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.
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 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?