NCAA College Basketball

College basketball’s biggest winners and losers: Baylor, San Diego State suffer setbacks


Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Published 6:46 p.m. ET Feb. 22, 2020 | Updated 12:16 a.m. ET Feb. 23, 2020

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What teams are rising and falling as March madness is quickly approaching. USA TODAY

With the calendar nearing March, the college basketball season is starting to heat up with just two weeks left in the regular season before major conference tournaments begin.

While teams that are securely in the field don’t have much to worry about as far as playing in the NCAA tournament, it’s make-or-break time for their seeding line. The difference between a No. 4 or No. 5 seed could be the difference in suffering a first-round bracket-buster. And even the difference between No. 1 seeds matters for earning the best pathway to the Final Four.

Baylor entered Saturday as the projected top overall No. 1 seed, and will close the day as the second No. 1 seed as Kansas vaulted ahead thanks to a thrilling 64-61 win in a battle between two national title contenders. And San Diego State entered the day as a projected No. 1 seed but could potentially fall to the No. 2 line after losing its first game of the season to .500 team UNLV. 

Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers among NCAA tournament-secure teams in Saturday’s action: 

WINNERS

Dayton: After tailing 38-36 at the half to Duquesne, the Flyers (25-2) turned it up a notch in the second half to pull away for an 80-70 home win. National player of the year candidate Obi Toppin finished with 28 points and Dayton’s depth continues to be a major strength. Dayton hasn’t lost since December and currently holds a No. 2 seed in USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracketology. It could be tough for coach Anthony Grant’s team to vault to the No. 1 line, but if other teams falter it’s certainly a possibility. 

BUBBLE WATCH: Which teams damaged tournament hopes, bolstered credentials?

MORE: College basketball scoreboard

Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin (1) talks with head coach Anthony Grant during the first half against the Duquesne Dukes at University of Dayton Arena.

Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin (1) talks with head coach Anthony Grant during the first half against the Duquesne Dukes at University of Dayton Arena. (Photo: David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports)

Louisville: The Cardinals (23-5) took care of business in dispatching a reeling North Carolina team in dominant form, and it’s a good thing because teams like UNC (ones that underachieved and are win-hungry) can be the most dangerous because of their ability to stain profiles. Louisville cruised and remains out front in the ACC standings. This outcome also means coach Chris Mack’s team is one step closer to bumping up from the No. 4 seed line to No. 3 in the projected bracket. 

Duke: After suffering a blowout to North Carolina State earlier this week, the Blue Devils (23-4) needed to rebound. They did that in convincing fashion with an 88-64 beatdown of Virginia Tech at home behind freshman Cassius Stanley’s 21 points. A projected No. 2 seed, Duke only has one more chance of acquiring a Quadrant 1 victory (on the road Feb. 29 vs. Virginia) so rekindling a winning momentum was a must. 

Virginia: The Cavaliers aren’t completely safe yet from the NCAA tournament bubble, but they’ve drifted pretty far away from it in February thanks to winning seven of their last eight. Saturday’s 59-56 win over Pittsburgh on the road was UVA’s fourth win in a row and a sign that the reigning national champs are starting to hit their stride as March rolls around. Remember, there are still carry-overs from last year’s title team in Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark. Tony Bennett’s team, always a lockdown defensive unit, could be dangerous in March. 

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders (18-9) hammered Iowa State 87-57 to continue its late-season push up the projected bracket. Once a bubble team, Texas Tech has climbed to a No. 8 seed and is positioned to vault to the No. 7 seed line if it keeps winning. TTU has won five of six and has dates with projected No. 1 seeds and Big 12 kingpins Baylor (March 2) and Kansas (March 7) to close out the regular season. 

Auburn: The Tigers (23-4) are currently holding a No. 4 seed and could’ve slipped to the No. 5 seed line had it lost to Tennessee. But after trailing for portions of the game, Bruce Pearl’s group took care of business to pull out a 73-66 victory on its home floor.  

