West Virginia (RPI: 70, KenPom: 47) is shaping up to be one of the most interesting bubble teams this season.
Let’s start with the obvious: the Mountaineers already have ten losses on the season, which is not a good thing when you consider that their best non-conference win is against Williams & Mary, and that just so happens to be their only top-200 non-conference win.
But Bob Huggins has orchestrated a turnaround, as the ‘Eers are now 7-5 in the Big 12 with wins over Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor on the road and, on Monday, a 25 point beatdown of Iowa State, a top ten team in the RPI. Those are good wins. And with eight of their ten losses coming against top 50 opponents, they’re in better shape than you probably think.
The loss to Virginia Tech will hurt, but four of their last six games coming against top 25 opponents, splitting those games — at Texas, at Iowa State, at Oklahoma, Kansas — and beating Baylor and TCU will get them into a position where they have four top 25 wins, five top 50 wins and seven top 100 wins.
Look at some of the teams on the bubble right now. That should be enough.
THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION
Georgetown (RPI: 60, KenPom: 50) is all of a sudden playing like a tournament team, notching their fourth straight win — and their fifth top 100 win — on Monday night over Providence. Four of their last six are on the road and three of their last four are against top 50 opponents.
Providence (RPI: 50, KenPom: 56) lost to Georgetown on Monday, their fourth loss in the last five games. Six top 100 wins are keeping them in the conversation, but the Friars are going to need to turn this thing around quickly.
Florida State (RPI: 52, KenPom: 39) has just two top 50 wins, both of which took place before Christmas. They have just two more top 100 wins and lost to Miami on Monday night.
Maryland (RPI: 50, KenPom: 60) lost to Virginia, which cost them a chance at a top 20 win. What’s worse is that both Providence and Florida State lost as well. Those are Maryland’s two best wins, and entering the day, they were 50th and 52nd in the RPI. Not good.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.