With less than two weeks left in college basketball’s regular season, every matchup is magnified for teams trying to bolster their resumes for the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Several desperate schools had prime opportunities to notch marquee wins on Tuesdsay night, and while a few took full advantage, others failed to seal the deal.
Rodney McGruder scored 24 points, including a key three-pointer down the stretch to lift the Wildcats to a big road win in Columbia.
Perhaps K-State caught the Tigers (25-3) looking ahead to Saturday’s visit to Lawrence for a rematch with No. 4 Kansas — the team they beat 74-71 earlier this month. Missouri shot just 38.3 percent from the field while allowing the Wildcats to shoot 53.8, and missed a chance to secure their best-ever start to a season.
With the win, the Wildcats (19-8) finished a brutal three-game stretch against three top-10 teams — Kansas, Baylor and Missouri — with an impressive 2-1 mark, boosting their tournament seeding prospects.
Still in search of their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, Northwestern desperately needed another high-profile win to give the committee something to think about. Instead, the Wildcats may have let their tournament hopes slip away by giving up a seven-point halftime lead and losing at home to Michigan in overtime, 67-55.
The Wolverines (21-7) hit 14 three-pointers, including three straight to start the extra period while Northwestern went ice cold from the field.
A tough loss,” Northwestern’s Reggie Hearn said. “We had a chance to get a resume-building win. We didn’t get it but we still got something to play for.”
Unless the Wildcats (16-11) can take down an Ohio State team that beat them by 33 the first time out, they may find themselves back in the NIT.
Through 20 minutes in Starkville, Mississippi State looked like the best team in college basketball, while Kentucky looked young and vulnerable. But all the effort they used to build a 13-point halftime lead left them with nothing in the tank for the second half, as the Wildcats rallied for a 73-64 win.
“There wasn’t an ounce of energy they brought back to the locker room,” Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said. “They left it all out on the floor.”
Mississippi State also left a chance to snap a three-game losing streak and move off the bubble on the floor. The Bulldogs (19-9) notched early-season wins against Texas A&M and Arizona but lost to Baylor by two points and have now dropped four straight, including overtime losses to Georgia and LSU. They’ll likely need to win out and win a couple games in the SEC tournament to get into the field of 68.
More from Tuesday night:
No. 7 North Carolina 86, North Carolina State 74: Five days after blowing a 20-point lead at Duke, the Wolfpack missed their last opportunity to beat a ranked team in the regular season with their 12th straight loss to their Tobacco Road rivals.
Seton Hall 77, No. 9 Georgetown 55: The Hoyas whiffed on a chance to lock up a first-round bye in the Big East tournament as their usually stingy defense allowed the Pirates to shoot 61 percent.
No. 25 Virginia 61, Virginia Tech 59: Sammy Zeglinski (20 points, nine rebounds) and the Cavaliers fought off foul trouble and rallied on the road to avoid a sweep by the Hokies and move one step closer to their first tournament berth since 2007.
Colorado State 71, No. 18 New Mexico 63: The Lobos saw their seven-game winning streak snapped on their home floor by a depleted, four-guard lineup. The Rams needed a big road win to impress the committe, and they got it.
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