Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Morning News: Iowa State Wins A Wild Game And Villanova Crushes Xavier

Oklahoma State arranged a fun game for Eddie Sutton night. Didn't quite work out like they wanted it to, though.

Iowa State Wins A Wild Game at Oklahoma State This was just a wild, wild game. What can you say about some of these plays? You had Melvin Ejim's putback dunk coming just about 0.1 seconds after the buzzer in regulation. You had Monte Morris seemingly being fouled late in the first overtime (one of a whole bunch of dicey calls that went against Iowa State on the road), and then the refs letting the final 1.5 seconds run out for no reason. Then Naz Long's clutch three at the end of the second overtime to send the game to a triple overtime. And finally, Oklahoma State got a pair of chances on their final possession to get the game winner, but just missed. Trying to draw any kind of narrative out of this game is dumb - neither team deserved to win or lose. It was just bizarre.

The concern for Oklahoma State is that they're in danger of tumbling down the NCAA Tournament bracket, and they really could have used this win. With Stevie Clark off the team and Michael Cobbins out for the season with injury, they are now very short-handed, and their level of play has been in serious decline (see this post for my breakdown of Oklahoma State's defensive decline since Cobbins was injured). At this point, 10-8 in Big 12 play is probably their ceiling, with 9-9 very realistic.

Iowa State was only 4-4 in Big 12 play coming into this game, but their schedule was very front-loaded, and gets much easier from here on out. They're a chance that they'll be favored in every game the rest of the regular season, and they still have a very good chance of finishing in second place in the Big 12.

Villanova Crushes Xavier This result wasn't a surprise, honestly. On a busier night of college hoops I wouldn't even bother bringing it up in a Morning News post. Villanova was just coldly efficient in this game, compiling 25 assists to only 7 turnovers. What makes that assist total particularly impressive was that nobody had more than four - it was a team-wide effort. James Bell was 6-for-10 behind the arc en route to a game-high 27 points.

Villanova still has road games at Xavier and Providence remaining, but the Big East regular season title is likely going to come down to their road game at Creighton on February 16th.

With three straight losses, Xavier has fallen to 5-4 in Big East play, with wins over Cincinnati, Tennessee and Georgetown to go with bad losses to USC and Seton Hall. They're 35th in RPI and 42nd in Sagarin PURE_ELO. If the season ended now, they'd probably be in the NCAA Tournament, but only barely. They're going to need to get to at least 10-8 in Big East play to have a good chance at an at-large bid.

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