Rhode Island 64, St. Louis 62
St. Louis is 2-4 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime. They are 23-2 in all other games. That wouldn't be a huge problem against a better schedule, and if those losses were all against teams like Temple. But neither of those is true. St. Louis has only played two teams in the RPI Top 50 all season (Temple and New Mexico) and lost both of them. They already had dicey losses to Loyola-Marymount and UMass, and now they have a horrible loss to Rhode Island.
St. Louis was undone here by an over-reliance on the three. They took 29 of them, nearly half of their shots. In the final 10:30 of the game, St. Louis scored only 9 points, hitting 2-for-9 behind the arc. Rhode Island went on a 21-9 run over that stretch, capped off by the Billy Baron game winner.
But it's the soft St. Louis resume that is the concern now. They're one of the 25 best teams in the country, but the Selection Committee doesn't pick the 37 best teams, they pick the 37 best resumes. The St. Louis Sagarin ELO_CHESS will fall close to 40th with this loss, and the lack of big wins is a huge problems (compared to bubble teams like Northwestern, Seton Hall and Iowa State that do have big wins). The Billikens will play Xavier on Tuesday, and then at Duquesne next Saturday. I think they need to win both or they're going to have work left to do in the A-10 tournament.
This season, Rhode Island is 3-0 against Dayton, St. Louis and UMass. They are 0-11 against the rest of the conference. Doesn't make sense to me either. They're still two games back of the final spot in the A-10 tournament with three games to go, though, so the odds of making the A-10 tournament are slim. This win will be the highlight of their season.
St. John's 61, #18 Notre Dame 58
You know what every other sports writer is saying about this game? How great St. John's played to pull this big upset. You know what I'm going to say? St. John's didn't play very well. Notre Dame shot 4-for-31 on threes, and somehow St. John's only won by three points (playing at home, no less). The Irish forced 9 more turnovers than they allowed, grabbed three extra offensive rebounds, and slowed the game down to their type of pace (only 64 possessions). But when you shoot 4-for-31 on threes? It's pretty hard to beat anybody.
This would be more of a problem for Notre Dame had they not just won 9 straight games. They're still fine for an at-large bid with a 12-4 Big East record and an 8-4 record against the RPI Top 50. But this loss does two things. First, it will drop them a line or two in the NCAA Tournament bracket. Second, it puts at risk their chances of a double-bye in the Big East tournament. They'll play at Georgetown on Monday. A win will essentially lock up that double bye. A loss will potentially drop them into 5th place behind Cincinnati.
St. John's moves to 6-10 in Big East play with this win. They will have to play in the first round of the Big East tournament, but it's looking increasingly likely that they'll get a very winnable game there. They will finish the regular season on the road, at Pittsburgh and Rutgers.
Iowa State 65, Kansas State 61
Kansas State's inconsistency strikes again! In the final 2:30 of this game, they shot 0-for-3 from the field, hit 1-for-4 at the free throw line and turned it over. They hit only 56% of their free throws here, although they have hit 67% or worse in each of the past four seasons, so poor free throw shooting is par for the course under Frank Martin. Scott Christopherson was the star for Iowa State, hitting 5-for-5 behind the arc and finishing with 29 points.
Kansas State came into this game off of road victories against Baylor and Missouri, so they can be forgiven a mediocre home loss. But it drops them to 8-8 in conference play, emphasizing that they still have work to do to assure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. They have wins over Baylor, Missouri (twice), Texas and Alabama, along with a pair of iffy losses to Oklahoma. I think that they need two more wins to lock up an at-large bid for sure. They'll play at Texas A&M on Tuesday, and then at home against Oklahoma State next Saturday.
This win moves Iowa State to 11-5 in Big 12 play with wins over Kansas, Kansas State (twice) and Texas, along with iffy losses to Drake, Northern Iowa and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones are 3-4 against the RPI Top 50, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will move up close to 30th. They will finish the season at Missouri on Wednesday, and at home against Baylor next Saturday. I think that a win in either game will basically lock Iowa State into the NCAA Tournament. Either opponent would be a big scalp, and there's just no way that a conference as strong as the Big 12 will have a 12-6 team denied.