Florida v Kentucky

Bubble Banter: Who helped their tournament chances?

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Kentucky: If the Wildcats wanted to play in the NCAA tournament this season, they had a choice on Saturday: beat Florida, or win the SEC tournament. And after digging themselves a seven point hole with 7:33 left in the game, Kentucky clamped down, closing the game on an 11-0 run and picking up the kind of win that, as of today, will likely have them sitting on the right side of the bubble. It’s not done yet — Kentucky probably cannot afford to lose to whoever they are going to end up facing in the first round of the SEC tournament — but the dream is still alive. And that’s what’s important.

Boise State: The Broncos picked up a massive win, all-but locking up an NCAA bid when they knocked off San Diego State at home on Saturday afternoon. Boise State gets a rematch with the Aztecs in the first round of the MWC tournament, and whoever ends up losing that game will likely have a bit of a nerve-wracking Selection Sunday. But with how weak the bubble currently is, wins over SDSU, Colorado State, UNLV and at Creighton — and bad losses coming without key players — should out weigh NC SOS issues.

Tennessee: The Vols are basically in the same place as Kentucky after beating Missouri on Saturday afternoon: they’re in the tournament as of today, but a) they cannot afford to lose their first round game in the SEC tournament and b) they could probably win another game or two to ensure that they aren’t too close to the cutline when those bid thieves get to stealin’.

Baylor: Aaaaand, all of a sudden, Baylor is back in the conversation. That’s how weak the bubble is right now. Baylor had lost five of six and eight of 11 entering Saturday, with one top 50 win and four top 100 wins. Then they beat Kansas — by 22 — and they are a couple wins in the Big 12 tournament from an at-large bid.

Everyone on the bubble: The best news for bubble teams on Saturday? Belmont won their automatic bid. Creighton and Wichita State both advanced to the Missouri Valley title game. Middle Tennessee State is still alive in the Sun Belt tournament. And Louisiana Tech? They got drubbed in their last two regular season games, knocking them off the bubble. Making sure those mid-major teams in at-large contention don’t need an at-large is the key for teams sitting on the cutline.

Who else helped their profile?: Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee State, Alabama, Cincinnati, UMass, Iowa State, Ole Miss

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.