Bubble Banter will officially launch on Tuesday, February 1. In preparation and ahead of our newest bracket projection on Monday (Jan. 24), here is an overview of how Bubble Banter is shaping up.
ATLANTIC 10 – With Temple falling behind the pace of early leaders Duquesne and Xavier, there are no secure spots in the A-10. Xavier has a history of winning the regular-season title, with the Owls grabbing the tourney title and automatic bid. It might be the only way the A-10 earns multiple bids.
Should Be In: Temple
Bubble: Xavier, Richmond, Dayton, Duquesne
ACC – It’s pretty much Duke and everyone else. Now, the ACC will earn more than two bids, but exactly who fills those spots is a long way from being determined.
Should Be In: North Carolina
Bubble: Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Maryland
BIG EAST – Deepest conference in the nation. It’s looking more and more likely the Big East will break its own record of sending 8 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Whether that number is 9, 10, or 11 is still questionnable. Several middle-of-the-pack teams have work remaining, and the schedule could yet prove too much for everyone to survive.
Should Be In: Notre Dame, West Virginia, Louisville, Georgetown
Bubble: Cincinnati, St. John’s, Marquette
BIG 10 – Back in November, we suggested that Ohio State might prove to be the Big Ten’s best. So far, it’s shaping up that way. Purdue seems like the best challenger, with several others now a couple of games off the pace.
Locks: Ohio State, Purdue
Should Be In: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota
Bubble: Penn State, Northwestern
BIG 12 – With Texas winning at Kansas on Saturday, the Big 12 race is an open battle. The Jayhawks and Longhorns are the most certain frontrunners, with Texas AM on the edge. Missouri is always a challenge to play. The league has also seen two of its preseason favorites (Baylor, Kansas State) struggle for most of the season.
Locks: Kansas, Texas
Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM
Bubble: Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State, Oklahoma State
MOUNTAIN WEST – San Diego State and BYU meet for the first time this week in what has become a two-team race. UNLV has fallen off the pace, and New Mexico has all but disappeared. Surprise Colorado State has been added to the bubble.
Locks: San Diego State, BYU
Should Be In: UNLV
Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico
PAC 10 – Once again it appears to be Washington and everyone else. Arizona is talented, but has a resume light on quality wins. USC has some good wins, but way too many losses. That leaves UCLA and Washington State as the other realistic hopefuls.
Should Be In: None
Bubble: Arizona, UCLA, Washington State
SEC – For a while it looked like Kentucky would cruise through the league again. But some early road struggles suggest otherwise. The East Division is strong and will garner all the at-large bids. Hard to see anyone from the SEC West making the NCAA’s without winning the conference tournament.
Should Be In: Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Bubble: South Carolina
BEST of the REST – With three additional bids available this year, one would hope more spots would be open for non-BCS teams. Thus far, however, many of these teams have squandered chances or struggled to a point where at-large hopes have faded. Below is an overview of how the other non-BCS profiles are shaping up:
Should Be In: None
Bubble: Memphis, UAB, Central Florida, Missouri State, Wichita State, Butler, Cleveland State, VCU, Old Dominion, Drexel, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State
Duke’s Jayson Tatum injured during ‘Pro Day’ practice
Duke freshman Jayson Tatum suffered an injury to his left foot during Duke’s pro day practice on Tuesday.
The severity of the injury is not yet known.
Tatum suffered the injury on what was a “routine landing”, according to someone that attended the practice, and it was immediately apparent he was in pain. Another source added that Tatum left the court without putting any pressure on the foot.
Tatum is a top five prospect in the Class of 2016 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. He’s been as impressive as any player during the first month of practice, multiple sources have said.
Duke is currently without their other top five prospect, as freshman Harry Giles III is still recovering from a knee procedure last month. It’s unclear just how much Giles will provide this season, as this was the third surgery on his knees.
Miami beats out Kansas and Florida for 2017 center
Gak made an official visit to Miami last month, but followed it up with visits to Gainesville and Lawrence before ultimately deciding to pledge to the Hurricanes.
Ranked in the top-100 by Rivals, Gak joins a strong 2017 class for Larranaga. The Hurricanes already have a commitment from four-star point guard Chris Lykes as well as highly-regarded New Zealand power forward Sam Waardenburg.
Miami would appear to have plenty recruiting momentum at the moment, coming off a 2016 class that included McDonald’s All-American Dewan Huell and top-50 guard Bruce Brown.
After busy summer, a healthy Krzyzewski ready to lead Duke
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Mike Krzyzewski is embracing the grind of another year at Duke after an offseason that was exceptionally busy – even by his standards.
