Bubble Banter: Boise State’s losses will hurt on Selection Sunday

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There are 38 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before. 

We seem to say it every season, but that doesn’t mean it won’t become a talking point over the course of the next 38 days: the bubble is impressively weak this year.

On the one hand, that means that trying to fill out those last couple of spots in the field of 68 is enough to give even an amateur bracketologist a migraine. It’s good news for teams chasing an at-large berth, however, because it means two things: a) A poor non-conference performance doesn’t mean that the season is over; and b) One really good win may be enough to separate your team from the rest of the pack.

Think about it like this: Cal (RPI: 52, KenPom: 47) has lost four of their last five games, which includes a visit to USC and a pair of home games against Arizona State and Stanford, but since they beat No. 1 Arizona on Saturday, they’re safely in the tournament as of today. They were a No. 9 seed in NBCSports.com’s most recent Bracketology.

And that’s why Boise State (RPI: 61, KenPom: 62) has to be kicking themselves right now.

The Broncos don’t have a single RPI top 100 win yet this season. Their only sub-top 100 loss came at UNLV on Saturday. They blew an 11-point lead in the final 3:29 in that game. On Thursday night, the Broncos had complete control in the second half against No. 5 San Diego State, only to give up a 15-0 run late in the second half and, eventually, lose when Dwayne Polee hit a three with 4.2 seconds left in the game.

Right now, the Broncos are still within striking distance of an at-large bid, but it will take a borderline miracle for it to happen. Five of their last eight games are on the road, and only one of those games will come against a team ranked higher than 93 in the RPI. They’ll probably need to win out — and then pull off an upset in the conference tournament — if they want to go dancing.

Beating SDSU and UNLV wouldn’t have locked up a bid, but it would have put the Broncos in a position where an at-large was likely, not a prayer.

THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION:

  • Tennessee (RPI: 49, KenPom: 24) seems determined to keep themselves in the bubble conversation this season, losing to Vanderbilt by four on the road last night. The Vols are probably in as of today, but Tuesday at home against Florida is huge.
  • Minnesota (RPI: 40, KenPom: 41) was a lock to dance ten days ago. Since their win over Wisconsin at home, they’ve lost to Nebraska, Northwestern and, on Wednesday, Purdue.
  • Florida State (RPI: 40, KenPom: 27) is much better than they were a season ago. They have no terrible losses, but they’re also without a good win in the ACC. North Carolina, at Pitt and Syracuse are three of their last five games.
  • Stanford (RPI: 37, KenPom: 34) beat Cal last night, moving both teams to 6-4 in the Pac-12. Both are firmly in the bubble discussion as well, and while Stanford has better computer numbers, Cal has that glorious win over Arizona.
  • Colorado (RPI: 26, KenPom: 63) bounced back with their second straight win (Washington State) after losing four of five following Spencer Dinwiddie’s injury. But six of their last seven games are against KenPom top 50 teams. They’re in for now, but that could change depending on how their season ends and their record without Dinwiddie.
  • West Virginia (RPI: 69, KenPom: 61) is slowly but surely getting closer to that cutline. The Mountaineers are currently sitting tied for third in the Big 12 with wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma. Seven of their nine losses are to RPI top 50 teams. They have plenty of work left to do — two games against Kansas, two against Iowa State, road trips to Texas and Oklahoma, a home date with Baylor — but Bob Huggins’ team is peaking. Get hot at the right time and who knows.
  • St. Joseph’s (RPI: 53, KenPom: 83) is in the same boat as Boise State. They had a chance to earn a marquee victory on their home floor on Wednesday and lost. The Hawks were clobbered, however, losing 65-49.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.