Andre Hollins, CJ Carter

Bubble Banter: Minnesota’s loss to Illinois sets them back

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There are 24 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: 43, KenPom: 50) really hurt themselves on Wednesday night, as they lost to Illinois at home by 13 points. The Illini entered the night having lost 10 of their last 11 games.

More than anything, that hurts because the Gophers have a tough three-game stretch coming up: at Ohio State, Iowa, at Michigan. They’ve now lost five of their last seven games, six of their last nine and seven of their last 11. They haven’t won back-to-back games since early January and currently sit at 6-8 in the Big Ten.

They have a strong RPI, however, which is largely boosted by a top five strength of schedule. The win at Richmond is nice, and they have wins over top 15 teams Ohio State and Wisconsin, but if they struggle during these next three games, Richard Pitino’s first season may wind out in the NIT.

THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION:

Winners:

  • Xavier (RPI: 49, KenPom: 39) got past DePaul on Wednesday. A win over Cincinnati probably has them above the rest of the Big East’s bubble teams. They’re at Georgetown and St. John’s next, and still get Creighton and Villanova at home.
  • Saint Joseph’s (RPI: 39, KenPom: 68) is still on the cut-line after hanging on to beat Rhode Island on the road. They have two top 25 wins, but just one top 100 win out of conference. After Fordham this weekend, the Hawks get Dayton, at St. Bonaventure, at GW and La Salle. They’ll have a chance.
  • SMU (RPI: 46, KenPom: 28) has three really good wins — UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati — but they all came at home. Their schedule is fairly weak, and they lost at South Florida and Temple.
  • LSU (RPI: 67, KenPom: 75) avoided disaster by beating Mississippi State at home on Wednesday. They’re 3-2 against the top 50 and 5-6 against the top 100, but they’ve lost to three sub-100 teams. Their best road win? At Texas Tech. They probably need to get Florida or Kentucky on the road to feel safe.
  • Missouri (RPI: 36, KenPom: 47) has one top 25 win (UCLA), but they’re 8-7 against the top 100 and they don’t have any sub-100 losses. They’re probably in as of today, although they might need to win out to feel comfortable.
  • Colorado (RPI: 23, KenPom: 55) picked up a huge win on Wednesday, knocking off Arizona State. Their profile is strong, but this is their first really good win since Spencer Dinwiddie got injured.
  • Oregon (RPI: 38, KenPom: 35) is now 5-8 in the Pac-12 after beating Washington. They’re 8-8 against the top 100, but 1-6 against the top 50 with BYU being the only win. They have no bad losses. A win at UCLA or at home against Arizona would be massive.

Losers:

  • Marquette (RPI: 77, KenPom: 51) is in a tough spot. They’re now 15-11 on the season and 2-9 against the top 50 with just four top 100 wins. They had a chance to get Creighton at home on Wednesday, but they were blown out by the Bluejays. Winning out — which includes at Villanova — may be the only option.
  • Arizona State (RPI: 31, KenPom: 33) is still in a good position after their win over Arizona on Friday, but getting beaten by Colorado certainly didn’t help. Road losses to top 25 teams are anything but a crushing blow, however.
  • Cal (RPI: 50, KenPom: 52) lost to UCLA on Wednesday, putting themselves in a dangerous spot. They have USC at home this weekend and head to the Arizona schools next week. They beat Arizona and won at Stanford and Oregon, but their resume is not strong enough to make them a lock for the tourney.
  • Utah (RPI: 99, KenPom: 42) had a chance to play their way into the bubble conversation, but they lost in overtime to Arizona. That one will hurt.

Kennedy Meeks to return to North Carolina

Kennedy Meeks
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks announced on Wednesday that he would be withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration.

“I’m thankful I had the chance to explore my draft options, but I’m excited about the opportunity to rejoin my teammates and work toward having another outstanding season at UNC,” says Meeks. “I appreciate the support my coaches and teammates gave me during this process as we gathered information about my professional opportunities at this time. The feedback on what I have to work on so that I can have a great senior year, help my team have a great season and be ready to take that next step is invaluable.”

Meeks did not get an invitation to the NBA Draft combine, which is a pretty clear indication that he did not have a real chance to get drafted this year. But the new rule allows him to gather feedback on what he needs to do to improve and get himself into a position where he can land a professional contract after he graduates next season.

