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

Leave a comment

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.

Albany suspends coaches 1 game for recruiting violation

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — University at Albany men’s basketball coach Will Brown and associate head coach John Iati have been suspended for one game for an NCAA recruiting violation.

The school said Iati would serve his suspension Friday night against Yale, and Brown will miss Monday’s game against Oneonta.

The Level III violation occurred when Iati staged the national letter of intent signing ceremony of a prospective student-athlete. The recruit and his family were photographed wearing team-issued apparel.

The university said the violation was reported to the NCAA.

VIDEO: Colorado’s McKinley Wright gets a friendly bounce with buzzer-beater to beat Quinnipiac

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The iron was kind to Colorado’s McKinley Wright, as he was able to get a game-winning three at the buzzer to drop as the Buffaloes avoided an embarrassing loss to Quinnipiac in the opener of the Paradise Jam:

https://twitter.com/FloHoops/status/931690797992472576/video/1

Colorado was down by as many as 13 points in the second half, using a 23-9 run to close the game and escape with the 70-69 win.

Guy’s 29 lead Virginia past VCU, 76-67

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy was never hesitant when Virginia needed a basket, and because he wasn’t, the Cavaliers were able to hold off VCU, 76-67 on Friday.

Guy scored a career-best 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes after the Rams closed to within three, bringing roars from a soldout crowd at the Seigel Center. The first 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 66-60 lead, and the next one pushed it to 74-67 with just 41 seconds remaining.

“It was a blast,” Guy said. “This is one of the better environments I’ve played in.”

The Cavaliers won by taking care of the ball, committing only five turnovers, and by cashing in on VCU’s mistakes. The Rams turned the ball over a dozen times, and Virginia outscored them 16-2 off turnovers and 18-0 on fast break points. Those advantages helped them overcome a 36-26 rebounding disadvantage.

The Cavaliers (3-0) also made 10 3-pointers, with Guy accounting for half of them.

“Any time you’ve got a guy like that, get him going early and he becomes a buzz-saw,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said of Guy.

“We got some good looks and then Kyle put on a heck of a shooting clinic with the shots he was making,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes after VCU (2-1) closed to within 68-64 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

After Guy made it 66-60 with 2:55 to play, Issac Vann scored made it 66-62 with a driving basket, but Guy hit a pair of free throws and, after a driving basket by Williams, Jerome followed with his third 3-pointer of the game. Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

“If you told me 48 hours ago, three days ago, four days ago it would be a 2-minute game, one-possession game, 2 minutes, I would have taken it,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “… I want this to sting for about an hour. Make it hurt for an hour and let’s use this and get better.”

The Rams left after the game for Hawaii and the Maui Invitational.

“It’s a tough loss, a learning experience and we’ve got more basketball coming up this week,” Vann said.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU’s pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 16-2 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26. VCU had 10 offensive rebounds, but just six second-chance points.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter. They cam,e into the game forcing an average of 14 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Pro golfer, Wisconsin fan Steve Stricker does not like J.P. Macura

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wisconsin resident, Badger fan and pro golfer Steve Stricker was not happy after UW lost to Xavier on Thursday night.

For starters, his team lost.

That sucks.

Then J.P. Macura went and rubbed it in everyone’s face, doing the Gator Chomp at the student section after he threw down an alley-oop with less than a minute left:

Stricker was not having any of it:

Me?

I loved it.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that Wisconsin’s entire student section spent the game telling Macura that he’s an a****** had something to do with his reaction.

Also … how many middle fingers do you see in this picture?

Thank you Badger fans. What a hostile environment.. I appreciate the love

A post shared by Jp Macura (@jpmacura) on

Lonnie Walker hurt as No. 11 Hurricanes beat A&M 90-59

Eric Espada/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker IV twisted his left ankle Thursday night, and coach Jim Larranaga was sore himself after the latest lopsided win by the 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Larranaga said Walker wasn’t seriously hurt, and the coach seemed more concerned about his team’s effort and focus in a 90-59 victory over Florida A&M.

“I didn’t think we were very good from start to finish,” Larranaga said. “We need to play a whole lot harder, and better defensively. We looked sluggish. I told the team I was extremely disappointed in our effort.”

Walker was assisted to the locker room in the first half after stepping on another player. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play La Salle next Wednesday in Walker’s hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.

“We won’t know for a couple of days, but I think he’s fine,” Larranaga said.

Is he likely to play in the next game?

“Oh, he’s going to play in Reading,” Larranaga said.