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.
Gonzaga: The Zags entered Monday night’s WCC quarterfinal sitting in pretty good position to earn an at-large bid to the Big Dance. Their RPI is in the high-20s, which is terrific, and they had an 8-4 record against the top 100. The problem, however, is that the Zags don’t have a win over a surefire NCAA tournament team. Their only top 50 win came against BYU, who they lost to in Provo, and their best non-conference win came on a neutral court against Arkansas, who might miss out on the NCAA tournament. Throw in a pair of sub-150 losses, and Mark Few’s club probably didn’t want to risk a loss before the final.
On Monday, they knocked off Saint Mary’s for the third time which should be enough to get them into the tournament. Without much in the way of an elite win — and with a number of other bubble teams playing in tournaments where quality wins are readily available — any loss is going to be risky. But BYU is a top 30ish team. That’s not the kind of loss that will be detrimental to a team’s profile.
BYU: Like Gonzaga, BYU advanced to the finals of the WCC tournament, meaning that both the Zags and the Cougars should feel pretty comfortable about their chances of dancing regardless of the outcome of the title game.
Here’s the question: who can better handle a loss? I think the answer, believe it or not, is BYU. Gonzaga has one good win this season. They beat BYU in Spokane. The Cougars not only picked off the Zags in Provo, but they also beat Texas on a neutral court and went into Palo Alto and knocked off Stanford. Their records against the top 100 are similar enough, but the Cougars have four sub-100 losses (Gonzaga only has two), although that number should be made up for by BYU’s top five non-conference SOS.
Summer is the time to refine not only players’ skill sets, but also their bodies. Kansas’ highly-touted freshman duo of Josh Jackson and Udoka Azubuike have fulfilled the latter thanks to the Jayhawks’ strength and conditioning program.
Azubuike has dropped 27 pounds from his 7-foot frame while the wiry Jackson has added 17 pounds, according to the Kansas City Star.
“These guys have goals,” Adrea Hurdy, Kansas’ long-time assistant director for sports information, told The Star. “They come here in part because we have the resources to help them attain their goals.
“They want the challenge and want to become better people, better basketball players and better athletes.”
Only 16 years old, Azubuike arrived in Lawrence having been consistently listed as weighing around 270 pounds throughout his prep career. Getting leaner while still maintaining – and increasing – strength is a significant development for such a young player, who was a consensus top-50 player in the 2016 class.
Jackson, the country’s top rated incoming freshman, now weighs in at slightly over 200 pounds at 6-foot-8. Six-foot-10 forward Carlton Bragg,a sophomore, also got in on the body-changing as he’s put on 26 pounds to head into the fall at 247 pounds.
Kansas is a likely top-five preseason team with returners like Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, and having newcomers like Jackson and Azubuike along with sparsely-used but talented returnees like Bragg making gains in the weight room will only make them more formidable as they look to capture an astounding 13th-straight Big 12 title.
Shaka Smart has added another four-star forward to his 2017 recruiting class.
Texas picked up a commitment Tuesday from 6-foot-8 Jericho Sims of Minnesota, according to multiple reports.
Sims, who visited Texas this past weekend, is ranked in the top-50 by Scout and in the top-75 by ESPN and 247Sports. He joins Royce Hamm, a top-100 forward from Houston, as members Smart’s second recruiting class at Texas.
The commitment represents a significant get for the Longhorns, who beat out the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, Connecticut and Sims’ hometown Gophers, whom his father played basketball for in the 1970s and his brother football more recently.
Sims and Hamm both are players that could help Smart and his staff transition more back to the Havoc style of play Smart employed at VCU as both have the length, speed and athleticism to help the Longhorns dial up the pressure and push tempo.
Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.
Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.
Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.
Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.
The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.
Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.
Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.
A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.
Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.
Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.