LOSERS

San Diego State: There had been only 19 teams to ever enter the NCAA tournament undefeated in college basketball history. The Aztecs appeared to be poised to join that club until Saturday’s colossal 66-63 upset to UNLV. SDSU stormed back after tailing by double-digits with four minutes left, but ultimately the hole was too big. While it is only one loss, San Diego State could still be in jeopardy of losing out on an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed now since the setback qualified as a Quadrant 3 (home games against opponents ranked 76-160 in NCAA’s NET rating) loss to go on the tourney profile. 

San Diego State Aztecs guard Malachi Flynn (22) reacts in the second half as UNLV Rebels guard Amauri Hardy (3) and guard Elijah Mitrou-Long (55) and guard Marvin Coleman (31) look on the second half at Viejas Arena. UNLV won 66-63.

San Diego State Aztecs guard Malachi Flynn (22) reacts in the second half as UNLV Rebels guard Amauri Hardy (3) and guard Elijah Mitrou-Long (55) and guard Marvin Coleman (31) look on the second half at Viejas Arena. UNLV won 66-63. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

Gonzaga: Unlike San Diego State’s loss to UNLV — a Quadrant 3 home loss — Gonzaga fell to a top-30 opponent on the road, so this outcome won’t stain the resume much at all. It does, however, pave room for projected No. 2 seeds Maryland, Duke, Dayton and Florida State to make a late push to vault ahead of both SDSU and Gonzaga for the remaining No. 1 seeds that both Kansas and Baylor should inevitably secure come Selection Sunday.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers (19-8) suffered a setback on the road, losing to TCU 67-60 in overtime, and while they’ll still likely hold a No. 4 seed on the projected bracket, Saturday’s outcome pushed them further away from the No. 3 line. WVU has now lost four of their last five, and granted two of those losses came against Baylor and Kansas, but the Big 12 slate isn’t getting any easier — with two of the last four on the road and a home clash with Baylor on March 7. 

Baylor: The Bears are still a national title favorite after Saturday’s 64-61 home loss to Kansas. But the setback, which snapped a 23-game winning streak, means the Bears lost their grip on the Big 12 standings (KU is now tied) and also their grip on the top overall NCAA tournament seed. Baylor might need to face the Jayhawks again and defeat them to prove to the committee it’s the top team on the bracket. 

MORE: Kansas makes its case as tournament’s top seed with road win over Baylor

Baylor Bears guard Mark Vital (11) reacts after the loss to the Kansas Jayhawks at Ferrell Center.

Baylor Bears guard Mark Vital (11) reacts after the loss to the Kansas Jayhawks at Ferrell Center. (Photo: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona: After losing in overtime to Oregon on a last-second jumper earlier in the season, it was a dose of deja vu for the Wildcats on Saturday, as they lost 73-72 on another last-second bucket in overtime. The Ducks’ Payton Pritchard had 38 points and this outcome likely pushes Arizona from a projected tourney No. 6 seed to a No. 7. It also removed the Wildcats from first place contention in the crowded Pac-12. 

Xavier: The Musketeers (17-10) had won four of five to improve to the No. 9 seed line in recent weeks, so Saturday’s 64-55 home loss to Villanova won’t hurt the team’s profile much. But it was a missed opportunity to add a Quadrant 1 victory to the résumé with only three signature wins. Still, Xavier is in good shape being far enough away from the bubble with a top-40 NET score, top-10 strength of schedule and no bad losses. 

Colorado: The Buffaloes (21-7) currently hold a No. 5 seed in the latest bracket projection, but might dip closer to the No. 6 line after a 70-63 home loss to non-tourney team UCLA. The loss also pushes Colorado out of first place in the crowded Pac-12 standings. Still, the Buffs have six Quad 1 wins and no bad losses, so they’re well positioned to notch a solid seed in the NCAAs. 

***

Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.

