Bryce Cotton

Bubble Banter: Providence loses a heart breaker to Villanova

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There are 25 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’s latest bracket here.

If Providence (RPI: 58, KenPom: 56) ends up missing the NCAA tournament this season, they are going to really regret Tuesday’s loss to Villanova. The Friars had a nine-point first half lead, going blow-for-blow with the Wildcats as they took Jay Wright’s club to double-overtime. The Friars at a chance to win at the end of the first overtime and a chance to tie at the end of the second overtime.

Instead, Providence took the loss, and while they still might be in the tournament as of today — they’re right there on the cut line — they would be sitting a lot prettier with a win.

Providence has now lost four of their last five and five of their last seven. They beat Creighton, but their next best win is one of the three fellow Big East bubblers they’ve beaten — St. John’s, Xavier and Georgetown. Here’s the bigger issue: the Friars play three of their last four regular season games on the road, heading to Butler, Seton Hall and Creighton while hosting Marquette.

With the loss to Villanova, Providence probably needs to win at least four more games this season to feel comfortable. That’s not going to be an easy thing to do.



  • George Washington (RPI: 37, KenPom: 39) picked up a big win, knocking off Richmond (RPI: 39) on the road. They’re not 9-6 against the top 100 with wins over Creighton on a neutral court and VCU. They’re in the dance right now, and that won’t change as long as they beat George Mason and Fordham.
  • Tennessee (RPI: 54, KenPom: 44) picked up a surprisingly good win on Tuesday by knocking off Georgia. They’re now 7-9 against the top 100, but have just two top 50 wins, one of which is No. 50 Xavier. The Vols are right there on the cut line, meaning they can’t afford losses at Texas A&M, at Mississippi State, against Vanderbilt or at Auburn. Win those four, and they might be able to survive a loss to Missouri in the finale.
  • Clemson (RPI: 75, KenPom: 51) managed to stay in the conversation with a win over N.C. State on Tuesday, but the only reason they’re there is the win over Duke in January. They’ll have to win out and do some work in the ACC tournament in all likelihood.
  • St. John’s (RPI: 53, KenPom: 34) has played their way right onto the bubble by winning eight of their last nine games, but that doesn’t erase the losses to Penn State or DePaul. The Johnnies have just one top 50 win (Creighton) and are just 5-7 against the top 50. They’re at Villanova on Saturday, which is almost a must-win at this point.


  • Ole Miss (RPI: 66, KenPom: 81) had a chance to play their way into the tournament this week, as they hosted Kentucky and Florida. On Tuesday, they got drubbed by Kentucky. If they don’t beat Florida on Saturday, they’re done. They may be anyone.
  • N.C. State (RPI: 51, KenPom: 77) lost at Clemson on Tuesday. With Tennessee’s recent struggled, the Wolfpack no longer had a top 50 win. They’re 4-9 against the top 100. With games left against Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College, N.C. State may need to win out.
  • Richmond (RPI: 39, KenPom: 67) is missing a couple of key pieces, but Shawndre Jones has been terrific since Cedrick Lindsay went out. But his 25 points weren’t enough to get them a key home win over George Washington on Tuesday.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Syracuse wins Atlantis, Miami gets upset

Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.

Good luck Goodluck: UNLV’s Okonoboh to transfer

Goodluck Okonoboh
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told

The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.

With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.