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 NBCSports.com’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.

THE REST OF MONDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION:

Winners:

  • 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.

Losers:

  • 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.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.