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Bubble Banter: Nebraska’s marquee win, St. Joseph’s problematic loss

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There are eight 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.

Our latest bracket projection can be found here.


Nebraska: The Cornhuskers knocked off No. 9 Wisconsin, picking up a marquee victory that could very well get them into the NCAA tournament. Tim Miles’ crew is now 8-8 against the top 100 with wins over Wisconsin (fifth in the RPI) and Ohio State at home as well as the win at Michigan State. That’s strong, but is it strong enough to overcome three sub-100 losses? Nebraska is the fourth-seed in the Big Ten tournament and should get Ohio State in the quarterfinals. Win that, and they’re in.

MOREBrowse through all of our conference tournament previews

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers won today, knocking off Penn State in their Senior Night, but that doesn’t do much to improve their resume. The 19-12 record can be explained away by a top five strength of schedule. Wins over Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa are nice, but a pair of sub-100 losses and a 3-9 record away from the Barn isn’t. The Gophers get Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. They likely need to win that and beat Wisconsin in the second round to really have a chance.


St. Joseph’s: The Hawks lost at home to La Salle on Sunday, their second straight loss and one that will slide them closer to the wrong side of the bubble’s cutline. The RPI in the mid-30s is nice, and they have four top 50 wins, including top 15 foes UMass and VCU. But they are just 5-8 against the top 100 with a non-conference SOS that checks in at 128th. St. Joe’s is the No. 4 seed in the A-10 tournament, which means that, barring an upset, they’ll lock horns with Dayton in the quarterfinals. That could be a play-in game for a spot in a play-in game.

Florida State: The Seminoles whiffed on a chance to knock off Syracuse on Sunday. They needed the win to get themselves back into the bubble mix. They’re now a longshot to get an at-large bid.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.