College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 28, 2012
On a night in which a handful of teams made their case for NCAA tournament bids, Kansas State stamped itself as tourney-worthy with a 76-70 road win over Texas A&M.
Led by Rodney McGruder's 26 points, the Wildcats led the Aggies, 44-33, at the break and held on stubbornly for the six-point win. McGruder was sharp from the outside, making 5 of 7 three-pointers on a 6-for-12 shooting night. He also canned all nine of his foul shots and grabbed three boards, two on the offensive end.
Kansas State improved to 9-8 in the Big 12 and 20-9 overall, looking very much like a mid-level seed, likely to land somewhere between #6 and #10 when the tournament committee makes its selections on March 11.
Elsewhere, #18 Indiana put on a clinic at home, pounding #5 Wisconsin, 70-55. The Hoosiers employed balanced scoring - putting five players in double figures - and tight, man-to-man defense to squelch the Spartans, holding them to 39% shooting while forcing 13 turnovers.
Indiana's win put the Big Ten title up for grabs again, dropping Michigan State to 13-4, with Ohio State and Michigan at 11-5. The Spartans host Ohio State in their final regular season game on Sunday, March 4.
Two Big East games were of particular interest. Connecticut dropped to 7-10 in conference play, losing, 72-70, to Providence. West Virginia topped DePaul, 92-75, improving their Big East tally to 8-9. A win at South Florida on March 3, their final conference game, may be crucial to the Mountaineers tourney hopes.
#5 Duke completed a sweep of their ACC road games with a 79-71 win at Wake Forest. The Blue Devils lead North Carolina by 1/2 game in the conference, the win setting up a showdown for the league title against North Carolina on March 3. Duke holds all the cards, as they beat the Tar Heels, 85-84, back on February 8, and will be at home for the regular season finale.