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Wednesday’s Shootaround: Big wins for bubble teams

Illinois 42, No. 10 Michigan State 41: We went fairly in depth on this game last night, but there was one stat that I forgot to get to in that post. This game was the Illini’s second biggest win on the season. The biggest was their upset of Ohio State in Assembly Hall. In that game, Brandon Paul scored 43 points. Against Michigan State, the entire Illinois team scored 42. Think about that.

Iowa State 72, Kansas State 70: The Cyclones picked up another huge win at home as they rallied from 14 points down in the second half to complete their sweep of the Kansas schools. White led all scorers with 22 points while also added eight boards, four assists, three blocks and two steals. More importantly, however, White hit the game-winning shot with just 1.8 seconds left on the clock:

Now, there were a number of issues down the stretch for the Wildcats, but the biggest problem, for me, is that Frank Martin allowed White the time and space to put the ball on the floor and get a good look at the rim. You know what he wants to do, and you know that he is a mismatch for any big man that tries to guard him on the perimeter. Martin HAS to get the ball out of White’s hands on that final possession.

While the Wildcats will undoubtedly be upset about blowing a 14 point lead, losing at Hilton Coliseum is not anything to be ashamed of. That place has always been a tough arena to get a win, especially with the Cyclones are putting a winner on the floor.

So how good is Iowa State? As of now, I think we can say that this group is the fourth best team in the Big 12 and now safely in the NCAA Tournament. But before I get too excited about this group, let’s see them do something impressive on the road. Knocking off a couple of team in your own arena is noteworthy. Going into Waco or Columbia or Manhattan and coming out with a win is an entirely different story.

Arkansas 82, Vanderbilt 74: Vandy went into the break with a 34-32 lead, but they Razorbacks came out on fire in the second half. They hit six of their first seven threes -- including five in the span of about three minutes -- that carried a 22-6 run and opened up a 59-46 lead. Arkansas may be young, but they do have a couple of talents on their roster. When guys like BJ Young, Madracus Wade and Julysses Nobles get it going, Arkansas is capable of making some noise. In a year or two, this group has the potential to be scary.

That said, I’m not all that concerned about this result. For starters, Arkansas doesn’t lose at home. Ever. They are 16-6 on the year. Those 16 wins have all come in Bud Walton Arena and those six losses have all come elsewhere. Until this group proves they can win on the road, they aren’t to be taken seriously. The fact that they had to play in BWA isn’t the only reason this was a tough matchup for Vandy. Arkansas loves to press. In fact, they are running the same system now under Mike Anderson that they ran under Nolan Richardson back when the program was competing for national titles. And that system is one that is going to give the ‘Dores trouble. If there is anything that they are lacking, its a dominating back court presence. Brad Tinsley is not going to be able to beat a full court trap by himself. Basketball is all about the matchups, and this matchup didn’t give Vandy much of a chance.

No. 15 Marquette 66, Seton Hall 59: The Golden Eagles were able to overcome a slow start and a poor shooting night from Darius Johnson-Odom as they used a 20-5 run to open up the second half and take control of what was a fairly ugly basketball game. Jae Crowder had 20 points and 12 boards and Vander Blue added 16, including an oop that sparked the run and got Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, who were sitting courtside, to jump out of their seats.

For Seton Hall, this is just another bad loss. The Pirates are now on a five game losing streak after they entered the top 25 with a 15-2 record. The season is not yet over for SHU. They still have enough on their resume that, if they can turn this thing around, they will be able to get to the NCAA Tournament. But, at this point, its almost a mental issue. The confidence that hot start provided them is all but gone.

The rest of the top 25:

- No. 6 UNC 68, Wake Forest 53: Tyler Zeller continued his stretch of terrific play, going for 18 points and 18 boards in the win.

- No. 18 Virginia 65, Clemson 61: The Cavs got 23 points, 10 boards and three blocks out of Mike Scott as they further solidified their standing as a top four team in the ACC.

- No. 20 Wisconsin 52, Penn State 46: You know Big Ten basketball is boring when a game that doesn’t even break 100 combined points was the best game of the night in the conference.

Other notable scores:

- Oklahoma State 80, Texas Tech 63
- Youngstown State 73, Milwaukee 65
- New Mexico 81, Air Force 42

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.