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Bubble Banter: Who hurt their tournament chances?

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Ole Miss: The Rebels learned the hard way that the easiest way to play yourself off the bubble is to lose at South Carolina and, two weeks later, drop a game at Mississippi State. A pair of sub-200 losses in February isn’t going to impress the NCAA committee. They have one top 50 win and have lost six of their last ten. The Rebels may need to win the automatic bid.

Akron: There was no guarantee that winning out would have resulted in a tournament berth for the Zips, but their loss to Buffalo on Saturday night all-but ensured the fact that Akron will need to win the MAC’s automatic bid to go dancing.

Iowa State: The Cyclones couldn’t afford a loss at Oklahoma, not when they have struggled so much on the road this season and missed out on two marquee wins thanks to Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore. Iowa State needs to win at Oklahoma State and cannot afford to lose to West Virginia. At that point, would three top 50 wins be enough to outweigh losses to Texas and Texas Tech?

Alabama: The Crimson Tide had a golden opportunity, up eight with 12 minutes left at Florida. But Anthony Grant’s club let that slip away, and they now find themselves in a tough spot with two games to play. They won’t have a top 50 win once Kentucky’s RPI is adjusted and they have four sub-100 losses.

Baylor: Baylor is all but done at this point, after losing a nail-biter at home to Kansas State on Saturday. With a home game against Kansas and the Big 12 tournament, there’s still a sliver of hope, but it’s fading fast.

Tennessee: After winning six straight games and beating Florida at home to thrust themselves into the middle of the bubble conversation, Tennessee went out and lost at Georgia, which puts them in a still-deeper NCAA tournament hole. The Vols have three top 50 wins and are 8-9 against the top 100, but they would be smart to avoid losing at Auburn and then beat Missouri at home.

Wichita State: The Shockers have eight top 100 wins and won at VCU and beat Southern Miss and Creighton at home. Combined with an RPI of 41, Gregg Marshall’s team should be OK. But with three sub-100 losses, Wichita State probably doesn’t want to risk losing in the first round of Arch Madness.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils entered this week with a chance to play their way into the tournament. They got swept at the LA schools, which will likely mean that even a win at Arizona next week won’t be enough.

Kentucky: Losing at Arkansas hurts, but all it does is erase Kentucky’s margin for error. Win three straight, and the Wildcats should be in.

Colorado: The Buffaloes lost at Cal on Saturday, but they have a strong enough computer profile — and wins over Arizona, Colorado State, Cal and Oregon — that they should be ok as long as they dont’ lose out.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes needed to beat Indiana to have any chance of earning an at-large bid. They’ll need to win the Big Ten tournament title.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.