils had no problem with the Seminoles, cruising to a 19-point second-half lead, then holding off a late rally to win 75-70. The loss knocked Florida State out of contention for the ACC regular-season title.
• Leading by 10 points with four minutes remaining, No. 24 Iowa State saw Oklahoma State claw back to within a single possession less than two minutes later but held on to inch closer to a second-place finish in Big 12 play. The Cyclones won 86-83.
• Eastern Michigan's Ray Lee dropped 50 as the Eagles beat Central Michigan.
What to watch today
• No. 12 Florida (23-6) vs. Arkansas (22-7) (7 ET, ESPN2). The Gators will close out their regular season at home with a matchup against the Razorbacks. Arkansas (22-7, 11-5 SEC) will look to extend its winning streak to six and set a program record with a seventh SEC road win of the season. The Gators (23-6, 13-3) aim to rebound from a loss to Kentucky. Florida is 8-1 at home during conference play.
• No. 8 Louisville (23-6) vs. Wake Forest (16-12) (9 ET, ACCN). The Cardinals will try for a fifth win in six games when they visit a Wake Forest squad in desperate need of a resume-boosting victory. The Demon Deacons, who have not made the NCAA tournament since 2010, narrowly avoided a devastating loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to snap a two-game skid.
Naismith Trophy semifinalists
On Wednesday, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced its 10 semifinalists for the 2017 Naismith Trophy, which goes to the college player of the year. The Big 12 leads the list with three players. Other conferences represented include the Pac 12, Big Ten, ACC, West Coast and Big East.
See all 10 the semifinalists here.
Social moment of the day
There's dunking, and then there's dunking over two defenders with a thundering tomahawk:
Conference tourneys galore
There's only one way to guarantee your team makes the NCAA tournament: win your conference tournament. The ASUN, Big South and Patriot League have all started their conference tournaments, and the Ohio Valley, Northeast and America East tournaments all begin today.
See the full conference tournament schedule and keep track of automatic qualifiers here.
AP Top 25 behind the numbers
For the first time since Jan. 30, we have a new No. 1 in the AP Top 25: Kansas.
In total, six teams have been ranked No. 1 — Duke (Preseason-Week 2), Kentucky (Weeks 3-4), Villanova (Weeks 5-9, 11-12), Baylor (Week 10), Gonzaga (Weeks 13-16), Kansas (Week 17).
Go into more detail of this week's rankings here.
March Madness is here and our NCAA Bracket Challenge is officially LIVE!
How do you play? It’s easy. Register your first bracket at NCAA.com/bracketchallenge. Create or join groups with your friends, and if you’re not so sure about that first bracket, fear not – you can create up to five. The game is accessible via desktop, tablet or phone. Good luck.
Mark your calendar
Selection Sunday: March 12
First Four in Dayton: March 14, 15
First Thursday of the NCAA Tournament: March 16
Final Four in Phoenix: April 1-3