16 takeaways about Michigan State, Baylor, Kentucky, and more after a busy Saturday
After one of the last Saturday's of the regular season, here are 16 takeaways on where teams stand in conference races and NCAA tournament chances:
1. Michigan State: The Spartans major comeback against Northwestern (the biggest in Big Ten history, by the way) puts them in position to still claim the top spot in the Big Ten and possibly a No. 1 seed. Michigan State is probably the only one of the three Big Ten title contenders that can still be No. 1 after Purdue lost three in a row.
That, folks, is how the biggest comeback in Big Ten hoops history was sealed.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 17, 2018
No. 2 @MSU_Basketball stormed back from 27 down at Northwestern to clinch its 10th straight win Saturday: pic.twitter.com/b2YwNOF1Jm
2. Villanova: The Wildcats will likely now win the Big East for the fifth time after beating Xavier and earning a sweep of the Musketeers. This means Villanova has won each Big East title since the league was reformed. Villanova also has a real shot to enter the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
|MARCH MADNESS SHOP|
4. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ seven-game win streak ended as they lost star Keenan Evans for the second half due to a foot injury. Texas Tech dropped into a first-place tie with Kansas, who it hosts next Saturday in a conference showdown. But that’s only if the Red Raiders can get by Oklahoma State in Stillwater first Wednesday. There’s a chance Texas Tech could be a game behind Kansas, which beat West Virginia at home, if the Jayhawks knock off Oklahoma Monday.
5. Auburn: The Tigers lost by nine at South Carolina and more importantly saw Anfernee McLemore (7.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) go down for the season with a fractured tibia and dislocated left ankle. The Tigers still own a two-game lead in the SEC because Tennessee lost at Georgia.
6. Nevada: The Wolf Pack made it clear that they will be the Mountain West champs after completing a road sweep by beating Boise State earlier in the week and then taking down Utah State in Logan, a week after the Aggies had beaten Boise. Nevada’s Cody Martin put up 30 in the win.
7. Texas: The Longhorns desperately needed a road win in the Big 12 after losing at home to Baylor earlier in the week. And they got one at Oklahoma, which has been reeling. Texas had lost three in a row and now is tied with Oklahoma at 6-8 in the conference.
8. Syracuse: The Orange needed to win a road game against a team that is going to be in the NCAA tournament. They got one at Miami. This is the kind of win that could be a difference maker for the Orange in a selection committee discussion. Huge.
9. North Carolina: The win at Louisville keeps UNC on the heels of Duke and Clemson for the second spot in the ACC. North Carolina continues to rack up key road wins after beating NC State last weekend. The Tar Heels are starting to look the part of a team that could make another deep run.
10. Kentucky: The Wildcats have never needed a win more under John Calipari than they did Saturday against Alabama. The four-game losing streak is over and now Kentucky can at least breathe and reset the final push before the SEC tournament.
11. SMU: The Mustangs are no longer on the bubble after losing at UCF. Their spot was already tenuous but now they are running out of chances.
12. Arkansas, Kansas State, TCU, Washington, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and NC State: Arkansas, Kansas State, TCU and Washington needed to hold serve at home and did with the Hogs beating Texas A&M and Kansas State knocking off Iowa State. TCU beat Oklahoma State and Washington took out Colorado. None of those home wins will be a difference maker, but they allow them all to hold their spots. The Hokies, Irish and Wolfpack all had to win road games that they should win. They all did, knocking off Georgia Tech, Boston College and Wake Forest, respectively.
13. Butler: The Bulldogs convincing win over Providence, led by Kelan Martin again, shows Butler is still a real threat to be a factor in the Big East tournament.
14. Florida: The Gators are unpredictable again. They lost at Vanderbilt and now sit at 8-6 in the SEC after losing their second game in a row this week after falling to Georgia, which clearly isn’t done yet trying to make a late push after it beat Tennessee Saturday.
15. New Mexico State: The Aggies suffered a crushing road loss at Seattle in overtime. That’s two WAC losses this week after losing to Utah Valley. That may be one too many to get an at-large berth now. The Aggies have to win the WAC tournament.
16. Utah: The Utes swept the Washington schools to move to 9-6, in the Pac-12 (17-9 overall) and pick up their fifth road win in the conference, including at Arizona State. This is the second weekend road sweep after the Utes won both games in Oregon. Utah ends the season with three home games (UCLA, USC and Colorado) and could enter the Pac-12 tournament with a real shot to get an NCAA bid.