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Bubble Banter: The theme of the night was missed opportunity

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Georgia (RPI: 51, KenPom: 52, bubble): The Bulldogs desperately needed a marquee win, and all the stars were aligned for them to get it on Tuesday night. Kentucky, playing at home, was coming off of a two-game losing streak and playing without De’Aaron Fox, who reportedly had the worst of a stomach bug that had spread through the team. Then the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first six minutes, and this thing looked like it was going to go their way.

But alas, Malik Monk went bananas, Isaiah Briscoe had one of his best games as a Wildcats and Kentucky, in the end, pulled out the win. It was a massive missed opportunity for the Bulldogs, which was a common theme on Tuesday night on the bubble.

Pitt (RPI: 58, KenPom: 86, next four out): The Panthers are very much on the outside looking in right now, and they missed a golden opportunity to vault themselves past some other teams on the bubble. Pitt had a shot to beat North Carolina at the buzzer in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night and couldn’t capitalize.

Iowa State (RPI: 44, KenPom: 26, No. 9 seed): The Cyclones had a chance to solidify their tournament status and improve their seeding with No. 7 West Virginia, a team that has struggled on the road this season, coming to town. It went to waste in a double-digit loss.

Illinois (RPI: 50, KenPom: 67, next four out): Like Pitt and Iowa State, the Illini missed a great opportunity to land a marquee win with a home game against No. 15 Wisconsin. John Groce’s club is running out of chances to get themselves off of the bubble.

Auburn (RPI: 56, KenPom: 77, bubble): It was probably generous to put Auburn in bubble consideration. Losing at home to Tennessee doesn’t help.


Tennessee (RPI: 41, KenPom: 38, next four out): The Vols backed up their wins over Kentucky and Kansas State last week by adding a road win over Auburn on Tuesday night. The Vols are now 12-9 on the season and 4-4 in the SEC. They probably needed to get to 11-7 in the league to really have a chance, but it’s certainly doable. As we know, the SEC isn’t exactly loaded with title contenders.

Georgetown (RPI: 54, KenPom: 55, bubble): Georgetown put themselves back into the bubble picture after beating No. 22 Creighton and winning at No. 16 Butler last week. They backed that up by going into Chicago and knocking off DePaul, a win that matters in that it’s not a loss on the Hoya résumé. Georgetown still has work left to do, but with wins over Oregon (neutral), Butler (road) and Creighton (home), they have three wins that most bubble teams can only dream of having.

Dayton (RPI: 33, KenPom: 36, No. 8 seed): The Flyers avoided doing what VCU did earlier this month – losing at Fordham – and kept themselves comfortably on the right side of the bubble.

Wake Forest (RPI: 29, KenPom: 34, play-in game): The Demon Deacons played with fire, blowing a big lead and finding themselves behind Boston College in the second half, but they were able to pull out a road win over a team that is not all that good. Wake Forest is in a spot right now where they don’t really have the margin for error to drop a game like this.

Rhode Island (RPI: 48, KenPom: 48, bubble): The Rams are in a tough spot right now, playing in an Atlantic 10 that doesn’t have a lot of quality wins available. They picked up a win they needed tonight, knocking off George Washington at home.



VIDEO: LaVar Ball gets female ref replaced after threatening to pull team from court

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A female referee was removed from a Big Ballers game after LaVar Ball threatened to pull his team from the court for the second time in a week.

The referee called Ball for a technical foul, which sparked the confrontation, but both Ball and an adidas rep told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that the reason the ref was pulled was because she and Ball had a previous issue:

Before the game was over, Ball would receive a second technical foul and the game was eventually called with two minutes left and Big Ballers losing by 10.

Western Kentucky’s five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson has left campus

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The soap opera that has been Mitchell Robinson’s tenure at Western Kentucky took another on Friday, as the five-star center and top ten prospect in the Class of 2017 has reportedly left campus.

Robinson was a massive coup for Rick Stansbury when he committed to and signed for the Hilltoppers, but it has been non-stop drama since then. Less than two weeks after his commitment, Robinson tweeted that he would be decommitting from WKU before immediately deleting the tweet and claiming that his account was hacked. Robinson did not attend the first session of summer school on campus, and he was in class in the second summer school session and reportedly practicing with the team this month for a trip to Costa Rica, but he cleaned out his dorm room and left the campus last night.

Part of the reason that Robinson opted to go to Western Kentucky was that his godfather, former UNC star Shammond Williams, was an assistant coach on the staff. Williams left the program on July 3rd, and ever since then there have been questions surrounding where Robinson will play this season. There have been rumors that he will be heading overseas for a year before entering the 2018 NBA Draft, and there is also the potential that Robinson could end up transferring to a different college.

The question, however, is whether or not Robinson will be able to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year since he enrolled in summer school.

Robinson is a 7-foot center and a terrific defensive prospect that is projected as a first round pick next year. If he does get a waiver to transfer, he immediately becomes the best available talent on the market, along with Marvin Bagley III, who is considering reclassifying.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.