Bubble Banter: Thursday’s losers

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This page will be updated throughout the day. Come back and feed your bubble fix. You can find the Bubble Winners here.

Arizona State: The dream is done for the Sun Devils. Thanks to a weak non-conference slate and a poor finish to the regular season, Herb Sendek’s club needed to win at least two, maybe three games in the Pac-12 tournament to have a real chance at an at-large bid. Well, that didn’t have. Arizona State blew a 15 point second half lead and lost to UCLA in the quarterfinals. They will be must-see TV in the NIT.

Xavier: The Musketeers were in a similar position to Xavier: win two or three games in the Atlantic 10 tournament, hope for all the bubble teams to lose, and spend Selection Sunday praying. It didn’t work, as the Musketeers lost a thriller to St. Joe’s and punched their ticket to the NIT.

Minnesota: The Gophers are probably going to be fine. In fact, I would be quite surprised if the Selection Committee made the decision to leave the Gophers out of the NCAA tournament. They may not be playing well right now (they are 5-11 since starting the year 15-1) but they have a very, very good profile when compared to the dreck on the rest of the bubble. But you never know until your name is called, and thanks to yet another ugly February and a first round loss in the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers probably won’t be sleeping easy this week.

Villanova: The Wildcats got smacked around by Louisville on Thursday night, meaning that Jay Wright’s ballclub is going to have to spend Selection Sunday anxiously waiting to hear their name called. The good news? Thanks to wins over the top four teams in the Big East, Villanova should be expecting to hear their name called. Wednesday’s game against St. John’s was the outcome they needed.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are probably going to be just fine, as they have three top 50 wins — including Kansas — and nine top 100 wins to go along with an RPI in the low-30s. But if there are some surprise runs in the conference tournaments, bids might start getting gobbled up. Losing to Iowa State leaves them at risk, even if that risk is relatively minimal.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats should be OK. They have five top 50 wins and nine top 100 wins without a sub-100 loss this season. But their RPI isn’t all that great thanks to a weak non-conference schedule. Beating Providence was the key, losing to Georgetown shouldn’t hurt them too much.

Colorado: Losing to Arizona won’t hurt the Buffaloes all that much, and given the work they have done this season, they should feel pretty comfortable heading into Selection Sunday. The win over Oregon State yesterday was the big game for them.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks needed to win a couple of games in the SEC tournament if they wanted a chance at an at-large bid, as they’ve proven completely incapable of winning away from Bud Walton Arena. They did it again on Thursday night, losing to Vanderbilt for the second time this season.

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs are done. They lost in the first round of the WAC tournament tonight to a UTSA team that went 3-14 in WAC play.

Cal: The Bears should be in on Selection Sunday, but they probably aren’t going to be as comfortable as they will be made out to be. Cal has three top 50 wins, including a win at Arizona, and three more wins against 51-100, including roadies against Denver and Oregon. If anything is hurting Cal’s profile right now, it’s that Oregon has fallen to 54th in the RPI. That used to be a really good win for them.

Baylor: The Bears are done. They needed to beat Oklahoma State tonight and then pick off Kansas State tomorrow to have a real chance. They lost.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.