March 10: A Robert Morris fan holds up a sign during the team's game against St. Francis in the Northeast Conference championship in Pittsburgh. Robert Morris won the game, 77-67.March 10: Gonzaga mascot Spike leads a cheer during the championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas. Gonzaga defeated Saint Mary's (Calif.), 84-66.March 7: A West Virginia Mountaineers cheerleader performs during the first half against the Baylor Bears at WVU Coliseum.March 7: Duke Blue Devils fans cheer prior to a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium.March 7: The Texas Tech Red Raiders mascot performs during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at United Supermarkets Arena.March 7: Purdue Boilermakers mascot Purdue Pete does a cheer during a timeout against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Mackey Arena.March 7: The Virginia Cavaliers cheerleaders preform on the court during a stoppage in play in the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at John Paul Jones Arena.March 7: A Bradley Braves fan holds up a sign during the second half against the Drake Bulldogs at Enterprise Center.March 5: Arizona  mascot Wilbur T. Wildcat celebrates in the second half during the game against Washington State at McKale Center.March 4: Miami cheerleaders perform during the against Virginia at Watsco Center.March 4: Kansas fans hold up papers as the TCU players are announced prior to the game at Allen Fieldhouse.March 3: Rutgers center Myles Johnson (15) celebrates with fans after defeating Maryland at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).Feb. 29: The Nevada Wolf Pack cheerleaders perform during the game against the San Diego State Aztecs.Feb. 29: Fans cheer before the game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan State Spartans at XFINITY Center.Feb. 29: The Missouri Tigers cheerleaders perform during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Mizzou Arena.Feb. 29: The new Butler Bulldogs mascot, Butler Blue, is introduced before the game against the DePaul Blue Demons.Feb. 29: A West Virginia Mountaineers cheerleader performs during the first half against the Oklahoma Sooners.Feb. 29: An LSU Tigers Feb. 29: A young North Carolina State Wolfpack fan looks on during the second half at PNC Arena.Feb. 29: A Syracuse Orange fan watches a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Carrier Dome.Feb. 28: A Dayton Flyers fan cheers during a game against the Davidson Wildcat at University of Dayton Arena.Feb. 27: Purdue fans cheer on the Boilermakers during their 57-49 win over Indiana at Mackey Arena.Feb. 24: Kansas Jayhawks cheerleaders perform during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Allen Fieldhouse.Feb. 23: An Indiana Hoosiers cheerleader performs during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Assembly Hall.Feb. 22: Colorado cheerleaders perform before the game  against UCLA at the CU Events Center.Feb. 20: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky cheers during the first half of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Desert Financial Arena.Feb. 19: North Carolina State fans celebrate after an 88-66 win against Duke at PNC Arena.Feb. 19: Georgetown mascot Jack the Bulldog rides in a car during the game against Providence at Capital One Arena.Feb. 18: Virginia Commonwealth Rams mascot Rodney Ram dances on the court against Dayton in the second half at Stuart C. Siegel Center.Feb. 17: A Kansas Jayhawks fan before the game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Allen Fieldhouse.Feb. 16: Michigan Wolverines cheerleaders perform during the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Crisler Center.Feb. 15:  A Gonzaga  fan brings his dog with custom ear muffs to watch the game against Pepperdine at Firestone Fieldhouse.Feb. 12: Blue III, Butler's mascot, carries a bone to the floor during introductions before the game between Butler and Xavier in Indianapolis.Feb 11: The Virginia Cavaliers mascot Cav Man dances with a member of the Cavaliers dance team on the court during a timeout during the game against Notre Dame at John Paul Jones Arena.Feb. 10: A Texas Tech Red Raiders fan shows his support for the team before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at United Supermarkets Arena.Feb. 8: The North Carolina Tar Heels mascot and a cheerleader react when the game against the Duke Blue Devils goes to overtime at Dean