WCC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals San Diego v Saint Mary's

St. Mary’s will sweat out the next week on the bubble

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It’s going to be a long, long week in Moraga, CA.

After losing to No. 1 Gonzaga 65-51 in the WCC title game on Monday, the Gaels are officially a bubble team, missing out on a chance to win the league’s automatic bid and ensure themselves a trip to the Big Dance.

And the problem?

St. Mary’s looks like they are headed for the wrong side of the bubble.

The Gaels are now 27-6 on the season, but their profile is entirely built around a win over Creighton, who currently sits at 25th in the RPI. Beyond that? St. Mary’s has a pair of wins over BYU and … a win over Harvard at home … umm … and 22 wins over teams ranked outside the RPI’s top 100.

Now, the Gaels are 19-3 since Christmas. Those three losses all came to the No. 1 team in the country, Gonzaga. That’s not bad, but the problem is that by going 0-3 against the Zags, St. Mary’s missed out on their only three chances to land another marquee win. They needed one. Their non-conference schedule is ranked 121st nationally, and they have two sub-100 losses (Pacific and Georgia Tech) and a loss at Northern Iowa.

Oh, and it looks like they may have just lost one of their starters, Jorden Page, to a knee injury.

Is that a strong enough to earn an at-large bid?

Well, let’s compare them to other bubble teams. Tennessee has four top 50 wins — including Florida — and nine top 100 wins. Kentucky has seven top 100 wins and has beaten Missouri and Florida since Nerlens Noel went down. Say what you will about those two teams, it’s tough to find a way to argue that St. Mary’s has a stronger profile.

And all the rest of those high-major bubble teams will have more chances to build on their resume.

I want the Gaels in the tournament just like I want Middle Tennessee State to go dancing. But just because a good mid-major team is ‘good’ doesn’t mean that the committee is going to cut them a break.

It’s all about the profile. The Gaels simply may not have enough on it.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?