Bubble Banter: Kansas State’s profile is not as strong as you might think

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There are 23 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. 

This post will be updated throughout the night.

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

Barring some kind of insanity to end the regular season, Kansas State (RPI: 38, KenPom: 38) is going to be in the NCAA tournament. They have six top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins.

But simply looking at the raw numbers doesn’t tell you everything about the Wildcats’ resume. Of those eight top 100 wins, only one game came away from the Octagon of Doom, and that was a “neutral site” game played against Gonzaga in Wichita.

Kansas State is 1-6 on the road in Big 12 play after getting drubbed by Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. The win? At TCU. They also lost to Northern Colorado on the season’s opening night and were beaten by Charlotte and Georgetown (by 27!) in Puerto Rico.

With the state of the bubble this season, no team with six top 50 wins will miss the dance. But don’t be surprised to see Kansas State end up with a lower seed than you would expect.

THE REST OF THURSDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

Winners:

  • Georgetown (RPI: 62, KenPom: 58) was blown out by Seton Hall for the second straight time this past week, which really hurt the Hoyas. They bounced back on Saturday, however, knocking off Xavier and keeping themselves in the conversation. According to our Dave Ommen, they entered the game just on the wrong side of the cut-line.
  • Baylor (RPI: 44, KenPom: 39) won at West Virginia on Saturday, extending their winning streak to four games and have probably gotten themselves into the tournament and maybe even out of the play-in game. They still have to play at Texas and Kansas State and how Iowa State, however.
  • Stanford (RPI: 49, KenPom: 33) picked up a huge win, knocking off UCLA at home on Saturday. The Cardinal are all but in the tournament as of today. Their last four games are tough, however: at the Arizona schools then hosting the mountain schools. As long as they don’t lose all four, they should be in.
  • Oklahoma State (RPI: 47, KenPom: 30) beat Texas Tech at home, which, on paper, isn’t huge. But it snaps a seven-game losing streak and it marked the return of Marcus Smart, who was terrific. If the Pokes are back, they are a tournament team.
  • Clemson (RPI: 70, KenPom: 45) has a win over Duke, which is keeping them in the mix for now. I’m not sure they can withstand another loss, however.
  • Saint Joseph’s (RPI: 40, KenPom: 66) won on the right side of the cutline entering Saturday, and that won’t change after a win over Fordham.
  • Dayton (RPI: 57, KenPom: 57) won by three against Duquesne on Saturday, meaning that the Flyers now have a great chance to make a run at a bid. Their last four games: at Saint Joseph’s, UMass, at Saint Louis, Richmond. They’ll need to win at least two of those games to have a chance.
  • Arkansas (RPI: 69, KenPom: 52) beat Mississippi State, keeping them within striking distance of a bid if they can win at Rupp next week.
  • Richmond (RPI: 45, KenPom: 67) knocked off La Salle at home, keeping their hopes for a bid alive. Their rivalry game with VCU in two weeks may end up being for their at-large lives.
  • BYU (RPI: 37, KenPom: 46) avoided a letdown after knocking off Gonzaga on Thursday by beating Portland. The Cougars have a nice RPI and seven top 100 wins, but they have four sub-100 losses and need to win out to have a real chance.
  • Marquette (RPI: 75, KenPom: 56) keeps their hopes alive win an overtime win at DePaul. But with just a 4-10 record against the top 75 and one win against the top 50, the Golden Eagles are in a tough spot. The good news? Their last four games are against teams in the tournament or on the bubble.

Losers:

  • Tennessee (RPI: 51, KenPom: 24) was one of the last teams in our latest bracket. They would probably feel much more comfortable about their tournament standing if it wasn’t for Antwan Space.
  • Ole Miss (RPI: 76 KenPom: 81) is more or less out of the bubble discussion after losing a hard-fought game against No. 2 Florida at home on Saturday.
  • St. John’s (RPI: 53, KenPom: 29) had a chance to more or less lock up a bid at Villanova, but the Johnnies lost a heart-breaker. They’re one of a handful of teams on the cut-line right now, meaning next week’s visit from Xavier is all the more important.
  • Colorado (RPI: 24, KenPom: 60) was run off the court by Arizona. The Buffs play their last three on the road, and while they have a strong computer profile, the key is how they will be judged without Spencer Dinwiddie. Don’t go 0-fer down the stretch.
  • Minnesota (RPI: 42, KenPom: 49) got run off of the court by Ohio State in the second half and now finds themselves in a position where they have lost six of their last eight games, including ugly losses to Northwestern Purdue and Illinois. Minnesota is right on the cut line as of now.
  • Xavier (RPI: 52, KenPom: 46) The Musketeers were embarrassed by Georgetown in DC on Saturday afternoon. Chris Mack’s club is slowly inching their way towards the cut-line. A trip to NYC to play St. John’s next week is suddenly a huge game. They also still get Creighton and Villanova at home, so chances are there to lock a bid up.
  • West Virginia (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61) is still trying to dig themselves out of a hole, and losing at home to fellow Big 12 bubbler Baylor won’t do them any favors. They probably need to win two of the following: at Iowa State, at Oklahoma, Kansas.

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: