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Bubble Banter: Monster day for teams on the cutline

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There are three 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.

(This post will update throughout the day)

WINNERS

Pitt: Pitt got the big win that they needed, knocking off North Carolina in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. That is easily the Panthers’ best win on the season and just their second top 50 win. With a 7-8 record against the top 100 and just two losses to teams outside the top 25, Jamie Dixon’s club should feel pretty good regardless of what happens on Saturday.

VIDEO: Watch the Atlantic 10’s top seed fall at the buzzer.

St. Joseph’s: In what probably amounted to a play-in game in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, Langston Galloway hit a step-back three with ten seconds left and the Hawks knocked off Dayton 71-67. It’s the Haws’ fifth top 50 win, moving them to 8-8 against the top 100 with a low-40s RPI and just a single sub-100 loss. Phil Martelli’s club should be safe right now.

Tennessee: The Vols did what Arkansas couldn’t: avoid a resume-killing loss by beating South Carolina. Tennessee will advance to take on Florida in the SEC semifinals. A win there would lock up a bid. A loss, however, and things get dicey. Tennessee is 7-7 against the top 100 with a 35-point win over Virginia, but they also now have four sub-100 losses thanks to UTEP’s slide. I think they’ll be OK with a loss to Florida, but a win would certainly makes things easier.

Providence: The Friars entered the day as one of a handful of teams sitting on the bubble’s cutline, which means that they simply could not afford losing to Seton Hall in the Big East semifinals. They beat the Pirates, but since Seton Hall has had a massively disappointing season, it’s a win that does nothing for the Providence resume. If they don’t win the automatic bid on Saturday night in the Big East title game, they are going to be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

N.C. State: It’s been a while since N.C. State was actually in the bubble conversation, but after they beat Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals, we have to put them there. The Wolfpack still have some work to do, and it starts with hoping that Duke beats Clemson and then taking out the Blue Devils on Saturday night. If that happens, than we can take a closer look at where Mark Gottfried’s boys stand.

LOSERS

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers blew an 18-point lead and lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday, putting themselves in a position where Selection Sunday is going to be a stressful affair. They have four top 50 wins — including Wisconsin and Michigan State on the road — and an 8-9 record against the top 100, but with three sub-100 losses and 3-10 record on the road, Nebraska is anything but safe. They may end up being a First Four team.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers were on the outside looking in entering Friday, according to our Dave Ommen, and they got run off the floor by Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Minnesota will still have an outside chance of getting some good news on Selection Sunday, but as of right now things don’t look promising.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles resume was largely built around the fact that they have a great RPI. But with just one top 50 win and only a 3-4 record against the top 100 after a loss to Louisiana Tech on Friday, USM is out of the conversation.

Dayton: The Flyers were on the wrong end of a close call in a loss to St. Joe’s in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, but that’s not the kind of loss that will hurt their resume all that much. Dayton was a No. 10 seed entering the day in our latest bracket. The Flyers have four top 30 wins, a 10-7 record against the top 100 and an RPI of 39. Even with three sub-100 losses, the Flyers should be OK on Sunday, but they may be headed for a home game in Dayton in the First Four.

Xavier: The Musketeers had a chance to lock up a bid to the tournament on Friday when they squared off with Creighton in the Big East semifinals, but the Musketeers couldn’t come through. The good news? The Musketeers put themselves in a good enough spot that they should be able to survive the loss thanks to the fact that so many of the other teams below them lost on Friday as well. Xavier is 9-9 against the top 100 with a pair of elite wins over Cincinnati and Creighton, which should be enough to survive losses to three sub-100 teams.

Florida State: The Seminoles lost to Virginia in the first ACC quarterfinal of the day, putting them in a precarious situation when it comes to earning an at-large bid. The loss certainly doesn’t hurt their resume, but the issue is that they may not have done enough to get into the dance in the first place. As of this morning, our Dave Ommen had Florida State as the last team in the dance, and most other bubble projections place the Seminoles squarely on the bubble’s cutline. The problem? A number of other teams on the cutline are still playing in their league tournaments. Providence, Minnesota, Tennessee, Dayton, Saint Joseph’s. Florida State has an RPI in the low-50s, a 3-9 record against the top 50 and six top 100 wins. Will that be enough?

Missouri: The Tigers got smoked in the second half by Florida, as the Gators closed out a 72-49 win with a 34-13 surge. The Tigers are now in the same spot as Florida State. A loss to Florida doesn’t destroy their resume, but it doesn’t improve it, either. And as of this morning, the Tigers were on the wrong side of the cutline, according to Dave Ommen. They have just two top 50 wins and a 7-9 record against the top 100 with a pair of sub-100 losses on their resume as well. Will that be enough? I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that.

You Make The Call: Did Tyler Roberson set an illegal screen?

SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 28:  Tyler Roberson #21 of the Syracuse Orange dunks the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half at the Carrier Dome on January 28, 2017 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
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Syracuse was unable to cap off a thrilling comeback on Sunday night due, in large part, to the fact that Tyler Roberson was called for an illegal screen with 16 seconds left in the game and the Orange down just two points.

They had gone on a 20-9 run in the previous four minutes to close the deficit, and had gotten a stop in order to get the ball on that possession.

But here’s the thing: The call was, to put it politely, controversial. I don’t think that Tyler Roberson committed a foul here.

You make the call:

The loss put the Orange in a bad spot with just two weeks left before the end of the regular season. We go all the way through their at-large profile here.

Bubble Banter: Let’s talk about Syracuse, Georgetown and Georgia Tech

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Tyus Battle #25 of the Syracuse Orange during their game at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here. This is where the seeds you see listed below come from.

This post will be updated throughout the night. 

LOSERS

Georgetown (RPI: 61, KenPom: 53, first four out): The Hoyas missed a golden opportunity to add an elite road win to their profile, losing at Creighton by 17 points, and now I think we’re just about to a point where we can write the Hoyas off. They’re sitting at 14-13 on the season and 5-9 in the Big East. The win over Oregon on a neutral, at Butler and over Creighton at home got them back into the picture, but three losses in their last four games will probably be too much to overcome.

That said, I’m going to keep listing them here because I think that if they can win out – DePaul, at St. John’s, at Seton Hall, Villanova – they’ll have an argument. In the early bracket reveal, the committee made clear that they value good wins over anything, which is why Gonzaga was rated as the fourth No. 1 seed despite having fewer losses than any of the other No. 1 seeds. There aren’t many teams that would be able to match Georgetown win for win in they win out.

Syracuse (RPI: 77, KenPom: 46, No. 10 seed): The Orange lost to Georgia Tech on Sunday, so let’s talk about Syracuse, because they are on track to enter Selection Sunday with one of the weirder profiles. The bad first: they lost to a bad, injury-depleted UConn team at the Garden. They were blown out at Boston College. They were blown out by St. John’s at home by 33 points. There is no high-major team with that collection of awful losses to their name, and it doesn’t help that Jim Boeheim’s club has nine more losses to add to the mix.

They also have some good wins – Virginia, Florida State, Wake Forest, Miami – but they’ve only won two games away from the Carrier Dome: at Clemson, who is 4-10 in the ACC, and at N.C. State, who fired their coach three days ago. With FSU and UVA careening – combined, they’ve lost five straight games – neither of those games look at good as they did two weeks ago. So after today, for my money, Syracuse is out. That can change, however. They get Duke at home this week and Louisville on the road this weekend. Those are season-changers.

WINNERS

Georgia Tech (RPI: 79, KenPom: 78, first four out): The Yellow Jackets have a very similar profile to that of Syracuse, who they beat at home on Sunday. They have wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame, but they also won at VCU – which is now a top 30 road win – and their worst loss came against an Ohio team that looked like they could win the MAC before their best player went down with a season-ending injury. Their problem? Their non-conference strength of schedule is 244th, and that RPI is dreadfully low for an at-large contender.

Michigan (RPI: 52, KenPom: 27, No. 10 seed): The Wolverines lost an overtime game on the road to Minnesota, which is not the kind of loss that is really going to hurt their profile beyond the opportunity cost of it. The Wolverines are still in a good spot.

Valparaiso (RPI: 74, KenPom: 97, No. 12 seed): Valpo is in as a No. 12 seed in our bracket, but they are in as an automatic bid, meaning that there are no at-large teams rated below them. Being the best automatic bid does not guarantee that they’ll be in as an at-large, not when their best win is a Rhode Island team that is fading and they’ve lost four games to sub-100 competition. Win that auto-bid.

Illinois State (RPI: 35, KenPom: 49, No. 12 seed): Illinois State beat Loyola (IL) on Sunday to keep themselves alive for a potential at-large bid should they lose in the Missouri Valley tournament. Their profile, however, is quite different than that of Wichita State. Their only top 50 win is a Wichita State team whose only top 50 win is … Illinois State. They have also lost to San Francisco, Tulsa and Murray State, who is 239th in the RPI. Pro-tip: Don’t risk it, even with the weak bubble. The committee is going to value wins over a lack of losses.

 

VIDEO: Valparaiso’s Micah Bradford makes 3/4 court shot off the shot clock

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Valparaiso freshman Micah Bradford made one of the most ridiculous shots we’ll see all season on Sunday against Detroit.

With time winding down in the first half, Bradford hoisted a 3/4 court buzzer-beater and watched as it hit the shot clock, flew high in the air, hit the rim and dropped through the hoop to the disbelief of everyone in attendance.

Unfortunately, Bradford’s wacky three-pointer did not count as he finished with five points in a 20-point Valpo win.

