SATURDAY’S FIVE BIGGEST BUBBLE LOSERS
La Salle: La Salle had a chance to pick up the kind of win that they could lock up an NCAA tournament bid on Saturday … and they missed. By a lot. The Explorers were crushed by St. Louis, losing 78-54, hanging around with the Billikens for about 25 minutes before getting run off the court down the stretch. La Salle has some good wins and just one loss, and while they may feel comfortable right now, they’ll want to avoid losing early on in the A-10 tournament to feel safe.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have a profile that is strong enough that, even if they lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, is probably deserving of an at-large bid. The issue with Minnesota is that, after losing to Nebraska and Purdue in the final week of the regular season, is that they have just been so bad for long late in the season that it’s tough to remember what they did in November and December. they probably deserve a bid, but that doesn’t mean they are one of the top 37 teams.
Oklahoma: The Sooners looked to be sitting pretty after lighting up Iowa State last Saturday, but that was before they went and lost to TCU, which is about as bad of a loss as a team in a major conference can suffer during league play. The interesting thing about Oklahoma’s profile is that they are a long way from feeling comfortable. A loss in the first round of the Big 12 tournament will make for a long weekend heading into Selection Sunday.
Xavier and Providence: The Musketeers and the Friars both had a chance to play their way into the dance with a big road win (at Butler and at UConn, respectively) and a couple wins in their league tournament. They both lost.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs are going to need to earn the WAC’s at-large bid. They had a slight chance before this week, but after getting drubbed by both New Mexico State and Denver on the road, LTU has no shot of dancing without the autobid.
Other Bubble Losers: San Diego State, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona State, Providence
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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.
Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.
“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”
He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.
Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.
Memphis just cannot catch a break.
It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.
Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.
Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.
This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.
That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.