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Bubble Banter: Georgetown’s big chance, bubble showdowns in Big 12, Big Ten, ACC

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The latest NBC Sports bracketology can be found here. This is where the seeds listed below are from. 

WINNERS

Syracuse (RPI: 69, KenPom: 47, No. 11 seed): The Orange got a buzzer-beater from Tyus Battle to give them a win over Clemson on the road, the second thrilling road win they’ve picked up in the last week. Once a tournament afterthought, Syracuse is probably in the tournament with some room to spare as of today. They have some terrific wins (Virginia, Florida State) but no bubble team has the trio of horrid losses that Syracuse has.

Rhode Island (RPI: 39, KenPom: 45, first four out): The Rams dodged a landmine on their schedule by knocking off UMass on the road. URI’s only sub-100 loss came on the road to a Richmond team that is barely outside the top 100. As long as they don’t suffer a dumb loss to one of the four sub-100 teams left on their schedule and pick up a win at home against either VCU or Dayton, Danny Hurley should feel pretty good about his NCAA tournament chances.

Michigan (RPI: 79, KenPom: 40, first four out): The Wolverines inched closer to the bubble with a demolition of in-state rival Michigan State. This was a win that the Wolverines absolutely needed. It’s against a fellow bubble team, for one, but the 15-9 Wolverines play five of their last seven games on the road with their two home games coming against Wisconsin and Purdue. That’s a nightmare stretch, but it’s one that can do wonders for Michigan’s résumé if they get hot.

TCU (RPI: 43, KenPom: 32, No. 10 seed): The Horned Frogs landed a nice win over Texas Tech at home, keeping themselves on the right side of the bubble and adding another top 100 win to their profile. If TCU can hold serve at home – Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas State – and avoid a loss at Oklahoma, they’ll be in the tournament.

Dayton (RPI: 33, KenPom: 31, No. 8 seed): I’m not ready to put Dayton as a lock yet for three reasons: 1. Their best win is Rhode Island, and it’s the only top 50 win that they have; 2. They have a loss at UMass, who is 150th in the RPI; 3. There are some potentially disastrous losses left on their schedule. As long as Dayton doesn’t do anything dumb the rest of the year, they should be in a good spot.

Illinois State (RPI: 34, KenPom: 48, No. 12 seed): The Redbirds pasted Drake on the road on Tuesday, but I still think this is a team that is going to be autobid or bust. The Valley, in my eyes, is a one-bid league.

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 23: Rodney Pryor #23 of the Georgetown Hoyas glides to the basket and shoots during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 23, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images). Oklahoma State won the game 97-70.
Rodney Pryor (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

LOSERS

Northwestern (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, No. 7 seed): Here comes Northwestern, inching ever closer back to the bubble. The Wildcats moved to 18-4 on the season and 7-2 in the Big Ten with a win over Indiana last week, and it looked like the Wildcats were ready to slide on into “lock” status in the NCAA tournament. Since then, they’ve been torn apart by Purdue on the road and, on Tuesday, lost to Illinois at home, and suddenly, that profile doesn’t look so strong. They have a win over Wake Forest at home, and Wake Forest is somehow a top 30 RPI win. I don’t know if that will last. A neutral court win over Dayton seems like it has some staying power, and Northwestern still doesn’t have a bad loss to their name. But with a trip to Wisconsin this weekend and a visit from Maryland next Wednesday, we’re going to have a really good sense of what this team is in the next week.

Clemson (RPI: 45, KenPom: 38, first four out): The Tigers lost on a buzzer-beater from Tyus Battle on Tuesday night, a killer blow to a team that is already on the outside looking in. The Tigers do have some quality wins – at South Carolina, at Wake Forest – but with three of their next four games on the road, they need to turn things around quickly. The Tigers are just 13-10 on the season and 3-8 in the ACC.

Georgetown (RPI: 62, KenPom: 59, next four out): The Hoyas fought back from down 17 points at Villanova to get within two points at the under-four timeout. Villanova is one of the best teams in the country. The only negative for Georgetown is the missed opportunity. They have some ground to make up and this would’ve done the trick.

