COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: WEEK 18

Let the madness of March begin: It's conference tournament time

Let the madness of March begin: It's conference tournament time
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TEXAS LONGHORNS (19-12), (9-9)

Last week: (1-1): W - Oklahoma 52-51, L - Oklahoma State 81-59

This week: Thursday Texas Tech

Before dropping a 22-point game in their season finale against the Cowboys, the Texas Longhorns came away victorious in a 52-51 win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday. In addition to scoring a game-high 21 points, junior guard Matt Coleman III knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer to seal the deal for the Longhorns.

Up next, the Longhorns will open their Big 12 tournament against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Thursday in Kansas City.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (16-14), (10-8)

Last week: (2-0): W - Auburn 78-75, W - Arkansas 77-69

This week: Thursday Missouri

After dropping two straight, the Texas A&M Aggies are riding a two-game winning streak after picking up wins against No. 17 Auburn (78-75) and Arkansas (77-69) last week. In both games, senior forward Josh Nebo led the way averaging 19.5 points, while recording 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

The Aggies will return to action on Thursday against the Missouri Tigers to open their SEC Tournament in Nashville.

Houston Cougars (23-8), (13-5)

Last week: (1-1): L- UConn 77-71, W - Memphis 64-57

This week: Friday SMU/Temple

The Houston Cougars captured their second straight American Athletic Conference championship following a 64-57 win over the Memphis Tigers inside the Frittata Center in Houston. Sophomore guard Quentin Grimes scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Cougars to the comeback win.

Following the win, the Cougars will return to the court on Friday to take part in the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Fort Worth. Houston earned a bye into the quarterfinals and will play the winner of SMU vs. Temple.

RICE OWLS (15-16), (7-11)

Last week: (1-1): W - Southern Miss 72-57, L - UTEP 77-72

This week: Wednesdayvs. FIU

The Rice Owls closed out their regular season in a 77-72 loss to the UTEP Miners. While shooting 35.9% from the field (25.7% from deep), the Owls could not match the production of UTEP. The Miners shot 43.9% from the floor as Souley Boum led the way with 25 points.

Following the win, the Owls will take on the FIU Panthers on Wednesday to begin the USA Conference Tournament.

BAYLOR BEARS (26-4), (15-3)

Last week: (0-1): L - West Virginia 76-64

This week: Saturday vs. West Virginia

After what was a remarkable season that included a 23-game winning streak, the Baylor Bears dropped three of their previous five games following a 76-64 loss to West Virginia. The Bears defense was a no-show against West Virginia, as Baylor allowed the Mountaineers to score 55 points on 57.6% shooting from the floor during the second half.

Following the loss, the Bears will return to the court on Thursday to take part in the Big 12 Championship Tournament in Kansas City. As the No. 2 seed, Baylor earned a bye into the quarterfinals and will play one of the following three teams: Kansas State, TCU, or Oklahoma.

TCU Horned Frogs (16-15), (7-11)

Last week: (0-2): L - Kansas 75-66, L - Oklahoma 78-76

This week: Wednesday Kansas State

After picking up their most impressive victory of the season, the TCU Horned Frogs could not strike gold twice. TCU dropped a close one to the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks on Wednesday.

The Frogs held their own against the Jayhawks during the first half, in which TCU held a two-point led before losing the momentum in the second half. During the final period, Kansas outscored Baylor 40-29 while Udoka Azubuike registered 31 points (13-14 FG), 14 rebounds, and five blocks in the win for the Jayhawks — senior guard Desmond Bane led the way with 20 points shooting 60% from behind the arc for the Horned Frogs.

Up next, TCU will open their Big 12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday against Kansas State.

Texas Tech (18-13), (9-9)

Last week: (0-1): L - Kansas 66-62

This week: Thursday vs. Texas

The Texas Tech Red Raiders dropped their four consecutive game in a 66-62 loss to the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks. In the loss, Texas Tech never got going on the offensive end, as the Red Raiders only connected on eight of their 26 attempts from behind the arc. Junior forward Davide Moretti scored a game-high 18 points in the loss.

With the hopes of ending their four-game losing streak, Texas Tech will open their Big 12 tournament against the Texas Longhorns on Thursday in Kansas City.

SMU Mustangs (19-11), (9-9)

Last week: (0-2): L- UCF 61-58, L - USF 61-60

This week: Thursday Temple

After a disappointing loss to the UCF Knights, the SMU Mustangs ended their regular season in a tough defeat to the USF Bulls on Saturday. After an entertaining second half separated by four points, USF's senior Laquincy Rideau sealed the deal for the Knights with a game-winning 3-pointer to close out the game. It was another frustrating loss for SMU, as Ethan Chargois led the way with 20 points on the night Mustangs.

While riding a three-game losing streak, the Mustangs will return to action on Thursday against the Temple Owls to open the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Fort Worth.

LSU Tigers (21-10), (12-6)

Last week: (1-1): L - Arkansas 99-90, W - Georgia 94-64

This week: Saturday vs. TBD

The LSU Tigers ended their regular season with a 94-64 win over the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. In the win, four players scored in double-figures for LSU, as Marlon Taylor scored a career-high 30 points (10-17 FG, 3-7 3PT), to go along with seven rebounds, while Skylar Mays added in 19 points and six boards.

In the midst of ending the season as the No. 3 seed, the Tigers will open their SEC Tournament on Friday.

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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