CBB weekend takeaways: Gonzaga locks up at-large bid

    The penultimate Saturday of the regular season yielded plenty of high-stakes matchups, with NCAA Tournament implications hanging in the balance. With that, here are four takeaways from the action, starting with what went down on the West Coast late in the evening. 

    Gonzaga is an NCAA Tournament lock

    And there’s no debating it. The Zags controlled the tempo in their 70-57 road win over Saint Mary’s on Saturday, as point guard Ryan Nembhard (20 points, 10 assists, two steals) and forward Graham Ike (24 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) were terrific against the Gaels.

    Now at 24-6 (14-2 in the WCC) and rated 15th at KenPom, Gonzaga is firmly in the field of 68. With the WCC Tournament getting started on Thursday — the Bulldogs don’t play until the semifinals on March 11 — it’s all about positioning for Mark Few and company.

    Virginia has work to do to snag a bid

    Three weeks ago, Virginia was well on its way to its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance under Tony Bennett. But since then, the ‘Hoos have fallen on hard times, losing to Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and North Carolina by double digits. 

    On Saturday, the Cavaliers shot a measly 30.9% from the field and were outrebounded 42-29 by No. 10 Duke, as the Blue Devils rolled to a 73-48 home victory. Virginia (21-9, 12-7 in the ACC) is currently 69th in KenPom, 56th in Bart Torvik, 49th in the NET Ranking and 35th in KPI. That’s not the strongest profile, and it only further emphasizes that the ‘Hoos need a win Saturday against Georgia Tech, and then a couple of wins in the ACC Tournament, to make a credible case for an at-large bid.

    Duke is peaking at the right time

    As for the team that won in Cameron Indoor Stadium, what more needs to be said? The Blue Devils were thoroughly dominant on both ends of the floor against the Cavaliers, turning what is typically a drag-out rivalry battle into a demolition derby. 

    The sophomore trio of Tyrese Proctor (15 points, five assists, four boards), Mark Mitchell (10 points, five rebounds, two blocks) and Kyle Filipowski (21 points, seven boards, three steals and a block) were terrific, fitting into their roles and providing Jon Scheyer with the type of production he envisioned from the trio when they all decided to return for a second season in Durham.

    With those three, Jeremy Roach and Jared McCain, Duke has a starting lineup that — when everything is clicking — can stack up with any other in the country. Freshman guard Caleb Foster may be out with an ankle injury (Scheyer told reporters on Saturday that it was “highly unlikely” that the North Carolina native would return in the immediate future), but the Blue Devils are still formidable. They look as formidable as they have all season.

    Baylor is flying under the radar

    Another year, another case of the Bears being near the top of the Big 12. No. 15 Baylor (21-8, 10-6) knocked off No. 7 Kansas at home on Saturday, as RayJ Dennis’ 19 points led the way in the 82-74 win. The Bears now boast a 12-8 record against Quadrant 1 and 2 opponents and are third in the Big 12 — behind only No. 1 Houston and Iowa State — with just two games left in the regular season. 

    With a high-octane offense (Baylor ranks fifth nationally on that end in adjusted efficiency, per KenPom), the Bears appear capable of reaching the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time under Scott Drew.

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