Bubble Banter: Who helped their tournament chances?

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SATURDAY’S BUBBLE WINNERS

Boise State: The Broncos were the day’s biggest winner, as Derrick Marks caught fire, scoring a career-high 38 points to lead Boise State to a win over Colorado State at home. that’s huge, as it gives Leon Rice’s club a second top 25 win and a third top 50 win, which includes a win at Creighton. The Broncos now have seven top 100 wins and may end up adding to that total, as the end of their regular season includes a trip to UNLV and a home-date with San Diego State. As of today, the Broncos are probably in, which is a good sign, as they don’t have many more chances to mess something up.

Creighton: The Bluejays got 41 points from Doug McDermott as they shot 70.2% from the floor in a big win over Wichita State on their home floor. Creighton is now the outright Missouri Valley champ, and while that doesn’t factor into the selection committee’s decision-making process, the win over the Shockers should be enough to lock up a bid regardless of what happens in the first round of Arch Madness.

Maryland: The Terps are still alive after winning at Wake Forest, but it’s not going to be easy. Thanks to an incredibly empty non-conference schedule, Maryland’s overall profile is pretty weak despite beating Duke and NC State. They host UNC and visit Virginia before the ACC tournament begins. Win the next three and they’ll have a chance.

La Salle: The Explorers are still living off of the week where they knocked off both Butler and VCU. Those are La Salle’s only two top 50 wins, but good computer numbers and just one atrocious loss keeps them in the mix. Beat GW this week and the Explorers will get a shot at St. Louis to lock up a bid.

Temple: The Owls survived URI, notching their fifth-straight win after a head-scratching loss to Duquesne. Temple has good enough computer numbers and nine top 100 wins — headlined by Syracuse and St. Louis — which should be enough to get them into the tournament as long as they avoid a loss to a team like URI.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks kept their hopes alive, knocking off Kentucky at home on Saturday afternoon. This team still has quite a bit of work to do, however. They have just five top 100 wins, ugly computer numbers and just a single road win: at Auburn. Win at Missouri, beat Texas A&M, and land a win or two in the SEC tournament, and we’ll talk.

Belmont, Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee State: The only thing these three teams can do is play out the rest of their season and hope that enough bubble teams end up losing that an at-large bid opens up. None of the three have strong enough wins to make up for their questionable losses. The easy answer? Don’t leave it up to the committee; take care of business in the conference tournament.

California, Missouri, Oklahoma and Memphis: These five make up what I like to call the ‘Play Yourself Out Crew’. All four should be able to earn themselves an at-large bid as long as they don’t do anything crazy in the season’s final week. Cal beat Colorado, Missouri handled LSU, Oklahoma blew out Iowa State and Memphis beat Central Florida on the road. That’s how it’s done.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.