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.

PHOTOS: Miami, Syracuse wear shirts honoring Florida shooting victims

Photo via Mike Waters, Syracuse.com
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Syracuse is playing in Miami on Saturday, the first game that the Hurricanes have played at home since the shooting at Parkland, Florida’s, Stoneman Douglas High School.

Both teams wore warmup shirts honoring the victims of the shooting prior to the game:

Parkland and Coral Gables are about 50 miles apart, but both towns are suburbs with the same Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area.

St. John’s guard Lovett to leave school, turn pro

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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Marcus Lovett announced on Saturday morning that he will be leaving St. John’s to pursue a professional career.

This decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Lovett, who averaged 14.9 points through the first seven games of the season, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury despite reports that he was healthy enough to play.

According to the New York Post, Lovett was not even enrolled in school for the spring semester.

Lovett spent three seasons in New York with the Johnnies and played less than a year and a half.

Yale’s Makai Mason expected to play vs. Harvard

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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For the first time since the 2016 NCAA tournament, Yale basketball fans are going to have a chance to see Makai Mason play for the Bulldogs.

A star point guard that is already committed to play for Baylor as a grad transfer in 2018-19, Mason missed all of the 2016-17 season and the 2017-18 season to date with a series of foot injuries.

As a sophomore, Mason averaged 16.0 points and 3.8 assists for the Bulldogs as they won the Ivy League and knocked off Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed. He had 31 points in that win.

The Elis are currently 5-4 in the Ivy League after beating Dartmouth on Friday night. With Mason back in the fold, they seem like a safe bet to get to the Ivy League tournament and a contender to win it all.

The way that Ivy League rules are written, players are not allowed to redshirt, even if they are injured for the season. Since Mason was in classes as a junior, during the season that he missed, this year is the last year that he would be allowed to play for an Ivy League program.

Bubble Banter: Texas, Syracuse land massive wins

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

TEXAS (RPI: 49, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Longhorns landed a massive, massive win for their NCAA tournament chances on Saturday afternoon when they went into Norman and picked off Oklahoma. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and put them into a position where a 2-2 finish to Big 12 play keeps them at 8-10 in the league. That’s relevant because no team more than two games below .500 in league play has reached the NCAA tournament since the early 90s. The Longhorns are now 6-7 against Quadrant 1 opponents with some elite wins in that mix — Texas Tech, at Alabama, a sweep of Oklahoma Butler on a neutral — and no losses worse than Quadrant 2. Texas is going to have a very real chance to be an NCAA tournament team with 14 losses this season.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: First four out): The Orange hold their bubble future in their own hands, and they got started in the right direction on Saturday by going into Coral Gables and picking off Miami. That’s their third Quadrant 1 win — assuming that Buffalo, who is currently 30th in the RPI, remains top 30 — but a Quadrant 3 loss and the lack of a truly marquee victory is a glaring hole in their résumé. The good news? This is the remaining schedule for the Orange: UNC, at Duke, at Boston College, Clemson. Go 2-2 in that stretch and they will enter the ACC tournament in pretty good shape.

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 59, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: 9): The Hokies beat the breaks off of Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday, meaning they finished their three game road trip at 2-1 with a win at Virginia. Not bad. The rest of VT’s schedule looks like this: Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami. With a Quadrant 3 loss and a non-conference SOS of 325, I still think the Hokies need to win two of these games.

BUTLER (RPI: 40, KenPom: 26, NBC seed: 10): The Bulldogs added another Quadrant 2 win to their profile on Saturday with an impressive win over Providence at home. Butler is 3-9 against Quadrant 1 opponents with three Quadrant 1 games left on their schedule: Creighton, at St. John’s, at Seton Hall. I think they’ll probably be in if they win one of those three games, but I would recommend winning two.

LOSERS

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 34, KenPom: 67, NBC seed: 8): Losing at Butler doesn’t exactly hurt Providence’s profile. Quadrant 1 road losses are what they are. The Friars are interesting because they have five Quadrant 1 wins but two Quadrant 3 losses and a hideous, Quadrant 4 loss to DePaul at home. I think they need two more wins (Seton Hall, at Xavier, at Georgetown, St. John’s) to lock up their at-large bid.

YET TO PLAY

KANSAS STATE
LSU
BOISE STATE
ARKANSAS
N.C. STATE
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
BAYLOR
WASHINGTON
TCU
LOUISVILLE
MARQUETTE
UCLA
USC

VIDEO: St. Bonaventure’s LaDarien Griffin blocks shot, saves ball missing a shoe

Screengrab via News 4 Buffalo
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One of my favorite plays of the season to date.

With St. Bonaventure down 72-69 with just over three minutes left of their win over No. 16 Rhode Island, LaDarien Griffin lost a shoe and was forced to play a defensive possession in just a sock.

What did he do?

Well, he blocked a shot, corralled the loose ball and threw the ball off of a URI player who was standing out of bounds to stop play. Check this out:

That wasn’t the only big play that he made.

He also blocked a shot with 4.2 seconds left that helped preserve the win for the Bonnies.