Texas Tech (RPI: 80, KenPom: 42, next four out): The Red Raiders are slowly playing themselves out of tournament contention after losing at TCU on Tuesday, but it’s not over yet. Their next two games come at home against Kansas and Baylor. Win one or both of those and they’re back in the thick of it.

Marquette (RPI: 64, KenPom: 34, No. 9 seed): Marquette missed on a great chance to bolster their tournament profile on Tuesday night, losing a close game at home to a reeling Butler team. They’re still probably on the right side of the bubble with a little bit of room to spare thanks to a pair of road wins at Creighton and Georgia.

Michigan State (RPI: 47, KenPom: 49, No. 8 seed): The Spartans got blasted on the road by Michigan. All things considered, this is not the worst loss in the world – road games never are – but it does chip away at Sparty’s margin for error down the stretch.

Wake Forest (RPI: 28, KenPom: 33, next four out): The Demon Deacons had a chance to add to their profile with a win over a good-but-struggling Notre Dame team on the road, and they whiffed. Wake is still without a top 50 win on the season, and that’s not something that they’ll be able to overcome despite their good computer numbers.

Report: Pat Kelsey will not take the UMass job

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Moments before Pat Kelsey was set to be formally introduced as the new head coach at the University of Massachusetts, the school canceled the press conference citing, “unforeseen circumstances.”

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, the former Winthrop coach has decided not to accept the job.

Virginia’s Thompson to transfer

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Virginia lost another member of its team Thursday.

The Cavaliers announced Darius Thompson will transfer out of the program, a day after the news of Marial Shayok and Jarred Reuter’s departures.

“Darius Thompson informed me he has decided to play his final season at another school following his graduation from Virginia,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “Although you never want to see young men transfer, I understand this is part of coaching. Darius, Marial, and Jarred feel it’s in their best interests to pursue other options for the remainder of their college careers.

“I will always appreciate the contributions they made to our program.”

Thompson, who would be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer, began his career at Tennessee before transferring to Charlottesville, where he averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 assists over two seasons. The 6-foot-4 guard shot 44.8 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from 3-point range last season.

Despite the three defections, Virginia returns a number of pieces that contributed to their 23-11 season.

As we look forward, we have a strong nucleus of players returning,” Bennett said, “and I’m excited for their continued development. As a staff, we are focused on finding student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and all the University of Virginia has to offer.”

Georgetown, John Thompson III part ways

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Georgetown has parted ways with head coach John Thompson III, sources confirmed to NBC Sports.

Thompson has been the head coach of the Hoyas for 13 seasons, going 278-151 during his tenure. He won three Big East regular season titles with the program, the last of which came in 2013, and he reached the 2007 Final Four, but in recent years the program has fallen on hard times.

Georgetown confirmed the news Thursday afternoon.

“For thirteen years, he has been one of the elite coaches in college basketball,” Georgetown president John J. DeGioia said in a statement released by the school. “His performance as a coach has been exceptional, and he has served our community with remarkable distinction and integrity, sustaining our commitment to the academic performance of our students and providing them with the very best preparation for their lives beyond the Hilltop.”

Georgetown is 29-36 over the course of the last two seasons and the Hoyas have missed the NCAA tournament in three of the last four years. They’ve failed to make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since that Final Four, losing to five double-digit seeds in their last six NCAA tournament appearances.

Thompson is the son of John Thompson Jr., the Hall of Fame head coach that built the Hoyas into a national power in the 80s and 90s. The University just invested more than $60 million into a renovation of the team’s practice facility which is now named The Thompson Center.

“We are committed to taking the necessary steps to strengthen our program and maintaining the highest levels of academic integrity and national competitiveness,” DeGioia said. “We will work immediately to begin a national search for a new head men’s basketball coach.

“I remain deeply grateful to John for all that he has done on behalf of Georgetown University.”

The news was first reported by CasualHoya.com.

Jeter to transfer from Duke

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A former five-star recruit is hitting the transfer market.

Chase Jeter, a top-20 talent in the Class of 2015, will transfer from Duke, the school announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore could never really crack the rotation with the Blue Devils, playing less than 500 minutes total over two seasons. He averaged 14.9 minutes in 16 appearances this past season.

