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Bubble Banter: Seton Hall, Michigan State and Georgia with massive opportunities Saturday

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The up-to-date NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here. This is where the seeds you see below come from.

This post will be updated to reflect results throughout the day. 

WINNERS

Wichita State (RPI: 46, KenPom: 13, play-in game): The Shockers blew out a Northern Iowa team that had won eight of their last nine games and sat in third place in the Missouri Valley on Saturday. The Shockers are now 25-4 on the season, but their best non-league wins are over Oklahoma and at Colorado State, neither of which are top 100 wins. Their only top 100 win is Illinois State. The Shockers will be an interesting case come Selection Sunday, but as long as the only loss they take down the stretch of the season Illinois State in the MVC title game they should be just fine.

Marquette (RPI: 82, KenPom: 42, first four out): Marquette was the Big East’s big winner on Saturday, as they mowed down Xavier by 22 points to add a top 25 win to their profile. They are now 16-10 overall with one horrible loss but three top 25 wins and eight top 100 wins in total, including a couple on the road. I think they’re going dancing if they can win three of their last four games.

Oklahoma State (RPI: 28, KenPom: 20, No. 8 seed): Oklahoma State’s profile, outside of the computer numbers, is very similar to Marquette’s after their win over Oklahoma on Saturday night. A handful of really good wins, a bunch of losses and only one truly bad loss. They should be fine if they can get two more wins before the start of the Big 12 tournaments.

Arkansas (RPI: 33, KenPom: 53, No. 10 seed): The Razorbacks continue to build on their win at South Carolina last week as they handled Ole Miss at home on Saturday pretty easily. Mike Anderson’s club is going to be in the NCAA tournament if they can avoid doing anything dumb down the stretch, but given that this is the team that lost at Missouri earlier this season, there’s very little guarantee that will happen.

Miami (RPI: 47, KenPom: 35, No. 11 seed): Miami picked up a massive win over Clemson on Saturday, and not because the Tigers are some awe-inspiring win, it’s because the schedule down the stretch for the ‘Canes is brutal: at Virginia, Duke, at Virginia Tech, at Louisville. Win two and they’re in. Win one, and they’re going to probably have some work to do in the ACC tournament.

Dayton (RPI: 29, KenPom: 33, No. 8 seed): The Flyers kept themselves in a really strong position by beating St. Bonaventure on Saturday. The Flyers are 21-5 on the season and sitting in first place in the Atlantic 10, but they don’t have a single top 50 win on the season. Those 10 top 100 wins are nice, but with a loss to UMass – sub-150 – also on their résumé, the Flyers have less room for error than you may think.

Middle Tennessee (RPI: 35, KenPom: 45, No. 11 seed): The Blue Raiders kept themselves in at-large contention with a win at Marshall on Saturday. Here’s their issue: they have wins over UNC Wilmington (on a neutral), at Belmont, at Ole Miss and over Vanderbilt. That’s good. They’ve also lost to UTEP (289th in the RPI) and two more sub-125 teams. My advice to Kermit Davis: don’t test the committee.

Kansas State (RPI: 55, KenPom: 29, No. 10 seed): How weird is the bubble this year? Kansas State, who has just three top 100 wins, is 17-10 overall and 6-8 in the Big 12, is in the tournament with some room to spare even before their win at Texas on Saturday.

Tennessee (RPI: 44, KenPom: 43, bubble): The Vols beat Missouri, which is significant only because it means they didn’t lose to Missouri, which would have been a season-ender. I’d strongly recommended Tennessee win all of their remaining regular season games.

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016, file photo, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall directs his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Drake, in Des Moines, Iowa. At this time of year college basketball coaches often sound like political candidates looking for votes as they tout their teams' NCAA tournament worthiness. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

LOSERS

Wake Forest (RPI: 36, KenPom: 34, next four out): The Demon Deacons are running out of chances after losing at Duke on Saturday in a game where they missed a layup that would have given them the lead with less than a minute left. Wake doesn’t have a bad loss to their name, but they also don’t have much in the way of impressive wins. A win at Duke would have changed that. A win over Louisville next will will as well. Wake may need to win that if they really want to have a chance.

Michigan State (RPI: 40, KenPom: 54, No. 9 seed): The Spartans lost a game at Purdue, which hurts. Losing Eron Harris to a knee injury is a bigger loss.

Georgia (RPI: 48, KenPom: 51, next four out): Georgia lost a winnable game to Kentucky despite 36 points from J.J. Frazier. They’ve had some hard-luck losses in league play, and it’s probably going to keep them out of the NCAA tournament at this point. The bigger news? They may have lost Yante Maten to a knee injury.

TCU (RPI: 49, KenPom: 40, play-in game): The Horned Frogs missed out on a terrific opportunity to add to their tournament profile as they lost at Iowa State on Saturday evening. This loss isn’t a killer, but it does put TCU in a position where they likely will need to win their final three games of the season, assuming they lose at Kansas.

Texas Tech (RPI: 83, KenPom: 37, next four out): The Red Raiders badly needed a win at West Virginia on Saturday. They took the Mountaineers to double overtime before losing. This is what Texas Tech’s remaining schedule looks like: Iowa State, at Oklahoma State, Texas, at Kansas State. Win three of those and they should be OK.

Seton Hall (RPI: 39, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed): The Pirates whiffed on a chance to lock up a tournament bid on Saturday, losing at home to No. 2 Villanova. If they can take care of business this week at home against Xavier, Seton Hall should feel pretty good about their chances.

Clemson (RPI: 53, KenPom: 36, play-in game): Clemson is now 14-12 on the season and 4-10 in the ACC, but since they play in the ACC, Saturday’s loss at Miami isn’t a killer for them. They’ll still be a good win or two from being back on the right side of the bubble by next week. That’s how weak the bubble is this season.