The winningest men’s coach in Division I history is coming off a summer in which he had four surgeries and led the U.S. men’s national basketball team to a third Olympic gold medal.
The Hall of Fame coach who turns 70 in February joked his summer was “a cruise” and proclaimed himself healthy and ready to lead a loaded Duke team that looks capable of contending for a sixth national championship and third since 2010.
“I’m good, and everything that happened was curable and needed to be taken care of, and was taken care of,” Krzyzewski said. “And now I’m raring to go.”
Krzyzewski’s offseason and subsequent return to full health figure to be popular topics of discussion Wednesday when Atlantic Coast Conference coaches and players gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the league’s annual preseason media day.
His health drew widespread concern last February when he missed a game at Georgia Tech – the first time he didn’t travel with his team since 1995 – and briefly was hospitalized with what he recently said was dehydration, high blood pressure and “a little bit of exhaustion,” though he was back at work the next day .
Krzyzewski – who had both hips replaced in the 1990s – also had his left knee replaced in April, had hernia surgery a month later and underwent two operations on his left ankle in June.
The procedure on his knee – which prompted his daughter, Debbie Krzyzewski Savarino, to dub him “the bionic man” – was key, he said.
“It’s one of those times that can happen to anybody where you get a series of physical setbacks,” Krzyzewski said. “Part of the reason I was exhausted was, I had a bad knee, and I really think that whatever happened when we were going to Georgia Tech, a lot of it had to do with me having a bad knee for a couple months and knowing I was already going to get the knee replacement, because I (was) still pushing it.”
Krzyzewski said he’s known both of his knees have been “bone-on-bone” for a while, started feeling pain in the left knee at the beginning of the 2015-16 season and knew it had to be replaced.
But he kept it a secret for most of the season – at times even hiding a knee brace underneath his long pants so Duke’s players and fans couldn’t tell he was wearing one. And while the public didn’t know there was a problem, Savarino said the family noticed in the summer of 2015 that her dad was walking differently.
“Although he never really said a word about it at all, it was hard to watch him walk out on the court and just be a little bit nervous about, is his knee going to lock up on him?” Savarino said.
Coincidentally, just down the road in Chapel Hill, Krzyzewski’s fiercest rival was dealing with a similar situation.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams had a similar surgery in May to replace his right knee , which means that between them, they have seven national titles and four artificial joints. Williams, 66, said he feels comfortable enough to stand for longer stretches than he did last season, while the Tar Heels advanced to the NCAA Tournament title game.
“It does feel better, and it’s been a long process,” Williams said.
Krzyzewski’s procedures left him feeling similarly spry, especially after completing pre- and post-surgery exercises to keep his quadriceps strong. He looked and felt fine during his final run with the U.S. team, leading them to one final gold medal before San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich takes over.
And with his focus now fully on the Blue Devils, he says he feels younger than before and is showing no signs of slowing down. He says now he can get more hands-on during practice than he could last year, when he left much of the on-court work with the players to his assistants.
“I knew I was going to be better. I knew that leg was going to be straight,” he said. “I knew that I’d have more energy and I knew that I needed to get ready for the Olympics. So in a very short period of time, I was well, and my knee is terrific. I’m like the poster boy for knee replacement.”
AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Chapel Hill contributed to this report.
The saga of the NCAA vs. North Carolina took another step forward on Tuesday.
In August, when North Carolina responded to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations, the school did their best to try and get off of a technicality. We went in-depth on the matter here, but in short, UNC found documents that they believed showed that the NCAA had determined, in 2013, that no rules were broken and that, during the investigation, the association tried to hide this ruling from the school.
The NCAA responded to those allegations last month and UNC released those documents on Tuesday. From the News & Observer:
NCAA officials have told UNC-Chapel Hill that its largely due-process arguments to shut down an infractions case involving bogus classes that disproportionately benefited athletes are “without merit.”
“The new information provided, for the first time, a complete picture of the athletics department’s preferential access to anomalous AFRI/AFAM courses and, in some cases, how it used those courses to retain NCAA academic eligibility for student-athletes,” the NCAA’s enforcement staff said.
The NCAA also determined that the violations were not mandated by a four-year statute of limitations and that the extent of the misconduct was not truly known until 2014, the result of the Kenneth Wainstein investigation. The document that North Carolina referenced in their response to the Notice of Allegations was from 2013.
The most difficult thing to do when putting together a list of the nation’s best back courts if figuring out who, exactly, belongs listed as a member of the back court.
