What Wednesday night’s results mean for major conference standings
Four weeks from now, the First Four will have concluded in Dayton and the first round of the NCAA Tournament will be underway. The college basketball regular season is heading down the home stretch, with conference titles and tournament seeding on the line.
Here’s a look at how the results of Wednesday’s games shook up the top of the standings for several major conferences.
Grayson Allen was the hero for the second consecutive game as he made a pair of late free throws to give the Blue Devils the lead, as No. 20 Duke upset No. 5 North Carolina in Chapel Hill. No. 11 Miami trailed by seven in the first half against Virginia Tech, but cruised in the second to win its fifth consecutive game.
The Tar Heels and Hurricanes are tied atop the ACC heading into their matchup at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday, with Virginia sitting just one game back in the loss column. The victories of Duke and No. 18 Louisville (over Syracuse) puts them in a three-way tie with Notre Dame for fourth place in the conference.
Six teams are within one game of first place with just five games (four in the case of Virginia) remaining in the regular season.
No. 15 Dayton arrived in Philadelphia for its game against St. Joseph's on a nine-game winning streak and in sole possession of first place in the A-10. The Hawks, however, picked up their first win over a ranked opponent this season with a 79–70 victory, creating a three-way tie atop the conference standings. St. Joseph’s is now 18-2 since Dec. 4. Dayton, St. Joe’s and VCU are each 11–2 in A-10 play with VCU slated to play at Dayton in the regular-season finale.
St. Bonaventure, the only other team with a shot at the regular-season title, lost at La Salle on Wednesday, dropping to 9–4 in conference play.
There were only two Big Ten games on Wednesday, but both could shape the regular-season conference title race. No. 4 Iowa fell victim on the road to Penn State, 79–75, leaving the door open for No. 22 Indiana to reclaim a share of first place in the Big Ten with the Hoosiers’ home win against Nebraska. The Hoosiers took down the Hawkeyes in Assembly Hall last week, giving Indiana the head-to-head advantage -- at least for now. Iowa will play host to Indiana on March 1, and the Hoosiers still have to play third-place Maryland, who is one win shy of the conference leaders, in their regular season finale.
Arizona lost four starters from last season in addition to four-star freshman forward Ray Smith in October to a season-ending knee injury. Then senior center Kaleb Tarczewski missed eight games with foot injuries, and five-star freshman guard Alonzo Trier was out for seven games with a broken hand. Despite coach Sean Miller nearly having to hit reset on his starting lineup and Arizona’s roster occasionally doubling as an infirmary this season, the Wildcats are in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 after a win over in-state rival Arizona State. Oregon is in second place in the conference standings with a 9–4 Pac-12 record, one win behind Arizona.
LSU will now be evaluated as a potential at-large team in NCAA Tournament projections after falling to second place in the conference with a home loss to Alabama on Wednesday. No. 14 Kentucky, with a 9–3 record in SEC play, is at the top of the standings, a half-game ahead of LSU. The two teams will square off in Rupp Arena in their regular-season finale. South Carolina, Texas A&M and Florida are tied for third with 8–5 marks in the conference.