|It was just that kind of day for UCLA.|
Louisiana Tech is no cupcake. They are a contender in Conference USA, and could also get themselves into contention for the first at-large bid for the conference since 2012. It's going to take a gaudy won-loss record to earn an at-large bid out of Conference USA, but 4-0 with a win over Ohio State is a good start.
Another Big Ben Simmons Performance In A Loss LSU does have Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor coming later this season, but these games in November still count, and Ben Simmons continues to have to do everything himself. He had another monster game (14 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals), though he again was afraid to shoot (just 1-for-6 from the field). For the season, Simmons is hitting 18% of his jump shots and 77% of his shots at the rim, so his play is understandable. Both teams had plenty of chance to win this game, but NC State just happened to make more plays in overtime. The Wolfpack were led by a 20 point, 7 rebounds, 7 assists performance from Anthony Barber.
LSU doesn't play another "quality" opponent until SEC play, though they do have some tricky games (including road games at Houston and College of Charleston). This means that LSU will likely pick up another bad loss or two (or more) without a quality win. In other words, LSU is going to have to do significant work in the SEC to make the NCAA Tournament. It's impossible to see how they get in unless they get to 11-7 or better in conference play.
NC State picks up their first win of the season against a likely RPI Top 100 opponent. They have an interesting opportunity on December 1st with Michigan coming to PNC Arena.
Hulk Go Smash The UMass-Lowell/Wheelock game probably won't have any NCAA Tournament implications (Wheelock College is a Division III school, in case you're wondering). But it did feature a backboard smash courtesy of Dontavious Smith:
Here it is ... Dontavious Smith with a big steal before SHATTERING the backboard on his dunk attempt! #SCtop10 #wow pic.twitter.com/S4h48qT1KT— UMass Lowell MBB (@RiverHawkMBB) November 24, 2015
As for UCLA, they weren't going to get many chances for a resume-building win like a shorthanded Kansas team on a neutral court. Still, they do have Kentucky, North Carolina, and Gonzaga coming up, so they will have multiple shots at a big win.
Valparaiso Shuts Down Oregon State Oregon State is a Tournament-quality team, yet Valparaiso won this game despite a poor shooting day both from outside (4-for-16 on threes as a team) and from star Alec Peters (3-for-12). They did it with suffocating defense, holding Oregon State to 0.86 PPP, despite a stat-stuffing 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals from Gary Payton III. Valparaiso's defense has been great all season long (Pomeroy currently ranks it 6th in the nation).
Valparaiso is a team that would be good enough to earn an at-large bid in a tougher league. Unfortunately, it will be almost impossible for them to pull it off out of the Horizon League when their best non-conference wins will be over Oregon State and Rhode Island. The Selection Committee just does not properly value road games. Via the Sagarin ratings, a road game at Horizon League foe Milwaukee is approximately equal to home games against Georgetown, Wisconsin, or Florida State. We can be damn sure the Selection Committee won't see it that way, though. A home win over Georgetown would be an RPI Top 50 "quality win", while a loss to Milwaukee will be an RPI 100+ "bad loss".
Oregon State, in contrast, will get plenty of chances to pick up quality victories in conference play. They still look like a team destined to be in the bubble mix in February and March.