"I Slept On It" is Blogging the Bracket's nearly daily roundup of the previous night's college basketball action, with a bracketology focus.
Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 55 points, including 20 foul shots, to push Connecticut (20-5, 8-4) past Memphis (19-6, 8-4), 86-81, after overtime. Houston (12-13, 4-8) gave Cincinnati (23-3, 12-1) a game for about 32 minutes, but then Sean Kilpatrick (28 points, four rebounds, six assists) took over, as he usually does. The Bearcats remain in a good place in a pair of races -- one for the AAC title and the other for a spot in the Top 16 -- after their 19th-straight home win.
Saint Louis (23-2, 10-0), winners of 17 in a row, now owns a three-game lead in the loss column over VCU (20-6, 8-3) in the A10 race. The Billikens held off the Rams, 64-62. VCU struggled from the perimeter all day, hitting just two of their 16 attempts from beyond the three-point line.
Elsewhere, UMass (20-5, 7-4) got 20 from Sampson Carter as it picked up a sorely-needed 67-61 win at George Washington (19-6, 7-4). St. Joseph's (17-7, 7-3) has a decent chance of sneaking into Tuesday's bracket after its 75-64 triumph at fading Big Five rival La Salle (12-12, 4-6). On the other hand, Richmond (17-8, 7-3) will remain in after a 12-point home win over Fordham (9-15, 2-9).
Syracuse (25-0, 12-0), the current projected overall No. 1 seed, survived another scare on Saturday evening, defeating N.C. State (16-9, 6-6), 56-55, thanks to a Rakeem Christmas steal that ended up as a C.J. Fair layup. The game was originally supposed to be a 3 p.m. Eastern tip, but the Wolfpack had trouble flying out of Raleigh-Durham. The delay really didn't affect N.C. State, which pestered the Orange all night, but the 'Pack simply didn't have enough at the end.
Duke (20-5, 9-3) defeated Maryland (14-12, 6-7) in the pair's final regular-season ACC meeting. Charles Mitchell missed a pair of shots that would have given the Terps a memorable win -- and a helpful victory for their thin NCAA selection sheet -- but the ball tantalizingly bounced around the rim, but not in. Jabari Parker scored 23 and grabbed eight rebounds for the winners.
North Carolina (17-7, 7-4) continues its rise up the Seed List. The Tar Heels dispatched Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5), which certainly seems destined for an 8/9 game at this point, 75-71, thanks to 24 points and 12 rebounds from James Michael McAdoo. Virginia (21-5, 12-1) won at pesky Clemson (15-9, 6-6), 63-58. Joe Harris led the four Cavaliers who hit double figures with 16, while the Tigers' K.J. McDaniels, once again, led all scorers in a losing effort. He had 24.
The Bedlam series ended in an Oklahoma (19-7, 8-5) sweep. The Sooners held off Oklahoma State (16-9, 4-8), which was without the suspended Marcus Smart for a second consecutive game, 77-74. The Cowboys have now dropped six in a row. In Ames, Iowa State (19-5, 7-5) got more of a fight than expected from Texas Tech (13-12, 5-7), but the Cyclones closed strong, prevailing 70-64. DeAndre Kane scored 17 and dished out nine assists for the hosts.
Texas (20-5, 9-3) had no trouble with West Virginia (15-11, 7-6) in Austin, denying the Mountaineers an opportunity at yet another late quality win virtually from the start, eventually winning by an 88-71 count.
A Brady Heslip three at the buzzer forced overtime in Waco, and a second would follow. After 10 extra minutes, Baylor (16-9, 4-8) had an 87-73 win over Kansas State (17-8, 7-5) that was obviously closer than the scoreline indicated. Up next for the Bears is a bubble showdown with fading Oklahoma State at the Ferrell Center.
With a little less than 11 minutes left in the first half, TCU (9-15, 0-12) led Kansas (18-6, 10-2), 25-19. The Horned Frogs only scored 40 more the rest of the way, falling by 30. Perry Ellis scored 32 for the Jayhawks, while Andrew Wiggins contributed 17.
Marquette (15-10, 7-5) is moving into the bid picture. The Golden Eagles were scorching from three (nine-for-18) in an 81-72 home win over Xavier (17-8, 7-5). The victory extended Marquette's winning run to three games, while Xavier's two-game streak came to an end. A visit from DePaul (10-16, 2-11) was all Providence (17-9, 7-6) needed to snap its three-game losing streak. Bryce Cotton scored 22 on an afternoon when six Friars hit double-figures, as PC won an 84-61 laugher.
