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Bubble Banter: It’s a busy night for bubble teams

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Here is the latest NBC Sports Bracketology. This is where the rankings you see below are from. This post will be updated throughout the night. 

WINNERS

Northwestern (RPI: 50, KenPom: 37, No. 9 seed): The Wildcats are dancing. Thanks to the play of the year. Check this out.

Wake Forest (RPI: 45, KenPom: 33, first four out): Northwestern may not even be the biggest winner of the night, as the Demon Deacons landed a win that they desperately needed, picking off No. 8 Louisville at home. Wake Forest is now 18-12 on the season and 8-9 in the ACC with a game left at Virginia this weekend, but what make this win so important is that Wake literally had just one top 60 win entering Wednesday and no top 35 wins. They’d beaten Miami, Georgia Tech and Pitt. They had a win over Bucknell, at Charleston and at Richmond. That was it. With no bad losses to their name, they just needed to prove that they could actually beat the big boys. This doesn’t lock them into a bid, but now a win at Virginia Tech probably would. If not, a win or two in the ACC tournament would. I can promise you this: Wake won’t be one of the first four out tomorrow morning.

Marquette (RPI: 69, KenPom: 32, No. 10 seed): The Golden Eagles are getting closer and closer to punching their ticket to the dance. With a game left at home against Creighton, Steve Wojciechowski’s team is now sitting with four top 30 wins — including a win over Villanova — and nine top 100 wins with St. John’s being the only bad loss in their 11 losses. Beating Creighton should be enough, although avoiding a loss to DePaul, St. John’s or Georgetown in the Big East tournament would be sensible. One thing to watch for with Marquette: Will the committee take into account that three of their four best wins came when the opponents (Xavier twice and Creighton) had lost their star point guard to a torn ACL?

Illinois (RPI: 56, KenPom: 64, first four out): The Illini have made a remarkable run down the stretch of the season, winning their fourth in a row on Wednesday night as they knocked off Michigan State at home on Senior Night to get to 18-12 on the season and 8-9 in the Big Ten with a game left at Rutgers. John Groce’s club has just one top 40 win — VCU on a neutral — but they have five top 50 and 10 top 100 wins. They’re right there with everyone else on the bubble, and while they still have quite a bit of work left to do — I’d say they need to win at least two more game, preferably three, to really feel comfortable on Selection Sunday — the fact that they are even close is impressive.

Georgia (RPI: 52, KenPom: 52, next four out): The Bulldogs are still in the NCAA tournament mix after beating Auburn at home on Wednesday. The Bulldogs have to beat Arkansas in Fayetteville to have a real chance on Selection Sunday. While Georgia has no sub-105 RPI losses and nine top 100 wins, they have no top 45 wins to their name. Even with a win at Arkansas, they probably need to win a game or two in the SEC tournament. But after Yante Maten went down with a knee injury two weeks ago, no one thought that this team would even be in this position right now. So there’s always a chance, especially if J.J. Frazier keeps doing what he’s done the last four games, averaging 31.3 points.

Kansas State (RPI: 67, KenPom: 36, first four out): The Wildcats landed a nice win at TCU that will help them — top 100 road wins are always good — but I think that Kansas State isn’t in quite as good of a position as some may think. They have just three top 30 wins and, after tonight, five top 100 wins. Yes, four of them came away from home, and that is a good thing, but that’s an impressive lack of quality wins for a committee that showed us during the bracket reveal they are valuing wins quite heavily.

USC (RPI: 38, KenPom: 67, play-in game): At this point, here’s what USC cannot do: They cannot lose to either of the Washington teams at home this week, and they cannot lose to anyone in the Pac-12 tournament not named UCLA, Arizona or Oregon. Even then, I would recommended that they probably beat one of those three teams if they really want to go into Selection Sunday without the stress of wondering if your name isn’t going to get called. The Trojans have two top 20 wins this season but just a total of five top 100 wins and a 1-6 record against the other top five teams in the conference.

Rhode Island (RPI: 41, KenPom: 53, play-in game): Rhody won a game that they couldn’t lost at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday. They play another game they can’t lose on Saturday against Davidson at home. Basically, URI cannot afford to take a loss unless it’s against either VCU or Dayton in the A-10 tournament, and even then, they really lack quality wins. They have two top 25 wins but just four total top 100 wins.

LOSERS

Xavier (RPI: 26, KenPom: 40, No. 10 seed): Xavier, man. They needed their own separate post.

Arkansas (RPI: 28, KenPom: 44, No. 9 seed): The Razorbacks missed a chance to lock up a bid by winning at Florida on Wednesday. They are still pretty safe, but I do think they would do well to win one more game, whether it is against Georgia at home this weekend or in the SEC tournament opener.

VCU (RPI: 23, KenPom: 46, No. 9 seed): The Rams are still probably safe, but after losing at Dayton three days after they lost at URI, VCU is still in a spot where I think they need one more win, whether it is over George Mason at home this weekend or in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament next week.

TCU (RPI: 58, KenPom: 41, next four out): The Horned Frogs are probably out after losing at home to Kansas State on Wednesday. They’re now 6-11 in the Big 12 with just two top 65 wins.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.