Colorado 71, #9 Arizona 58
Colorado fans have been waiting for this game ever since they watched the refs steal a win at Arizona after refs overturned what appeared to be a game-winning three-pointer by Sabatino Chen. Chen didn't score a point in this game, but he wasn't needed. Colorado grabbed an early lead, and Arizona was never closer than six points in the second half. Spencer Dinwiddie poured in 21 points with 7 assists, Xavier Johnson scored 19 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) with 9 rebounds, and Andre Roberson dominated the glass (4 offensive rebounds, 13 total rebounds). Askia Booker also played a key role is containing Mark Lyons (11 points and 4 assists), which is they key to shutting down Arizona's offense.
The general perception of Arizona is that they have a 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament more or less locked up, and that they're going to be the high seed that everybody picks to lose in the Round of 32. But the reality is, they are more likely to slip to a 4 seed than to earn a 2 seed, and they could easily fall to a 5 or even a 6 seed if they don't play well down the stretch. Arizona is now only 8-4 in Pac-12 play. They have wins over Florida, Miami (Fl), San Diego State and Colorado, to go with an iffy loss to California. Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE is going to fade to around 20th when tomorrow's numbers come out. So if Arizona avoids any more bad losses and wins the Pac-12 tournament, a 3 seed is likely, but that's far from assured. The Wildcats will next play on Sunday, at Utah.
Colorado moves to 7-5 in Pac-12 play and 17-7 overall with this win, with an 8-6 record against the RPI Top 100 and a Sagarin ELO_SCORE that should move up around 40th after this win. They'd be a Tournament team if the season ended now, but need to get to 11-7 in Pac-12 play to feel good about their chances head into the Pac-12 tournament. At 10-8 they're going to need at least one Pac-12 tourney win.
#5 Gonzaga 77, St. Mary's 60
Gonzaga did not have an answer for Matthew Dellavedova for most of the night. He finished with 22 points and 7 assists. The problem for St. Mary's is that they couldn't stop, well, anybody. Gonzaga had a 59.4 eFG% and 1.26 PPP. Gary Bell, Jr led the Zags with 20 points (on 6-for-10 shooting) and Kevin Pangos poured in 18. Kelly Olynyk was relatively quiet with 17, though his defensive presence did help limit the St. Mary's front line.
The Gaels have a number of strong outside shooters, but once they fell behind in this game they almost stopped passing the ball inside the arc. They launched 35 three-pointers in this game, the most they've attempted in a game since they fired 40 against North Carolina A&T on December 15, 2011. With St. Mary's players not named Dellavedova hitting only 26% behind the arc, that just wasn't a sustainable strategy.
The Zags are getting a lot of hype as a potential 1 seed in March. The problem is that they're really just moving up in the polls due to inertia - the quality wins aren't really there. They have beaten Oklahoma State. Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, BYU and St. Mary's (twice). All of those wins are good, but nothing really blows you away. Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE was sitting at 13th coming into this game. So the Zags are in good shape for a 2 or 3 seed, but they're going to need some help to earn a 1 seed. Their only chance is to win out and then hope that there aren't four strong 1 seed cases from the BCS conferences. For example, they'll be rooting for Kansas, Duke and Miami to fall in their respective conference tournaments. The Zags will play their next game on Saturday, at San Francisco.
St. Mary's came into this game ranked 21st in Pomeroy and 27th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR, but their at-large resume has been severely damaged by their soft schedule .They are 21-5, but have bad losses to Pacific and Georgia Tech, with only one decent win (BYU). Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE should remain in the Top 50, but they lack a single RPI Top 50 win. The Gaels will get home games against BYU and Creighton, and they'll need to win at least one of those games (and probably both) to earn an at-large bid. Up next is a road game at Loyola-Marymount, on Saturday.
USC 65, Stanford 64
Stanford was just awfully passive in this game. USC hit 18 free throws while Stanford only attempted 12 (and only hit four!), despite the fact that Stanford was at home. But that's what happens when one team attacks the basket and the other doesn't. Stanford took nearly three times as many three pointers as USC (21 vs 8), and USC lived in the paint all night. Jio Fontan led USC with 15 points and 5 assists. Stanford was led by Dwight Powell's 17 points and 17 rebounds.
Stanford had pulled themselves onto the Tournament bubble by winning four of five games, but this is a really tough setback. This loss drops them to 6-6 in Pac-12 play, and they remain just 1-7 vs the RPI Top 50. Stanford's Sagarin ELO_SCORE will drop out of the Top 50 tomorrow, and the Cardinal would certainly be an NIT team if the season ended now. Even if they get to 10-8 in conference play, they'll still have a bunch of work left to do in the Pac-12 tournament. The Cardinal will face UCLA on Saturday, and then will go on the road to face the two Oregon teams next week.
USC has somehow won four straight games to move to 7-5 in Pac-12 play. But don't start thinking that they're an at-large contender - they're only 12-13 overall. So for the most part they're just playing spoiler, although it wouldn't be totally shocking if they made a little run in a wide open Pac-12 tournament.