(H/t: Eric Fawcett)

Michigan State senior Eron Harris to have season-ending knee surgery

Michigan State's Eron Harris (14) shoots against Wisconsin's Jordan Hill (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
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Michigan State senior guard Eron Harris will undergo season-ending surgery on his knee after leaving Saturday’s loss at Purdue on a stretcher, the school announced on Sunday.

The 6-foot-3 fifth-year senior suffered the right knee injury during Michigan State’s loss at Purdue on Saturday as the unsettling injury resulted in some Michigan State players being brought to tears. Harris is a native of Indianapolis and received a standing ovation from the road crowd at Purdue as he was taken off the floor.

“We all feel absolutely awful for Eron,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in the release. “As I said last night, I couldn’t ask for more than what Eron has given me and this program. Over the last month he’s grown even more as a leader and been an example to his young teammates. And maybe I didn’t even fully grasp it until I walked on the court and saw the admiration his teammates had for him and the tears in their eyes. There’s no faking the respect they have for Eron as a man, as a player, and most importantly a teammate.

“It’s cruel to see a senior’s career end this way. If there is a silver lining, it’s that we expect Eron to be able to make a full recovery and pursue a basketball career after graduation. He’s always worked for everything he’s accomplished on the court, and that same passion and mindset will serve him well in his recovery. Basketball is important to all players, but for Eron it was a way of life. Very few have spent more time in this facility or worked harder than Eron has. That’s why I’m confident his best basketball is still in front of him.”

Although Harris was never able to recreate his awesome sophomore season at West Virginia after his transfer to Michigan State, losing him still hurts this Spartans team because he’s one of the team’s veterans and, at times, a capable scorer. Harris averaged 10.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game as a senior while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three-point range.

The injury bug has hit Michigan State pretty hard this season as they’ve also lost Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling to season-ending injuries.

No. 11 Wisconsin takes down No. 23 Maryland

MADISON, WI - FEBRUARY 19:  Ethan Happ #22 of the Wisconsin Badgers works against Michal Cekovsky #15 of the Maryland Terrapins during the first half of a game at the Kohl Center on February 19, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Wisconsin snapped a two-game losing streak with a 71-60 Big Ten home win over No. 23 Maryland on Sunday. With senior guard Bronson Koenig returning to the rotation after missing the Michigan loss with injury, the No. 11 Badgers looked more like themselves for the first time in the last few games.

Here are some takeaways from this one.

1. This was an ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly game (just the way Wisconsin wanted)

Sorry to make you read the word “ugly” four times but I felt it was completely necessary to hammer home the point that this basketball game was not a pleasant viewing experience (and this has nothing to do with pace or style of play).

Wisconsin only shot 41 percent from the field, 16 percent from three-point range and 54 percent from the free-throw line and still won by double digits because they were the older and more physical team. While the Terps were able to hang in the game until the final five minutes or so because of junior guard Melo Trimble’s scoring punch, a younger Maryland team was physically dominated by Wisconsin for most of the game.

The Badgers owned the glass (44 to 27), got to the free-throw line 37 times and did a nice job of getting Maryland’s bigs into foul trouble.

Even though Wisconsin couldn’t generate a lot of consistent offense, they had enough from guys like Nigel Hayes (19 points) and Ethan Happ (20 points) to feel comfortable once they built a bit of a cushion. Wisconsin winning ugly isn’t any sort of new phenomenon, but it does bode well for the Badgers that they handled Maryland this easily despite such a poor shooting game.

2. Maryland needs even more help for Melo to be elite

Maryland has been able to stay in the top 25 this season because junior Melo Trimble has had a lot of help from a talented freshman class. Anthony Cowan has given the Terps another attacking guard, Kevin Huerter is one of the Big Ten’s better all-around freshmen and Justin Jackson has given Maryland a nice dose of athleticism.

Those three freshmen had a game to forget in Madison on Sunday. While Trimble went for 27 points, those three freshmen went a combined 3-for-15 from the field as they just didn’t show up to play during a very important game for conference implications.

Freshmen are going to have off games but this was the biggest game of Maryland’s season and they didn’t look ready to play.

Looking to fire up his team in the second half, head coach Mark Turgeon even went on the floor during a Wisconsin possession and basically forced the officials to whistle him for a technical foul. Even after trying to rally his team with that tech, the Terps didn’t fair much better.

It is also concerning that center Michael Cekovsky went down with an ankle injury in the second half. Cekovsky grabbed his ankle and left the game — looking noticeably frustrated on the bench — and that could be something to watch for Maryland in these final few weeks. Although Cekovsky is only a reserve big man, his 10-point showing on Sunday was one of his best games since returning from injury as he was just starting to look more comfortable.

Losing Cekovsky could hurt, but thankfully for Maryland, the remaining schedule isn’t too daunting. Three of four games come at home and the only road game comes at Rutgers. Even with Sunday’s lackluster effort, Maryland can stay in the Big Ten race if they continue to win.