“Chase has been an outstanding young man in our program for the last two years,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement released by the school. “He has been one of our top academic performers since he arrived on campus. Unfortunately, he was held back this season due to injury. We wish nothing but the absolute best for Chase and his family.”

This past season Jeter dealt with a back injury, and he did not play after Jan. 14.

“I have loved my time at Duke, getting a world-class education and competing alongside my brothers every day,” Jeter said in a statement. “After careful consideration, I decided it would be best for me to transfer to a school closer to home. I’ve made long-lasting relationships here and I want to thank my teammates and coaches for the support they’ve given me over the last two years.”

Jeter, a Las Vegas native, chose Duke in the summer of 2014 over Arizona, UNLV and UCLA.

Feeling the love: Men’s hoops squad toast of South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Sindarius Thornwell knew South Carolina fans would be excited about the team’s Sweet 16 appearance. The response since he has been on campus, though, surprised even him.

As Thornwell walked to the student union after class, he couldn’t take more than a couple of steps without students swarming him for selfies or asking for some tidbit about the win against Duke on Sunday.

“We’re trying to embrace the moment,” Thornwell said Tuesday. “But that was wild.”

Everyone on campus, around Columbia and even the state seem to be savoring every minute. It’s understandable, the Gamecocks haven’t been in the Sweet 16 since 1973.

It’s been a wild ride for the Gamecocks (24-10), who some wondered if they’d even get invited to the NCAA Tournament let alone produce one of the signature moments so far with their 88-81 win over the second-seeded Blue Devi ls in the East Region.

Next up is third seeded Baylor (27-7) on Friday night at Madison Square Garden for the chance to advance.

Coach Frank Martin said he’s gotten more than 1,100 text messages about Sunday night’s win and two or three from people wondering, “So I guess you’re not going to respond?” he joked.

“That’s a good problem to have,” he said.

South Carolina is gaining the attention Gamecock fans have recently showered on the football, baseball or women’s basketball programs.

Steve Spurrier, featuring NFL standouts like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney , receiver Alshon Jeffrey and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, won the Southeastern Conference East Division in 2010 and had three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13.

Baseball won back-to-back College World Series under now athletic director Ray Tanner in 2010 and 2011. Thousands turned out for victory parades to the Statehouse when the team returned home.

Most recently, South Carolina’s women’s basketball team, led by new U.S. women’s national team coach Dawn Staley, has gained much of the attention with four straight SEC regular season titles. The Gamecocks have led the women’s game in attendance the past three seasons.

Now, men’s basketball is getting some love.

“We’re happy to be part of that,” sophomore point guard P.J. Dozier said.

There was a time when men’s basketball led the way at South Carolina when New York City native Frank McGuire turned a sleepy program into a national power with a pipeline of NYC kids like John Roche, Tom Owens, Bobby Cremins, Brian Winters and Mike Dunleavy Sr.

McGuire led the Gamecocks to the NCAA round of 16 three straight seasons from 1971-73 – there were just 25 schools involved – and his team was considered the cream of the crop in South Carolina athletic circles.

But McGuire’s touch ran out in the mid-1970s and the Gamecocks have struggled for an identity for more than 40 years.

South Carolina won its only Southeastern Conference crown in 1997, but lost in the NCAAs as a No. 2 seed. The Gamecocks returned to the tournament the next season, that time falling as a No. 3 seed.

The Gamecocks high-water mark until now may be the consecutive NIT crowns won by coach Dave Odom in 2005 and 2006.

Martin and these Gamecocks are out to add another level of success to the program.

The fifth-year coach said that being around Spurrier – “Steve calls me every day,” Martin said – Tanner and Staley make him a better leader and give him examples of building winning cultures.

“I’m a big believer in winning leads to winning,” he said.

An emotional Martin, overcome by his team’s Duke win, told the players in the locker room, “Let’s go win this thing.”

He said Tuesday he wanted his players to know that by beating Duke, they proved they’re good enough to play with anyone left in the field.

Thornwell heard that over and over from friends, family and hundreds of new acquaintances he’s made the past 48 hours.

“We’re just having fun,” he said, “enjoying the game, enjoying every moment.”