Big 12 Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals

Bubble Banter: Thursday’s winners

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

Iowa State: The Cyclones were probably in a good enough spot that they could have gotten an at-large bid to the tournament even with a loss to Oklahoma on Thursday afternoon, but thanks to a late-second half surge, Fred Hoiberg’s club is headed back to the Big Dance. They now have four top 50 wins, an 8-8 record against the top 100 and, if all goes according to plan, a third shot at knocking off Kansas.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are barely on the bubble at this point, but there’s still a slim chance thanks to their strong RPI. But USM doesn’t have a single top 50 win and only one win against a team higher than 95th in the RPI. It’s going to take a lot of luck for them to get an at-large bid without earning the Conference USA automatic bid, but there’s still a chance.

Tennessee: The Vols got a win against Mississippi State on Thursday in the SEC tournament, which was important more for the fact that they couldn’t afford a loss to the Bulldogs in their current bubble situation. With four top 50 wins and nine top 100 wins, the Vols should feel decent about their current chances. Their RPI of 55 is a bit concerning, and with a matchup against fellow bubbler Alabama in the quarterfinals on Friday, that could end up turning into a play-out game. As is always the case with bubble teams, my advice is to just keep on winning.

Maryland: The Terps are still alive! But barely. Maryland needs to beat Duke tomorrow, and they probably need to hope that they get a chance to beat North Carolina on Saturday. If they win that, and then lose to Miami in the ACC title game … they still may not get in. But that’s their best chance.

UMass: The Minutemen have some work left to do, but they have a chance at getting themselves into the tournament with a strong performance in Brooklyn this week. They beat GW on Thursday night, but with just one top 50 win, Derek Kellogg’s club probably needs to pick up a win or two more to really have a chance at an at-large. To be fair, seven wins between 51-100 gives them a sneaky-good profile.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes made their first step on Thursday night, knocking off Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. They have a lot of work left to do, however. There are some good wins there, but a non-conference SOS of sub-300 and three sub-100 losses are ugly. Beat Michigan State on Friday, and then we’ll talk.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Rick Pitino: ‘We should be penalized … but not this team’

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.

Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.

How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?

Well, it seems.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.

And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”

He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.

But credit the Cardinals for responding.

Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.

Oklahoma State without Jawun Evans, questionable moving forward

Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) goes up for a shot between Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Oklahoma State won 86-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.

Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.

According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.

Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.