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No. 3 'Nova, No. 4 Xavier set to clash

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

CINCINNATI (AP) Xavier envisioned itself playing for the Big East regular-season championship when it moved into the reconfigured conference five years ago. The Musketeers finally have a chance to unseat four-time champion Villanova and get what they so dearly want.

And they can do it on their home court.

No. 4 Xavier (24-3, 12-2) can take control of the league race by beating No. 3 Villanova (23-3, 10-3) on Saturday at the Cintas Center, where the Musketeers are unbeaten this season. It's a showdown they've long awaited.


USC F Boatwright to miss rest of season

LOS ANGELES (AP) Southern California forward Bennie Boatwright will miss the rest of the season after injuring his left knee against Oregon.

The school said Friday that Boatwright will be sidelined several months although surgery is not expected.


Nebraska on bubble despite 20 wins

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) By any measure, Nebraska is having its best season since moving to the Big Ten, from its win total to its RPI and KenPom rankings. It's unclear whether that will be good enough to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

Nebraska (20-8, 11-4) has won six straight to reach 20 wins for just the first time in a decade. The Cornhuskers are also a win away from setting a program record for Big Ten wins since joining the league in 2011-12. But they lack any notable wins, played a weak nonconference schedule (ranked 286th) and don't have much left on the schedule to help their resume.


Underclassmen helping Cards pick up wins

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville's title prospects appeared shaky 11 days ago following a third consecutive loss and a left ankle injury that sidelined leading scorer Deng Adel.

But the Cardinals (18-8, 8-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) are back in the race with consecutive blowouts of Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh after some lineup changes and impressive contributions from their underclassmen. Their goal now is maintaining that momentum over the final five regular season games that will determine seeding for next month's conference tournament in Brooklyn, New York.


FSU sophomores step up for stretch run

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State's 2016 basketball recruiting class is showing that it shouldn't be defined by just one person.

Jonathan Isaac garnered most of the attention last season before deciding to leave college after one year for the NBA, where he was the sixth overall selection by Orlando. With Isaac's departure, sophomore guards CJ Walker and Trent Forrest along with redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele are making solid contributions for the 18-8 Seminoles.


Up-and-down 'Bama hopes to keep winning

Avery Johnson heeded his wife's advice instead of breaking out the old psychology books.

The Alabama coach, who has a degree in psychology, has been trying to build consistency in a team that has followed up big wins with a few humbling defeats. Wife Cassandra cooked up a nice, Cajun-style meal for the team Sunday night and suggested her husband visit with each player individually and "just let them see Avery."

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