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Cincinnati: The Bearcats were probably in even if they ended up losing to Providence in their first game in the Big East tournament, but Mick Cronin’s club erased all doubt by pounding on the Friars. Cincinnati has a decent RPI, but they’ve played a good schedule and have notched four top 50 wins and 8-10 record against the top 100 without suffering a bad loss.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils actually had a decent profile if you factor out their non-conference schedule. The problem? Well, it doesn’t work that way. ASU does have some good wins in league play — Colorado twice, Cal, UCLA — but they also got swept by Washington, lost at USC and lost their last four games and six of their last eight. The Sun Devils need to beat UCLA tomorrow to even be in the discussion on Sunday.
Colorado: The Buffaloes were pretty close to a lock heading into Wednesday, and after closing out Oregon State — with the return of a healthy Andre Roberson — Colorado will be dancing.
Villanova: The Wildcats probably cut have survived the bubble cut without beating St. John’s in the first round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday. When you have wins over Marquette, Louisville, Georgetown and Syracuse, there isn’t much else that you need to do. But a loss to the Johnnies would have made Jay Wright’s ball club sweat. That’s not a fun thing to do while watching the bracket fill up over the next four days.
San Diego State: The Aztecs would probably have been alright with a loss, but beating Boise State on Wednesday night will lock them into a bid.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.