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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.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.