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Bubble Banter: St. Joseph’s, Xavier, Minnesota celebrate big wins

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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. 

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

Dayton (RPI: 54, KenPom: 64) went to Philly and got worked over by St. Joseph’s (RPI: 38, KenPom: 57) on Tuesday in a key bubble game. Both the Flyers and the Hawks entered the night sitting right around the bubble’s cut line, and that probably’s won’t change much after the 26-point win.

Dayton has a stronger resume than you realize. They have two top 30 wins and are 7-6 against the top 100. Their issue is three losses to teams sitting outside the top 100. The good news? With homes games left against UMass and Richmond and a road trip to a Saint Louis team that will have already clinched a league title, Archie Miller’s club has three chances to earn quality wins that will put them on the right side of the bubble.

The Hawks have a fairly similar profile. The win over Dayton moved St. Joe’s to 6-6 against the top 100, which includes top 25 wins against UMass and VCU. They only have two losses to teams outside the top 50, against LSU and at Temple, which is a bad loss on paper but doesn’t look as awful when you factor in the fact that it was a rivalry game.

Phil Martelli’s club has three more games against top 100 competition, heading to St. Bonaventure and GW while hosting La Salle. They probably need to win two of the three and avoid a loss in their first game in the Atlantic 10 tournament to truly feel comfortable.

THE REST OF TUESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

  • Minnesota (RPI: 48, KenPom: 49) picked up a huge win, knocking off Iowa at home. It’s their fourth top 50 win and sixth top 100 win. The Gophers are still sitting right around the cutline, but a win at Michigan on Saturday would change that.
  • Xavier (RPI: 60, KenPom: 44) beat St. John’s (RPI: 52, KenPom: 37) in a game between Big East bubblers. It was a huge win for Xavier, who is now 7-7 against the top 100. They have just one top 50 win (Cincinnati), but they get home games against Creighton and Villanova still. The Johnnies are in a bit of a tougher spot. They’re 5-9 against the top 100, and while the win over Creighton is nice, they missed out on chances to improve their resume the last week. They cannot afford a loss to Marquette or DePaul.
  • Missouri (RPI: 45, KenPom: 61) is in a tough spot after a loss at Georgia. The Tigers were already sitting close to the bubble’s cutline, and another loss to a team with an RPI outside the top 65 — their seventh — certainly doesn’t help. They do have eight top 100 wins, but only one top 50 win. The Tigers cannot afford another loss before the league tournament.
  • Georgia (RPI: 88, KenPom: 81) is still a long way from being on the bubble even after Tuesday’s win over Missouri but … they can dream, right? Win out, which would include roadies against Arkansas and LSU, and make the finals of the SEC tournament — which would include a win over Kentucky or Florida — and who knows? No one else seems to want to win their way in.
  • Kansas State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 43) avoided what would have been a damaging loss at Texas Tech with a late rally. It’s their second Big 12 road win, although both have come against the bottom two teams in the conference.
  • Clemson (RPI: 67, KenPom: 47), barring some kind of miracle, is done after losing at Wake Forest.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.