This is how you know when we’re starting to get close to bubble season: Baylor (RPI: 58, KenPom: 55) knocks off TCU on the road, and we talk about it like it’s actually a big deal.
Because it actually kind of is.
I know that Baylor entered Wednesday having lost seven of their last eight games. I get that they’re currently sitting at 3-8 in the Big 12 after beating the Horned Frogs. I agree with anyone that wants to say that the Bears are one of the most disappointing teams in the country. But that doesn’t change the fact that a team with a top ten strength of schedule has wins over Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma State and that they all came away from Waco.
The Bears are still very much in the thick of the bubble race. They have good wins, they only have one bad loss, and they have five more games against top 40 teams. They need to start winning, obviously, but all is not yet lost.
It might have been if they lost to TCU.
But they didn’t.
Which means that Baylor’s bubble has survived another day.
THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION
Indiana (RPI: 74, KenPom: 61) blew a big lead against Penn State. They’ve now beaten Michigan and Wisconsin at home, where they’ve also lost to Northwestern and now the Nittany Lions. With a non-conference resume that’s highlighted by a win over Washington (yuck), the Hoosiers are in some trouble.
George Washington (RPI: 27, KenPom: 37) lost VCU (RPI: 28, KenPom: 24), which inches the Colonials a bit closer to the bubble But a road loss at a league favorite isn’t exactly a bad thing. GW is still in a good position.
LSU (RPI: 59, KenPom: 68) lost to their fourth team outside the top 100 on Wednesday. Wins over Kentucky, Missouri and St. Joseph’s don’t make up for that. The Tigers might need to sneak an upset at Kentucky or at Florida.
Stanford (RPI: 42, KenPom: 34) actually has a better profile than I originally thought. The Cardinal have four top 50 wins, three of which came on the road. They’ve only lost two games to teams outside the top 50 — one of them on Wednesday against Washington — but both of those were on the road to teams with an RPI in the 80s. They can’t afford to drop a game to the likes of USC or Wazzu, but this team is in decent shape.
Richmond (RPI: 44, KenPom: 63) beat Duquesne, which means they’re still hanging tough despite the fact that they are missing two key players in Derrick Williams and Cedrick Lindsay.
Dayton (RPI: 57, KenPom: 56) has beaten Gonzaga, Cal and George Washington. They’ve lost to USC, Rhode Island and Illinois State. That’s the kind of schizophrenic nonsense these bubble resumes are made up of. At least they got their revenge on URI on Wednesday.
Cal (RPI: 50, KenPom: 45) didn’t lose to Washington State. That’s the good news. The bad? They got taken to overtime by the worst team in the conference, which means that the issues they’ve dealt with the last couple of weeks aren’t quite figured out. If it wasn’t for that Justin Cobbs jumper to beat Arizona, they’d be in some serious trouble.
Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.
Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.
Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.
Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.
Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.
O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:
O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.
Is he a one-and-done prospect?
Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.
But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.
Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.
The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.
Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.
That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.
Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.
The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.
The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.
Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools
Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.