College basketball's winners and losers: San Diego State and Baylor stumble, Duke rises

With power conference tournaments on the horizon and Selection Sunday just a week away, teams battling for NCAA tournament seeding either bettered or worsened their profiles on the last Saturday of the regular season. 

Here’s a look at the winners and losers in that regard: 

Winners

Wisconsin: The Badgers (21-10) held off Indiana 60-56 on the road for their eighth consecutive victory and as a result claimed a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Not bad for a team that was in the middle of the pack when starter Kobe King decided to abruptly transfer. Coach Greg Gard deserves national coach of the year attention. Wisconsin is now likely looking at a No. 4 seed in the NCAAs. 

Wisconsin Badgers forward Nate Reuvers (35) and forward Micah Potter (11) celebrate during a timeout in the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Duke: The Blue Devils (25-6) barely escaped a struggling North Carolina team in the rivals’ previous meeting, but handily won 89-76 on Saturday, their second straight victory after losing three of four. Tre Jones’ 21 points and 11 assists fueled the win. It’s unlikely this group rises higher than a No. 3 seed with its overall credentials, but it’s also unlikely it dips past that line heading into the ACC tournament next week.  

Florida State: The Seminoles (26-5) took care of business by dispatching ACC bottom-feeder Boston College 80-62, giving this FSU team a slight shot at pushing towards a No. 1 seed. The ACC regular-season champs enter the conference tourney with six Quadrant 1 victories. 

Virginia: The Cavaliers (23-7) got a late 3-pointer from Kihei Clark to secure a 57-54 win over a really strong Louisville team, further distancing itself from the bubble and even closer to favorable seeding range. A No. 6 seed entering the day, this Quad 1 victory could vault UVA up to a No. 5 seed entering conference tournament week. The defending national champs have won eight in a row and have found their groove at the perfect time. 

Dayton: The Flyers (29-2) vaulted to a projected No. 1 seed in USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology earlier this week and on Saturday closed out the regular season undefeated in Atlantic 10 play by pulling away from George Washington. National player of the year front-runner Obi Toppin had 27 points to lead the way for a team that is very much so a Final Four threat. 

Kansas: The Jayhawks (28-3) have already secured the NCAA tournament’s overall No. 1 seed and Saturday’s 66-62 road win over Texas Tech further punctuated their prowess. The win also helped make KU the Big 12 regular-season champion outright since Baylor lost Saturday.

Kentucky: The Wildcats (25-6) clipped a win-hungry bubble team in Florida on the road, 71-70, without starter Ashton Hagans, to move further up on the projected No. 4 seed line and closer to garnering a No. 3 seed on Selection Sunday. UK has now won nine of its last 10. 

Losers

San Diego State: The Aztecs dropped to a No. 2 seed in USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology earlier in the week. Now they’re likely to stay at the No. 2 line on Selection Sunday following an upset loss to Utah State in the Mountain West tournament final. The last unbeaten team in the country just two weeks ago before an ugly upset to UNLV, SDSU isn’t exactly peaking heading into March Madness — despite its phenomenal year overall. When Aztecs star Malachi Flynn isn’t shooting well (he went 6-for-20 Saturday), this team is beatable. 

Baylor: The Bears (26-4) have saved most of their losing until the end of the season, coughing up a road loss to West Virginia 76-64 on Saturday for their third loss in five games. Luckily this Baylor team is still well positioned for a No. 1 seed given its overall portfolio. Gonzaga might catch the Bears on the No. 1 seed line but it’s unlikely any No. 2 seed catches this team considering it has 11 Quadrant 1 victories and a top-5 NET score. 

West Virginia Mountaineers guard Miles McBridedunks the ball during the second half against the Baylor Bears.

Seton Hall: The Pirates (21-9) entered the day forecasted as a No. 2 seed and left it at the No. 3 line after getting drubbed on the road to Creighton, 77-60. Seton Hall had a chance to claim the Big East title outright but instead will have to settle for a share of the league championship with Villanova (the Wildcats escaped Georgetown on Saturday) and Creighton. All three teams are hovering around the No. 2-No. 3 line — coming from the county’s toughest conference based on NET score. 

Marquette: The Golden Eagles aren’t necessarily on the bubble because their profile is probably too good to fall out of the field at this point. But Saturday’s 88-86 loss to St. John’s won’t favor Marquette’s seeding line whatsoever. This team has now lost six of seven to fall to a No. 9 seed in the projected field. All-American guard Markus Howard (27.7 ppg) can score at will, but the Eagles struggle to find their rhythm outside of him. 

Penn State: The Nittany Lions (21-10) suffered an ugly résumé stain by falling on the road to Big Ten basement team Northwestern, 80-69. Penn State has lost three in a row and five of its last six to slip to the No. 7 seed line after being a secure No. 4 just a few weeks ago. 

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Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson

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