Pitt v Syracuse

Bubble Banter: Just how close is Pitt to the bubble?

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There are 18 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.

Pitt (RPI: 45, KenPom: 18) beat Boston College on Wednesday night. Not all that convincingly, but they won, which is more than we can say about the Panthers in recent weeks. Pitt had lost three straight games and five of their last seven. The only wins? In overtime at Miami and in double-overtime against Virginia Tech at home.

Suffice to say, Jamie Dixon’s club hasn’t been blowing people away.

So here’s where Pitt stands as of today. They have one top 50 wins, which came against Stanford on a neutral court. They have five more top 100 wins, none of which came against teams that are going to be in the NCAA tournament without a miracle. Six of their seven losses came against RPI top 20 teams, with the other coming to Florida State at home over the weekend.

In simpler terms, Pitt’s entire resume is built around the fact that they don’t have anything truly awful on their resume. They’re a No. 9 seed in our latest bracket, which means they have some wiggle room. But they won’t have a chance to land a marquee win until the ACC tournament, meaning that a loss at Notre Dame, against N.C. State at home or at Clemson would really hurt.

As crazy as it sounds, Pitt probably needs to lose two more regular season games to enter the ACC tournament on the wrong side of the bubble. That’s incredible for a team that has three single-digit wins over the dregs of the ACC since January 25th.



  • Arizona State (RPI: 32, KenPom: 37) played their way into the dance with a win over Arizona two weeks ago, but road losses to Utah and Colorado put them in a position where their margin of error was getting thinner. A beatdown of Cal is a good way to right the ship.
  • LSU (RPI: 68, KenPom: 62) beat Texas A&M on Wednesday, a loss they couldn’t afford to take. On Saturday, they visit Florida. That’s a win the Tigers have to get to remain in contention.
  • Tennessee (RPI: 56, KenPom: 26) had lost four of their last six, but reversed that trend with a win at Mississippi State. The Vols are currently sitting right on the cut line, and with just one top 50 opponent left, any loss would be a massive blow.


  • Richmond (RPI: 46, KenPom: 70) got blown out by George Mason. The Spiders are now on the wrong side of the cut line. This is the worst timing to take a sub-150 loss.
  • Nebraska (RPI: 47, KenPom: 57) had their five game winning streak snapped at Illinois on Wednesday. It’s not a killer blow — road losses to top 100 opponents aren’t horrible — but the Huskers had a slim margin of error. They probably can’t afford another loss.
  • Cal (RPI: 52, KenPom: 55) missed an opportunity when they lost at Arizona on Wednesday. They are 6-8 against the top 100 with three top 50 wins — including Arizona — and two sub-100 losses. They’re at Arizona this weekend and host the mountain schools next week.
  • Baylor (RPI: 40, KenPom: 41) lost at Texas, which isn’t a crushing blow. They had played their way out of the First Four prior to Wednesday. Five top 50 wins are nice. A chance to pick off Iowa State and Kansas State on the road are as well.
  • Stanford (RPI: 42, KenPom: 33) lost at Arizona State on Wednesday, which isn’t a brutal blow. They’re probably still comfortably in the tournament. Four top 50 wins, a 6-9 record against the top 100 and no sub-100 losses is a lot better than some other bubble teams.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?