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Weekend Preview: The five storylines you need to track

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1. Missouri Valley Conference tournament: Without question, this is the mid-major tournament that has the most on the line. Everyone probably knows the details by now: Wichita State and Illinois State, two teams with a combined nine losses between them, are sitting squarely on the bubble. Neither of them can afford a loss to anyone other than each other in this event and still have a real shot at getting themselves into the NCAA tournament.

And even if they both make it to the finals of the event, there is going to be a sweat on Selection Sunday as they wait to hear from the Selection Committee on whether or not they made the cut. The Shockers are probably in a better spot because of their lack of bad losses, but no matter who ends up missing out on the automatic bid, it’s going to be a long, long, LONG week of waiting, watching the bubble teams in the power conferences start stacking up wins.

By Sunday afternoon at 4 pm ET, we’ll know which of those two teams is going to be stressing.

2. The MVC is one of four tickets that will be punched this weekend: On Saturday night, the Ohio Valley Conference, home of the heavily-favored Belmont Bruins, will play their conference tournament and give us our first automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Sunday features three league tournament title games: The Missouri Valley (2 p.m., CBS), the Big South (1 p.m., ESPN) and the Atlantic Sun, which is already set (North Florida vs. Florida-Gulf Coast, 3 p.m., ESPN).

3. Last gasp bubble games: This is the final weekend of the regular season for the teams at the top of the sport, meaning that this will be the final chance for those bubble teams to be able to land a win that could keep them from having to make a run in their league tournament in order to secure a bid. Perhaps the most notable game this weekend for a bubble team will be Seton Hall, who right now appears to be right on the cut line. They play at No. 13 Butler on Saturday, a win that would almost assuredly get the Pirates back to the NCAA tournament. Vanderbilt missed out on their big win on Tuesday night, blowing a 19-point lead at Kentucky, but they turn around this weekend and host Florida. That win won’t carry quite as much weight, but it will put them in a much better position than they are in right now.

Georgia will have a chance to get on the right side of the bubble with a win at Arkansas, who still probably needs to win one more game to really feel safe about their chances. Cal cannot afford to lose at Colorado, not after getting worked over by Utah on Thursday night. Xavier has lost six straight games and is somehow on the bubble on March 3rd after being ranked midway through February. Losing at DePaul would likely put them out of the tournament. And then there is Georgia Tech at Syracuse, a game that both programs really cannot afford to lose.

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4. The ACC showdowns: There are three really awesome games at the top of the ACC this weekend. No. 25 Miami heads out on the road to take on in-state rival No. 15 Florida State and No. 19 Notre Dame looks to keep their place all alone in second place in the ACC by winning at No. 8 Louisville, but easily the most exciting game of the weekend is the best rivalry in the sport: No. 17 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina. We take a good, long look at this game right here.

5. This weekend is when the coaching carousel really gets started: This is the week when seasons start coming to an end, which means this is the week when programs that have coaches sitting on the hot seat will start to make changes. At the upper levels of the sport, there is the chance that this could end up being a pretty wild carousel. With the potential for quality jobs opening up and the chance that those jobs could be filled by some big names, reporters are buckling in for what should be a wild ride.

But there will also be changes made at the lower levels of the sport, and those are just as wild to try and track. Over the course of the next two weeks, don’t be surprised to hear about roughly 40 head coaches losing their jobs, and have fun tracking the movement that creates amongst the coaching ranks.

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.