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The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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St. John’s has work cut out to make NCAA tournament (New York Daily News)
Steve Lavin’s St. John’s Red Storm were thought to be the most talented team in the Big East when the season began. But there’s also the need to make good on said promise when games actually begin, and that’s been a struggle for the Red Storm. There are still opportunities to go on a run and reach the NCAA tournament, but that will likely come down to the Big East tournament.

Ochefu standing tall for Villanova (Delco Times)
During Jay Wright’s tenure at Villanova, guards have received most of the attention when the Wildcats rank among the nation’s best. But there’s also the need for rugged big men in the Villanova attack, from Dante Cunningham and Will Sheridan during the mid-2000s to Daniel Ochefu now. Yes, Ochefu, who has made immense strides throughout the 2013-14 season for Villanova.

Milestone reached as Oregon Tech’s Danny Miles gets 1,000th win (Oregon Tech Athletics)
Two of Division I’s winningest head coaches faced off at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night, with Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange beating Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils in overtime. However there was also a milestone reached on Saturday, as Oregon Tech’s Danny Miles picked up his 1,000th win as a college head coach. He’s just the second coach in college basketball history to reach the 1,000 win mark.

Jordan Morgan leads the charge in Michigan’s turnaround (Michigan Daily)
With Mitch McGary out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery, Michigan needed its veteran big men to step up in order for the Wolverines to be a contender in the Big Ten. That has happened, with Jordan Morgan playing an important role for the Wolverines. His motivation: not seeing the floor much during Michigan’s run to the national title game last season.

Aaric Murray overcomes obstacles, now possible NBA prospect again (KTRK Houston)
Texas Southern senior center Aaric Murray arrived in Houston a man who had run out of chances. After seeing stints at La Salle and West Virginia come to a premature end, Murray sought out help from John Lucas and a fresh start at Texas Southern under Mike Davis. Thus far he’s taken advantage of the opportunity, and as a result Murray’s back on the mind of some pro scouts.

SDSU’s Quinn relished chance to start (San Diego Union-Tribune)
With Josh Davis having to miss Saturday night’s game against Colorado State for health reasons, No. 5 San Diego State needed someone to step into the starting lineup and be a productive replacement. Enter Aqeel Quinn, who scored eight points in 24 minutes of action as the Aztecs held off Colorado State.

Northwestern rallying around Collins (CBS2 Chicago)
After starting Big Ten play with three consecutive losses, the Northwestern Wildcats looked to be in serious trouble in the first season of the Chris Collins era. But the Wildcats have turned things around, reaching 5-5 in conference play and winning three straight league road games for the first time since 1960. The team’s head coach hadn’t even been born when the last streak occurred.

Auburn junior guard Kareem Canty to turn pro

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Auburn junior point guard Kareem Canty, the team’s leader in both points and assists, has missed the Tigers’ last two games as a result of a suspension handed down by head coach Bruce Pearl for a violation of team rules. Thursday night Canty announced via Twitter that he will be turning pro, ending his Auburn career with less than one full season of play.

In 21 games this season Canty averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 assists per contest, shooting 40.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. Given Auburn’s lack of perimeter depth Canty had ample opportunities to score from the point guard position, but he struggled in the four games following standout performances in wins over Kentucky and Alabama.

Auburn’s lost six straight since beating the Crimson Tide, most recently falling 71-45 at Tennessee Tuesday night. Without Canty, Bruce Pearl called upon TJ Lang and Bryce Brown as the perimeter starters in that game with Patrick Keim and New Williams playing a combined 33 minutes off the bench. They’ll continue to see those minutes moving forward.

As for next season, Auburn brings in four-star point guard Jared Harper and currently injured point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen will be available as well.

Canty began his college career at Marshall, playing the 2013-14 season for the Thundering Herd before deciding to transfer. Canty committed to Auburn in mid-April of 2014, only to change his mind in favor of USF before making the switch back to Auburn.

Canty’s name wasn’t showing up in early draft projections, and making this decision while in the midst of a suspension likely won’t help matters when it comes to getting selected.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of tonight’s bubbly action in one place

Fran Dunphy
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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This post will be updated as the games are completed.

You know what’s not going to be fun on Selection Sunday?

Trying to evaluate the profile that Temple (KenPom: 95, RPI: 69) eventually puts together.

The Owls are currently sitting tied for first place in the American at 9-3. They’ve swept UConn after coming from down 12 to beat the Huskies in Philly on Thursday. They’ve swept Cincinnati. They handed SMU their first loss of the season. They beat Tulsa. That’s four top 50 and six top 100 wins, which are good numbers in comparison to other bubble teams.

The problem?

They also lost at Memphis (yuck) and East Carolina (double yuck), have a non-conference strength of schedule that sits right around 200, lost to every good team they played out of conference and have thus far managed just six top 150 wins this season. The other issue? They’ve basically run out of quality opponents in the league. They do play at Tulsa (RPI: 50) and Houston (RPI: 91), which are basically must-wins at this point, and since every other opponent they play in the American has a sub-100 RPI, those are essentially can’t-lose games.

What that leaves us is the Villanova game. That will be played next week, and that’s as close to a must-win as you can get in mid-February.

WINNERS

  • Syracuse (KenPom: 39, RPI: 44): Syracuse landed their sixth top 50 win and eighth top 100 win of the season on Thursday. They also got word that the selection committee will factor in that Jim Boeheim missed time for the Orange. It may be time to take them off of this list, at least for the time being.

LOSERS

  • UConn (KenPom: 19, RPI: 46): On paper, UConn’s loss at Temple on Thursday isn’t all that bad. It’s a road loss to a top 100 opponent. Those happen in league play. Where it hurts is that the Owls have now not only swept UConn, but they did it by erasing a 12-point lead in the final five minutes. The Huskies fall to just 5-7 against the top 100 with just one top 50 win, albeit at Texas. With no bad losses and two shots left against SMU, UConn is still in decent shape.
  • Florida State (KenPom: 37, RPI: 38): The Seminoles missed a shot at landing a nice road win at Syracuse on Thursday. It doesn’t hurt their profile, and with three top 25, another top 50 and a top 100 opponent left on their schedule, there are still chances to play their way onto the bubble. The problem? All those games are losable as well.
  • VCU (KenPom: 32, RPI: 40): The Rams were on the wrong end of a brutal loss to UMass on Thursday night. It’s not the kind of loss that is going to eliminate VCU from the bubble conversation — not by any stretch — but one of the strengths of VCU’s résumé was that they didn’t have any bad losses to speak of. Now they have a loss to a sub-150 team. Their next four games are all potential landmines as well. Will Wade’s club would do well to avoid losing any of those four.

Games left to be played.

Arkansas-Little Rock (KenPom: 41, RPI: 63) at Louisiana Monroe, 8:00 p.m.
Northern Kentucky at Valparaiso (KenPom: 22, RPI: 48), 8:00 p.m.
No. 4 Iowa at Indiana (KenPom: 24, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
No. 11 Oregon at Cal (KenPom: 44, RPI: 32), 9:00 p.m.
Washington State at Colorado (KenPom: 56, RPI: 29), 11:00 p.m.
Gonzaga (KenPom: 33, RPI: 66) at Portland, 11:00 p.m.
Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s (KenPom: 26, RPI: 52), 11:00 p.m.
Oregon State (KenPom: 81, RPI: 31) at Stanford (KenPom: 104, RPI: 71), 11:00 p.m.