Iowa (17-6, 8-4) needed a big second half to defeat Penn State (13-13, 4-9), 82-70. While Melsahn Basabe led the Hawkeyes with 16, Roy Devyn Marble had a more interesting statline. He scored 15, with 10 of those points coming from the foul line on a day when he went two-for-nine from the floor.
Indiana (14-11, 4-8) is fading. The Hoosiers dropped their third straight, getting blown out at Purdue (15-10, 5-7), 82-64. The Boilermakers have won two of their last three, but still need a few more wins to work their way back into bid position.
First-place San Diego State (22-2, 11-1) recovered well from its first Mountain West loss, handling Air Force (10-14, 4-9), 64-56, at Viejas Arena. New Mexico (19-5, 10-2) holds down second after an easy 90-72 victory over fading Nevada (12-14, 7-6). Meanwhile, surging UNLV (17-8, 8-4) sits in third all by itself after picking up a 73-62 victory at Utah State (15-10. 5-8).
California (17-8, 8-4) completed an Evergreen State sweep, knocking out Washington (14-12, 6-7), 72-59. Tyrone Wallace led the Golden Bears with 20 on the afternoon. Stanford (16-8, 7-5) earned a split by handling Washington State (9-16, 2-11), 69-58, thanks to Anthony Brown's career-high 30-point performance.
Florida (23-2, 12-0) followed its typical pattern at Kentucky (19-6, 9-3) on Saturday night: start slow, adjust at the half, rise to the occasion in the second. The result was a 69-59 victory for the Gators at Rupp Arena, their first such win since 2007, the last year the team captured the NCAA title. Casey Prather (24 points) and Scottie Wilbekin (23) led the way for Billy Donovan's squad, who closed out the Wildcats so efficiently that the Rupp Arena crowd was filing out far earlier than it should have.
Among the league's herd of bubble teams, Missouri (17-7, 5-6) gave itself a nice boost by slipping by Tennessee (15-10, 6-6), 75-70. Jabari Brown did pretty much everything for the Tigers, scoring 24 and grabbing two steals, including one off the Vols' Jordan McRae in the final seconds that helped preserve the Mizzou victory. McRae had 31 for the visitors. Look for the Tigers to remain in Tuesday's projection, while the Vols should still be on the outside looking in. Mississippi (16-9, 7-5) will join Tennessee on the wrong side of the cut line, as it fell at Georgia (14-10, 8-4), 61-60. Inexplicably, the Bulldogs now have third place in the SEC all to themselves. Arkansas (16-9, 5-7) gave its case a boost by knocking off LSU (15-9, 6-6), 81-70. That's the second loss in a row for the Tigers.
Southern Mississippi (21-5, 8-3) dropped its second in a row and fell out of Conference USA's first-place tie, as Middle Tennessee (19-7, 9-2) handled the Golden Eagles 81-64 in Murfreesboro. American U. (15-10, 11-3) dropped its third in four outings, falling at Lafayette (8-17, 4-10) by 12., while Boston U. (19-8, 12-2) had no trouble on its trip to Loyola, Md. (10-15, 5-9). That means the Terriers now lead the Patriot League race, which matters since its tournament is entirely played on home floors.
Green Bay (21-5, 11-2) sits in the driver's seat in the Horizon League, following a dominating 68-54 win at Cleveland State (18-10, 9-4). Remember the top seed in that conference hosts the bulk of the tournament, including the final, should it qualify.
Stephen F. Austin (24-2, 13-0) keeps rolling in the Southland. The Lumberjacks toppled Sam Houston State (18-7, 10-3) by seven in Huntsville to open up a three-game lead on the Bearkats. Georgia State (17-7, 10-1), however, saw its perfect Sun Belt run end at Troy (9-15, 4-8), of all places.
BYU (18-10, 10-5) rebounded from its Thursday loss at Pacific Tigers by defeating St. Mary's (19-8, 9-5) by three. The Cougars remain ahead of the Gaels in the bubble pecking order, but just outside the field. WCC leader Gonzaga (23-4, 13-1) continues to roll as it routed Loyola Marymount (11-16, 3-12), 86-67.