College basketball’s biggest winners and losers from Saturday’s packed schedule

The calendar has turned to February, which means March is right around the corner and college basketball season’s conference play continues to heat up.

From now until Selection Sunday on March 15, teams are looking to build their NCAA tournament profiles — either enhancing their seeding or staying on the right side of the bubble.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from college basketball’s Saturday schedule:.


Louisville: The Cardinals, No. 5 in the Coaches Poll this week, improved to 19-3 with a 77-57 drubbing of North Carolina State. The road win keeps coach Chris Mack’s group far out in front of the ACC race ahead of Duke and Florida State. Jordan Nwora is having an All-American season; he had 14 points on Saturday after a career-high 37 earlier in the week vs. Boston College. But it was Ryan McMahon (seven threes on Saturday) who carried Louisville against the Wolf Pack.

Baylor: The Bears, who leapfrogged Gonzaga for No. 1 in the poll last week, took care of business at home by handling TCU 68-52, improving to 19-1 and continuing to build a strong case for the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. It won’t be easy to keep winning in a strong Big 12, so claiming games at home is a must.

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Providence: Saturday’s 65-61 win against Butler, a projected No. 4 seed in the NCAAs, was huge for the Friars (12-10) if they want to start making a case for squeezing into the tournament. The Big East has eight of its 10 teams in the mix but no overly dominant squad.

Auburn: The Tigers outlasted Kentucky in a huge clash to stay in the SEC title hunt and they boosted their NCAA tournament profile in the process. It’s also the current difference between which of these SEC clubs nabs a projected No. 4 seed. Coach Bruce Pearl has seen guard Samir Doughty take a huge offensive step this year (he had 23 points to lead all scorers).

Florida State: The No. 6-ranked Seminoles have been one of the biggest surprises of 2019-20 and bounced back from a mid-week loss to Virginia by knocking off a tough Virginia Tech team on the road 74-63 to improve to 18-3 and 8-2 in ACC play. Leonard Hamilton’s team, an ACC title contender, is flirting with a potential No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Dayton: The Flyers (20-2) keep dominating Atlantic 10 action, this time dispatching bottom-feeder Fordham 70-56. Home games against teams that are lower-tier NET teams will only stain Dayton’s résumé and keep it from locking up a top seed. Easy wins are must wins for a power mid-major. Right now, the Flyers have the country’s fifth best NET rating.


Texas Tech: For a team hovering close to the bubble, a résumé-boosting road win would greatly amplify the Red Raiders’ profile. Texas Tech (13-8) was right there at Allen Field House, falling just short against Kansas 78-75. Coach Chris Beard has his inexperienced team playing solid defense, but this team needs big wins. It’s a long way from last year’s national runner-up team.

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Michigan State: The Spartans (16-6) fell on the road 64-63 to Wisconsin and dipped out of the Big Ten lead. The Badgers were without starter Brad Davison and Kobe King, who announced earlier in the week that he would transfer. Coach Tom Izzo has one of his most talented teams on paper, but this version hasn’t flourished yet in a crowded Big Ten — even with Cassius Winston being his usual self (the All-American had 23 points Saturday).

Seton Hall: The Pirates (16-5) had an outside chance of securing a No. 1 seed before losing to Xavier at home 75-62. The upset ended Seton Hall’s 10-game winning streak that pushed it into the top 10 of the poll. There’s still hope if other elite teams falter, but the Musketeers are a bubble team that turned the ball over 18 times and still won on the road. When Myles Powell is shooting poorly (3-for-14 from the floor, 1-for-9 from three) this group struggles with its identity. After coming back in subpar wins over Providence and DePaul recently, Xavier didn’t let that happen Saturday.

Villanova: No team had beaten Villanova on its home court in nearly two years. Creighton changed that Saturday with a statement 76-61 road win. The Blue Jays likely will vault into the top 25, while the Wildcats (17-4) will drop outside the top 10. It’s not a bad loss for a ‘Nova team contending for a No. 2 seed, but it showed the Wildcats aren’t dominating the Big East the way they have in years past.

Syracuse: A bubble team, the Orange (13-9) needed a profile-boosting victory vs. Duke and couldn’t deliver. Right now, ‘Cuse doesn’t offer any signature wins to make the NCAA selection committee impressed. There will be plenty more opportunities to enhance the résumé and damage it in ACC action this February.

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Rutgers: After jumping into the poll at No. 25 this past week and beating Purdue, the Scarlet Knights (16-6) couldn’t build more off their program breakthrough, falling to Michigan 69-63. They had the Wolverines on the ropes after mounting a late rally, but it wasn’t enough. Had they won, they would have been in a two-way tie with Illinois for first place.

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