After beating No. 3 Duke on Thursday night the Virginia Cavaliers looked to be on the verge of locking up an NCAA tournament bid.
That changed on Sunday afternoon.
A Joe Rahon three-pointer with 8.2 seconds remaining gave Boston College a 53-52 victory in Chestnut Hill, and for a team that has lost at home by one point to both Duke and Miami it had to feel good to get over the hump.
But with all due respect to Steve Donahue’s young team the story isn’t the step that BC has taken towards respectability. The story is the fact that Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers have added yet another line to a resume that will likely give the selection committee fits when they get together in Indianapolis to fill out the 68-team field.
Akil Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 16 points and nine rebounds and Harris added 14, but a Jontel Harris turnover following a Rahon missed free throw proved to be Virginia’s last chance before time expired (Mitchell’s half-court heave was released after time expired).
Sunday’s defeat is Virginia’s seventh against a team ranked 127 (Delaware) or worse in the RPI, and while the Cavaliers may have more “good wins” than any other team on the bubble that’s a tough total to overcome.
With 4:27 remaining Virginia took a 49-41 lead on a Joe Harris jumper, looking to be in good position to take care of business ahead of games against Florida State and Maryland to end the regular season.
But just as they did in their 66-60 loss at Georgia Tech on February 3 the Cavaliers failed to close, allowing the Eagles to hang around and Boston College made them pay. Virginia may still get into the NCAA tournament thanks to their quality wins and the fact that few teams have done enough work to get off the bubble.
But the Cavaliers have done a good job of making sure they don’t lock up a bid. And if they aren’t careful Virginia could very well find itself on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.