Creighton stays hot in Big East; Illinois cools off Penn State in Big Ten

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Zegarowski helps Creighton pull away late with and-1 (0:25)

Marcus Zegarowski absorbs contact from Marquette's Markus Howard as they both hit the hardwood, but not before Zegarowski is able to sink a tough layup. (0:25)

A case could be made that the biggest college basketball news from Tuesday night came when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that John Beilein was leaving his post as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former Michigan man is going to be linked to any notable opening on the coaching carousel next month.

But on the court, there were plenty of storylines. Baylor won its 23rd consecutive game to set up the biggest game of the college basketball season Saturday against Kansas, while Kentucky took control of the SEC race with a road win at LSU. Dayton won its 15th game in a row, beating VCU even with Obi Toppin struggling; West Virginia bounced back from its three-game losing streak with its best offensive performance in a couple of weeks to beat Oklahoma State by 18; and Maryland star Jalen Smith had 22 points and 19 rebounds in a victory.

Here were the biggest talking points.

3 things from Tuesday

1. Creighton keeps rolling in the Big East

There are very few teams around the country playing better than Creighton right now. The Bluejays went to Marquette on Tuesday and were in control for most of the game, beating the Golden Eagles 73-65. They've now won eight of their past nine games and are just a half-game behind Seton Hall in the Big East standings. Just last week, the Pirates had a three-game lead at the top of the standings and a regular-season title seemed like a lock -- but Greg McDermott's team is right on their heels now.

Ty-Shon Alexander was terrific Tuesday, scoring 22 points and hitting a couple of big shots late when Marquette was making a run. He also dished out four assists. Alexander has established himself as one of the best two-way guards in the Big East, if not the country, and he has formed a dynamic backcourt partnership with point guard Marcus Zegarowski -- who had 17 points of his own.

Where Creighton has made strides over the past few weeks during this winning stretch is on the defensive side of the floor, though. The Bluejays held Marquette to just 0.92 points per possession as Markus Howard had 13 points on 14 shots and the Golden Eagles shot 8-for-33 from 3-point range. Creighton's issues have rarely been on the offensive end under McDermott, and the Jays have a top-five offense this season. But if they continue to guard like this, this is a team that can win games in March. They've already played themselves into discussion for a top-four seed on Selection Sunday.

How much higher can they go?

2. Ayo Dosunmu returns to lead Illinois to win at Penn State

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Dosunmu's 24-point night fuels Illinois to upset of No. 9 Penn State

Ayo Dosunmu drops 24 points, including a clutch floater with 16.1 seconds remaining in the second half to propel Illinois past No. 9 Penn State 62-56.

A week ago, it looked as though Illinois sophomore point guard Dosunmu's season might be over. He landed awkwardly in the final seconds of the Fighting Illini's late loss to Michigan State, and it didn't look great. But he received good news the next day regarding his injury, and while he missed Saturday's loss to Rutgers, Dosunmu was announced as a starter for Tuesday's trip to Penn State.

And Brad Underwood is certainly thankful his star guard was healthy.

Dosunmu finished with 24 points in the upset win in State College, including a runner with 16 seconds left to clinch the 62-56 win for Illinois. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Fighting Illini and gives them some momentum heading into a couple more winnable games against Nebraska and Northwestern.

Penn State, which had won eight in a row entering Tuesday, really struggled to generate offense. Plenty of credit should go to Illinois for its defensive effort, but the Nittany Lions shot just 4-for-19 from 3-point range and their five starters combined for just 33 points. Myreon Jones, the team's second-leading scorer, sat out a fourth straight game with an illness. Penn State missed him Tuesday.

3. Bubble trouble for Arkansas, Purdue and VCU

It wasn't a great night for teams in need of a win to stay in the NCAA tournament discussion. Arkansas faced Florida in a major SEC bubble battle, and the Razorbacks left Gainesville with their fifth loss in a row -- while Florida has now won five of six and is quietly solidifying its NCAA hopes. The selection committee will undoubtedly take into account that Isaiah Joe has missed the past five games, but he needs to return soon and Eric Musselman's team needs to go on a run. Arkansas is just 4-9 in the SEC.

Purdue looked pretty comfortable a couple of weeks ago after a three-game winning streak brought it above .500 in Big Ten play. But the Boilermakers' loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday was their third in a row, and now they're just 14-13 overall and 7-9 in the league. They're at risk of playing on the first day of the conference tournament and they need to start racking up wins. Three of their final four games are in West Lafayette, Indiana, where they've performed better this season.

Then there's VCU, which is likely autobid or bust at this point. The Rams lost their third game in a row on Tuesday to Dayton, and while a loss to the Flyers isn't bad in a vacuum, it's another missed chance at a quality win -- something the Rams don't get a ton of shots at in the Atlantic 10. They're just 7-6 in league play and they went 0-4 against Dayton and Rhode Island, with the four losses coming by a combined 40 points.

3 things for Wednesday

1. Rutgers looks to continue home dominance

Assuming not much changes over the final three weeks of the regular season, Rutgers is going to have one of the stranger NCAA tournament résumés come Selection Sunday. The Scarlet Knights are in a good position right now, sitting as an 8-seed in most projected brackets. But they have the most notable splits among any at-large contender; they are 17-0 at home and just 1-8 away from the Rutgers Athletic Center. On Wednesday, Steve Pikiell's team will look to once again protect the RAC as Michigan comes to town. The Wolverines have won five of their past six after an 0-4 stretch in January. They will have to hope Isaiah Livers is healthy and able to play against the Scarlet Knights, as the Wolverines are 11-3 in games Livers has played more than 50% of the minutes and just 5-6 in games he has missed or left while the game was still in the balance. He injured his ankle Sunday against Indiana after missing time on two occasions this season with a groin injury.

2. Big Ten bubble battle in Minneapolis

The dreams of a 12-bid Big Ten are looking more unlikely every week, as Minnesota dropped to .500 overall with a devastating home loss to Iowa over the weekend. The Golden Gophers can't afford too many more losses if they want any chance of an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. That run begins on Wednesday, when Indiana comes to town. While the Hoosiers are in a significantly better position than Minnesota entering the week, Archie Miller's team isn't exactly in a comfortable spot. Indiana has lost five of its past six games and hasn't won a road contest since Jan. 18 at Nebraska. Naturally, three of the Hoosiers' next four games are away from Bloomington. An additional point of intrigue for Wednesday's game is the Big Ten tournament ramifications. Minnesota and Indiana were tied for 11th in the league entering Tuesday, and both are set to play on the first day of the conference tournament. A victory for either team could be a huge boost toward getting out of the bottom-four purgatory.

3. Showdown in the SoCon

One of the better mid-major battles we will see all season takes place Wednesday in Johnson City, Tennessee. For the second season in a row, the Southern Conference is one of the most competitive leagues in the country -- and perhaps the mid-major world's best hope for an at-large bid. East Tennessee State and Furman are tied atop the league, with Furman owning the tiebreaker via a head-to-head win back in early January. Whichever team earns the 1-seed in the conference tournament would potentially avoid facing UNC Greensboro until the title game. East Tennessee State also has a shot at an at-large bid if it can run the table until the conference tournament championship game. The Buccaneers saw their hopes take a hit with a blowout home loss to Mercer late last month, but a road win at LSU and two wins over UNCG help the résumé.