E. Smith Center.Feb. 8: A young Colorado Buffaloes fan before the game against the Stanford Cardinal.Feb. 8: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats.Feb. 8: Oregon State Beavers fans celebrate during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Gill Coliseum.Feb 8: A Colorado Buffaloes cheerleader performs in the first half against the Stanford Cardinal.Feb. 8: North Carolina Tar Heels fans cheer in the first half at the Dean E. Smith Center.Feb. 8: Georgetown Hoyas mascot Jack the Bulldog on the court during the game against the DePaul Blue Demons.Feb. 8: An Indiana Hoosiers fan cheers during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers.Feb. 8: A TCU Horned Frogs cheerleader performs during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks.Feb. 6: Houston cheerleaders perform in the first half during the game against Tulane at Fertitta Center.Feb. 4:  A Texas Tech cheerleader performs during the game against Oklahoma at United Supermarkets Arena.Feb. 2: South Carolina's mascot, Cocky, runs across the court before the game against Tennessee.  South Carolina defeated Tennessee, 69-48.Jan. 30: Cheerleaders perform prior to the start of Illinois' game against Minnesota at State Farm Center.Jan. 29: Seton Hall fans cheer during the second half against DePaul at Prudential Center. Jan. 26:  Cheerleaders for the Creighton Bluejays hold cards  during the Creighton vs Cancer Pink Out game against Xavier at CHI Health Center Omaha.Jan. 21: TCU Horned Frogs fans celebrate after the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.Jan. 21: Villanova Wildcats fans cheer during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs at Finneran Pavilion.Jan. 21: A Missouri Tigers cheerleader performs during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Mizzou Arena.Jan. 21: The Missouri Tigers mascot performs before the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Mizzou Arena.Jan. 20: The West Virginia mascot sings Jan. 18: A North Carolina State cheerleader performs during the second half at PNC Arena.Jan. 18: Duke fans before a game against Louisville.Jan. 18: VCU mascot Rodney Ram gestures to the crowd against St. Bonaventure.Jan. 15: Oklahoma State fans hold up Jan. 15: An Oklahoma State cheerleader performs during a time.Jan. 15: The Baylor mascot fires up the crowd during a timeout in  the second half in the game against Iowa State at Ferrell Center.Jan. 14: The Oklahoma Sooners' dance team performs during a timeout during the game against Kansas at Lloyd Noble Center.Jan. 12: Colorado Buffaloes mascot Chip performs for the crowd in the second half against the Utah Utes at the CU Events Center.Jan. 11: Duke Blue Devils fans cheer prior to a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Cameron Indoor Stadium.Jan 11: A Virginia Cavaliers cheerleader performs during the second half of the game against the Syracuse Orange at John Paul Jones Arena.Jan. 8: Georgetown mascot Jack the Bulldog rides in a car against St. John's.Jan. 7: A Missouri cheerleader performs during the game against Tennessee at Mizzou Arena.Jan. 6: Oklahoma State mascot Pistol Pete performs during a time out in the game against West Virginia at Gallagher-Iba Arena.Jan. 4: A Pittsburgh Panthers cheerleader performs during the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.Jan. 4: Mississippi State Bulldogs fans yell for their team during the first half against the Auburn Tigers at Humphrey Coliseum.Jan. 4: A Kansas Jayhawks cheerleader performs during the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse.Jan. 4: TCU Horned Frogs mascot Super Frog takes a photo with a fan during the second half at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.Jan. 4: Baylor cheerleaders fire up the crowd during the second half between the Bears and the Texas Longhorns at Ferrell Center.Dec 30: The Missouri Tigers cheerleaders perform during the game against the Chicago State Cougars at Mizzou Arena.Dec. 30: A fan reacts prior to the start of the game between the North Florida Ospreys and the Dayton Flyers at University of Dayton Arena.Dec. 30: Memphis Tigers cheerleaders perform during the second half of the game against the Tulane Green Wave at FedExForum.Dec. 29: Virginia Cavaliers cheerleaders fire T-shirts into the stands during a timeout against the Navy Midshipmen.Dec. 22: A TCU Horned Frogs cheerleader performs during the second half against the Xavier Musketeers at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.Dec. 21: The Gonzaga Bulldogs mascot performs during the game against the Eastern Washington Eagles.Dec. 21: Saint Louis Billikens forward Hasahn French takes a photo with a fan after the win over the Kansas State Wildcats at Sprint Center.Dec. 19:  A Duke fan cheers during the first half against Wofford at Cameron Indoor Stadium.Dec. 18:  Louisville cheerleaders perform in Santa hats against Miami (Ohio).Dec. 14: Kansas Jayhawks cheerleaders perform before the game against the UMKC Kangaroos at Sprint Center.Dec. 8: Michigan State fans cheer during the game against Rutgers in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won. 77-65.Dec. 7: The Butler mascot Dec. 4: The Purdue mascot performs a cheer during the Boilermakers' win over Virginia at Mackey Arena.Dec. 3: Memphis cheerleaders perform during the second half against Bradley at FedExForum.Dec. 3: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges greets the Pittsburgh Panthers Mascot Nov. 27: Virginia mascot Nov. 26: Stephen F. Austin fans react during the second half against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Lumberjacks shocked the No. 1 Blue Devils 85-83 in overtime.Nov. 22: West Virginia cheerleaders pose for a photos after a win over Boston University at WVU Coliseum.Oklahoma State Cowboys mascot Pistol Pete.Nov. 19: Kansas Jayhawks cheerleaders perform during a timeout during the second half against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers at Allen Fieldhouse.Nov. 19: The Penn State Nittany Lions mascot entertains the crowd during a timeout in the first half against the Bucknell Bison at Bryce Jordan Center.Nov. 18: TCU Horned Frogs fans hold up a sign of head coach Jamie Dixon during the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.Nov. 17: Louisville Cardinals cheerleaders perform during the second half against the North Carolina Central Eagles at KFC Yum! Center.Nov. 17: The Connecticut Huskies cheerleading team performs during a break in the action against the Florida Gators in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.Nov. 15: The Duke Blue Devils mascot performs during the first half against the Georgia State Panthers at Cameron Indoor Stadium.Nov 15: Kansas Jayhawks mascot Little Jay entertains fans before the game against the Monmouth Hawks at Allen Fieldhouse.Nov. 15: A Kansas Jayhawks cheerleader performs during the second half against the Monmouth Hawks at Allen Fieldhouse.Nov. 14: The St. Mary's Gaels mascot performs during the game against the Long Beach State 49ers at McKeon Pavilion.Nov. 13: The Virginia Commonwealth Rams mascot cheers on the court in the game against the LSU Tigers at Stuart C. Siegel Center.Nov. 12: Oregon Ducks cheerleaders perform during the second half at Moda Center.Nov. 10: Arizona Wildcats mascot Wilbur T. Wildcat has some fun after the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at the McKale Center.Nov. 10: Virginia Cavaliers fans do the Nov. 10: Arizona Wildcats fans celebrate during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at the McKale Center.Nov. 10: A Virginia Cavaliers cheerleader performs during a timeout in the game against the James Madison Dukes at John Paul Jones Arena.Nov. 9: Purdue Boilermakers mascot Pete performs against the Texas Longhorns at Mackey Arena.Nov. 9: Purdue Boilermakers fans cheer against the Texas Longhorns at Mackey Arena.Nov. 9: Indiana Hoosiers cheerleaders perform during a game against the Portland Sate Vikings at Assembly Hall.Nov. 9: Seton Hall Pirate fans cheer during the second half of a game against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Walsh Gymnasium.Nov. 8: Southern California Trojans dance force cheerleaders perform during the game against the Portland Pilots at Galen Center.Nov. 8: Southern California Trojans forward Onyeka Okongwu poses with fans after the game against the Portland Pilots at Galen Center.Nov. 6: UCLA Bruins cheerleaders perform during the game against Long Beach State at Pauley Pavilion.Nov. 5: A Gonzaga Bulldogs cheerleader performs during a basketball game against the Alabama State Hornets at McCarthey Athletic Center.Nov. 5: A Villanova fan before a game against the Army Black Knights at Finneran Pavilion.Nov. 5: The Southern California Trojans song girls perform during the game against the Florida A&M Rattlers.

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