One month out from selection Sunday, college basketball provided another packed Saturday slate.
There weren’t as many marquee matchups compared to two weeks ago, nor did this Saturday contain an epic rivalry game, like last week. But its crunch time for NCAA Tournament résumé-building, and Saturday marked the improvement of some teams’ fortunes, while other programs saw their seeding or chances take a hit.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the day:
Baylor-Kansas rivalry: Okahoma hung around early, but before halftime, the No. 3 Jayhawks stepped on the gas and built a lead they maintained throughout the second half in the 87-70 victory. Marcus Garrett (four steals) is one of the country’s most tenacious defenders (ballhandlers beware). He also had a team-high 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Devon Dotson (19 points) is a Wooden Award candidate for a reason.
Meanwhile, Baylor — the top seed in the Coaches Poll — bested No. 14 West Virginia 70-59. The Bears shot more than 50% from the field and forced 22 Mountaineers turnovers (though they committed 20 themselves). Kansas travels to Waco next Saturday with a share of the Big 12 regular season title likely on the line. The Bears defeated the Jayhawks by 12 in Allen Fieldhouse over a month ago.
Georgetown: Down Mac McClung and Omer Yursteven, the Hoyas’ top two scorers, Georgetown took down No. 20 Butler 73-66 on the road. At 5-7 in the Big East, Georgetown has won three of their last four games. A trio of Hoyas played the full 40 minutes. Three more ranked opponents await Georgetown over its final six games, providing the Hoyas a chance to pick up those precious résumé-builders.
Richmond: Both Georgetown and Richmond are considered one of the first four teams out in the latest installment of USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology, so they only helped their cases with wins Saturday. The Spiders’ came into their matchup against VCU leading by one game in the conference standings and improved their position on the bubble with a 22-point victory over the Rams. Nick Sherrod went 5-for-7 on 3-pointers and finished with 23 points.
Maryland: The Terrapins looked like a No. 2 seed early in East Lansing, dominating in transition and on the boards. A poor second half nearly did them in, but Anthony Cowan became unconscious in the final two minutes with a pair of clutch 3-pointers.
Maryland trailed by seven with 3:25 remaining and proceeded to reel off a 14-0 run to emerge 67-60 over Michigan State. It’s a two-team race between the ninth-ranked Terrapins and No. 13 Penn State for the Big Ten crown, as Maryland seems locked into a No. 2 seed at the moment.
Michigan State: Manhandled in the first 17 minutes of the game, the Spartans cut into the Terps’ double-digit lead and trailed by eight at halftime. But they built the aforementioned lead through stifling defense and shot-making, both of which disappeared in the final minutes to culminate in a brutal loss at home for the 25th-ranked Spartans.
Purdue: With a chance to add a key road win to the résumé, the Boilermakers were throttled by the suddenly hot Ohio State Buckeyes 68-52 in Columbus. Like most teams in the Big Ten, Purdue is not the same team on the road compared to their play at home in West Lafayette, Indiana — in fact, the Boilermakers’ difference may be the most volatile. Purdue (14-12, 7-8 in the Big Ten) appear to be on the wrong side of the bubble.
Louisville: The No. 5 Cardinals dropped their second consecutive game on the road against an unranked team, getting stomped 77-62 at Clemson on Saturday and losing to Georgia Tech on Wednesday. The Tigers shot 51% from the field against the Cardinals, and Jordan Nwora, who entered the game leading the ACC in scoring at 18.9 points per game, was held to a season-low two points.
Illinois: Rutgers may be undefeated at the RAC this year, but its 72-57 win over No. 23 Illinois means the Illini are losers of four in a row. Illinois (16-9, 8-6 in Big Ten)is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, to be sure, but the last couple of weeks have led to a significant drop in their seeding. With 13th-ranked Penn State up next, it may not get better soon.
Butler: Losing to an unranked conference foe at home that is essentially playing a six-man rotation with their two top scorers out is never ideal. At least they still have the cutest mascot in the game.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.