Tuesday’s Things to Know: Illinois, Kansas State beat top-15 teams; St. John’s gets big bubble win
Things picked up during Tuesday night in college basketball as many ranked teams were in action. Two top-15 teams fell on the road to unranked opponents as the dynamics in the Big Ten and Big 12 shifted dramatically. The Big East also saw a gigantic road win from a bubble team who picked off a top-10 opponent.
Illinois upsets No. 9 Michigan State as Spartans continue losing streak
The biggest upset of Tuesday night saw Illinois take down No. 9 Michigan State with a solid 79-74 Big Ten home win. Although the Illini are only 8-15 on the season, they showed how dangerous they can be by leading for most of this game. Freshman Ayo Dosunmu paced the Illini with 24 points as he continues to look really good in big games this season. The loss gives Michigan State three straight defeats as they’re now right in the thick of the Big Ten race they were leading a week ago.
Feeling the heat from the Illinois defense on Tuesday, Michigan State had 24 turnovers as the Illini did a good job of containing point guard Cassius Winston. I have more on this game here, as Michigan State is still trying to figure things out after the loss of guard Josh Langford.
St. John’s earns road win at No. 10 Marquette, sweeps season series
Bubble wins were tough to come by on Tuesday night and none were bigger than struggling St. John’s going on the road and winning at Marquette. Following a blowout road loss to Duke on Saturday, St. John’s looked far more confident playing against a team they had already beaten earlier this season.
Shamorie Ponds outdueled Markus Howard for the second time this season as the Red Storm earned a massive season sweep over a top-20 team in NET. With St. John’s playing such a mediocre non-conference schedule, they didn’t compile a lot of quality wins so far this season.
But by sweeping a team like Marquette, the Red Storm might have just given themselves some breathing room as long as they don’t compile more terrible losses. CBT’s Rob Dauster examined this game for St. John’s NCAA tournament implications with a look here.
Kansas State topples No. 13 Kansas to maintain control of the Big 12
The Big 12 had an intriguing in-state rivalry game on Tuesday as co-leader Kansas State hosted Kansas. The Wildcats used stifling defense to force 23 Jayhawk turnovers while four players finished in double-figures as Kansas State pulled off the crucial home win.
The first win for Kansas State over Kansas since 2015, the win gives the Wildcats a half-game lead over Baylor in the crowded Big 12 race as the Jayhawks once again struggled on the road.
There is obviously a long way to go in the Big 12 race. But Kansas State appears to be regaining last season’s Elite Eight form while the Jayhawks look very vulnerable after dominating this conference over the last 15 years. Baylor, Iowa State and Texas Tech all remain in the picture. This could be the best conference race in college basketball over the final month of the regular season.