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.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.

Oakland’s Greg Kampe hosting charity golf event with big-name coaches

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Oakland head coach Greg Kampe hosted a successful charity event for cancer research two years ago by allowing people to bid online to play a round of golf with some of college basketball’s best coaches.

Kampe is back again this year as he’s hoping to eventually raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

According to a report from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Kampe has 11 high-profile names that fans can play with this year.

  • Tom Izzo, Michigan State
  • Frank Martin, South Carolina
  • Rick Barnes, Tennessee
  • Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
  • Chris Holtmann, Butler
  • Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
  • Greg Kampe, Oakland
  • Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
  • Steve Lavin
  • Fran Fraschilla
  • Bill Raftery

Fans can find more details about the auctions and all of the details here.

The minimum bid is $15,000 per coach. A “buy now” bid of $24,000 is also available.

Each round includes the following, according to the event’s website:

Up for auction will be 11 spectacular packages, featuring a private dinner with elite basketball coaches and VIPs, a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, June 4, and an afternoon of golf on Monday, June 5 at Oakland Hills Country Club on the South Course. The winning bidders and their two guests will round out the foursomes with their selected VIP: Rick Barnes, Mick Cronin, Fran Fraschilla, Chris Holtmann, Tom Izzo, Greg Kampe, Steve Lavin, Frank Martin, Bill Raftery, Stan Van Gundy, or Kevin Willard.

There are a lot of great selections to choose from for this sort of thing, but I can’t imagine a better afternoon than playing golf with Bill Raftery and a few friends. There are some other tempting choices on this list, but that’s the one I would have to jump at.

If you think 137 players declaring for the draft is stupid, you’re probably stupid

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The NBA Draft’s full early entry list came out on Tuesday afternoon, and there were 137 underclassmen listed on it.

137.

For 60 spots in the NBA Draft, only 30 of which guarantee you a contract in the NBA.

And that’s before you factor in the 45 international players that also declared for the NBA Draft, as well as the crop of seniors — Josh Hart, Monte’ Morris, Jaron Blossomgame, Alec Peters — that are going to end up hearing their names called. All told, there are going to be roughly 200 players competing to be one of the 60 people that end up getting drafted on June 22nd, and you don’t have to be any good at math to realize that 200 is a much, much bigger number than 60.

This unleashed a torrent of bad takes on the decision of these players.

And bad may not be doing those takes justice.

Because the bottom-line is this: You cannot paint the decision on whether or not to go pro with a broad brush.

For some players, making money of any kind is something they need to do to support their family, whether it’s what they’ll get with a first round guarantee, the $75-100,000 they’ll get for making a training camp roster to subsidize their time in the D-League while teams develop them or the money they can make in the D-League or overseas. You don’t know what their financial situation is. Maximizing their ability to capitalize on every available dollar they can make off of their athletic gifts may be more important than working towards a degree.

And it’s worth noting here that a guaranteed contract isn’t the only way to make a living in professional basketball. To say nothing of the money that can be made overseas or the number of second round picks and undrafted players that make guaranteed money — which is more than you probably realize — it needs to be noted that D-League salaries are getting a bump this year with the new CBA.

The NBA has also instituted something new called a “two-way contract”. Without getting into the legalese, it’s essentially a retainer worth well into the six figures that they will be able to give to two players that will allow them to retain that player under contract while sending them between the D-League and the NBA roster. In a sense, it creates an extra 60 NBA roster spots for players that have 0-3 years worth of professional basketball on their résumé.

Some players are simply declaring without signing with an agent because they want to get feedback directly from NBA personnel on what their professional prospects. Some will hear that they need to return to school to work on their body, or work on their jumper, or mature as a person to be able to handle everything that comes with being a professional. Others will be told they’re going to make a lot of money by staying in the draft, or that they need to go back to school because, frankly, they are not professional basketball players. Not getting invited to the NBA combine is a pretty good indication of where you stand in the eyes of NBA teams.

Still other players are putting their name into the draft to leave their options open should they be recruited over by the program they are a part of. Take Frank Jackson, for example. If he can return to school and thrive as Duke’s point guard, maybe he turns into a top 20 pick. But what happens if Trevon Duval, the best point guard in the Class of 2017 and a top five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, picks Duke? Would it be in Jackson’s best interest to come back to Duke when he won’t be playing the position that he needs to learn to play to turn himself into a lasting NBA player?

Jackson, like the roughly 100 underclassmen that have declared without an agent, has until May 24th to make his decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. Until then, he can return to school without damaging his eligibility.

The entire reason that the NCAA changed their rules to allow players to test the waters is so that they can make the most important decision of their lives with as much information as humanly possible. This thing exists for the sole purpose of allowing the kids to have as much knowledge about their options as possible.

And that is exactly what these kids are doing.

So the idea that this rule, or players taking advantage of that rule, however high that number may be, is a bad thing is stupid.