Marcus Paige and Glenn Robinson III both made shots you wouldn’t believe if you watched the games live.
In Raleigh–N.C. State’s T.J. Warren hit shots from practically anywhere on the court. Not to be outdone by Warren’s 36, Marcus Paige for the Tar Heels put up 35 of his own and provided the game winner.
In the final seconds of overtime, his driving one handed layup lifted North Carolina clearly out of the bubble with a nifty 85-84 close shave victory. UNC is 11-4 in the ACC (1/2 game in back of neighborhood rival Duke), good enough for fourth place after a very sluggish start after the holidays.
In West Lafayette, Purdue did everything but contain Glenn Robinson III.
He made six of his last eight shots and scored 14 out of 17 points — none more important than the ball that seemingly hung on the rim forever before finally dropping through the net as the overtime buzzer sounded in Mackey Arena. In front of his father, the 1994 National Player of the Year and soon-to-be football player for the Boilers in Gelen. The stat line on Robinson was very impressive indeed–8 rebounds, three assists and only one turnover in 39 minutes.
Nik Stauskas had 15 points, Caris LeVert 14 and Jordan Morgan 13 points to go with nine rebounds on a night the Big Ten-leading Wolverines needed everything to hang on for dear life. Michigan (20-7, 12-3 Big Ten) extended its lead over cross-state rival Michigan State to one game and over third place Wisconsin to two games.
For Purdue, it was a totally different story–a bit more to be explained in Bracketology 102 in my next post. The Boilermakers (15-13, 5-10 in Big Ten play) have lost three straight and remain the only team in the Big Ten without a win over a Top 25 team this season. Their greatest chance at dealing a big blow to Michigan’s possible number 1 seed hopes was when Kendall Stephens went to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 bonus situation and his team leading 76-75 lead. Only 12.2 seconds remained in overtime. But the ball clanked off the front of the rim, the Boilermakers’ only missed free throw all night. A time out later, Robinson caught a rather dangerous across-the-court lob pass in the right corner, spun away from a defender and gently rolled in a mid-range bank shot as time ran out.
Bubble Teams Really Did Not Help Themselves
With all apologies to Annie Lennox and The Eurythmics with one of their famous 1980’s hit tunes in “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”, the bubble teams blew a golden chance to lock down possible tournament berths. This definitely opens the door for many teams on the fringe.
And so, please take your virtual seats for our next course…