Virginia Tech (RPI: 32, KenPom: 49, No. 9 seed): A win at Louisville on Saturday would have put the Hokies in the tournament. Losing at Louisville? They’re a top ten team. You’re supposed to lose there.

 

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

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Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Louisville’s Mitchell declaring for draft, won’t hire an agent

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Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell is the latest to decide to see what the NBA might offer.

“I have decided to test the waters and not hire an agent!” Mitchell wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. “I am excited to work out this summer for teams and hopefully participate in the NBA combine! I want it to be clear I have not decided to leave Louisville!”

Mitchell, who is expected to be joined by dozens of players, is taking advantage of new NCAA rules that allow him to work out for teams and attend the NBA draft combine before making a decision on whether to remain in the draft and return to school.

Players have until May 24 to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

Mitchell averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a sophomore, shooting 40.8 percent overall and 35.4 percent on 3-point attempts.

The 6-foot-3 guard is projected as a potential first-round pick, but should he return, the Cardinals would project as one of the top teams in the country with nearly the entire core returning from this year’s 25-9 squad.

Moe-mentum: Wagner stands tall for Sweet 16-bound Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Ask Moe Wagner who he looked up to when he was younger, and suddenly the Michigan big man’s fiery demeanor makes a little more sense.

“Kevin Garnett was always my biggest idol, even though our play isn’t really similar. Just the way he brings intensity and energy to his team,” Wagner said. “That always was something that really impressed me.”

Now Wagner is providing his own emotional leadership to a Michigan team that has become one of college basketball’s most remarkable stories this March.

The Wolverines have won six in a row since they were involved in a plane accident on the eve of their Big Ten Tournament opener.

After winning that conference tourney, they opened the NCAAs with victories against Oklahoma State and Louisville – with Wagner scoring 26 points in the win over Louisville that sent Michigan to the Sweet 16.

The 19-year-old Wagner is in his second season with the Wolverines. He showed some promise in 2015-16, but averaged only 8.6 minutes a game as a freshman. He’s been a starter the whole way this season, teaming up with D.J. Wilson to give Michigan some unexpected production in the frontcourt.

The Wolverines entered the season with high hopes thanks to the presence of seniors Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin.

The 6-foot-11 Wagner has made them even tougher to defend. The sophomore from Berlin is averaging 12.2 points a game, and unlike Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan – two of Michigan’s top big men of the recent past – Wagner is a threat from beyond the arc. He’s made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2016-17, putting even more pressure on opposing teams.

An expressive player on the court, Wagner admits he’s still learning how to keep his emotions under control.

Coach John Beilein says Wagner can be hard on himself, but he has an upbeat attitude the Wolverines can appreciate.

“I don’t want to rob him of his energy and his passion,” Beilein said. “If you heard him in timeouts – I mean, he is really into it. And it’s encouraging things he’s saying.”

The key for Wagner is to stay on the court. He’s been whistled for 100 fouls this season – no other Michigan player has more than 80 – and he picked up two in the first 3:11 when the Wolverines faced Oklahoma State in their NCAA Tournament opener Friday. Wagner played only 14 minutes in that frenetic game, which Michigan won 92-91 .

Against Louisville in the round of 32 , Wagner went 11 of 14 from the field and kept his poise after being called for his second foul late in the first half.

“He’s always just been an excited guy – play hard and play with a lot of passion,” Walton said. “I don’t think anything has changed. I think he’s just channeling it a little better.”

The seventh-seeded Wolverines face third-seeded Oregon on Thursday night in a regional semifinal. Michigan has won seven in a row, a streak that began with the team’s last game of the regular season.

What happened next is well documented. The day before its opening game in the conference tournament, Michigan’s plane slid off the runway .

There were no serious injuries, and the Wolverines arrived in time to play. Then they won four games in four days to take the title.

Now, Michigan is two victories away from an improbable Final Four appearance. If the Wolverines actually make it that far, Wagner will be a big reason why – and he’ll probably be as excited as anyone.

“One of my youth coaches actually used to say that I was somebody who, like, sees the basketball court as a stage and really enjoys it,” Wagner said. “Last year, I started to understand what that actually means, and kind of embraced that this year. That’s just me. I really love it. I really enjoy it.”

 

California’s Ivan Rabb declares for the NBA Draft

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Ivan Rabb announced on Wednesday that he will be declaring for the NBA Draft and foregoing his final two seasons with California.

“I want to thank everybody for their support,” Rabb said in a statement. “Since the day I committed to Cal, the love from Bay Area fans was overwhelming. I could genuinely tell that people really appreciated seeing me come to Cal and succeed and do well. Haas Pavilion will always hold a special place in my heart, and I won’t forget how incredible it felt to be “Oakland’s Own” as I ran onto the court in front of my friends, family and team.”

As a sophomore, Rabb averaged 14.0 points and 10.5 boards. He’s projected as a mid-to-late first round pick in the draft a year after making the decision to return to school as a projected lottery pick last season.

Duke’s Jayson Tatum declares for the NBA Draft

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Duke’s Jayson Tatum will declare for the NBA Draft and hire an agent, the program announced on Wednesday.

Tatum is a projected top five pick in the NBA Draft. He averaged 16.8 points playing the role of small-ball four for the Blue Devils this season after missing the first month of the season with a foot injury.

“I have absolutely loved coaching Jayson Tatum,” Coach K said in a statement. “His skill set and work ethic will make him a star in the NBA. Whichever team selects him will be getting a humble, thoughtful and talented young man whom we are proud to call a member of the Duke basketball brotherhood.”

Tatum was the most talented player on the Blue Devils this season, but it was an up and down year for Duke as a whole. They were predicted by just about everyone to win the national title back in the preseason, but they eventually bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the second round.