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Saturday’s Bubble Winners

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Big Winners

Alabama: The Crimson Tide is rolling, as it looks like Anthony Grant has finally made it known: you do things my way, or you play somewhere else. With Tony Mitchell no longer on the team and JaMychal Green finally returning to the lineup, Alabama cruised to a 67-50 win over Mississippi State, solidifying their standing as fourth in the SEC pecking order and putting themselves in terrific position come Selection Sunday. With games left against Auburn and Ole Miss, all the Crimson Tide has to do is win the games they are supposed to win. They’ve now won three in a row and six of their last eight while wins over Purdue and Wichita State look better by the day.

Purdue: The Boilermakers all but punched their ticket today as they went into Ann Arbor and knocked off No. 11 Michigan, 75-61. Terone Johnson went for 22 points and Robbie Hummel added 17 as Purdue picked up the marquee victory they so desperately needed. Coming in, Michigan was 15-0 at home and they had just beaten Ohio State in Crisler Arena. So yeah, this is a good win, their first against the top of the conference.

St. Joseph’s: The Hawks still have some work to get done, but after beating No. 22 Temple on Saturday evening, Phil Martelli’s club is that much closer to completing the task. St. Joe’s needed a quality win desperately to help fill out their resume, and they got it, beating the Owls 82-72. They still have to go up to St. Bonaventure this week, a game that the Hawks probably should win if they want an at-large bid, because as of right now, St. Joe’s is right on the cut-line.

Memphis: Two games ago, the Tigers lost to UTEP at home while blowing a 13 point lead. Josh Pastner made the decision to take the names off the backs of their jerseys, and that decision has worked. Memphis beat East Carolina by 23 points and followed it up on Saturday with a 20 point win at Marshall, a team that still had some slim hopes alive for making a run. Memphis should be in good shape, but its also Memphis; this team isn’t exactly known for their consistency.

Iowa State: The Cyclones personified life on the bubble. Prior to Saturday’s game at Kansas State, there was discussion that, with losses to the Wildcats, Baylor and Missouri in their final three games, ISU could miss the NCAA Tournament. After beating K-State 65-61 on the road, not only are the Cyclones in excellent position for a bid, there is talk that a win in their last two games could vault them up to a six seed.

They helped themselves by not losing

Drexel and VCU: The Dragons and the Rams both have slim hopes of actually getting an at-large bid. But with wins over Old Dominion and George Mason, respectively, both teams can keep hope alive that a trip to the CAA title game will be enough.

Washington: The Huskies had to rally from an 11 point second half deficit to beat Washington State on the road, but the only thing that matters is that they won. A loss would have been disastrous.

Xavier and Dayton: The Musketeers hung on to beat Richmond while Dayton blew out UMass at home. Xavier is probably barely on the right side of the bubble right now while Dayton still has some work to do. But hey, its better to be in the discussion than simply playing for seeding in your league tournament.

Arizona: The Wildcats still have some hope alive for an at-large bid. They probably cannot afford another loss and may need to make a run in the NCAA Tournament if they want a bid.

Texas: Texas avoided a disastrous loss by winning at Texas Tech. The Longhorns are still sitting right on that cut line.

BYU: The Cougars are still in the picture, but they are going to probably have to beat Gonzaga or St. Mary’s in the WCC tournament to get an at-large bid.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles have been puttering along down the stretch, and a close win over Rice doesn’t change that. But USM should feel pretty confident about their chances if they win out.

Northwestern: The Wildcats have absolutely no margin for error, but as it stands right now, they are probably sitting on the right side of the bubble. Barely. And while a one point win — one that may have been helped by a friendly whistle down the stretch that gave John Shurna two FT’s for the win — at Penn State doesn’t say much for the team, Northwestern is still alive.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.