Bubble Banter: Maryland, Ole Miss headline Friday’s big movers

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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.

It’s a massive day for teams on the bubble’s cutline, as the Atlantic 10 and the SEC quarterfinals today could determine a handful of bids, for both the NCAA tournament and the NIT. Here’s what to watch for today:

Maryland: Finally, someone on the bubble decide to make a serious play for an at-large bid. The Terps picked up a massive win over Duke — the second time this season that they have beaten their rivals — which puts them that much closer to the cut line. It becomes all the more important due to the number of bubble teams that can currently be found on the bubble losers list. That said, the Terps probably aren’t in just yet. Their non-conference schedule is an embarrassment, and they piled up some ugly losses in league play. Maryland fans should hope that they beat North Carolina in the semis. A loss to Miami in the ACC tournament title might be enough to get them in. Regardless of what happens, anything short of the automatic bid, and the Terps will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

Ole Miss: The Rebels look like they may end up dancing after all. On Friday evening, the Rebels erased a 13 point second half deficit thanks to 11 points in the final six minutes from Derrick Millinghaus — who also happened to hit the game-winning runner with 1.1 seconds left on the clock — and knocked off Missouri, 64-62. Ole Miss now has two top 50 wins (both Missouri), but they do have eight top 100 wins. The problem? Two sub-200 losses on the road. The Rebels simply cannot afford to lose to Vandy on Saturday if they want to dance.

UMass: The Minutemen have a chance to make a move tomorrow. They entered Friday as the sixth team out of the bracket, according to our Dave Ommen. They beat Temple on Friday, which is unquestionably helpful. The Owls are a tournament team and another top 50 win. But UMass needs more if they want to leapfrog all of the teams currently in front of them. They get VCU on Saturday. Win that game, and they might actually be an NCAA tournament team. It would be nice to see someone play their way into the tournament instead of earning a bid thanks to the rest of the country losing.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are a long shot. They probably need to make it to the Conference USA tournament finals to even have a prayer of getting an at-large bid. But they beat UTEP on Friday, getting themselves one step closer.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are probably the biggest bubble winner of the day to this point. Not only did they inch themselves that much closer to the bubble, but they did it by knocking off a team directly in front of them — Dave Ommen has the Tide as the one of the first four out. Alabama still has some work left to do thanks to a myriad of awful losses from the middle of the season. They get Florida on Saturday. Win that, and we’ll talk.

Everyone else on the bubble: You know who loved the happenings of today? Middle Tennessee State. You know who else did? St. Mary’s. And Boise State. And Oklahoma. And all of the other teams that have already finished their seasons and are currently playing the waiting game. Because thus far, it’s been ideal for those teams. Tennessee, La Salle and Virginia all lost. Alabama won, but if they lose to Florida tomorrow, they won’t be getting an at-large bid. Now those bubble teams need to root for Ole Miss, Kentucky and UMass all to lose tonight.

  • Ole Miss vs. Missouri (10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Oregon vs. Utah (11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?