Mark Turgeon

Bubble Banter: Who hurt their tournament chances?

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WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE LOSERS

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are done. Wins over Florida and Missouri put them back into the bubble conversation, but an easy way to drop back out is to lose yet another road game in league play. On Wednesday, the loss came against LSU.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils missed out on a great opportunity to help their profile when they lost at UCLA on Wednesday night. The Sun Devils have some ugly computers numbers thanks to a really poor non-conference performance and a pair of ugly losses to Utah and DePaul, but they do have four top 50 wins and they’ll visit USC and Arizona before the season’s over. Herb Sendek’s team is in a dangerous spot, but they’re not quite dead yet.

Maryland: All that credit that the Terps built up by beating Duke two weeks ago? Poof. Maryland has now lost road games to Boston College and Georgia Tech since then. They are 7-8 in the ACC, they don’t have favorable computer numbers, they have two notable wins (NC State and Duke) and they still have a tough schedule down the stretch. That schedule is the only reason they are still in the conversation: at Virginia, at Wake Forest, North Carolina and the ACC tournament. There will be chances to turn things around. It better happen soon.

Wichita State: The Shockers aren’t exactly in trouble just yet. They have three top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins. But WSU plays at Creighton in the MVC finale — which just so happens to double as the MVC regular season title game — and then heads to St. Louis for Arch Madness. After losing to Evansville at home tonight, if the Shockers lose at Creighton and then get dropped in the first round of Arch Madness, they’ll be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

Oklahoma: The Sooners aren’t in a ton of trouble just yet, thanks mostly to a really strong RPI and no glaringly awful losses. That changed, however, on Wednesday when Oklahoma lost to Texas in overtime after blowing a 22 point lead. The Sooners have wins at home against Kansas and Oklahoma State and, well, not much else. Lon Kruger’s club is at home for Iowa State and West Virginia and then heads to TCU before the Big 12 tournament. They’re going to want to avoid another slip-up.

Charlotte: Charlotte was hanging on for their tournament lives, but I think it’s safe to say that getting blown out by a Dayton team that may miss the Atlantic 10 tournament at home is not a good way to try to impress the selection committee.

Indiana State: I think we can officially pop the Sycamore’s bubble after they lost to Drake at home tonight. There is only so much juice you can squeeze out of a win over a depleted Miami team.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win