Malik Smith, Alex Olah

Bubble Banter: Can Minnesota avoid playing their way out of the tourney?

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There are 30 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. 

You can see NBCSports.com’s latest bracket here.

Minnesota (RPI: 39, KenPom: 39) lost to No. 21 Wisconsin on Thursday night.

The game was played at Wisconsin, and anyone that knows anything about the Kohl Center can tell you that it’s one of the toughest arenas to win in, regardless of what the Badgers’ record is in the building this season.

So losing to Wisconsin at Wisconsin is hardly the kind of loss that is going to hurt Minnesota’s at-large profile.

But all of a sudden, we’re looking at a team that could very well end up below .500 in conference play. They’ve lost four of their last five and five of their last seven games, including a three-game losing streak to Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue. The Gophers do have a couple of good wins — Wisconsin, Ohio State, at Richmond — and their strength of schedule is top five nationally, so they are in pretty good shape.

But here’s the catch: three of their six games remaining are against some of the best teams in the league. They’re at Ohio State, they’ve got Iowa at home and they visit Michigan. With the Florida State and Indiana wins looking less impressive by the day, the Gophers are in a spot where they could end up needing to finish the regular season 4-2 to feel good about their standing heading into the Big Ten tournament.

THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

  • BYU (RPI: 45, KenPom: 53) lost at Pacific on Thursday, their fifth loss to a team with an RPI outside the top 100. That’s … not good. At all. The win at Stanford and over Texas on a neutral court will keep them in the conversation, but losses to Iowa State and at Oregon by a combined six points hurt.
  • Arkansas (RPI: 69, KenPom: 56) is all but out of the at-large picture at this point after they lost to Missouri on Thursday night. They have just six top 150 wins and can’t beat anyone away from Fayetteville. The win over Kentucky is the only thing keeping them relevant.
  • Missouri (RPI: 48, KenPom: 45) got the win that they needed. Rather, they avoided a loss they couldn’t afford. They might not be in the tournament if it started today, and they won’t play Kentucky or Florida unless they meet up in the SEC tournament. That’s a tough spot to be in.
  • Southern Miss (RPI: 36, KenPom: 43) The Golden Eagles have three top 100 wins with their best win coming at North Dakota State. That would have been tough to overcome before losing at UAB by 24 on Thursday.
  • St. John’s (RPI: 61, KenPom: 40) avoided what would have been a costly loss at Seton Hall thanks to a free throw from Chris Obekpa with 2.1 seconds left. The Johnnies have won seven of their last eight games. The win over Creighton looks great, but they might need to win at Villanova if they really want to make a case on Selection Sunday.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.