As a junior, Meeks battled injury but still managed to average 9.2 points and 5.9 boards.

Louisville students’ lawsuit against escort is dismissed

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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A Louisville judge has dismissed a lawsuit by University of Louisville students filed against Katina Powell that said the escort’s book allegations of sex parties at the men’s basketball players’ dormitory had devalued their education.

Kyle Hornback and three other students sued Powell last fall, saying her book damaged the school’s reputation. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry denied their argument in Friday’s decision but allowed others who joined the suit after being named in the book to file amended complaints that they were falsely accused and defamed.

Powell has said that former Cardinals basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to entertain recruits and players. Several investigations are ongoing including one by Louisville, which self-imposed a postseason ban and reduced scholarships and recruiting opportunities.

Report: Wichita State approaches Mountain West

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A year ago, Wichita State president John Bardo called for the school to study the feasibility of bringing football back to the athletic program.

Apparently the Shockers administration has even grander designs.

Wichita State has approached the Mountain West Conference about membership, according to a report from CBSSports.com.

The Missouri Valley Conference, which has been the Shockers’ home since 1946, is aware of Wichita State’s interest in switching conference affiliation, the report states. The Mountain West would makes sense for the Shockers as the conference currently has an odd-number hoops membership of 11 and would provide them with higher-profile opponents than the Valley. Just twice in conference history has the MWC been a one-bid NCAA tournament team, with last year being the first since 2001 for it to occur. The Shockers are also reportedly eyeing other leagues, like the AAC and Conference USA.

MWC commissioner Craig Thompson told CBS Sports that if Wichita State were to leave the Valley, “it ain’t going to be to us.”

Wichita State, which dropped football in 1986, has seen its basketball profile skyrocket in recent years under Gregg Marshall, who led the Shockers to a Final Four and a 35-0 start to the season in back-to-back years before reaching the Sweet 16 in 2015 and the Round of 32 last year. Marshall now makes more than $3 million per season.

Losing Wichita State would be a considerable blow to the Valley, which already lost perennial power Creighton to the Big East in the last round of realignment. Loyola Chicago, formerly of the Horizon League, filled the Bluejays’ spot.

Michigan’s Chatman transferring

Michigan  guard/forward Kameron Chatman (3) passes against Northwestern during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Kameron Chatman is leaving the Michigan program after two seasons, the school announced Tuesday.

The 6-foot-8 forward will transfer following a sophomore season in which his minutes were halved from his freshman campaign.

“I am incredibly grateful for my two years at Michigan,” Chatman said in a statement released by Michigan. “I would like to thank coach (John) Beilein and his entire staff for taking a chance on a small town kid out of Portland. I know my experience has inspired others as I will take all of my lessons learned to continue my pursuit of becoming the best man and player I can.”

Chatman is now the fourth Wolverine to transfer this spring, as Spike Albrecht (Purdue), Aubrey Dawkins (Central Florida) and Ricky Doyle have already departed. The Wolverines, who still have not announced replacements for assistant coaches LaVall Jordan (Milwaukee) and Bacari Alexander (Detroit), have been active in graduate transfer market as they look to rebuild much of their depth on the perimeter.

Chatman, who was a top-50 recruit out of high school, averaged 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game for Michigan. He made 15 starts as a freshman, but only two as a sophomore.

Gilmore leaving VCU

Will Wade (AP Photo)
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Sophomore forward Michael Gilmore is transferring from VCU, the school announced Tuesday.

Gilmore started 18 games and appeared in 55 total for the Rams, but never carved out more than a marginal role, averaging 11.5 minutes per game as a sophomore after 6.3 his freshman season. He averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game this past year as he saw his role dwindle down the stretch for the Rams.

His departure will take away some interior depth for VCU, but coach Will Wade will still be returning the bulk of the team that tested eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma in the Round of 32 a month ago.

For Gilmore, he’ll likely have plenty of suitors despite the pedestrian numbers he posted over the last two years as 6-foot-10 forwards who have shown the ability to space the floor don’t hit the transfer market with great regularity.He was a consensus four-star recruit in the Class of 2014.