Take Brandon Ingram, for example. Last season, he played the four for Duke, typically lining up alongside Marshall Plumlee on the Blue Devil front line. But given his skill-set and his physical tools, he natural position is probably as a three. Then if you actually go back and watch the film, the role he played was essentially as a scoring guard, a two.
Positionless basketball, by definition, makes identifying positions a nightmare.
So we worked through a lot of these. Duke’s Jayson Tatum is listed as back court and not front court because we expect him to play the way Ingram did last season. Villanova’s Josh Hart is in our back court rankings because, like Kansas’ Josh Jackson, his ability to rebound doesn’t change the fact that he is true wing. Hart’s teammate, Kris Jenkins, is more of a small-ball four and a mismatch in the front court, which is more or less the same way we view Dillon Brooks.
1. Duke: (Amile Jefferson, Harry Giles, Marques Bolden, Chase Jeter, Javin DeLaurier, Sean Obi)
With talent and depth across the frontline, the Blue Devils have a potentially special group on a potentially special team. Senior Amile Jefferson returns after missing most of last season with a broken bone in his right foot. He averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds a game and provides loads of experience. If Harry Giles returns healthy from multiple knee injuries, the five-star recruit is a potential top-5 pick and an elite rebounder. Center Marques Bolden is another McDonald’s All-American and potential lottery pick who can score in the post. Sophomore center Chase Jeter was one of the youngest freshmen in the country last season as he’s younger than some incoming freshmen. He could be in for a solid year. Freshman Javin DeLaurier and junior Sean Obi provide more depth than the team had last season.
2. Oregon: (Dillon Brooks, Chris Boucher, Jordan Bell, Kavell Bigby-Williams, M.J. Cage, Roman Sorkin)
The key for this deep and talented group is versatile forward Dillon Brooks, who is one of the premier matchup nightmares in the country. Brooks is injured to start the season and it’s unclear when he might return but the Ducks still have plenty to like. Senior big man Chris Boucher is an elite athlete and shot blocker who is talented enough to hit some threes. Jordan Bell is another big-time shot blocker who provides great minutes off the bench. Junior college big man Kavell Bigby-Williams was the NJCAA Player of the Year and is also a noted rebounder and rim protector. Freshman M.J. Cage was a four-star prospect and junior Roman Sorkin appeared in 22 games last season.
Losing A.J. Hammons hurts, but the Boilermakers have so much depth and talent here. Sophomore Caleb Swanigan opted to get out of the NBA draft in order to return and he’s a double-double threat with intriguing skills. Isaac Haas takes over at center and the 7-foot-2 center averaged 9.8 points in only 14.3 minutes per game last season. Vince Edwards is another returning starter who can knock down shots and do a bit of everything. Basil Smotherman returns after a redshirt year and will be a key reserve along with sophomore Jacquil Taylor.
4. Kentucky: (Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel, Derek Willis, Isaac Humphries, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard)
It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch freshman big man Bam Adebayo operate this season. A powerful athlete who can rebound and finish with authority, Adebayo has the chance the be a major factor this season in what’s likely his only year in school. Freshman Wenyen Gabriel is another five-star who can defend multiple positions and has an emerging perimeter skillset. Senior Derek Willis showed production as a rebounder and perimeter shooter and he could be asked to play some on the wing this season. Sophomore Isaac Humphries gave some decent minutes last season but needs to be more consistent. Freshman Sacha Killeya-Jones is another five-star prospect who is talented as a shooter but he needs to add strength. Tai Wynyard also joins the roster after redshirting last season.
5. Indiana (Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby, Juwan Morgan, De’Ron Davis)
Sophomores dominate this frontcourt rotation as center Thomas Bryant has a chance to be one of the country’s best players this season. Bryant is a tenacious rebounder and also scored at a decent clip from time-to-time. OG Anunoby can defend nearly everyone on the floor and his upside is immense. There were times late last season when Anunoby looked like he was capable of being a star. Morgan could be a stretch option for Indiana as he made 5 of his 11 attempts last season and showed a good-looking shot. Freshman De’Ron Davis is physical ready to compete and he can provide backup minutes.
The depth of this group should be very good as the Orange have plenty of rotation pieces. Senior Tyler Roberson and sophomore Tyler Lydon are both productive returning forwards and the addition of 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu could make Syracuse’s 2-3 zone tough to score on. Senior DaJuan Coleman is also back to help give some minutes and freshmen Taurean Thompson and Matthew Moyer were both four-star prospects who play with a lot of activity.
7. Wisconsin: (Nigel Hayes, Ethan Happ, Vitto Brown, Alex Illikainen, Andy Van Vliet)
Returning their entire starting five from a Sweet 16 team, the Badgers have senior leadership from Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown and one of the Big Ten’s emerging stars in sophomore Ethan Happ. Hayes will be one of the Badgers’ most important players and an All-Big Ten prospect while Happ was an outstanding defender who was a regular double-double threat. The rotation could be even better than last season if Alex Illikainen and Andy Van Vliet can stretch the floor consistently. Illikainen played some minutes as a freshman while Van Vliet will debut after having to redshirt last season.
Losing Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey will hurt, but the addition of Memphis transfer Austin Nichols gives the Cavaliers a potential All-American up front and a very good shot blocker. Junior glue guy Isaiah Wilkins started 21 games last season and does a lot to help the Cavaliers on both ends. Sophomores Jack Salt and Jarred Reuter both earned some minutes last season. Redshirt freshman Mamadi Diakite might be the most intriguing big man on the roster as he’s a very good shot blocker who is a great athlete.
9. North Carolina: (Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Luke Maye, Tony Bradley)
Coming off of a national title appearance, the Tar Heels bring back senior center Kennedy Meeks, as he provides some scoring and rebounding and senior forward Isaiah Hicks finally gets a chance to start with the departure of Brice Johnson. Hicks is a former McDonald’s All-American who has been productive in limited minutes and has a chance to be a breakout player. Sophomore Luke Maye gives some depth as he played in 33 games last season while freshman center Tony Bradley is a McDonald’s All-American who has great size.
The return of senior center Przemek Karnowski is important because he provides experience on both ends of the floor. Karnowski can draw double teams and block shots with the best of them. Missouri transfer Johnathan Williams led the Tigers in scoring and rebounding before he left and he’s another talented player to put in the starting lineup. Freshman center Zach Collins was a McDonald’s All-American who surprised scouts at the practices with his toughness and ability. Collins was a backup to Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter at Bishop Gorman and is used to being a third big man who contributes. Not many teams can trot a 7-foot-1 center off the bench to replace another as Ryan Edwards returns after 31 appearances last season.
11. Cal (Ivan Rabb, Kameron Rooks, Kingsley Okoroh, Roger Moute a Bidias, Roman Davis)
When you have the best returning big man in the country in sophomore Ivan Rabb, you’re in the discussion for the best frontcourts in the country. Rabb put up great numbers despite not getting a lot of touches and he was very efficient from the field. Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh combined to play the minutes at center last season as Rooks was more of the scorer and Okoroh protects the rim. Senior Roger Moute a Bidias has given minutes before at small forward and freshman Roman Davis redshirted last year and could help there as well.
The most underrated frontcourt in the country might be Texas Tech, as this group returns four productive big men that averaged at least 8.5 points per game last season. Junior Zach Smith is a versatile defender who can score and rebound and Norense Odiase is a bruising big man who is productive in limited minutes. Senior Aaron Ross was a double-figure scorer who shot 37 percent from three while Arkansas State grad transfer Anthony Livingston put up 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game at Arkansas State last season. This group compliments each other well with differing skillsets and all of them are productive.
National championship game hero Kris Jenkins is back and he’s coming off of a monster end to last season in which he was a floor-spacing matchup nightmare in small-ball lineups. Sophomore Mikal Bridges has great defensive versatility and he could be in line for a breakout season. Senior Darryl Reynolds was a valuable reserve who is solid defensively. Fordham transfer Eric Paschall is eligible after sitting out last season and also is expected to help in the scoring column.
14. Butler (Kelan Martin, Andrew Chrabascz, Tyler Wideman, Joey Brunk)
Junior Kelan Martin is the one to really watch here after he averaged 15.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in a breakout sophomore campaign. Senior Andrew Chrabascz is an experienced double-figure scorer and junior center Tyler Wideman has also played a lot of minutes. Local four-star freshman Joey Brunk provides some depth at center and he could be productive as a second-unit big man with his size and post scoring ability.
15. Georgetown (Isaac Copeland, Bradley Hayes, Marcus Derrickson, Jessie Govan)
The Hoyas get another year to try to gel in stay healthy as a lot of talent is back. Junior Isaac Copeland will be expected to be a main scorer for Georgetown and senior Bradley Hayes was granted another year by the NCAA as he was last year’s leading rebounder. Sophomores Marcus Derrickson and Jessie Govan will be expected to take a leap and Derrickson’s skill level and Govan’s imposing size makes for some different frontcourt looks for the Hoyas.